Trend spotting

  • By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:37am
  • Life

The Street of Dreams is definitely a place for dreamers.

With homes priced at nearly $2 million each, the annual spec-home tour – open daily now through Aug. 19 in rural Snohomish – it’s definitely not about reality for most of us.

It’s pure fantasy.

We go to daydream, to imagine what we might do with our own projects by seeing the latest innovations, designs and techniques for home and landscape design.

We’ll let the region’s top builders, designers and craftsmen take the risks, thank you very much.

Then we can pick the parts we want to steal and simply leave the rest behind.

It’s an ideal place not only for inspiration, if you’re planning on remodeling or building a home, but also for finding out what you like, what you love and what you could do without.

Thanks to a Built Green theme for the tour this year, many of the homes feature eco-friendly products to help save you energy and decrease the impact on the environment.

Each home includes at least 4,200 square feet of living space for exploring, including The Urban Lodge, “a luxury lodge with a contemporary, urban-style interior;” La Belle Fleur, “a European-French provincial” villa; Greenleaf Retreat, a “contemporary Prairie” home; Tamarack, “a large bungalow in the arts and crafts tradition;” and, Copper Falls, “an upscale craftsman” with copper accents by Snohomish County’s own Lockie Homes of Snohomish.

Here’s what we found on a recent trend-spotting trip to the big event.

Countertops

Granite is still king when it comes to overall countertop popularity, especially in the warm and traditional Copper Falls home where the kitchen island is topped with double-stacked granite with rough, exposed edges.

Limestone, marble and engineered stone all have their place in the Street of Dreams, too, but builders, in keeping with the event’s greener theme, used a variety of eco-friendly alternatives for counters too.

In the Tamarack home, be on the lookout for smooth, black matte-finish Paperstone, an environmentally friendly countertop material made of recycled paper and non-petroleum-based resin. It’s used liberally in the Tamarack kitchen and in office and bathroom areas too.

Vetrazzo, which is relatively new to the Northwest market, is also making waves at the Street of Dreams. Made with concrete and recycled glass from decommissioned traffic lights, windshields, bottles and windows, it’s a widely variable material when it comes to color.

In the modern Greenleaf Retreat home, it’s featured prominently in the kitchen where it plays off the room’s light-blue theme with flecks of recycled blue glass. In The Urban Lodge, you’ll find a similar material called IceStone, also made with recycled glass, in the spacious and beautifully appointed laundry room.

Flooring

Hardwood floors dominate in the Street of Dreams. Many of them are interspersed with slate or other stone accents for a warm, earthy look. Carpeting has its place, too, especially in lush bedrooms with lavish bedding. In the Copper Falls home, a black wool carpet runner goes up an elegant craftsman staircase, a feature that earned the homebuilder extra Built Green points because it’s made of natural materials and doesn’t off-gas like some synthetic materials.

In The Urban Lodge, you’ll find cork flooring the upstairs rec room, soft under feet and good enough aesthetically to hang with the best of the wood floors.

It’s hard to miss the floors in the Tamarack home, where the builders chose Treadlight, a solid-wood flooring milled from small-diameter Western larch trees, also known as Tamarack.

You’ll find it in the entry, the dining room and the parlor, where fir is used for windows and wainscotting.

Treadlight, a product of Missoula-based North Slope Sustainable Wood with a honey-colored finish, comes exclusively from forest restoration projects in Montana, making it a greener option.

Sinks

Large under-mounted kitchen sinks are the norm for Street of Dreams homes, along with increasingly indispensable accessory kitchen sinks, usually tucked into islands or added on to wet bars, including the long, thin prep sink in the Tamarack kitchen. It’s narrow and nearly 2 feet long, but its hand-hammered basin angles down for easy drainage, perfect for prepping vegetables.

Vessel sinks, meanwhile, continue to be popular for powder rooms. But these days simple bowl-style shapes won’t cut it. In the Tamarack home, one bathroom sink is simply a deep dip in a block of stone, a wave. In Copper Falls, a flat, almost plate-style sink, almost too cool to use, features an old-world metallic finish. In the Greenleaf Retreat, be sure to check out the stone pedestal sink in a shared upstairs bathroom and the metallic bowl sink on the main floor too.

Though this year’s Street of Dreams homes are less than half the size of the homes featured last year, be sure to bring your camera.

Thanks to new green products and the amazing creativity of hundreds of craftsmen, there’s a lot to see.

Reporter Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037 or sjackson@heraldnet.com.>/i>

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