Studio Blog

The reHOME Project: Innovation for Social and Environmental Good

January 12, 2023 | , , , , , ,

Architect Matthew Coates’ award-winning “ReHOME: Resilience & Regeneration” project takes on two pressing social and environmental issues:  the lack of affordable housing in cities throughout the United States, and the vast amount of waste produced during construction and demolition.

This project won the prestigious 2022 AIA Seattle’s Award of Merit in “Research & Innovation” owing to its plan to save millions of dollars in resources while creating jobs that develop employable skills and constructing low-cost housing for diverse demographics.  Through community engagement and volunteer work, future residents will benefit from the housing while learning skills of construction and management. The vision is to then introduce volunteers to industries wherein they might acquire future employment. This project introduces innovations not yet utilized in efforts to increase the inventory of affordable housing.

At the opening of the first completed example of this project at Morales Farm in Kitsap County on December 10th, 2022, Matthew Coates, president of Coates Design, noted that “all the materials used – the nails, screws, timber, sheathing, caulk, weather stripping, windows, doors, brackets, and roof – were unwanted and headed for the landfill. We were able to capture it, reorganize it, and use it to create comfortable, well-designed homes. It took faith, goodwill and a lot of work. The building process wastes a tremendous amount of material, and this project shows that things can be done differently.”  Coates envisions this example being replicated throughout the country and will therefore provide all the tools, information and lessons learned freely to anyone interested.


ReHOME is on track to design and build at a third of the cost of current construction prices.  As it is scaled up, the process intends to develop a new sector of the real estate and construction industry. This model can be exported to various cities throughout the country and the world, developing properties to accommodate growing neighborhoods of recycled homes.

As the reHOME Morales Farm project grew, thousands of labor hours from volunteers and construction employees were donated, and little conversations about gathering materials even connected people from off island. When Benjamin Moore Paint in Seattle heard that the project needed paint, the next day they showed up with the paint and a team who volunteered to work.

Emphasizing the extent of repurposing, Kellen Bond, Clark Construction Inc. vice president of operations, said that 26,000 pounds of building materials valued at about $125,000 were diverted from the landfill. Everything from fixtures to windows were sourced from trade partners, subcontractors and the community.

Construction volunteer Deb Rudnick marveled at the structures and remembered the hours she spent pulling nails from a “mountain of lumber” for the project. “I think it’s phenomenal; this is a template that could be replicated in so many places.”

Presenting the AIA Merit Award, Billie Faircloth, Partner at Kieran Timberlake, states, “this project challenges the Architecture-Engineering-Construction community to establish new practices for demolition, deconstruction, material salvage and constructing shelter.”

The jury acknowledged the project’s “fearlessness when embracing the complexity of these systems” and “the team’s participatory approach as an exemplary model of applied action-oriented research that simultaneously creates knowledge and outcomes.”

“We need projects like this,” Ghazal Khezri, director at Los Angeles’ Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects affirms, “this is an excellent prototype for addressing issues of affordable housing with scales of economy and growth in mind.”

“It means the world to me to be in a community where we believe this is something important to support.  This is not just about being sustainable, reusing materials and saving things from the landfill; it also illustrates how we value affordable housing, housing that will help interns live on the property and learn how to make a living farming.” Matthew Coates said at the public opening.

“This is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve experienced in my life,” he added, “everyone had their hearts in the right place. It really teaches that there is so much joy in giving, and there is so much joy in seeing what we can do when we put our minds together.”


Coates Design demonstrates its commitment to social change by contributing its design services free of charge to the reHOME project.  Following this example, at reHOME Morales Farm, 28 other local companies contributed materials, financial support and their hard work to realize this long dreamed of project.

Many working families throughout the country struggle to find housing they can afford. The reHOME Project furnishes a solution to this problem, demonstrating an innovative pathway for creating quality housing and developing flourishing communities for marginalized populations.

Coates envisions a future with planned neighborhoods with homes built from repurposed materials where homeowners have a sense of community and an investment in their future. Toward this aim, he conveys his belief that “everyone deserves good design.”

Facts and Links


Collaborating Partners:  Clark Construction Inc. | Friends of the Farms | Housing Resources Bainbridge

Photographer Credit:  David W. Cohen Photography

Location:  Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

Size:  272 SF per Unit

Fact:  The EPA states that more than 600 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the US in 2018.

ReHOME:  AIA Seattle Research & Innovation Award of Merit

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce: reHOME – Sustainable community on Bainbridge Island wins global design award

Bainbridge Review: “Tiny Homes have Enormous Impact”

MUSE Design Awards Gold Winner: Architectural Design – Rebirth Project

MUSE Design Awards Silver Winner: Architectural Design – Sustainable Living / Green

MUSE Design Awards Silver Winner: Architectural Design – Low Cost Housing

“The Extraordinary Architect: Matthew Coates” – Citizen Sister Podcast interview with Matthew Coates on the reHOME Project

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce: reHOME – Community Built with Cast-Off Materials…

Gray Magazine: “A New Approach to Affordable, Sustainable Housing”


Color in Interior Design

September 12, 2022 |

One of the most fun and gratifying parts of modern home interior design is choosing a color palette to work with. After all, using color in interior design is an excellent means by which to express personality as well as bring together other design elements into a cohesive whole.

But there’s more to modern interior design color schemes than slapping an array of paint samples up on a wall and selecting the shades, hues and tints you like the most. While personal preference is certainly a driving force in determining your modern interior design colors, it’s vital that color be used in a way that makes your house feel like your home.

At Coates, we are as intentional about color in interior design as we are every other aspect of the home design and building process. When using color in interior design, we consider not only what colors to use, but also how and where they will be used.

