Living the Dream

Washington’s first HGTV Dream Home, located in Gig Harbor, has all the Pacific Northwest flair you’d expect, and some unexpected design.


Dropping down from a snaking driveway in Gig Harbor is the 2018 HGTV Dream Home, flanked by cascading trees and the Puget Sound, a view that appears endless from the moment you enter the home.

The 1970s contemporary house shed its skin of a mossy green and beige exterior coat and took on a bold new identity with charcoal paint. Glass-paneled garage doors and a matching front door offer a peek into the life of whomever wins the home in the annual sweepstakes. But the dramatic exoskeleton of the house is just the beginning.

Upon entering the 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom home, adapted by Gig Harbor builder Choice Construction, guests are met with floor-to-ceiling stationary windows with minimalist design accompanied by pops of pastels and a bevy of sunshine-soaking plants.


HGTV Dream Home

Pastels in the PNW: “The reason we did that in the living room, if you’re living in a home or any place on the planet where you go through spells where you might not have a lot of sunny days, I like the idea of having cheerfulness. The living room played up with pastels is just to keep things happy on gray days.” -HGTV Dream Home interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn


HGTV Dream Home

Complementary Contrast: If you have a space with massive windows, paint the walls a quiet, neutral color — like this blue-gray Olympus White — so the paint color doesn’t compete with the stunning view.


HGTV Dream Home

“The trick, though, is if you paint them black or charcoal, they immediately become this architectural piece that’s all about geometry and angles,” he said. “… We added a bunch of drama to a house that’s otherwise nondescript.”


Make a Statement: A lot of first-time homebuyers find themselves purchasing a bland ranch-style home with no character, Flynn said, or a contemporary 1970s or ’80s home that doesn’t have an identity. Photo courtesty HGTV.


HGTV Dream Home

Strange Walls: If you have a wall that weirdly juts out, make it a statement piece with a mural or large piece of art. It becomes a happy accident, and no one notices the odd architecture.


HGTV Dream Home interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn has been designing Dream Homes for three years and also serves as the interior designer for the annual HGTV Urban Oasis project. He spent months living in the area while working on the project, and said each home stands out as a work of art.

“I love how rugged it is,” he said. “I love all the massive evergreens outside with that perfect line of the Puget Sound and the horizon out there. And I love the weather. I do! You come here in the summer and have your windows open all day long and put a sweater on at night, and then you get closer to the end of fall and the beginnings of winter, where the clouds just keep morphing all day. It’s very beautiful, and it forces you to stay inside and just cuddle up.”

Flynn took us through the home room by room to explain how you can elevate your space to Dream Home status, too.


HGTV Dream Home

“We considered blush and light pinks as neutral, because they really do work with every color on the palette, from black and blue to purple and orange.”


Millennial Pink: Most people wouldn’t paint a bedroom blush pink, but HGTV is an authority on pushing the envelope in home design.


HGTV Dream Home

Gallery Wall: The stairway is the perfect opportunity to design a gallery wall, and use items that have been passed down from family members. The trick is to use mixed-medium art of different shades and textures.


Happy Place: Many homes have a basement with plentiful natural light, similar to the Dream Home. Flynn continued the pastel theme using aqua and sea green. The Olympus white paint picks up sunlight and brightens the space even more.


Mural, Mural on the Wall: Flynn created balance in the master bedroom, which has a sitting area with waterfront views opposite the bed. The mural acts as a conversation piece during the day, but it’s not a distraction at night.


The Yard of Your Dreams

Father Nature Landscaping in Tacoma curated the outdoor area of the HGTV Dream Home.

photo courtesy HGTV


The Dream Home’s landscaping is Northwest meets a breezy beach, with a bevy of refined Washington native plants arranged in the front of the house, and a handful of sun-loving greenery in the back.

The selection was curated and executed by Tacoma’s Father Nature Landscaping, which stepped in during the construction process in the summer of 2017. HGTV staff gave the company a fairly bare lot layout with minimal notes on design and allowed Father Nature’s team free rein as to what should be planted, said Father Nature President Chris Scheer.

He said HGTV specified they wanted the landscaping to have a low-maintenance array that incorporated native plants, so it had a Northwest feel.


photo courtesy HGTV


A Beachy Backyard

The architecture of the house was slightly manipulated, so Father Nature reconstructed the retaining wall against the back of the garage and peppered it with ornamental grasses and red-flowering sedum, which gives a pop of color. Landscape designer Sue Goetz repeated several of the low-maintenance meadow plants throughout the backyard and nestled a half-moon arch of rosemary by the fire pit. The nearby doghouse is draped in a living roof of sedum tiles that adds another beautiful element of design.

