When it comes to clever remodel ideas, the pros tend to know best. That’s why we asked local designers, realtors, and builders one simple question: What’s the coolest feature you’ve ever seen in a home? We’ve compiled their answers– plus a few of our own picks– to inspire your home improvement projects in 2022 and beyond. 

 Looking through the submissions, we saw a lot of functional upgrades– think multi-use spaces, cleverly hidden storage, and office solutions for newly remote workers. It also seems that “smart home” technology (including recipe-remembering ovens!) is on trend again in 2022.  

 On the other end of the spectrum, many of these ideas are just good, old-fashioned fun. From bocce ball courts to grown-up treehouses and even hidden rooms, these features are sure to bring joy to both homeowners and their visitors. 


Folding doors 

Sandra Hurtley — Positive Space Staging + Design Inc. 

“Having Eclipse folding doors that completely open an interior space to the outdoors is next level indoor/outdoor living. Here in the Pacific Northwest, having a wall of folding doors that leads to a loggia, or covered outdoor space is a wonderful feature. Add an outdoor fireplace and it becomes a cozy area that can be enjoyed year-round.” 

569 Birch Bay Lynden Rd., Lynden, 360.410.4030, positivespaceinc.com 

Dream treehouse

Trevor Swezey — Highline Construction

Photos by Rob Sese

“When presented with the opportunity to build a unique one-of-a-kind treehouse, we were thrilled. It wasn’t until we walked the site for the first time and took stock of the challenges that we realized how difficult this would be. The trees were in the middle of a 35-degree slope and right on top of a 100-foot-tall cliff!  

 If that wasn’t difficult enough, building a treehouse requires a multitude of unique building practices. One that stood out was learning how to connect the steel brackets into the tree. Our team had to receive training on how to use a specialized torque gun meant for connecting helicopter blades. This was required to ensure that we used just the right amount of torque for each of the eight connection points. In the end, everything came together, and we were able to fulfill a childhood dream of our clients. Now they have their very own treehouse on top of a waterfall.” 

1420 Meador Ave., Ste. K105, Bellingham, 360.746.5455, highlinewa.com 

Bocce ball court 

Tom McNutt — Boccemon 

Photos Courtesy of Boccemon

“Boccemon is a local Bellingham business specializing in a surface for bocce ball courts blended primarily from the crushed shells of oysters. The first court was constructed 20 years ago in the ‘parking strip’ along Carolina Street in Bellingham. Boccemon simply sells a surface for the court and promotes clients purchasing all other materials and hiring labor local to wherever they live. They ship anywhere freight is delivered– as close as Lummi Island and as far as Dubai. Boccemon’s clients include homeowners, country clubs, corporations, hotels, wineries, homeowner associations, and city parks.” 

1831 Racine St., Bellingham, 360.224.2909, boccemon.com 

Outdoor shower 

Moceri Construction 

“The idea of an outdoor shower brings visions of tropical climates and sunny vacations, but they are also an easy addition to any home. Adding one to your home is a simple way to bring both the feeling of luxury and the practicality of keeping our Pacific Northwest mud outside, where it’s supposed to be. A detail to note is having a shut-off to the shower and remembering to drain it before temperatures dip below freezing.” -Tony Moceri 

1013 Donovan Ave., Bellingham, 360.671.3381, mocericonstruction.com                                                                    


Luxury tech 

Teri MacPhee Design & Decorate

“A luxurious bathroom is a great selling point. Think of heated drawers for towels next to your shower, and concealed electrical plugs in a cupboard or drawer for your hair dryer. Heated tile floors in your bathroom are an added luxury.”  

