In a world where bedrooms became offices, living rooms became gyms, and kitchens became restaurants, it’s difficult to look around our home and not want to give it some extra love and attention. If you’re ready to revamp your space and refresh your surroundings, redesigning a room is a perfect solution. To help you get started, we spoke to four designers about their current obsessions. Whether it’s replacing a bright white room with deeper colors or designing an outdoor space that feels as inviting as your living room, let these pages guide your next big redesign.

Meet the Designers

Jennifer Ryan

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan is the owner and operator of Jennifer Ryan Design, a full-service design/remodel company based in Bellingham. Jennifer prides herself in getting to know her clients and their individual wants and dreams. She has an eye for making spaces both functional and fun. Jennifer likes to add a bit of whimsy to every project — that’s the “Jennifer” part! Everyone is unique, so a design style for one should not be the same for another. Through the pandemic, Jennifer quickly realized that people are spending more time at home and need to reinvent their spaces. Whether that be their kitchen, creating an office out of an unused bedroom or available alcove, or even a place to exercise. Whatever you wish for, Jennifer can help you create the surroundings and memories you’ll enjoy for a lifetime. Jennifer Ryan Design, 2100 G St., Bellingham, 360.319.7092, 

Tanna Edler

Photo Courtesy of Tanna Edler

Tanna Edler, founder of TANNA BY DESIGN, specializes in residential and commercial projects as well as new construction and remodeling. Though based in Yakima, her projects span the state as well as the country. Her designs are often inspired by simplicity, nature, and organic shapes, and her ultimate goal is to create a space that meets her clients’ lifestyle needs. The Interior Design Society (IDS) has named her Designer of the Year numerous times (seven to be exact), most recently in 2020 for her work in kitchens. In 2015, she also received the coveted IDS Impact Award for charitable contributions in her community. It’s no surprise she’s also received several Best of the Northwest honors from Bellingham Alive. TANNA BY DESIGN, 2003 E. Viola Ave., 

Sandra Hurtley

Photo by Alfonso Arnold

Sandra Hurtley has always loved art and design. As a child, she would take her mom’s Sears catalog and cut out pages to create concepts with rugs, lamps, and bedding. She designed her first bedroom when she was seven!  

Hurltley completed the design program at Heritage School of Interior Design in Portland, Oregon in 2008. The opportunity to study the elements and principles of design, color theory — all of it, was a dream come true.  

She started Positive Space Staging + Design in 2010 after gaining experience working for a larger staging company in Vancouver, B.C. She expanded into Whatcom County (where she grew up) in late 2018. Her work is currently focused on residential interior design and real estate staging projects. Positive Space Staging + Design, 569 Birch Bay Lynden Rd., Lynden, 360.410.4030, 

Colleen Knowles

Photo by Talitha Bullcock

Colleen Knowles, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading luxury residential designers, is known for the exceptional service and the unique interiors she provides to prominent homeowners in the Pacific Northwest, including the greater Seattle area, the San Juan Islands, and Suncadia.  

A full-service custom designer, Knowles has worked on primary and secondary homes for clients over her 30+ year career. She has won service as well as design awards, and more than 90% of her work comes from referrals.  

Her clients describe her as “extremely creative,” “exceptionally organized,” “amazing to work with,” and “the perfect blend of ‘interior designer’ and ‘architectural designer.'” Some of her client relationships date back 10 years, and she has worked with different generations of the same family.  

Through her firm, Colleen Knowles Interior Design, Colleen helps clients improve their lifestyles by enhancing the look, comfort, and functionality of their homes. One of the firm’s specialties is helping clients include original art in their project or add to their art collections. Colleen Knowles Interior Design, 9311 SE 36th St., Ste. 103, Mercer Island, 206.399.2232, 

Go Green… and Add Metal: Jennifer Ryan

Photo by Katheryn Moran Photography

Trend Spotlight

I do a lot of kitchens and am seeing a trend towards darker, earthy colored cabinets as opposed to the traditional white. Greens are becoming very popular in either warm or cool tones. Dark green verging on black is a great look, almost a trick of the eye. It looks black from afar, but get closer and it’s actually green. Going the cooler-toned way, combining a carrara marble counter gives it a bit of glam, or the warmer tones of natural wood make for a more cozy kitchen. 

