A Classic Tacoma Home Reimagined

When you arrive at Terri Elliott’s West Tacoma home, it’s akin to experiencing a really good meal.

When you first pull into the driveway, you get the appetizer. The home built in the 1960s is neat and inviting, with decorative shutters on the outside windows, and potted plants on the porch — and it leaves you wanting more.

Terri Elliott Home

When you walk through the heavy front door, painted in sleek black, you get to the main course. Everything is light and bright, and the moment you step foot inside, you realize this home is bigger than it looks from the outside — about 4,000 square feet — with three bedrooms, a living room, laundry room, kitchen and dining room upstairs, and a full separate living space downstairs (this came in handy during the renovations).

But everyone knows the best part of any meal is dessert — and for this home, the cherry on top is the 180-degree panoramic views of the Puget Sound, mountains, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

There were only 15 homes built on this special slope in Tacoma — many properties have established landscaping, fruit trees, and space for privacy. Elliott’s home faces west at an angle, a perfect frame for the scenes outside, which are stunning year-round.

Light fixture

This ornate light fixture in the entryway as you walk through the front door reminded Elliott of a trip to Venice. “That whole trip I noticed the neutral colors, and the clean European look, and incorporated that into the design of this house.”

“I’ve always wanted a home that was worthy of being in a magazine,” said Elliott, who studied architecture in college and wanted to go into residential design once upon a time. She’d scour the pages of Architectural Digest and Vogue, and has been drawn to style, design, and beautiful things since she can remember.

Today she and her sister own and operate Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery on Pioneer Way in Puyallup — the family business that began as a U-Pick veggie farm in 1974 and hobby for her dad, Dan, and just kept getting bigger. The retail business opened in 1984 and has grown through the decades into a favorite South Sound gardeners’ spot. Today you can still buy indoor and outdoor plants and shrubs, and also attend events and seminars, or hire their professionals to design your perfect outdoor space. They also offer classes, so everyone can grow a green thumb.

Terri Elliott Home

The glass doorknobs, sparkly drawer pulls, and other small details in Elliott’s home create a big impact. “They are like the jewelry of the house,” she said.

When she bought the home about four years ago, she saw its potential, despite the fact that the interior didn’t take advantage of the stellar views due to a common old-school layout, where the kitchen was hidden in the back of the home and out of guests’ sight, and rooms were cut up with walls. Open layouts were not a thing in the ’60s.

She enlisted the help of Zetterberg Custom Homes & Remodeling in Puyallup and Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer Leslie Jensen of Signature Design and Cabinetry in Tacoma to accomplish her vision for the home.

“I had the Zetterbergs come and check it out to make sure I could do exactly what I had envisioned,” she said. “We clicked. We had built a house together before.”

The remodel included moving the kitchen from the back of the home to the center of it (where a laundry room once was). It included knocking down walls, so the kitchen could flow openly to the dining space and the living room — and so that the views could be enjoyed while cooking, reading, or dining from wherever you sat.

“I wanted it to feel comfortable,” she said. “I wanted it to be comfortable whether I was entertaining 30 people or 100.” She has done both several times — and because of her vision and natural knack for scale, design, and flow, this home not only looks beautiful, but it works for her. And now it has checked off one of her goals — to be published in a magazine!


Terri Elliott Home

Elliott really wanted a freestanding soaking tub surrounded by wainscoting. When the tubs were too large for the space, she opted for this deep inset soaking tub. The wall and chandelier help create the spa space she dreamed of.

Making the Heart of the Home Beat

Terri Elliott Home

Leslie Jensen

courtesy digishotz

Elliott enlisted Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer Leslie Jensen of Signature Design and Cabinetry in Tacoma to design her dream kitchen – and she knew exactly what she wanted.

“The way Terri cooked and prepared food really drove the plan. She opted for having an unused corner space in order to get more four-drawer storage around the cooktop. This accommodates all of Terri’s small bowls and serving items. We also went with a 30-inch tall refrigerator and have freezer storage along the wall with the ovens,” said Jensen.

Elliott didn’t need a pantry or a lot of freezer space because she mostly cooks with all fresh ingredients. “Like most things, kitchens can be very personal. How we cook and entertain varies by client. Creating a space that works for each client’s lifestyle is our ultimate goal,” Jensen said. The designer loves how the project came together — and gets joy out of knowing that Elliott uses her beautiful, functional kitchen often.

outdoor furniture

The outdoor furniture is on-point, and the fireplace keeps it cozy outside year-round.

Terri Elliott Home

We love these egg-shaped glass doorknobs, which can be found throughout the home!

floors + doors

Terri Elliott Home

The dark hardwood floors against the clean white walls and cabinetry give the home a perfectly balanced mix of traditional and modern. The sliding glass door helps with entertaining, and the dining room and the outdoor patio merge into one space.

Door Redo

Front Door

Elliott wanted to keep the 1960s front door and another door, but they needed to be replaced. So, a door maker came out, took a template of the original doors, and built new replicas.

is the editor in chief at South Sound magazine.
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