Local interior designer brings style to Semiahmoo Shore development

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Markie Nelson started her interior design firm in 1972 in Seattle. But it wasn’t until 1985 that she had her first introduction to Blaine – the chance to design for Beachwalker Villas.

Since then, Nelson has also designed for Melrose Cottages and most recently, Semiahmoo Shore. She had so many client referrals in Blaine that she eventually bought and renovated her own cottage, which had been untouched for 20 years at St. Andrew’s Cottages.

She describes the work she has done as “everything from high-end residential to hospitality to corporate to apartments.”

Her company was hired as part of an architectural firm in Bellevue and worked for a year in China, designing eight homes outside Shanghai and giving a presentation on their progress.

“That was such an intense job,” Nelson said. “It’s one of those in your career that you never, ever forget.”

Nelson sold her Seattle firm to two of her senior employees and made Blaine her permanent residence in 2008. She now shares an office in Lynden with JWR Design, the architect for Semiahmoo Shore.

After she was hired to design for Semiahmoo Shore, Nelson was invited to sit in on interviews with potential contractors. Involved in the consulting process, she was able to review all preliminary architectural plans and adjust them in kitchen and bathroom spaces.

“I’ve had a very close relationship with everyone on this whole project, including Mike Kent and the realtors,” Nelson said. “It’s just been one of those really beautiful jobs in a lifetime.”

As part of her work with Semiahmoo Shore, Nelson designed fireplaces, cabinets, doors, roofs and even exterior siding for the homes. She advocated for the use of gray in the interior color scheme, which was initially not a popular color choice among her colleagues.  

She describes the design of the homes as soft contemporary and using new materials. She thinks having really strong model homes takes the mystery out of a space for potential buyers. By appealing to older and younger audiences with her design, Nelson was able to reach a wider demographic with her sense of style.

“For good interior design, you really have to know what to design so it matches the demographic,” Nelson said. “We were fortunate to hit the mark on what the buyer was looking for.”

In the model homes open to the public, soft light emanates from behind cabinet doors. Clever additions, such as full-length window seats, higher laundry room countertops and kitchenettes in the guest rooms, fit into the homes in surprising ways. Decorations such as model boats, intricate metal work and angled mirrors adorn the walls.

For a lot of buyers, Nelson said this is their second or third home. Good taste and good quality needs to be present around every corner. 

In particular, Nelson changed the location of the pantry, moving it out of sight and transforming it into a butler’s pantry with eight-foot-tall sliding barn doors. Two accent walls in the master suite give the illusion that the windows are even bigger than they seem. The idea of combining carpet on top of wood on the stairs surprised people, Nelson said.

“You can’t play games with them, it has to be good to start with,” Nelson said. “It has to be even better than what they’ve seen before.”

As of August 23, Semiahmoo Shore had 11 units remaining for sale, out of a total of 44.

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