When the SAD lamp’s just not cutting it anymore, Seattleites flock to sunnier climes like migratory birds on Lexapro. Chief among those destinations: Palm Springs. Few other havens offer the desert city’s level of design inspiration: Pristine white plaster, iconic breeze blocks, and turquoise front doors make the prospect of returning home to a relentlessly neutral Pacific Northwest home almost as daunting as the gray mist surrounding it. 

Interior designer Sally Julien understands the difference. Her business, Modernous, has one foot in each city: though she now lives in the desert full-time, Julien designed her own Lake Sammamish–area home with synergy in mind: “It really became this exercise of, How do you bring that element of fun and joy and color without making it feel like you’ve just picked up a house from Palm Springs and dropped it in Seattle?” 

Palm Springs might prefer white walls to cedar paneling, but you don’t have to look beyond the angular rooflines to see that we share a common midcentury modern ancestor. Still, “what works in Palm Springs doesn’t always work in Seattle,” Julien says. Here are some Modernous-designed homes in the Seattle area that channel the Coachella Valley—and some design inspiration to get us through these grayest of months.

Warm Welcome

Midcentury modern homes can be fiercely private, Julien says—especially where concrete breeze blocks shade glassy exteriors and life is lived by the backyard pool. The painted front door, often seen in fresh shades like this light, rosy pink, is an iconic element of Palm Springs’ curb appeal that looks great virtually anywhere.

Toned Down

In Palm Springs, bright colors play easily against whitewashed architectural materials. “In the gray-sky environment of Seattle, having that color in your life day to day does bring a certain amount of joy,” but “you have to be a little bit more reserved,” Julien says. She opted for a peacock blue door and matching fireplace to complement the abundant teak in this Woodinville home.

History Lesson

For homes without the midcentury already built in, like this Madison Park craftsman, Julien helps clients “introduce modern elements in a way that is very, very sophisticated” by embracing pieces that hearken back to the time period when the home was built. “You need to have something to kind of tie it to that era and make it look very intentional.”

Opt Outside

One surprising similarity between Palm Springs and Seattle: both cities obsess over their outdoor spaces. Northwesterners’ outsize joy at the sight of a single sunbeam means that “people are very eager to have that space and to have it be really cool,” Julien says. 

Visual Relief

In Seattle, Julien finds many midcentury houses that are “completely covered” in wood. “It reads as really kind of dark, and like a log cabin.” Removing two fully wood-clad walls to open up this Issaquah kitchen allowed her to keep all the other wood elements—and maintain the home’s Northwest charm.

Holding Pattern

Patterns “can be a very gorgeous and effective design element in either place,” Julien says. She usually opts for slightly subtler, less whimsical patterns in the Pacific Northwest, but doesn’t shy away from bold applications like wallpaper.

Partly Sunny

“If I had to pick just two things that someone could do to bring a little sunshine into their life,” Julien would go with plants (like the fiddle-leaf fig—it’s popular for a reason) and pillows (a no-pressure way to introduce bright colors and bold patterns).

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