Color and Light

Color within a home is not a static force. Instead, it is in an endless dance with light, which changes its character and personality during the course of days and seasons. That interplay has a powerful effect on our emotions as well. It’s well documented that different colors can evoke different and powerful feelings in people, and light or lack thereof also plays into our psychological state. Therefore, the marriage of color and light is a powerful one. It’s important to both love your modern interior design colors and understand how they make you feel as they interact with the light in your home.

Modern Home Interior Colors

When we think of modern home interior colors, we tend to think in terms of neutrals. And indeed, that wash of soothing neutral colors that is the hallmark modern interior design color schemes is unlikely to ever go out of style. It’s inviting, sleek and complements a design aesthetic that is uncluttered and minimalist.

That said, color definitely has its place in modern design. Colorful elements can be layered over a neutral backdrop to provide pops of personality and create emotion within a space. Cultural trends around home design may shift with time, which is why we prefer to help clients chose modern home interior colors that resonate deeply with them and help them set the mood they most want their spaces to evoke and reflect.

Every color tells a story, and here are some examples of what using color in interior design can say about a space.

  • Red: A powerful color that speeds up pulse, breathing and circulation. It stimulates appetite, attracts attention and brings forth feelings of excitement, anger, aggression and impulsiveness (for these reasons, we don’t recommend using it in bedrooms). Used judiciously, red creates warmth and feelings of coziness.
  • Orange: A stimulating color that creates warmth, pleasure and sensuality. It lowers inhibitions, aids in being social, connects us to our senses and can be helpful for those with depression or seasonal affective disorder. It’s excellent for brightening rooms without natural light.
  • Yellow: It has the distinction of being the color noticed first by the human eye. It can help a space glow and is good for increasing concentration, focus, mental acuity and curiosity. It’s a great choice for a study space, but when used too much can cause eye fatigue.
  • Green: Because it is easy on the eyes and brings with it an association with nature and outdoor spaces, green is considered a healing color. It relaxes muscles, nerves and thoughts and fosters rejuvenation and serenity, renewal, peace and harmony.
  • Blue: A cousin of green, blue also evokes nature, in particular the color of water and the clear sky. It is stress-reducing and restful while enhancing communication, speech and productivity. It can reduce body temperature, lower appetite, calm nerves and reduce pain. It’s a good choice for bedrooms, workout areas or environments that encourage learning.
  • Purple: Given that it is a mix of calming blue and exciting red, purple brings with it attributes of both of those colors. Its richness also evokes a sense of luxury and elegance. Purple is said to foster a connection to the subconscious and stimulate dream activity.

In conjunction with the neutrals that are at the heart of modernism, using color in interior design can define a space, personalize it, make it distinctive and also create psychological climates. Some of those climates can be stimulating, invigorating and increase focus and creativity. Others can be calming, healing and foster a sense of relaxation and peace. Best of all, these disparate climates can exist within the same home. Such is the power of color in interior design. Contact us today to start a discussion about how to best harness color and light to create modern interior design color schemes for your home.

Passive Solar Design

September 12, 2022 |

If you’re planning a new home and wanting to reduce your impact on the environment while saving on electricity, passive solar design is a wholesome way to make your home more energy efficient. Passive solar home design can also make your home healthier and more comfortable.

What Is Passive Solar Design?

Passive solar design is a method of designing and building a home that maximizes the benefits of sunlight. The set of strategies employed are extensive and begin when the site for the house is chosen and continue all the way to the finishing details of the home. Passive solar houses benefit from the energy of the sun without needing to install or maintain solar panels on the home, and can reduce your home energy bills by as much as 14%.

Passive solar design works by constructing a building with specific materials and angles so that sunlight will help with the heating and cooling of the building. The sunlight comes through angled glass and hits material that is able to collect and trap heat—this can be concrete, tile, stone, brick, etc. The heat is then distributed throughout the home via conduction and convection or a specialized HVAC system. During the hot summer, the glass is shaded, and the home is ventilated naturally. During warmer months, passive solar homes are designed to vent out indoor heat once the outdoor temperature has dropped below the indoor temperature. In winter, the home will absorb heat, keeping it inside where it is needed. A passive solar home may include a separate heating and cooling system, but this may only need to be used for two weeks or less per year.

Because the passive solar system requires such extensive planning, you’ll want to make sure that the design features you choose work best for you, and to enlist an experienced architect to develop the design. Without expert attention to detail, your passive solar house plans may not be as efficient as you’d hoped.

Choosing the Site For Your Passive Solar Home

Because this set of strategies takes advantage of the sun’s energy, choosing the site for your home is important, especially in a place like the Pacific Northwest. The south face of the site should have unimpeded access to sunlight. This means building on the northern sides of slopes, avoiding tall buildings or stands of tall trees on the southern side of the site.

Keep in mind the future development of the area. New construction can obstruct your home’s access to the sun, and small trees (or even new trees!) can also block your access to the sun.
You can also protect your access to sunlight by selecting a lot that’s deep from north to south, and building on the north end of the lot. Having most of the lot to the south of your home means that you get to control what is built or grown there.

An architect can assist you with site selection and understanding the zoning rules and regulations that could affect your access to the sun.

Passive Solar Home Design Basics

There are a few concepts that are important to understand when choosing passive solar design features to add to your home.

  • Aperture or Collector: This is the feature that collects energy from the sun. It is typically a large glass area on the south side of the building
  • Absorber: This is typically a hard surface on top of the thermal mass. It’s usually dark in color to make it more effective in collecting solar energy.
  • Thermal mass: A material that is used to store solar energy in the form of heat. These are usually concrete, masonry, or stone because these materials are able to store a lot of heat.
  • Distribution: This is the method by which the solar energy is then distributed through the house as heat.
  • Control: These are features of the home that prevent over-heating or under-heating due to seasonal changes. These controls may be automated or manual in nature. (See below for a more in-depth explanation of passive solar controls.)