715 Linden Rd., Bellingham, 360.306.0894, terimacpheedesigns.com 

Kitty hideaway 

Jennifer Opatz — Fresh Space Redesign 

Photos Courtesy of Jennifer Opat 

“Anyone who has shared their home with cats will understand the need for a dedicated litter box area. Step into this newly renovated basement bathroom to discover an oasis for every member of the family– even the fury kind. The custom linen cabinet features a cat-friendly space for the litter complete with sensor activated ventilation fan and a private entrance for the family pets to access their litter box. The concealed kitty area can be easily accessed behind the cabinet door for frequent cleanings all while blending right out of sight.”  

6213 Portal Way, Ste. B, Ferndale, 360.739.7315, freshspaceredesign.com

At-home sauna 

Editor’s pick 

If you keep your gym membership active just for sauna access, maybe it’s time to bring the sauna closer to home. Depending on your budget, personal saunas can be more accessible than you might assume– you can even buy them at Home Depot. It’s the easiest way to turn any old bathroom into a luxurious, Scandinavian-style retreat. 


Paulina Antczak — Brandon Nelson Partners 

“A bidet? Don’t mind if I bi-do! Bidets aren’t just for French royalty anymore, as they’ve become a more popular addition to bathroom remodels of late. And with what seems like a new toilet-paper shortage every year, they’re as practical as ever. Real talk, bidets are easy on the body and reduce waste as well, so don’t be afraid to work through the initial ‘surprise’ they offer.”  

909 Squalicum Way, Ste. 107, Bellingham, 360.223.0538, brandonnelson.com 

Laundry Room 

Doggy shower 

Jennifer Ryan Design 

Photos by Debbie Schwab Photography 

“During this home’s remodel, we were able to expand the laundry room. This gave room for a mudroom entrance from the garage where the family each have cubby and shoe storage, a large laundry folding and organizing space, plus a custom deep sink which is also used for a dog wash. The cabinet below the sink opens into a stair step for the dog so there is no more lifting her into the sink!” 

2100 G St., Bellingham,  360.319.7092, jenniferryandesign.com 

Sleek storage 

Editor’s pick 

Stumped about how to fill that inconvenient gap between the washing machine and sink? We have a suggestion for you. A slim storage cabinet fills up the negative space while also creating a handy spot to stow detergent and other supplies. Alternatively, it’s the perfect place for a no-fuss drying rack. 


Butler’s pantry 

Teri MacPhee Design & Decorate

“I love to entertain, and if you’re like me, you never have enough storage. I think a butler’s pantry is a great solution. Install lots of open shelves for small kitchen appliances, trays, and vases. Large pull-out drawers are perfect for table cloths, placemats, and linen napkins.” 

715 Linden Rd., Bellingham, 360.306.0894, terimacpheedesigns.com 

Vertical herb garden 

Editor’s pick 

If you’re a home chef, chances are that you have a pot of herbs sitting in your windowsill right now. Why not take that idea a step further by incorporating your ingredients into the decor? Building a wall-mounted herb garden is an easy yet elegant way to breathe little life into your kitchen. Tip: Make sure to choose a wall that receives plenty of sunlight, and choose herbs that grow well indoors. These include mint, parsley, chives, thyme, and even microgreens. 

Wine storage 

Teri MacPhee Design & Decorate 

“Wine storage is a fun addition to a new home. Whether it’s a temperature controlled wine feature wall, a small built-in wine fridge or a full wine cellar, there are great options for those that like their vino!” 

715 Linden Rd., Bellingham, 360.306.0894, terimacpheedesigns.com 

High-tech oven 

Teri MacPhee Design & Decorate 

“Smart homes are the new luxury homes. We are seeing homes with electric car charging stations plus high tech security systems and climate systems that can be controlled by hand held devices from just about anywhere. There are smart ovens that will even store recipes for you!” 

715 Linden Rd., Bellingham, 360.306.0894, terimacpheedesigns.com 


Multi-functional guest room 

Jennifer Ryan Design 

Photos By: Katheryn Moran Photography 

“One of the many challenges during the pandemic is the need to work from home. This family’s guest room was the best option for a writer’s home office, although they still needed the space for guests. A custom built-in wall unit that would house a Murphy bed, plus storage for office needs, was the best solution. The bed is mounted horizontally to save floor space with arm lights above for reading or soft lighting. Most of the cabinets have glass fronts to give a more open, less bulky look.  

