For a designer, the chance to do their first ground-up solo project is a special opportunity. And if that opportunity also offers the ability to put a significant stamp on the architectural side of things? Well, then it becomes all the more meaningful. “I was really excited,” recalls designer Shannon Adamson, “It’s wonderful to have a blank slate and to be able to explore all of the possibilities without dealing with existing conditions.” Her clients, Scott and Kristen Kirkpatrick, had reached out for help realizing their dream home on a site in Snohomish County. “They had never taken on a big construction project before and needed guidance,” she says. That decision, says Scott, “turned out to be one of the best things we ever did.”
The couple had acquired plans for a house, which sketched out the footprint and the basic interior walls—but, notes Adamson, “there were some issues that needed to be untangled.” A few were small: details that read more early 21st century, like an arched Juliet balcony in the living room, a lack of built-ins and awkward door placements in the primary suite. Others loomed larger: a laundry closet that couldn’t accommodate even the smallest washer and dryer and a primary suite without windows—just a set of large French doors. The designer also reworked a media room into an inviting club room (“because ‘family room’ is not a cool enough name to encapsulate all that’s going on in this space,” she says with a laugh), expanded the size of the primary bathroom and even chose the home’s site to take advantage of the sun. “I love space planning,” she says.
Adamson’s input didn’t end with the drawings, which garnered her a fan in the project’s general contractor Mitch Falkner. “It was probably the most detailed set of interior plans that I’ve ever worked with,” he raves. The designer was also a fixture on the job site because “there are always unknowns,” she shares. Falkner concurs: “When you’re building a house, not everything works out as planned.” Her presence also meant the designer and contractor could refine details and troubleshoot issues as they arose. She and Falkner both point to the kitchen’s pantry door as one example of what this kind of teamwork can achieve: It completely disappears into the surrounding cabinetry thanks to the combined efforts of trades ranging from the door supplier to the cabinetmaker and painter. “It was a very custom piece,” says Falkner. “It seems like one little aspect, but it’s the small things that count in the end.”
The team’s level of craftsmanship and attention to detail extends throughout the home. It’s there in mitered cuts of the molding and trims and how it performs a graceful waltz with the Irish linen herringbone fabric in the club room; it’s in the exacting placement of the sconces in the club room and the kitchen; and, in the tactile finger pulls of the primary bathroom’s vanity. Perhaps most clearly, that attention to craftsmanship is in the entry, where tile laid in a playful plaid pattern pays homage to both the clients’ and designer’s Scottish roots. When installing the showstopper, Adamson recalls, “The tile guy and I were laying out the tile pattern while they were framing in case they needed to adjust a wall.”
More than in most homes, lighting was essential for ambiance. “No matter where you live, light is important, but especially in the Pacific Northwest,” says Adamson, who collaborated with Nathanael Washam of Luminous NW on the lighting design. “On a February afternoon, it’s so dark inside you have to turn the lights on.” Floor lamps and sconces, chandeliers and task lights act in concert to brighten, but not overpower, the interior. “It’s really about designing in zones and layers so that there’s a lot of control based on what the needs are and how the space is being used,” she explains.
The furniture and accessories reinforce the initial impression of substance that permeates these rooms, with traditional elements offset by lighter or unexpected moments. While initially resistant, the Kirkpatricks now cite these touches as their favorites. “Shannon introduced us to that next level of quality and pushed us appropriately,” Scott explains. He singles out the club room’s dark palette (“We were super nervous,” Scott says, “and now it’s our favorite room”); the bedroom’s deep eggplant accents; the dining room’s vibrant teal grasscloth; and the built-in desks in the children’s bedrooms. “To have somebody who goes above and beyond but has your best interests at heart,” Scott muses, “it just makes you feel good.”