Passive Solar Design Strategies

Most passive solar homes employ some deceptively simple methods to improve heating and cooling efficiency. These are divided into two different strategies: direct gain and indirect gain.

Direct gain is a passive solar strategy that uses the living space in the home itself as the absorber and thermal mass of the passive solar system. Homes employing direct gain passive solar systems will use windows as their collector. These windows need to face within 30 degrees of true south in order to be effective. The air inside the home, or a masonry or concrete floor, will act as the absorber, and the floor will often be dark colored, to make the most of the energy coming in the window.

Indirect gain is a passive solar strategy that uses an external thermal mass rather than sending the heat directly into a home. This means that there will be a stone, concrete, or masonry wall facing south. The wall then acts as the thermal mass, taking the heat and radiating it back into the house. Using indirect gain means that heat from the sun collected at noon will radiate into the house in the cooler evening, as it takes heat roughly an hour to penetrate an inch into the thermal mass. Indirect passive solar systems may have a single or double pane of glass over the thermal mass wall to concentrate the solar energy. In these cases, the pane should be about one inch from the passive solar wall, and the wall is 6-18 inches thick. This is also known as a Trombe wall.

Isolated Gain is a strategy through which you isolate the collection of solar energy to one room in the house. This is typically accomplished through the use of a sunspace, such as a sunroom or solarium. One benefit to this strategy is that you can close off the room to keep the heat out of the rest of the home, or open it to bring the heat into the home, so you have a little more control over heat distribution.

Passive Solar Controls

Control is a strategy for limiting the energy collected by your passive solar system in times when you may not want the extra heat, like hot summer days. This can also be used for solar cooling.

One of the simplest ways to implement a control system on your passive solar home is to place shades over the collector, usually windows, but devices like the Trombe wall can also be shaded in this way. These shades are often overhangs and awnings, carefully placed to block summer sun, but not winter sun. The sun rises higher in the sky in summer, at least for the northern hemisphere, so a properly placed and angled overhang can shade your collectors on summer days. Meanwhile, the lower sun in the winter will still be able to access your collectors. In addition, shaded thermal masses can actually absorb heat from inside the home on hot days.

Another control strategy is natural ventilation. Placing vents on the sides of the home both facing toward and facing away from the prevailing winds promotes a cross breeze through the home, bringing fresh air in and evacuating stale or overheated air. In summer, for example, you can open vents to cool the home at night, and then close them to keep the heat of the summer day out. Wing walls can be placed to encourage ventilation even through windows that are perpendicular to prevailing winds. Wing walls are vertical exterior panels placed between two windows. These panels capture and accelerate natural winds by using pressure differences created by the wing wall.

For areas where there are no prevailing winds, you can still use ventilation to cool the home. Placing a high vent where the heat collects, and placing a low vent, the home can release hot air through the high vent and draw in cool air through the low vent.

Passive Solar Lighting Design

Passive solar lighting is the process of bringing more natural daylight into the home. This can be a byproduct of your direct gain passive solar heating system, but is also often achieved through the use of skylights.

Skylights create less glare than windows in the walls of a home. Skylights for passive lighting are best placed for southern exposure, so that they can allow the light to penetrate the northern side of the home, where the windows let in less light.

Light shelves can be used for passive solar lighting through windows. Light shelves are usually horizontal interior structures placed to divide the viewable portion of the window from the portion that lets in additional sunlight. The purpose of the light shelf is to bounce sunlight to the ceiling of the home, allowing the light to penetrate deeper into the home and maximizing usable daylight.

Exterior light shelves can also bounce lighting into the home, while also providing shade to the windows below it.

Baffles are vertically oriented surfaces placed inside the home. These are usually made from or covered with fabric to help evenly distribute the daylight. These types of passive lighting features also reduce glare, making the passive lighting system more pleasant for the user.

Not only does passive solar lighting decrease the need for electric lighting, but it increases exposure to daylight, improving mood, decreasing daytime drowsiness, increasing productivity, and helping to balance circadian rhythms.

Should You Choose Passive Solar Home Design?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to use passive solar heating or lighting for your home. One is whether this is for a new home, or retrofitting an older home. A lot of these methods are difficult to install in an existing home, and may require a complete tear-down and rebuild of the existing home. This is especially true if your home isn’t already designed for energy efficiency. Passive solar heating will be less effective in homes with a lot of air leaks. Additional windows, skylights, and thermal masses are difficult or impossible to add into an existing home.

Since much of passive solar use depends on the design, placement, and orientation of the home, it’s much easier to implement passive solar in a new home.

Climate impacts passive solar systems as well. While your passive solar system can still collect solar energy on cloudy days, it will collect less, making your heating and lighting system less effective. This is true also for homes in very northern areas, where the sun only rises for a few hours in the winter, when you need the solar heating the most.

Including passive solar design in your house plans can also increase the cost of construction. With additional features to manage both light and heat, the process uses more materials and requires precise placement and specific materials.

Passive solar design elements on the exterior or interior of your home may create a look that doesn’t match your personal preference. There are ways to make these features look elegant and beautiful, but there’s not a way to hide them altogether.

So is passive solar design for you? That depends on where you live, whether you’re building a new home, and on your own personal preferences. The benefits are great, though. Passive solar design can create a more efficient and healthier home for you and your family.

Sustainable Building Practices

July 21, 2022 | ,

Recently, we detailed our energy-efficient design philosophy and our belief that great design leads to better quality of life. Our commitment to sustainability means that we design beautiful spaces in which every detail is thought out according to the needs of those who will live, work and otherwise use those spaces while also being mindful of creating a legacy of energy-efficient, low-impact design that will benefit people and the planet.

That core philosophy is who we are and informs all we do—including how we put those beliefs into practice.

