A Design Lover's Guide to Seattle

A Design Lover's Guide to Seattle

Andie Powers
Jul 30, 2013

If you're a design lover, I can't imagine a better destination than Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of creative folk who open (and sadly, close) amazing businesses, left and right. If by any chance you're in the neighborhood, looking for a memorable, and eye-catching spot to see, make sure to make a stop at some of my suggestions below. And make sure to add your suggestions in the comments!


  • Olympic Sculpture Park: An outdoor wonder, the Olympic Sculpture Park, in conjunction with the Seattle Art Museum, is a sight to behold, with works like Louise Bourgeois' functional Eye Benches or the famous Eagle by Alexander Calder (pictured above).
  • Seattle Art Museum (SAM): What can you say about the Seattle Art Museum? A Seattle institution, the SAM has amazing rotating exhibits plus regular exhibits as well.
  • Bellevue Art Museum: It's not quite Seattle, but the Bellevue Art Museum, wonderfully curated with cutting-edge exhibits, is worth the trip across the bridge. Take a trip on the first Friday, and admission is free!
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass: Tacoma-based artist Dale Chihuly just opened this amazing glass sculpture garden at the Seattle Center, right next to the Space Needle. Take a stroll through the amazing works on a sunny day. (Pictured below.)

  • The views from Kerry Park: This one's free! Take a bus up Queen Anne (or a Seattle tour) to view the city from famous Kerry Park, with views of the Space Needle, all of downtown and Mt. Rainier.


  • Seattle Architecture Tours: Take a tour of Seattle's amazing architectural history. Seattle Architecture Tours offers rotating, specialized tours like Art Deco and Architecture 101: Windows on Seattle's Style.
  • AIA Design Home Tours: As part of the annual Seattle Design festival, the AIA offers tours of modern design in everyday spaces.
  • Seattle Design Center: Tour a variety of showrooms, all in one location. The Seattle Design Center offers atriums full of designer showcases plus furniture, fixture and design firms.


  • Totokaelo: This wonderland of a shop, located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, is part housewares, part clothing, part gorgeous objects. I like to venture in here just to gawk at the beautifully curated objects. (pictured)
  • Nube Green: Also in Capitol Hill, Nube Green stocks an array of beautiful, American-made housewares, toys and ephemera. Bonus: it's right next door to Totokaelo!
  • Peter Miller Books: Want a fabulously designed pen, a pack of Eames' House of Cards, or an obscure modern architecture book? This is the place! Parking downtown is tough, but it's so worth it.
  • Charley + May: Located at the top of Queen Anne Hill, Charley + May offers a perfect grouping of unexpected necessities. From handmade jewelry to designer housewares, this is a gem of a shop. Make sure to sample their "sushi" (swedish fish!).
  • Ludlow: Located in Greenwood near Phinney Ridge (or some would call "Phinneywood") is Ludlow, a relatively new interior shop. This place is special — custom furniture, design services and treasures galore.


  • Bitterroot: The interior design of this Ballard restaurant is just the beginning. If you like BBQ, this place is for you. My advice — grab yourself some of that pulled pork and carmelized onion mac n' cheese, and fast! Be prepared to wait in line here — they don't take reservations.
  • Sexton: Another gorgeously designed Ballard restaurant, the Sexton offers old-school Southern food with a twist. Plus, their cocktails are to die for. Don't forget to look up at their mason jar chandeliers.
  • Café Presse: A French café at its best. Catch a Sounders game in this Capitol Hill bar/restaurant/breakfast haunt while eating perfect frites and sipping an espresso.
  • Homegrown: This Seattle sandwich institution is worth the price. Each ingredient is sourced locally and sustainably. Sample a deliciously wholesome sandwich while reducing your environmental footprint. There are many locations around the city.
  • Skillet: This Seattle street-food institution is now a physical diner space! Make sure not to miss it. The airstream kitchen now has more room to cook in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Mmmm, bacon jam!
  • Grub: A new little restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood, Grub has a limited menu, but they definitely know what they're doing. Sample a burger with a brioche bun or their fabulous brunch, all while dining in an adorably designed space.


  • The Dry Soda Tasting Room: The sophisticated Seattle drink, Dry Soda, is designed to pair with different foods, just like wine! Invented by a pregnant wine enthusiast, Dry Soda has a tasting room for you to try out different concoctions, and maybe take some home!
  • Milstead Coffee: A brand new coffee shop in the Fremont area, Milstead offers great coffee drinks combined with a minimalist atmosphere. Definitely try their dark chocolate mocha — it's the best I've ever tasted! (pictured)
  • Ba Bar: Vietnamese Street food plus a beautiful bar space (and delicious cocktails?!). Yes, please. Head out to Capitol Hill for this one, and sample a vermicelli bowl plus a nightcap or two.


  • Hotel Andra: Attached to Tom Douglas's downtown restaurant, Lola, Hotel Andra is the perfect place to stay in style, modern, yet modest. You can check out my review of the spot here. (pictured)
  • ACE Hotel: A stone's throw away from Pike Place Market, located smack-dab in the middle of Belltown, the Ace attracts hipsters and design-lovers alike. Plus, it's cheap! Make sure to spring for the Deluxe room if you want a private bathroom, though.
  • Edgewater: Stay where the Beatles stayed! Although it wouldn't necessarily be considered a "cutting edge design hotel," the Edgewater has Pacific Northwest charm that no one could argue with. Their cabin-like rooms are adorable, and the gift shop offers high-quality souvenirs from around the PNW.

(Images: 1. Carlito's Flickr under Creative Commons 2. 3, 4. Andie Powers 5. Courtesy of Inward Facing Girl 6. Andra Hotel)

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