Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Patio for Parties

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Do you have the summer entertaining itch? It’s that feeling you get when the temperature rises, and you just want to kick up your heels and celebrate. A patio party is one of the best ways to commemorate another gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer, and a great opportunity to share your beautiful home with family and friends.

Here are some tips to elevate your outdoor soirée to the next level:

Blend the Line Between Indoors and Out

Imagine taking the comfort of your living room outside. Add some throw pillows from inside to your patio furniture. If your house has doors that open onto a patio, like EVOKE homes, leave these doors ajar to create a natural flow. And when it comes time to eat, ditch the paper plates and bring out some fancy china and silverware.

The Perfect Party Playlist

Good music sets the vibe of the party. Come up with your own playlist based on your guests’ musical tastes, or use the soundtrack from a favorite movie. And don’t skimp on the sound system—if you’re planning on a large guest list, a portable stereo may not cut it.

The Outdoor Essentials

Having outdoor essentials can make or break a party experience. Consider setting up an area where guests can use provided sunscreen, insect repellant and hand sanitizer. Also, make sure there’s sufficient lighting for when the sun goes down. String lights and paper lanterns can achieve this beautifully, providing ambient lighting and intimacy.

Choose the Right Furniture

High-quality options for outdoor furniture are usually made from wood or metal, and are available in a variety of styles to help you achieve the perfect look. The best wood choices are teak, eucalyptus and cedar. For metal pieces, look for wrought iron and aluminum. This article from Good Housekeeping goes into further detail, including how to care for each style.

Temperature Control

A simmering summer day can become a brisk summer night quickly, so be prepared for both extremes. Umbrellas and awnings serve as protection from the blaring sun, while an outdoor fireplace or heating element provides a nice ambience when things are winding down.

These guidelines can be applied to any outdoor gathering you’re planning. And while they may seem simple, they really can help ensure that your next party is fun, comfortable and memorable.

Live, Distinctly: Selecting the Perfect Art for Your Home

By Ryan James, owner of the Ryan James Gallery in Bellevue

IMG_5381 sculpture shot

In some ways, shopping for art is similar to buying a new house. You’ll be experiencing both on a daily basis, so it’s important that you take your time and make the right decision; and if it’s your first time, the whole process can be somewhat intimidating.

Whether you’re a novice art seeker or an experienced collector, moving into a new house is like working with a blank slate. You have the perfect opportunity to start building your first collection, or to refresh your current one. Whatever your taste in art, having the right approach can ensure you end up with a collection to be proud of.

Make a Connection

While your new home may provide influencing factors in selecting art – such as color palette and size of the available spaces – making sure you have a connection with a specific piece of art is the single most important element. You will live with this art every day. When a piece of art is the right fit for you, the connection comes easily.

Upsize Slowly

If you’re moving into a larger home, or looking to upsize your art collection, take your time. Although it can be tough to resist filling all those empty spaces on your wall, buying too much art at once can lead to sensory overload and make it harder to evaluate each piece. Take it step by step, starting with the focal point of your house first (usually a social space such as the dining or living room). This allows you time to really appreciate and develop a connection with each piece you select.

Downsize Carefully

If you’re moving into a smaller home, you don’t have to immediately sell beloved pieces from your collection because you can’t display them all. By holding onto and carefully storing your artwork, you have the option of rotating pieces when you feel like a change. For many home collectors, each piece of art is one they fell in love with—your artwork is a part of your family. If you get rid of a beloved piece that may not fit your needs at the moment, you may end up regretting it down the road.

Be Prepared

When going to a gallery, bring pictures of the spots in your home where you want to place art. It’s difficult to visualize how a piece of art will fit based solely on a description. At our gallery, we allow customers to “borrow” a piece that they want to test out for a week or so, just to make sure that they still love it the next morning.

IMG_5437 Inside look

The Ryan James Gallery provides an open and accessible, community-enriching space, showcasing the original creation of known and emerging Washington artists. They currently represent 42 Washington State artists, displaying all different types of mediums.

Right Up Your Alley: Award-Winning Food, Shopping, and Entertainment on Seattle’s Eastside

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Chances are, if you own an EVOKE home, it is customized to fit you perfectly. The open floor plans, the latest technology, and the year-round outdoor and indoor living spaces were tailored to fit your every need. But what about the community around you?

It’s no coincidence that EVOKE neighborhoods are surrounded by some of the best food, art, shopping, and entertainment the Eastside has to offer. Just like every other aspect of EVOKE, careful consideration went into matching the right locations with the exquisite lifestyle EVOKE homeowners experience.