Sustainable Building the Coates Design Way

As a pioneering force in the Pacific Northwest for sustainable design, we know that creating spaces that are energy-efficient, eco-friendly and environmentally sound doesn’t narrow the road, it expands the horizon.

Freed from the traditional way of doing things, we are able to collaborate with other forward-thinking companies and consultants.

We form partnerships with those who are innovating sustainable materials for buildings and are at the forefront of sustainable construction practices. These folks have priorities similar to those of Coates as well as our clients, and their creativity and inventiveness help us to ensure our sustainable building practices are in sync with our overarching philosophy.


It is said that kitchens and bathrooms are what sell homes, and IceStone is at the forefront of marrying sustainable construction materials with the kind of beauty that makes these spaces so appealing. The company began in 2003 with the simple objective of transforming waste glass into something beautiful. Their recycled glass countertops and surfaces are the realization of their goal to create a business that integrates responsible, sustainable building practices from process to end product, and to provide a high-end design solution that prioritizes eco-friendliness without sacrificing beauty.


Some of the most sustainable building materials come straight from nature, and cork has a surfeit of amazing properties that cannot be replicated or emulated by technology. Wicanders has harnessed the mighty power of humble cork to make flooring that not only comes in a wide variety of stunning styles, but also makes the most of cork’s ability to be a natural thermal and acoustic insulator. Elastic, compressible, resistant to high temperatures, and impermeable to liquids and gasses, cork is ideal among eco-friendly building materials. However, one of the greatest advantages of cork flooring is the sheer amount of comfort it provides. The same qualities that make it one of the most energy-efficient building materials also make it highly pleasant to walk or stand on—even for long periods of time and while barefoot—and keep it at an optimal temperature year-round. Wicanders cork floors have been shown to be superior to wood, vinyl or ceramic flooring when it comes to avoiding energy dispersion.


While IceStone and Wicanders are manufacturers of eco-friendly building materials, CaraGreen describes itself as a “one-stop shop for healthy and sustainable building materials.” Their mission is to be the “trusted source” for such sustainable materials for buildings as surfacing materials, acoustic solutions, insulation, exterior cladding and more. CaraGreen’s commitment to transparency in their practices and contributing to the health of the environment without sacrificing the beauty and functionality of great design mirrors our own.

Greenhome Solutions

At a local level, we are also proud to partner with Greenhome Solutions, a Seattle-based supplier of sustainable building products. Family-owned and operated and with 20 years of experience, they are truly experts in eco-friendly building materials and sustainable construction practices. Greenhome’s varied inventory of flooring, cabinets, countertops, carpets, decking and other sustainable construction products, as well as deep knowledge of product features and environmental benefits, make them a valuable collaborator in our drive to create client spaces that are designed beautifully and sustainably.

These are just a few of the forward-thinking companies that help us translate our eco-friendly ethos into real-world sustainable building practices. At Coates, we are always looking to collaborate with innovators and leading-edge thinkers that share our passion for great design that prioritizes the planet.

green home with energy efficient design

Energy-Efficient Design and the Home of Your Dreams

June 21, 2022 | , ,

At Coates Design, our responsible design philosophy is simple: We believe that better design leads to better quality of life.

The projects we undertake vary, but the overarching goal is always to bring our expertise in sustainability to all that we do, while never compromising our attention to great design. Our projects look beautiful and integrate seamlessly with the way our clients live, work and function in the spaces we create for them. To us, balancing beauty with sustainability is never a challenge, it’s an opportunity that inspires us to design with intention, purpose and imagination. At Coates Design, we strive to create buildings and homes that have a net positive impact on the environment outside and the people within.

This commitment to responsible architecture doesn’t simply manifest in a LEED certification here or the use of regenerative design there. We don’t just shoehorn in eco-friendly or energy-efficient design features where they’ll fit; our ethos informs everything we do from the ground up. Our mission is to breathe life into buildings that are not only beautiful, intentional  and functional, but that will also nourish people’s mind, body and souls, while simultaneously preserving and nurturing  the environment.

We are crafting a legacy of energy-efficient, low-impact design that future generations will draw from, build upon and benefit from.

We view the concept of responsible design holistically and strategically in that we constantly look for ways to employ principles that will save our clients operational cost while also providing exceptional comfort. In addition, we seek out and take on pro-bono projects that contribute to the greater good of our local and international communities, and bring to these projects the same level of modern and elegant responsible design that benefits others. A recent example of this is our ReHome Project for Friends of the Farm, an affordable housing project using 100 percent recycled and reclaimed materials. The project uses responsible design to address two issues: the lack of affordable housing on Bainbridge Island and the vast amount of waste produced during construction. Responsible architecture is not just our design philosophy; it’s an entirely new way of thinking and living—and it’s woven throughout our DNA.

Can elegant design combined with sustainable building practices and responsible architecture make the world a better place? We believe it can, and we are putting that belief into practice one project at a time.

Conscious Creativity: Responsible Design at Work

Some might think that design that honors the Earth, protects the environment and contributes to the overall health of our bodies could involve a surplus of strict rules and boundaries. 

That’s just not how we work.

For us, the mission of employing energy-efficient design principles in the service of creating stunning, life-enhancing and responsible architecture is one that expands, rather than limits, our creative vision. Regenerative design, energy-efficient architecture and solutions that benefit the environment are engines that drive our creativity, stoking our vision and inspiring us to think outside the four walls of the proverbial box. When we eliminate the need to do things as they’ve always been done in favor of a brighter future and a better way, it allows us to say yes to buildings that save or even generate their own energy, save or recycle water, prevent heat loss from building envelopes, incorporate bio landscapes that produce food, or utilize other principles of regenerative design that help the ecosystem and fight pollution. It enables us to see sustainability as a jumping-off point to an energy-efficient design, providing solutions that benefit our planet as well as our wallets, without sacrificing the nourishing delights of breathtaking design.