The backyard gets lots of sun during the day, so she stuck with shrubs, herbs, and grasses that flourish in sunlight, but will also be beautiful year-round.

Pacific Northwest Natives

Washington is known for its rhododendrons, so Goetz ensured some were incorporated in the front of the home, but she also selected several “well-behaved” shrubs that add texture to the front yard and complement the beautiful Japanese maple that was original to the house and relocated to the front yard.

The maple acted as the anchor piece, and Goetz planted several grasses, ferns, and shrubs around it to fill in the space.

Dwarf lime hydrangeas are the centerpiece of the entryway planter. In the summer time, they blossom with stunning, green pom-poms, and are surrounded by grasses and nandina so that the planter looks full year-round. Natives also flank the driveway, layered slightly along the rock wall.

Father Nature approached the project holistically, making sure that the landscape would last through the year.

“We don’t know what kind of gardener is going to win the home,” Goetz said. “There was this moment when we were picking out plants that we know that they have to look good, certainly for filming, but also, if the homeowner comes home at any time of the year, there’s something magical happening.”


Keeping Up with the Trends


Raised Beds:
It’s lovely to have a little garden filled with fresh vegetables or flowers, so stylized, raised beds are a frequent request. Father Nature has helped customers build high-end raised beds, so homeowners can easily plant and pick their selection.

“Tacoma is a really fun area, and people are sustainable-minded,” Scheer said. “A lot of people have chickens, and a lot of people ask us for a raised garden, especially if it’s a family, because they want their kids to see where their food comes from, and what it actually takes to raise a head of lettuce and green beans.”


Faux Lawn?:
OK. The lawn here is the real deal — gotta mow it and water it. But synthetic turf is gaining in popularity in the South Sound, Scheer said. It’s a hefty upfront cost, but it often comes with a 25-year warranty from the manufacturer, and there’s no maintenance. It’s a great investment for those who don’t want to spend time watering and cutting their lawn, plus it stays cool in the summer heat.

“If you’re walking by, you can’t tell the difference between a synthetic lawn and a real one,” Scheer said. “It comes in all different styles. It’s awesome.”


Smart Landscaping:
These days everything is becoming intelligent, so why should your landscaping be an exception? Scheer said customers are asking for irrigators and lighting they can control with their devices. Clients love the ability to adjust the lighting, especially during Seahawks games, and many of the irrigation sprinklers sync up with the weather conditions and run themselves.


Porcelain Pavers:
The Dream Home was outfitted with Belgard porcelain pavers in the front entrance and in the backyard barbecue area. The product comes in an array of styles and colors, often mimicking the appearance of tile or hardwood, but in a very durable and easy-to-install material. The design element is popular is urban areas, including Seattle, but is catching on in the residential sector.


A Leafy Affair

photo courtesy HGTV

Dot your landscaping with these select favorites from Father Nature Landscaping’s designer Sue Goetz, who helped curate the plant selection for the 2018 HGTV Dream Home. Shrubs that attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies — known as pollinators — are a growing request, so she included a few of her go-tos here.

Pollinating Perennials:

Coneflower (Echinacea): “Butterflies love the big cones to rest on. Some old-fashioned favorites include ‘Magnus’, ‘Kim’s Knee High,’ ‘Merlot,’ and ‘Fragrant Angel.’”

Asters: “One of the best fall bloomers for attracting butterflies and bees. Look for the vibrant purple ones, like ‘Professor Kippenburg’ and ‘Wood’s Purple.’”

Bee Balm (Monarda): “An herb with fragrant foliage that blooms in the early summer.  (Look for) nice color with varieties like ‘Blue Stocking’ and ‘Fire Marshal.’”

Pollinator Shrubs:

Summersweet (Clethra): “Nice fragrance, easy-care shrub for part shade that attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.”

Weigela: “A large variety of shrubs with vibrant flowers in early summer. The burgundy leaf varieties, like ‘Fine Wine’ and ‘Wine and Roses,’ add nice color dimension in mixed borders.”

Oregon grape (Mahonia): Look for the exceptional hybrids of our native Mahonia. The winter blooms of ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’ are hummingbird magnets.”

Low-Maintenance Natives:

Western Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum): “A great native fern that tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions, even full sun if there is a little extra irrigation on them. Works nice in the understory, dry shade of tall evergreen Douglas firs.”

Wax Myrtle (Morella californica, formerly known as Myrica): “Nice leafy evergreen to create hedges. Prefers moist soils to establish, but once it matures, it will be drought-tolerant.  The fall berries make good forage for birds.”

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum): “A low-growing maple with a light, airy canopy. Tends to be multi-stemmed for winter interest. Adapts to many soil conditions and is a great small tree to add in the under story of tall fir trees.”

is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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