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Design & Inspiration

Pacific Northwest Modern Style: Characteristics & Examples

By Blair Hagensen

Pacific Northwest Modern Style: Characteristics & Examples

Mystical mountains, stunning sea stacks, and rolling green forests stretching as far as the eye can see–there’s so much to love about the Pacific Northwest, but one of our favorite things to come out of Cascadia is the Pacific Northwest Modern design style. Sleek and timeless, this style is perfectly outfitted for the melodic rainfall this region is known for. It also easily translates to other regions with enduring design and crowd-pleasing appeal.

Continue reading to learn how to identify (and adopt!) the northwest regional style like a local.

Light-filled kitchen with sage green base cabinets, natural wood upper cabinets, and white brick backsplash.

Brick Shown: White Mountains // Design: Heather Cleveland // Image: Steven J Magner

What Exactly Is Pacific Northwest Modern Style?

Taking inspiration from mid century modern, international style, and Japanese architecture, Pacific Northwest Modern strives to sustainably incorporate nature within simple and sleek modern design.

Neutral colored tile tub surround, with deep soaking tub, wood ceiling and large window opposite the showerhead.

Tile Shown: Milky Way 1x6 Sheeted // Design: Tamar Barnoon // Image: Laure Joliet

This architectural style was sculpted in the mid-20th century by renowned architects like Paul Hayden Kirk, John Yeon, and Paul Thiry, who designed notable Northwest Modern buildings such as the University of Washington Faculty Club with its steel overhanging eaves and the historic Aubrey R. Watzek House.

Sustainability is a prized feature of this style, which incorporates locally sourced natural materials like wood and stone as much as possible. Floor plans of northwest modern homes are open and airy, and it’s common to see the exposed wood of post and beam structures made from cedar or other locally sourced wood.

PNW Modern homes feature plenty of large windows that maximize the amount of natural light inside, in order to counteract the infamous dark and rainy days of the northwest. Not to mention that if you have a view of the untamed beauty found in the northwest, you’ll want to stare at it as often as you can.

Floor to ceiling fireplace clad in handpainted tile arranged in a large dot and wavy line pattern. The fireplace is bracketed by large windows with a view of foggy mountains.

Tile Shown: Block Shop x Fireclay Tile Handpainted Roundabout 2 and Roundabout 4 in Gesso Motif, Dot Dash 7 in Charcoal Motif

Bring Home A Taste of the Pacific Northwest

If you can’t make it to the Pacific Northwest, then bring a piece of it to you! Our Essentials tile features eight timeless colors inspired by the great PNW–and it happens to be our most budget-friendly tile ever.

Airy bathroom with floating double vanity and two rectangular mirrors in front of a wall clad in soft green tile.

Tile Shown: Manzanita 3x9, Feldspar 6” Hexagon

Sample these Pacific Northwest Modern favorites here, featuring Ceramic color samples in Timberline, Cloud Cover, Alberta Blue, Hood River, Puget Sound, Salt Creek, Pearl, and Manzanita.

Essentials Sample Selects: Timberline, Cloud Cover, Alberta Blue, Hood River, Puget Sound, Salt Creek, Pearl, Manzanita

Covetable Examples of PNW Modern Interiors

This airy kitchen embodies misty northwest vibes with a soothing palette and lots of natural wood. The backsplash of foggy-hued handmade tile beautifully complements the modern wood cabinetry.

Kitchen with natural wood cabinets above and below a backsplash of misty blue tile.

Tile Shown: Salton Sea 2x8 // Design + Image: Alter Interiors

Two shades of green tile mimic the rolling forests of the PNW in this beautiful spa bathroom, while a large window brings coveted sunshine into this peaceful space.

Bathroom with a two-toned green tile wall and tub surround, wood vanity.

Tile Shown: Peabody 3x3 Sheeted, Rosemary 3x6 // Design: Velinda Hellen Design // Image: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

This contemporary sauna may be the purest example of PNW Modern style, with its rich hardwood and coordinating tile floor that adds a hint of evergreen color.

Sauna with wood walls and benches, grey-green tile floor.

Tile Shown: Eucalyptus 4x4 // Design + Image: Hommeboys

The modern craftsman style of this green kitchen is common to Pacific Northwest contemporary homes, while the golden hour glow through the ample windows makes the space radiate with charm.

Kitchen with sage green upper and lower cabinets, white tile backsplash, and view into light-filled dining nook.

Tile Shown: Tusk 2x8 // Design + Image: Grace Lee-Lim

A petite powder room full of impactful design, this space uses two shapes and colors of handmade tile in classic northwest colors to complement the sleek vanity and accents.

Power room vanity made from natural unpainted wood, with straight-set blue tile along the walls and light green hexagon tile on the floor.

Tile Shown: Flagstone 2x8, Rosemary 4” Hexagon // Design: Decorotation // Image: Sen Creative

Showing off the moody side of the PNW, the dark cabinets of this kitchen are offset by the large light-filled window and warm white handmade tile backsplash.

Kitchen with dark gray cabinets, black marble countertop, and backsplash made from white subway tile.

Tile Shown: Salt Creek 3x6

Find your zen in this soothing spa bathroom, featuring natural wood accents and a flowing handpainted tile pattern in the walk-in shower.

Bathroom with walk-in shower clad in jade green handpainted tile arranged in a flowing line pattern.

Tile Shown: Oyster Shell 4x4, Jade 4x4, Block Shop x Fireclay Tile Handpainted Roundabout 2 and Roundabout 4 in Fresco Motif

Anchored by a charcoal-green brick fireplace, this airy dining room serves a sleek dose of modernism for mealtimes and beyond.

Dining room with round table, four chairs, and large floor-to-ceiling black brick fireplace.

Brick Shown: Absaroka // Design: Decorotation // Image: Sen Creative

This checkerboard bathroom brings the PNW vibes with mossy hues and a minimalist floating vanity made from natural, unpainted wood.

Powder room with natural wood floating vanity, checkerboard tile floor, sage green tile wainscoting, and green wall.

Tile Shown: Eucalyptus 3x3 Sheeted, Tusk 6x6, Dolomite 6x6 // Design: Autumn Hachey, TWENTY-TWO TWELVE, You Should Stay Here // Image: Michelle Johnson

Light, bright, and the perfect blend of modern and vintage, this bathroom gets depth and dimension from stormy grey tile wainscoting while the exposed wood beams on the ceiling help bring soothing outdoor elements in.

Bathroom with black and white glass tile floor, two natural wood vanities, soaking tub, grey tile wainscoting, and exposed wood beams on the ceiling.

Tile Shown: Overcast 3x6, Egret + Condor Matte 1x1 & 1x2 Pinwheel

Are you feeling the mountains calling? Our design consultants can help you design the PNW Modern project of your dreams with sustainably made tile and our free design services. Reach out to be connected with your personal consultant today!

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