At Coates, our mandate of combining sustainable building practices with elegant responsible design means facing the future fearlessly, with intention, ingenuity and inspiration.

How Responsible Design Benefits You

While we all benefit from design that places less stress upon the environment and planet, responsible architecture also has some direct benefits for people who live and work in the buildings and homes we create. 

As previously mentioned, when the design process is decoupled from some of its more traditional principles, unfettered, emboldened creativity is often the result. Meaning that if your dream has always been to live in a home that blurs the lines between the indoor and outdoor spaces, we can make that happen. Perhaps you’ve purchased a stunning plot of land for your building and would like the architectural design of it to meld with the land and contribute to its natural beauty—we are skilled at bringing that type of project to life in stunningly beautiful fashion. Maybe you need for your home to be a calming, minimalist space that is intuitive, user-friendly and free of obtrusive design elements—our portfolio contains examples of several such projects.

Of course, some of the benefits of responsible design are purely practical. Given that we live during a time of energy insecurity, energy-efficient architecture can increase both your savings potential and your feelings of security. Incorporating features of regenerative design can yield long-range financial dividends as well. And using reclaimed or cutting-edge sustainable building materials and utilizing better building practices are up-front investments that have real, measurable environmental benefits. We specialize in creating spaces that are as forward-thinking as they are beautiful and have a legacy that will positively impact the planet and its people for generations to come.

At Coates Design, responsible architecture isn’t what we do—it’s who we are. It’s the principle upon which we were founded and it’s the one that continues to define us. Our homes and buildings are not just beautiful, they’re better by design.

textures add warmth and personality to minimalist home design

The Simple Charm of Minimalist House Design

May 16, 2022 | , , ,

Minimalist home design is an often-misunderstood design philosophy. It’s common to lump it in with modern design, and while the two do share similarities, they are distinct styles. There is also a popular misconception that minimalist design must be cold, uninviting, and unforgivingly practical. While simplicity and functionality are elements of a minimalist aesthetic, when well designed, these minimalist spaces can also be warm, calming and inviting.

Minimalist design first appeared in the mid 20th century, and in the 2020’s it is making a vibrant comeback. This may be due to the fact that with increasingly hectic lives, people yearn for simplicity in their home life. This leads to design that encourages ease and serenity. There are a few elements to minimalist design, and knowing a little about them will help us to understand this design philosophy better.

simplified color palette of minimalist home exterior

Minimalist Color Palettes

In modern minimalist home design, soft and neutral color palettes are typically used. This stands in stark contrast to the brightly colored accent walls and other colorful elements that were a mainstay of residential interior design in the 2000s. However, this doesn’t mean that the palette has to be cold.

The goal of minimalist design is to ease the mental burden on our attention by simplifying sensory stimulation. A good example of a simplified color palette is our Hillside House project on Bainbridge Island. This interior uses clean white with structural gray concrete walls to create visual simplicity, and warming wood accents. The large windows bring in a lot of natural light, which further warms the white, creating a calming and inviting space.

interior of minimalist home with calming use of simple line and bold shape

Minimalist Lines and Shapes

To help feature the simplicity and functionality of a minimalist interior design, shapes and lines are clean, bold and simple. This includes walls, surfaces and furniture. Shapes are often strongly geometric, providing structure to a space that might otherwise lack visual interest. While minimalist homes do without flamboyant, ornate details and patterns, the elegant composition of lines and forms creates visual appeal while maintaining the calming effect of minimalism.

Our Sonoma Valley Estate Guest House and Green Lake Residence make use of this aesthetic. Clean, bold lines are present in repeated rectangular windows and furniture. Window treatments are elegant and seem to disappear into the top of the windows. The furniture is elevated on rectilinear legs, creating more crisp lines and angles which complement the rectangular features. The cantilevered roof creates a spacious feel and draws lines through from the interior to the exterior of the home with the wood slat finish.The high ceilings and windows also allow the interior to feel open and calming.. The angular roof line adds variety and interest, both inside and out, without creating unnecessary visual clutter.

textures add warmth and personality to minimalist home design

Minimalist Textures

While minimalist homes may lack bold colors and patterns, they play with textures in a way that creates warmth and personality. This use of texture can come from both architectural features and design elements. Textured elements can be large or small, but using them sparingly helps maintain the harmonious and peaceful feel of minimalist design.

The Tumble Creek Cabin project uses a variety of textures both inside and out. Much of the textural appeal comes from structural elements which provide visual interest without feeling cluttered. This comes from the use of a variety of materials. Beautiful stonework on the exterior, expanses of wood both inside and out, and the exposed steel and wood beams supporting the ceiling all provide contrasting textures. The board-formed concrete chimney offers a subtle texture to soften this massive, grounding feature. The simple leather and wood furniture adds more character to the home without unnecessary clutter.

interior decor in a minimalist kitchen adds structure and tranquility

Minimalist House Decor

While the interior decor of minimalist home designs is spare, it can be done masterfully without disrupting lines and shapes. These decor elements support the open-plan design common to modern minimalist houses. They also retain and promote the bold lines of minimalist design, conferring structure and tranquility to the interior. While decor items may blend in with minimalist architectural elements, they may also contrast or accent them. Abstract wall art, soft textiles in neutral tones, and objects with curves and clean lines, can soften the look of minimalist architecture, creating an inviting space. Into this palette are interjected important momentos of the resident to be highlighted against the minimalist home to create an interior as unique as the people who live there.

Inside our Hansen Road House, you’ll find mostly bare walls with visual interest provided instead by the variety of materials used. Rugs in neutral colors with soft and textured piles soften and warm the rooms. Accent pieces with round shapes and curving lines contrast with the bold rectangular shapes that dominate the interior. Furniture stands on legs and pedestals, revealing beautiful floor space and promoting an airy, open feel.

