Shoptalk - Colleen Knowles

With over 30 years designing luxury properties on Mercer Island and in other prominent Seattle enclaves, your work has spanned everything from comprehensive interior design and project management to custom furniture design and art selection. What part of the design process do you find most rewarding?

The interactions with people; those on my team in the office; the clients that share their lives so deeply with me; and the makers that build, fabricate, detail and put together the myriad of things that go into building a custom home. It is a true collaboration of many, many folks with valuable expertises. I love how the group can put together something more than any one person could do alone.

What was the “lightbulb” moment when you realized you wanted to pursue interior design?

I shadowed an interior designer in 5th grade as part of a class project and from then on it was my path through college and my career. It is a combination of creativity, art and organization that suits my personality.

Several of your projects serve as family retreats; what is your approach to these spaces that make them unique in comparison to a family’s primary residence?

A retreat home starts with a story, a mood and feeling. As clients get further from their everyday lives they open up about their truest selves and that is special to incorporate into the design and planning. We build a story about what the home can become and the design can provide that vision and magic. Client’s have more emotion about a retreat and they live differently in them so we get to loosen the design reins and allow for more playful moments as well.

Do you have a dream project or location where would you like to work?

I respect good architecture and my dream project is any that has a top notch architect and builder and understanding client working with me. I truly love working in the PNW but I’ve spent a lot of time in North Idaho and I’d love to do a project at Priest Lake ID if I’m dreaming.

How many projects do you take on throughout the year?

About 10

Latest design discovery?

Cashmere shag and roman clay paint.

Hidden talent?


Favorite city to visit?

Jackson WY

Favorite way to spend a weekend in the Northwest?

Backcountry skiing or boating on Lake Washington.

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