    We also created a cushioned settee with lots of throw pillows to give guests somewhere to lounge. Below the bench is more storage for bedding, guest’s clothing, and work items. With a little creativity and some really good space planning, we were able to make this guest room/office into a multi-functional and inviting place you would want to spend time in!”  

2100 G St., Bellingham, 360.319.7092, jenniferryandesign.com 

Primary suite laundry 

Moceri Construction 

Photos Courtesy of Moceri Construction

“No one likes schlepping laundry all over the house. This move eliminates that while using space efficiently. Having a washer and dryer be a part of your primary suite keeps the clothes close to your closet, cuts down on walking, and gets rid of the need for a laundry room. For empty nesters, this can serve as the only laundry in the home, and for families, smaller stackable units can be a convenient second set.” -Tony Moceri 

1013 Donovan Ave., Bellingham, 360.671.3381, mocericonstruction.com 

Upgraded closet 

Editor’s pick 

Photos Courtesy of Inspired Closets 

I’ll admit it: I am (usually) a tidy person, but when it comes to my closet, I go from organized to “out of sight, out of mind” in the blink of an eye. If that rings true for you too, know that Inspired Closets builds closets that are custom-tailored to your organization needs. Since everything is given its own convenient place, your wardrobe is far less likely to descend into chaos. Inspired offers three options for closet builds– reach-in, walk-in, and boutique– and the boutique option includes a shoe shrine. I mean, who doesn’t want a shoe shrine?! 

4073 Hannegan Rd., Bellingham, 360.738.9121, inspiredclosets.com 

Living Space 

Hidden room 

Faith Ulate — Windermere Real Estate 

Photos by Cocoa Laney

“I have always loved buying and selling properties. Not only do I help others do this, but I like to buy properties myself, fix them up and add something ‘special.’  When we decided to purchase this home in the Barkley neighborhood, I loved that there was an attic behind the door in the master room. I decided to have the door removed and have a custom bookshelf made on hinges that could open and close to fill the hole. 

    We had the room dry-walled and painted. We put carpet on the floor, lights installed and had a closet and window put in. It was a large enough area to be another bedroom, office, or work-out space adding to the square footage of the home. When the bookshelf/door was completely closed, no one could ever guess there was a ‘secret room’ behind it!” 

360.220.8685, faithulate.withwre.com 

Statement lighting 

Sandra Hurtley — Positive Space Staging + Design Inc. 

Photo by Amy Vischio

“This small lighting company with its unique rope lighting is showing up in commercial spaces such as airports and hotels all around the country. Working with their design team, it’s also possible to create a totally custom fixture for your residential project. The results are unique and stunning. I’m in love with their lighting!” 

*Designer for room pictured is Amy Aidinis Hirsch 

569 Birch Bay Lynden Rd., Lynden, 360.410.4030, positivespaceinc.com 

Screened-in porch 

Tony Moceri — Moceri Construction 

“The screened-in porch is a common home feature in other parts of the country but not in our corner. With the advent of great outdoor heaters and the desire to extend the outdoor living season, the screened-in porch is growing in popularity. In new construction or as a remodel, adding this to a home has a low barrier and a big upside on livability.” -Tony Moceri 

1013 Donovan Ave., Bellingham, 360.671.3381, mocericonstruction.com 

Kids’ Room/Playroom 

Multi-level hammock 

Jason Wheeler — Instinct Builders 

Photos By: Cocoa Laney

“Installing a structural cargo net from LFS Marine in Bellingham allows a safe and playful way to stay connected between levels, creating extra playroom space without sacrificing natural light for the first floor breakfast nook. It brings a sense of levity and unique texture to the home– and offers the opportunity to test the adventurousness of visitors.”  