While minimalist architecture and design can feel cold, hard and generic, when done by skilled architects and designers it creates a clean, graceful and refreshing environment for living. . . From major architectural elements, like open plan design and high, vaulted ceilings, to aesthetic details like materials, furnishings, and accents, a minimalist home can be uniquely yours and beautifully inviting. At Coates Design, we take pride in our work, and we’re confident that we can help you build your dream home while fulfilling our vision to benefit the environment, the economy, and the community. If you’re looking for beautiful design and high-quality construction, contact us for more information.

modern kitchen design with long rectangular island and open format leading to living room with large windows

Modern Kitchens: Of Form and Function

March 2, 2022 | , , ,

When we think of the modern kitchen, we picture the aesthetics: clean lines, bold angles, contemporary lighting, sleek finishes. While those elements contribute to the look of modern kitchen designs, there’s more to a modern-style kitchen than just its appearance. When we approach designing a modern kitchen, we focus not only on its form, but also on its function. Given how much and how often a kitchen is used, it must perform well and do so in a way that is tailored to the needs of the people who will spend time in it. A modern kitchen design that is the heart and hub of a home will differ greatly from that of a home with a small galley kitchen where takeout or quick meals are often on the menu. And these days, truly modern kitchens are also designed with an eye toward sustainability, which makes them both efficient and eco-friendly.

Modern kitchen in design-built house with simple geometric block shapes and open format entrance to modern living room

Modern Kitchen Layout

Some kitchens are blank slates, some are in a skeletal state and others already have basic elements in place.. No matter what state a kitchen is in, the layout is always central to a modern kitchen. Whereas kitchen design used to be predicated largely on pre-existing elements—plumbing here, electric there—we are now able to be more flexible (within reason). A truly modern kitchen layout is purpose-built, with zones determined according to use. When we think in terms of workstations and workflow, the surrounding features then fall into place. 

modern kitchen with three-sided fireplace, high contrast colors, and geometric block design

Don’t be afraid to get granular when thinking about your kitchen use: Consider not just how you cook, but also how you clean, put away groceries, what kind of items you store and any kitchen-related priorities you have. If you’re a baker, your modern kitchen ideas might include a baking station with a dedicated outlet for your mixer and a marble countertop to roll out your cookies and knead your dough. If your kitchen is the gathering place for your household, perhaps a large island with ample seating is what will serve you best. Maybe you’ve got a kitchen with a view and do a lot of your dining outdoors, in which case a design that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor is a good fit. It’s possible you’d like to lean into tech and want a kitchen that incorporates cutting-edge smart home design elements. There’s no one way to map out a modern kitchen—indeed the best modern kitchen design is the one that works for you.

Sustainability and Modern Kitchen Designs

There’s nothing more modern than a kitchen that incorporates sustainability into the design of your new or renovated home. Of all the rooms in a home, the kitchen uses the most significant amount of energy—while also generating an equivalent amount of waste. Just because that’s the nature of the kitchen does not mean it has to be that way. With a little intentionality and some expert help, your kitchen can be as eco-friendly as you are. 

A truly contemporary kitchen features appliances that are not only sleek and sport the latest features, but they are also Energy Star certified. This saves you money and helps to save the planet at the same time. Countertops and flooring often come with an unseen cost to the environment due to mining and quarrying, however, options made from sustainable or recycled materials exist and are becoming more accessible as the demand for them grows. 

stove and counter in modern kitchen design with square motif

One of the most effective ways to design a modern kitchen that is both eco-friendly and acts as a showpiece for your home is simply to invest in durable materials that have long lives. Floors that are made from solid hardwood will last generations, becoming more beautiful with time and use. Stone flooring made from rocks quarried nearby incorporates a hyperlocal element into your modern kitchen design and can even absorb heat from the sun, bringing natural warmth to your kitchen during the winter months. Wood cabinetry made from sustainably managed, reclaimed or salvaged hardwoods is another way to marry beauty with an environmentally friendly design ethos.

Lastly, lighting is a simple and straightforward way to practice sustainable modern kitchen design. Whereas LED lighting used to be limited in size and style, and the light it cast was too cool for a room defined by its warmth and communal nature, that is no longer the case.. These days, the variety of LED lighting is vast.  Therefore, from your most gorgeous fixtures to recessed lighting, task lighting and everything in between, your lighting scheme can be appealing, eco-friendly, and long-lasting. Proper lighting is a crucial part of any modern kitchen design, and for every area that needs light treatment, there’s a sustainable option for it.

From layout to function to sustainability, creating a modern-style kitchen is an exercise in intentional design. At Coates Design, our customized, client-focused process can help bring your modern kitchen ideas to life!


February 15, 2022 |

Coates Design Architects is seeking a project architect, designer / architectural associate, and interior designer to join a collaborative, award-winning firm located on Bainbridge Island. We are looking for enthusiastic self-starters, with an eye for modern design and a willingness to learn. Our current projects include healthcare facilities, education projects, government facilities and custom residential homes.


Coates Design Architects is seeking a project architect with 5-7 years of experience.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Master or Bachelor of Architecture professional degree from an NAAB accredited university; licensed architect preferred.
  • 5-7 years of experience in an architecture firm.
  • Proficiency in Revit, SketchUp, and AutoCAD and able to prepare complete plan sets on complex projects.
  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, InDesign, etc).
  • Familiarity with Enscape, Lumion and other rendering and VR platforms.
  • Experience with MS Office and related programs.
  • 5 or more years of experience producing construction documents and building permit submittals

Desired Qualifications:

  • Licensed Architect in the state of Washington.
  • LEED BD+C Accredited Professional.
  • Design experience in high-end custom residential and commercial construction.
  • Experience with high-performance building envelopes.