Also trending are industrial elements (either modern or traditional) such as exposed stonework, wood, and mixed metal elements. Styles are also becoming less fussy as people are spending more time at home, and there’s a growing awareness of environmental issues, so more sustainable materials are on the upswing. 

Photo by Katheryn Moran Photography

Words of Advice

Use natural materials mixed with new/modern or vintage items. Mix rattan, metal, and stronger hues, whether neutrals or bold. Beware of following any certain design style….make it your own by bringing in items that are important to you or have a history, but also bring in some newer products, too.  

One mistake is buying entire groupings such as a bed set that comes with a matching bed, dresser and night tables. The same can go for dining rooms, living rooms, lighting, etc. That just says “I chose the easy/simple way.” It’s harder, but pick things that speak to you even if they don’t match! 

Favorite Shops

The Greenhouse in Bellingham is always a great place to shop. If you are budget minded and are willing to go back multiple times as stock changes daily, Home Goods and At Home have some great finds as well as a lower price tag. I also enjoy finding vintage treasures at Ormolulu. My motto is: Focus on finding the right piece, not the right price. 


Turn it Inside Out: Creating Outdoor Spaces: Colleen Knowles

Photo by Aaron Leitz

Trend Spotlight 

Now more than ever, outdoor rooms are the new indoor rooms! They extend the usable space of your home, offering more options, more space, and a totally different living experience. Thinking about outdoor rooms is my favorite, because I love the outdoors and feel it restores me. I know I’m not alone. As humans, we should all be outside more, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun on our skin. It’s healthy for us, and it makes us happy. Creating or improving an outdoor space is about more than adding value to your home — though it does this, too. It’s about improving your environment, making your life better.  

Photo by Andrew Giammarco

Words of Advice 

When designing an outdoor room, I design just as I would for an indoor room, except every element needs to have extra durability and cleanability. I’m pretty pragmatic, and when it comes to the Pacific Northwest, we all know the weather can get pretty gross. Things get wet, they get ruined. So it’s important to just work with our environment and be realistic about what will work and what won’t. (That’s why I think outdoor rugs are a bad idea in this area.) I also hate throw-away culture, and when people buy non-durable outdoor furniture, they eventually have to throw it away and buy replacements.  

When it comes to creating an outdoor space you want to spend time in, it’s important to actually accessorize, the same way you would with an indoor room. When you think about those swoon-worthy photos you see in magazines, they’ve accessorized, and it’s more than just string lights and candles. You want multiple layers of lighting and art.  

Another necessary element in any outdoor room, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, is flame and fire. It’s such a human experience to be around a fire…it’s primal. This is your cave. It goes back to that deep part of your brain; you need flame and fire. Not only will it provide warmth, extending the usability of the outdoor room into the evening, but it will also provide a layer of light and a beautiful focus. This may be a fireplace, fire bowl, fire table, or an array of candles.  

Photo by John Granen

Where to Shop  

First: every art gallery in Western Washington! I think it is so important to purchase as many original, creative, one-of-a-kind authentic selections as you can. For everything else: Epic Antique in Seattle is a real gem for our area. Auda Sinda Rugs in Bellingham. Driscoll Robbins Fine Carpets and Turabi Rug Gallery in South Seattle. Abnormals Anonymous wallpaper Bainbridge Island. Inform Interiors in Seattle and Vancouver. Modern Classics furniture Bellingham. Schoolhouse in Portland. Honeychurch Antiques in Mount Vernon.  


Go Big or Don’t Go Home

Written by Becky Mandelbaum

Photo by John Granen

Acclaimed interior designer Colleen Knowles has a theory about what makes us fall in love with a room. 

