I went to visit my mom in January, as I mentioned yesterday. While I was there, I took a few pictures of her house, since I thought you all might like to see it. See, when I was in elementary school, my parents got it into their heads to build their dream house. They found some property on a mountainside with one of the best views in the city:
The view is a better on a clear day, but hello, I was there in the middle of January. Behind that cloudbank at the back of the picture is basically the entire city of Spokane (downtown is on the right, suburbs to the left). It's pretty amazing -- and the sunsets are worth paying for. As you can tell by the bit of roof in the corner of the picture, this was taken on the upper balcony of the house, which is right off of my sister's room. When we were in high school we used to climb over the safety rail and go tan naked on the roof. Country living has its benefits.
Anyway, my parents are generally pretty awesome people, and they have some pretty awesome ideas about design. So in the middle of the house is this:
Yes, it's a three story atrium with a gothic arch. And skylights. You can also see my mom's collection of rugs -- she brought them home from Afghanistan and India (feel free to ask about this sort of thing -- my mom lurks in the comments here and can answer any questions you have!). At the bottom of the atrium is the basement courtyard, which has a cool feature inspired by the back room in this store in Seattle's U District: the brick floor is not mortared or grouted or even sanded, just laid in loose, so that when you walk on it the bricks crinkle together and make a beautiful musical sound. It's really cool.
The whole house has a warm, earthy vibe, though it's filled with light from the huge windows built to maximize sunset-viewing. Part of this is because my parents chose their materials carefully; the kitchen floor is tiled in a warm red terra cotta tile, and the front hallway was done in this incredible slate:
Note that they chose to pull the slate up onto the stair risers, too -- at the time it was a fairly revolutionary design idea.