Coates Design Architects is seeking a designer / architectural associate with 1-5 years of experience.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in architecture or architectural design; Master or Bachelor of Architecture professional degree from an NAAB accredited university preferred.
  • 1-5 years of experience in an architecture firm.
  • Proficiency in Revit, SketchUp, and AutoCAD; more than 1 year of training/experience preferred.
  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, InDesign, etc).
  • Familiarity with Enscape, Lumion and other rendering and VR platforms.
  • Experience with MS Office and related programs.
  • 1 or more years of experience producing construction documents and building permit submittals

Desired Qualifications:

  • Enrolled in the NCARB IDP program and actively working towards/taking ARE exams towards licensure.
  • LEED BD+C Accredited Professional
  • Design experience in high-end custom residential and commercial construction



Coates Design Architects is seeking an interior design associate with 1-5 years of experience.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a CIDA-accredited interior design program, or architectural professional degree from an NAAB accredited university preferred.
  • 1-5 years of experience in a design or architecture firm.
  • Proficiency in SketchUp, Revit, and AutoCAD; more than 2 years of training/experience preferred.
  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, InDesign, etc).
  • Familiarity with Enscape, Lumion and other rendering and VR platforms.
  • Experience with MS Office and related programs.
  • The ability to independently produce interior design deliverables including: interior elevations, furniture and finish floor plans, design intent renderings and related schedules.

Desired Qualifications:

  • Qualified or in-progress to take the NCIDQ Examination for Professional Certification.
  • LEED BD+C Accredited Professional.
  • Design experience in high-end custom residential and commercial construction.

TO APPLY: Email resume and portfolio to [email protected]

2021 Home Design Trends by Ryan Castillo at Redfin

January 19, 2022 | , , ,

With the whirlwind year that was 2021, many changes have been made in the ways we live our lives. And one place that we’ve seen those changes happen is within the home. From turning spare bedrooms into multipurpose rooms to bringing in natural elements like plants into our spaces, 2021 has brought many unique design trends that are sure to stick – and some that may go away within the next couple of years.

As we look back on 2021, we reached out to experts from Kensington, MD to Kelowna, BC, to give us 21 design trends and help us reflect on the best and worst design trends from last year. So sit back and enjoy 2021 home design trends wrapped.

A modern house, Design Trends, Architecture, Black and White Home

1. Defined living spaces were key

Covid has made our clients take a deeper look into how they live and use spaces in 2021, leading to investments in areas normally overlooked like laundry rooms, offices, and playrooms. Open floor plans are being replaced by defined living spaces that have a purpose, especially introverts who need their space. – Sarah Randolph, Principal Designer, Randolph Interior Design

2. Lighting sources became more intentional

When planning lighting for entertaining in your home, remember that the most flattering light comes from around, not above you. It’s important to place lamps around the room, rather than depend on can lights in the ceiling, as they can throw harsh shadows. And be sure to use low-wattage bulbs in your lamps for a soft ambiance. – Jan Kyle Design

We all know lighting is a necessity in any room of our house, but rather than choosing fixtures based on their function alone, use it as an opportunity to show who you are or to allow lighting to speak your story. Fixtures can be elegant, delicate, sleek, or mind-boggling sources of light with character and visual interest. Let your personality and your style shine with well-curated lighting. – Christopher Michiels Interiors 

3. Engineered wood floors have come a long way

In 2021 it has been easy to fall into the trap of “wood look” flooring with unnatural shades and finishes (tile planks and LVP mostly). We always encourage clients to take another look and consider engineered wood flooring. It’s the same price in many cases, looks timeless, and has come a long way in terms of durability. – Het Hout Interiors

4. Bold colors and unique patterns took center stage

Neutrals always have a place in our hearts and are a total classic. However, we are also seeing more and more requests for bold colors or patterns. People want uniquely curated homes. – Laura Fox

5. Patchwork has emerged

A trend that we saw was patchwork. From the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s exhibit, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, to Insta star Amanda Cutter Brook’s shop in The Cotswolds, to the David Lauren presenting a collection of clothing inspired by the artisans of the Gee’s Bend Collective in Alabama – homespun patchwork is an old-timey style equivalent of “comfort food” in trying times. – Cielo Home

Design Trends, Interior Design, Dining room with warm wood, gray, blue and elegant

6. Multi-use spaces defined 2021

Remote working is due to continue, therefore the need for more permanent work from home spaces. Ideal for those without a lot of space, the trend is all about blurring the boundaries between areas. This can be achieved by using separating doors, or by using multi-purpose furniture and accessories. – Alice Molloy Interiors

Making the most out of every space is key these days. Turn that extra room into a multi-use space with transformational furniture and hidden pocket doors and creative storage space – office, guest bedroom, yoga studio, and media room all in one. – Coates Design

7. 2021 was all about biophilia

One word – green! I noticed that clients were asking for and incorporating lots more house plants into their spaces. Plants help alleviate stress and anxiety and purify the air. Who wouldn’t benefit from less stress? Especially with the year we just had. The color green is also trending in color forecasting. Both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams have selected a shade of sage green as their color of the year for 2022. – Primrose Interior Design

8. Care for the environment played a role in home design

A major design trend we saw in 2021 focused on reducing waste and saving the planet. Spending more time in our homes than ever before had people reworking and redesigning their environments. Supply chain issues due to the pandemic made it difficult to purchase new items. As a result, many people chose to reuse, recycle and repurpose their existing furniture, or purchase pre-owned furniture locally to redecorate. Recycling, repurposing, and restoring older pieces and giving them a new updated look and life is sustainable, eco-friendly, and a wonderful trend that will most likely continue. – Melissa Mack, Om In The Home

9. Moody tones set the scene in home offices

Using moody tones in home offices was something we saw a lot of in 2021. Everyone wanted a space that felt different from their “home”, so there could be a mindset and energy shift when they walked into the space to be their best professional self. It was fun to partner with clients on this journey because it allowed them to feel empowered during this time of uncertainty. – Sara Lynn Brennan, CEO/Principal Designer at Sara Lynn Brennan Interiors 