“Our feelings about our home are very primal…our home is our cave. It’s where we want to raise and protect our family. It’s a very deep part of the brain.”  

When we feel good about our cave, we feel good about our life, and who we are. We feel safe, comfortable, and protected, which puts us at ease.  

“When you get to the deeper meaning,” she says, “that’s when it feels right.” 

And yet, when it comes to designing our cave, many of us fail to get that feeling we’re looking for — the feeling that we absolutely love our surroundings.  

Knowles has a few ideas about why this happens. Namely, it’s fear of making a mistake. She notes that clients often focus too much on things like resale and timelessness, rather than choosing selections that truly delight them. Most often, people regret not getting what they actually want, even if it means a higher price tag or a bigger gamble in terms of resale value.   

Photo by Andrew  Giammarco

“Don’t let fear be the paramount force behind your decision-making,” Knowles stresses. “Push yourself to do the scary thing — you have to push yourself…It’s the same when you’re making a decision in other areas of your life.”  

She urges people to avoid making selections that are too small-scale, monochromatic, or lack color and pattern. Again, decisions we often make out of fear of getting it wrong.  

“People buy so many small things,” she says. “Buy bigger. More color. Go big. If you’re going to do it, do it.” 

And worrying about resale value? Move it down the priority list. 

“Everything is going to look bad in 12 years,” she jokes, “so pick whatever truly delights you. Make your space what you think is amazing, because it’s your space. It means everything. You should look around your space and say ‘I like this, I feel good here, and at the end of the day, it makes me happy, and I’m comfortable, and that’s enough.'”  

The Importance of Buying Original Art 

Photo by Aaron Leitz

Another thing Knowles can’t stress enough is the importance of buying unique, original artwork. She encourages her clients to shop for original art just like they would shop for anything else.  

“You simply walk into a gallery and get inquisitive. Ask lots of questions, learn, and don’t be afraid to ask the price. It’s not chichi, it keeps artists going,” she says. 

Returning to the idea of fear, Knowles sees that many people are afraid to buy art because they worry they don’t know enough to make a proper selection.  

“People think they don’t buy enough original art…but it’s not because they don’t think it’s important, I find it’s because they are intimidated and wonder if they are knowledgeable enough, or assume it will be too expensive. They don’t want to look stupid.” 

There’s no such thing as stupid when it comes to trusting your own aesthetic. What appeals to you? What do you find beautiful? What brings you meaning? These are all you need to know when deciding what art to put in your home. Remember to also think broadly. Original art can mean a painting, ceramics, a tapestry, rug, glasswork, or sculpture. Whatever draws you in or moves you. Also, simply placing an item on a plain white sculpture pedestal is an underused interior design device.  

If you look at some of Knowles’ projects, art is often at the center of the room. Not only does it tie everything together, but it also gives the room a unique character it would not otherwise have. To display original art is to create a one-of-a-kind space that speaks to who you are as an individual — what you like, what you believe in, how you want to feel in your home.  

In other words: it’s worth putting in the time and effort to shop for original art to add to your home.

Calming & Natural: Sandra Hurtley


Photo by Sheila Say

Trend Spotlight 

The use of reclaimed and natural materials continues. We are moving away from the grays to a warmer neutral palette. This trend incorporates lots of texture and wood. For instance, I am currently working with a client that is incorporating reclaimed teak mosaic tiles in her ensuite bathroom — and they are gorgeous! Keeping it casual and natural is perfect for where we live, and good design always incorporates something organic. 

Photo by Sheila Say

Words of Advice 

Pay attention to the tones in the materials you are using. If going with a warmer neutral palette be sure to have some contrast to create depth and interest. House plants are a micro trend at the moment and really warm up a neutral space. Try not to overdo it with too many plants and keep them in groupings with coordinated pots. 

Furniture placement is always a big part of any space. I often see what I call “the spin cycle,” meaning all the furniture is up against the walls instead of creating a cozy “cockpit” of seating. Don’t be afraid to float the sofa, arrange with angles. Keep it conversational and cozy. 

