All the Bells and Whistles
When Ryan and Blaine Plumeau were looking to relocate from Miami to Spokane, they decided to build a home in the Qualchan area. “It’s a great family neighborhood,” says Ryan of the spot they settled on. With parks at the top of the hill and lots of kids, it’s ideal for the couple and their now 18-month-old son, Paxton. It’s also just a seven-minute drive to downtown, and 12 minutes to the airport, which is important for these frequent fliers; Blaine is a JetBlue flight attendant based out of Boston and Ryan is a Delta pilot based out of Seattle.
The steep grade of the site might have made it a non-starter for others, but Jeremy Taylor of JMT Builders wasn’t daunted. “People might think it’s too hard to build on, or too steep, but I knew it could be done,” he says (as the brother of Josh Taylor, the neighborhood’s developer, he had an insider’s perspective on the feasibility). A steep site also comes with some advantages, like great views. The bonus, adds Blaine, is that those views will never be hindered. “The back is protected,” he says.
With the site selected, design and construction began. A collaborative effort of JMT Builders, Taylor Design, and the homeowners, they describe the home’s aesthetic as “transitional contemporary.” The goals were clear: a modern house that wasn’t cold or sterile, with space that worked as well for their family as for entertaining large groups and hosting guests. The Plumeaus also wanted to avoid a cookie cutter home, while still fitting in among the other houses in the neighborhood.
There was another simple but key objective for the 6’ 7” Ryan: “Ryan’s dream was to live in a house where he didn’t have to duck,” says Blaine.
The result is a lovely and inviting two-story modern home, with an exterior that combines textures (stucco, cedar, exposed beams, and James Hardie lap siding). The front door opens to a two-story entry with a floating-look staircase with a clean-lined black handrail. The interior brings together timeless patterns and cuts, like herringbone and penny tile, and a mix of materials that includes warm-hued wood, dark metal, light-colored tile planks, and dark-stained hardwoods. A few terms guided the design, says Jeremy: “less is more” and “simple and clean.” The high ceilings—ten feet on the main floor, nine feet elsewhere—keep everything open and airy, with no ducking required.
The kitchen is particularly impressive, with custom cabinetry, marble mosaic tile that extends to the ceiling, floating shelves, lots of storage drawers, and a spacious island topped in 3 cm quartz. The couple admits they don’t cook much, but decided to invest in the kitchen anyway since that’s the room where everyone gathers. It’s turned out to be one of Ryan’s favorite spaces in the house. “The kitchen has forced us to get better at cooking,” he says with a laugh. Windows have been carefully placed throughout the home to let in lots of natural light while focusing views toward open spaces and away from nearby neighbors.
The kitchen is open to the living room, set apart visually by the dark hardwood floor. The stone fireplace is offset so as not to compete with nearby artwork (or, if they ever desired, a TV). Blaine and Ryan decorated around a base color palette of neutrals, which allows them to change things up easily via accessories and textiles.
The home is hardworking and forward-thinking in its tech. The light fixtures are primarily LED, which is a significant help with the energy bills, as is the R60 insulation in the attic and garage spaces. The dual zone Infiniti heat system is another efficiency-minded choice. Downstairs, the family room has a soundproofed ceiling, which is helpful for late movie viewings and poker nights. The video security system has given the frequent travelers peace of mind, and enabled a new level of ease with things like receiving packages. If a UPS delivery arrives, Blaine can see it on his phone, open the garage door remotely to let the delivery person place the package in the garage, and close the door again, all from out of the state.
Rounding out the main floor are the powder room, a small but stylish space with textural tile walls and floating vanity, and the music room/office, which has some fun pops of color via the upholstered Chesterfield and a multi-toned area rug. The sliding barn door leading into this room has a geometric etched design, and was inspired by a similar door Blaine and Ryan saw at a church in Dallas; their version was crafted locally by Randy of R&D Woodworking.
On the second floor are the family’s bedroom spaces, which build on a base of neutral colors with some pops of blue. The serene master bedroom has great views toward downtown Spokane. The master bathroom has a gorgeous walnut vanity and tile laid in a artful mix of patterns. A floating wood shelf lends more visual warmth near the deep soaking tub. Accessible off the master bath is the dressing room, which has plenty of space for clothing storage as well as countertops for placing luggage, which is often in a state of being packed or unpacked in this household. Because both Ryan and Blaine travel so frequently, they added a door off the dressing room to get in and out without disturbing anyone else. From the upstairs landing, the hidden entry to this dressing room is cleverly concealed as a bookcase.
Also on the second story are a guest room, a laundry room, and Paxton’s playful, airy bedroom, with a mural of a mountain sunrise (hand-painted by Ryan) and aviation-themed accessories. The nearby full bathroom repeats, but with a twist, elements used in other spaces, like the textured tile of the powder room. The large bathroom closet has deep shelving for toiletries, bath toys, and anything else they might need for their young son. Throughout the home, form didn’t take precedent over usability. “We tried to make it as functional as possible,” says Blaine. “Sometimes modern isn’t very functional.”
In the sunny daylight basement, the décor is relaxed. “We wanted it a bit more casual down here,” says Ryan. The comfortable gray sectional sits before a fireplace surrounded in a light-colored, subtly sparkly stone. An almost full kitchen makes life easy for guests, who can wake up in the morning and get themselves a bowl of cereal or coffee without having to traipse upstairs. While spaces like the main kitchen were spots to splurge, in the basement the couple made economical choices when they could. The flooring is a durable luxury vinyl plank tile, and the kitchen countertops are laminate (sourced from Costco) with a waterfall edge. The glass tile backsplash extends to the ceiling. Two guest rooms and a full guest bathroom round out the lower level. Their favorite guest room has bedding, furniture, and accessories all taken from the showroom floor of Dania, one of their favorite places to shop locally. They’re particularly grateful to the staff at Dania Furniture and to Cheryl Scribner of ProSource of Spokane.
For Blaine, Ryan, and co-collaborator Jeremy, the process of building the home was sometimes a challenge, but always very rewarding. “They were always super nice,” Jeremy says of the couple, who’d come in for meetings with coffee and maple bars to share. “I had a lot of fun building this house.”
And the design speaks for itself. “We went above and beyond with this house,” he says. “All the bells and whistles.”
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