425 Magazine’s annual “Best of 425” list features a number of Eastside favorites located right down the street from EVOKE neighborhoods. Here are a few top picks:

Food and Drink

Plenty of stellar establishments make up the Eastside’s culinary landscape, but these gems stand out:

  • Purple Café and Wine Bar – With locations in Woodinville, downtown Bellevue, and Kirkland (located just two miles west of Dandelion Meadows), the Purple Café and Wine Bar is a great place to grab lunch or an early dinner. From diverse wine flights to local, seasonal cuisine (including fried calamari featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate), the Purple Café has something for everyone.
  • Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar – Home to Chef John Howie –named best chef by 425 – the Seastar in Bellevue has it all: steak, poultry, pasta, seafood (raw or cooked), an impressive wine list, and happy hour. Not to mention the lobster mac and cheese.
  • Din Tai Fung – An authentic dumpling house with a trendy atmosphere, Din Tai Fung is the premiere spot for Chinese food on the West coast. With an impressive offering of dumplings, Din Tai Fung is well worth the 20 minute drive from the Pine Lake neighborhood in Sammamish.


Your next activity is never far away thanks to a lively entertainment scene:

  • Bellevue Art Museum – Art aficionado? With a unique focus on art, craft and design, the Bellevue Art Museum’s vibrant collection offers access to the best works of both local and international artists. The museum is also home to the annual Bellevue Arts Fair, the region’s largest and most prestigious celebration of visual art.
  • Village Theatre – Since 1979, Issaquah’s Village Theatre has been the premiere destination for musical theatre. Whether you’re looking for classics like “Chicago,” or original musicals, you can find it at the Eastside’s own little slice of Broadway.
  • Bake’s Place – When you go to Bake’s Place in downtown Bellevue, you’re in good hands. Owners, Craig and Laura Baker, have over 40 years of experience in the music business and 16 years in the culinary world—the perfect pedigrees to provide you with a great night of music and food.


Want to fill your beautiful EVOKE home with beautiful things? Ready to dress yourself or your kids in the Eastside’s best? Check out some Eastside shopping favorites:

  • Via Lago – A chic boutique located in Kirkland, Via Lago is a great destination for the fashionistas of the Eastside. Featuring tons of sought-after collections, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.
  • Built for Man – Home to Francisco Hernandez – named best local designer on this year’s list – Built for Man’s products will have you feeling good in more ways than one. The pima cotton, alpaca wool, and silk are of the highest quality and worth the drive to Seattle alone. But these materials are purchased directly from Peru, greatly benefiting the communities that produce them.
  • Simplicity ABC – This unique shop caters to both the social and shopping needs of families, providing kids’ clothing and a bustling community gathering place busy with classes and open activities.

So, when you’re ready to venture out from your EVOKE home and explore the surrounding neighborhoods, have no fear. There are plenty of local amenities suited to help you truly “Live, Better”.

Square Footage: Just a Number?

evokeA common misconception in the real-estate world is that bigger is better. Sure, more square footage can give you more room to work with; but what about wasted space? If you own or are thinking about buying an EVOKE home, you’re probably efficient, sophisticated and know exactly what you want. You also probably recognize that square footage isn’t as important as it may seem.

Achieving the perfect house requires careful consideration of many elements. Arguably, the most important part of your house is the layout. A home designed to fit your lifestyle can trump a larger house that doesn’t meet your needs.

When you choose an EVOKE home, you’ll experience a home buying process like no other that is designed to maximize every inch of your home, including:

  • An in-depth interview/discovery guide to find out what factors into your perfect home. This includes what you like and dislike about your past homes, what kind of things you like to do in your home, whether you have kids or pets, and anything else that makes you unique. The lifestyle architects at EVOKE then take this information, and design a layout tailored to your lifestyle.
  • Flexible open floor plans, allowing you to choose exactly how your layout should be. Want your master bedroom to be on the top floor? No problem. Want a media room, or a room for a specific hobby? No sweat. Want a top-of-the-line kitchen to compliment your culinary prowess? You can do that too. It’s not so much about how much room you have, but how you want to use it.
  • Space efficiency, allowing you to maximize the use of your square footage. Soaring 10-foot ceilings allow for vertical square footage. Smart designs allow for plenty of storage options, while the seamless transition between indoor/outdoor living spaces gives you plenty of room to spread out.

Buying a new home should be a great experience, with a house and a buying process that are custom-fit to your lifestyle. Square footage is an important consideration, but should be considered alongside lifestyle factors to ensure your home fits the life you’ll lead there. If you know exactly what you want to get out of your house, EVOKE is the way to do it. And if you don’t know, fear not, because EVOKE can help with that too.