360.503.6830, instinctbuilders.com 

Built-in bunk beds 

Tracie Gulit — Windermere Real Estate  

Photos by: Grayson Glasby 

“Maewood Haven, located at the base of Mount Baker, is an 840-square-foot Airbnb cabin retreat. To maximize sleeping space, the upstairs loft was converted into two separate sleeping rooms, half of which was fully enclosed to create a private queen sized room. The other half was built out as a loft bunk room with three built-in twin beds.   

    Each sleeping nook features an individual reading light and cubby with power where guests can place their personal items or cell phone. White shiplap with trim throughout make the space feel polished and the neutral tones of the bedding and decor create a calm and relaxing environment. It is a unique space that kids and adults alike can enjoy!” 

traciegulithomes.com, 360.201.6433 

Living Space 

Urban oasis 

Jim Smith — Haven Design Workshop 

Photos by: Paint 2 Studio

“Floor-to-ceiling glass walls give the illusion of a bamboo garden brought indoors. It’s actually a two-story atrium letting daylight flood the rooms while still providing privacy. To conserve floor space in this bedroom, the stairway leading to the loft has built-in Tansu-style cabinets. Our clients love the relaxed, outdoor feeling they get in their new home–a hidden oasis within the city.” 

5828 2nd Ave., Ste. 101, Ferndale, 360.527.2840, haven-dw.com 

TV as art 

Editor’s pick 

No one likes staring at a black box when the TV isn’t in use, so why not make it part of the decor instead? Gallery-style TVs, such as the LG OLED series, are some of the slimmest, sleekest, and brightest on today’s market. When you’re not catching up on Netflix, they can be left in “gallery mode” to display… well, anything you want. This includes a family slideshow, beautiful landscapes, and even a work of art. 


Secret storage

Tanna Edler — Tanna by Design 

Photos courtesy of Tanna By Design  

“Our clients came to us with an organized space, full of important personal belongings, and they needed a design solution. They had been using this room as a home office as well as a storage room. It was important to have a styled space that they could both work in while providing appropriate storage to tuck away their possessions.  We created a modern farmhouse vibe, and creatively solved their design dilemmas.  They now have a stylish home office with a secret cabinet drawer and easily accessible hidden hanging storage.”  

2003 E. Viola Ave., Yakima, 425.737.1193, tannabydesign.com  

“Zoom room” 

Nate Kenoyer — Windermere Realty 

Photos courtesy of Nate Kenoyer 

“Larrabee Springs is starting their fifth phase of new, responsibly-built solar homes in the Cordata community just south of the North Bellingham Golf Course. Each phase features a different design, with the new phase of Northview being a modern design with some unique features. This includes bidets in every master bathroom and ‘zoom rooms’ in select homes.  

 With many tech industry jobs moving towards working from home, the team at Larrabee Springs came up with an idea of a smaller designated room (or ‘zoom room’) for the buyer needing a small, quiet space without distractions to work from. For now, this will be featured in select homes at Northview. With nearly 200 homes built and sold since the start in 2016 Larrabee Springs continues to be a leader in the building industry with innovative and sustainable building practices.” 

360.319.3280, natekenoyer.com 

Two-in-one office/living space 

Kristal Grimstead — Compass Real Estate 

Photos by: Grayson Glasby  

“This unique and very special craftsman style home is located 800 feet above Bellingham on Squalicum Ridge in the Silver Beach area. It was originally constructed in 2016 by Steve and Rene Ness of Savvy Ness, a general contractor and designer team. They sold it to the new homeowners in 2018, who needed a second office space to work remotely. The daylight basement consisted of a large bonus room, which they divided into two spaces to meet their work-from-home needs. They hired Chuckanut Builders to complete the construction and Cathy Boysen from CDK Interior Design to create the design for the conversion.” 

360.441.2202, compass.com/agents/kristal-grimstead