10. Custom rooms have become more common

‘Home Sweet Home’ has taken on a whole new meaning in 2021 with the world grinding to a halt and shifting our priorities inward. We have become focused on the importance of creating a lifestyle sanctuary at home where everything we need is at our finger tips without ever having to leave the safety our house. Sumptuous spas, personalized bowling alleys, movie theatres and tricked out kitchens and bars belong to the Lori Morris curated design experience as we continue to create the perfect, individual refuge for each of our clients, brimming with beautifully appointed spaces, luxurious comforts and personalized amenities. – Lori Morris 

design trends, interior design, living room in white and warm tones

11. Nature and natural elements inspired

Our 2021 interiors were inspired by nature and familiarity in all of its forms: from warm tones and tactile surfaces, to soft shapes, plants, and even familiar cooking and retro cocktails. Combining familiar pieces that have special meaning, with innovative new ones to arouse inspiration brings authenticity to a space, with a timely twist. Using natural materials such as quartzite and eco brass, give a depth of dimension to an interior palette. Surfaces that develop their own patina create a narrative that is unique to each space. – Concept DCF

12. LED lights continue to be popular

With the rising popularity of industrial/vintage style over the past few years, the Edison light bulb with its visible filaments and warm amber glow, took up residence in everything from caged pendants to exposed bulb table lamps. While we will continue to see the traditional amber bulb, LEDs, with their range of white light colors, will be the more popular filament visible bulb choice and will be seen in fixtures beyond that of industrial/vintage styles. – Niki VanEch, VanEch Studio

13. Accent pieces and glassware added unique details

Transparent details have been capturing the attention of anyone who enters a room this past year. Accents such as glass pendant lighting to acrylic furniture pieces add beautiful light reflecting flare to any space. Continuing to grow in popularity – They’re here to stay. – Holly Volpe of HV Design Group

14. There was a focus on organic forms and curves

The popular trend for this past year has been going with organic, round forms where the curves are stellar for every season. This design style can be found in tables, sofas, pillows, and in art/accessories-making this trend organic and bold. – Wilfredo Emanuel Designs 

15. Layering materials brought sophistication

Layering materials, whether with wallpaper, lighting or art will add comfort and sophistication. Combining contemporary ideas with classic designs will add depth and interest to your home. – Cigal Kaplan Interiors

design trends, interior design, living room in warm woods, white and warm tones

16. Millwork added architectural detail

A popular design trend we have been loving is millwork. As designers, we always think of ways to enhance the interior architecture of a space. Millwork has been around for decades to really bring character into the home. Whether that be a floor-to-ceiling slat wood panel or a statement ceiling in a dining room, these wood details add a layer of richness to the interior that sets their space apart from the homes around them. – Kim Layne Interiors

17. Marble continues to be in, but too much can ruin a room

Marble is an exquisite surface when handled with restraint. I hope the maximalist and tacky trend to sheath entire rooms in it goes away soon. Less is more. – Shapiro Joyal Studio

18. There was a greater emphasis on coziness

As the Dutch say, “gezelligtijd kent geen tijd,” which roughly translates into, “you can never get enough coziness.” 2021 was all about creating the snuggle – warm, tranquil, and cocooning were big buzzwords, and designers delivered with soft, rich fabrics, plush upholstery, warm woods, and colors that ranged from calming neutrals to cheery citrus to contemplatively dark jewels. – White Webb

19. Opulent spaces have emerged

With the craziness of 2021, individuals are still working from home and we have found people are craving more of a transitional and traditional interior. High-end contemporary design will always be significant; however, clients are beginning to crave homier, more opulent space(s) instead of a stark environment. – Paxton Place Design 

20. Sentimental pieces added a unique touch

Think about incorporating at least one piece of furniture or accessory that has some history or family sentiment. If not, find one and identify with it. – Rise Krag

21. Pops of color will never go out of style

Let’s talk about design trends that can go away for 2021 as we drift into 2022 – Beige, I’d rather never see it again. While it can be a practical color, I’d stick with a greige color before going straight beige. On that note, I’m never sick of gray as a neutral, there are so many great ones out there like Agreeable Gray. Pops of color as well should never go out of style. In my work as a Feng shui Designer, we are always using color. – Rumble Interiors

2021 Home Design Trends Wrapped

Join Our Team!

Join Our Team! Now Hiring Project Architects, Designers, and Interior Designers

August 11, 2021 |

Coates Design is seeking to hire Project Architects and Designers. To apply, please email [email protected] with a cover letter, resume, and portfolio. Read more ›

3D rendering of reHOME Morales Farm project

reHOME: History of the Morales Farm – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 14, 2021 | ,

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Coates Design would like to highlight some of the history of the Morales Farm, where we are currently designing three houses for farm interns as part of reHOME’s first project. It is our goal to build these houses out of 100% recycled and reclaimed materials for a third of today’s construction prices. Read more ›

Books laying on homemade bridge

Coates Design 2020 Bridge Competition

November 18, 2020 | ,

Coates Design: Architecture + Interiors, and… bridges? Read more ›

Remodeled fire station in Burbank with modern brick exterior

Yelm Fire Station Watercolors

August 5, 2020 |

Coates Design was hired by the Southeast Thurston Fire Authority to design a remodel for several facilities. Read more ›

Architecture - a timeless art

Architecture: A Timeless Art

June 22, 2020 | ,

An invention is typically coincident with its given name… Read more ›

Coates Design Zoom meeting

Staying Connected Through Zoom

June 15, 2020 | ,

Coates Design is fortunate enough to function at full capacity during quarantine, but that doesn’t mean it has come without some bumps in the road. Read more ›

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