Another mistake I see is with themed spaces. Often, when deciding on a look, say coastal or farmhouse, it can be taken too literally. Try not to overdo it with a theme, keep it simple and meaningful. 

Also, when choosing an accent color, it should only represent about 10% of the space. If the color overwhelms a room, it will lose its impact. For instance, if cobalt blue is your accent, show it in 3 to 4 places only. It’s a discipline! 

Photo by Sheila Say

Favorite Shops  

I love Simply Serendipitous (@simply_serendipitous78) for repurposed wood furniture that uses beautiful techniques and colors. CW Happy Creations (@cwhappycreations) is great for beautiful custom accent pillows. The Revision Division of The RE Store is ideal for beautifully repurposed, restored furniture. I also love the showroom at Wiser’s Furniture in Lynden — I never leave empty handed!  

Photo by Sheila Say


Wood, Metal, Glass, Stone, and Greens: Tanna Edler

Photo by Nic Aston

Trend Spotlight 

We are loving the continued use of our five favorite things; wood, metal, glass, stone, and greens! These pieces have become present in almost every room in the home. The more creative the better, so we are really loving how the current trend is to combine many of these materials into one unique and stunning piece. 

Photo by Nic Aston

Words of Advice 

Bring the outdoors in. Using reclaimed woods together with handcrafted metal is ideal! There has been an increased interest in nature and many are spending much more time in the woods. Our tip is to recreate that feeling you felt while enjoying the outdoors by bringing those organic looks inside the home. When it comes to mistakes, scale and proportion are typically the primary challenges I witness when I get a call to assist with styling. The true key to a well-designed home is how each piece compliments the other. 

Photo by Nic Aston

Favorite Shops 

We love the modern farmhouse look, so we are always searching out local antique locations and each time we uncover a find … we’ll add it to our “resources” page on our website to share. We love visiting vintage stores and incorporating repurposed woods and metals into our design for that lived-in appeal. 


The Next Big Things

Functional Space & Eco-Living

Photo by Nic Aston

“With everything that we have experienced, the home has become our sanctuary. We are seeing an emphasis on functional spaces, including the kitchen and laundry, as well as dedicated spaces, such as a home office or home gym. For everyone, life looks a little different and specifically from the home front. Plus the interest in eco-friendly is spilling into every space, the fascination with the natural world is definitely top of mind. We are currently focusing on intentional living with our clients, focusing on the sustainable and timeless aesthetic with the idea that most will spend more time loving their homes than ever before.” Tanna Edler 

“Although open plan spaces will continue, I feel there will be a trend towards creating more designated areas as many people are continuing to work/exercise/learn from home even as the world opens up again after the pandemic. Having a home office, exercise studio, somewhere to do schoolwork that isn’t distracting, and an outdoor space to gather even in the non-warm months will be important moving forward.” – Jennifer Ryan  

Round Shapes & Soft Lines

“These ball pillows are coming for everybody.” Colleen Knowles

“All of the showrooms are shifting to furniture with soft lines, no right angles. Think curved sofas and round coffee tables. It’s a very feminine look and it is also showing up in décor items like lamps and mirrors.” -Sandra Hurtley  

Cozy & Comfortable

Comphy Sheets  

If you’ve been to a spa or hotel lately, chances are high you’ve experienced Comphy Sheets. Designed for the spa world (to which they are a leading supplier) these sheets live up to their name. A unique microfiber material feels like 600-thread-count sheets, but is also wrinkle-free, recyclable, and more durable than traditional cotton sheets. Best of all? They’re made in Ferndale, so you can sleep easy knowing you’ve supported a local business.   

Floral Printed French Cushions from Greenhouse  

These long cushions are perfect for adding comfort to benches and window sills, but you can also fold them in half to transform a stiff wooden chair into something worth sitting on. Buy them individually or in a set of four, or mix and match with throw pillows.