Seattle Culture

Illuminating Ideas for Interior Design

A Georgetown interior designer suggests how Seattle home design can lighten up

By Jennifer McCullum October 17, 2016

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

Seattle’s gray days and imminent 4:18 p.m. winter sunsets typically leave Pacific Northwest homes wanting for more natural light. So it’s no surprise that at the top of many locals’ home-design wish list is the desire to increase the natural light within their space, says Brio Interior Design firm founder Kenna Stout (kennastout.com).

“My clients want their spaces to feel bright, open…to have energy that the lack of sunlight can affect,” says the Seattle native.
Because she often has to consider the influence of the PNW’s dreary weather when making design decisions, Stout has honed a Seattle-specific approach to better illuminating her interiors. For example: Go gray. “The quality of light that exists is already gray, so you want to complement that,” she says. “I think some of my clients are afraid of using gray in their homes because we have a lot of gray days, but it’s actually the softest neutral other than white. Shades like Benjamin Moore ‘Cumulus Cloud’ or ‘Nimbus Gray’ work really well in Seattle to create a lighter, airier finish in any room.”


All in the details: Seasonal blooms and bold upholstered chairs add pops of color to spaces dominated by white and wood tone

For home dwellers who aren’t in the market for a full renovation or fresh coat of paint, Stout suggests a few strategic decor decisions that can help infuse energy into an interior where natural light is lacking. “Furnishings, textiles and rugs that inject color and pattern can give a space energy in the absence of natural light,” she says, such as the vintage kilim area rugs and vibrant throw pillows that are some of her go-to decorative additions.

Regardless of the natural palette of our region, Stout sees local design evolving as the city changes. “It used to be that everything had to be cherry and wood tones, natural stone, etc.,” she says. “All great materials, but, as the demographic is changing in this city, people are becoming more open to trying different things. Minimalist design, modern furnishings and vivid color…we’re not stuck in this earthy, brown/beige palette anymore.”


The living room’s black and white striped rug and printed throw pillows create a sense of energy to complement the natural and decorative light sources; a vivid area rug enlivens the galley kitchen

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