Unique Design Process Produces Exquisite Results

A luxury rambler home was recently completed in the lovely Rob Rice Community of Campus Estates in Lacey, WA and the beauty of the home has quickly attracted the attention of buyers.

Surrounded by the Woodlands Course at The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie in the coveted Meridian Campus planned development, the home’s stunning interior was the result of a unique design technique implemented by the area’s Best of South Sound builder, Rob Rice Homes.

Its fabulous features and lighting were planned with a process coordinated by Helena Rice, who oversees the design choices in each Rob Rice home, assisted by her team of longtime partners Deanna Collins of Signature Interiors and Design and Cheryle Knittle of Olympia Lighting Center.

A Trifecta of Talent

Helena’s design team coordinates their choices for a total look that makes each Rob Rice home unique.

The lighting fixtures complement the flooring, counters and designer backsplash tile in the gorgeous kitchen of this new Campus Estate home. (photo by Leslie Shipe)

To initiate the process for the home in Campus Estates, Helena consulted with Deanna Collins to select the high-end surfaces that are standard in Rob Rice homes – the rich hardwood flooring, the quartz or granite countertops, the designer backsplash tile and the finish on the Beech wood cabinets. With those selected, Helena then consulted with Cheryle on the style of lighting fixtures to beautifully complement the choices made for the home.

“The outcome is sensational,” says Helena. “We have an amazing ‘trifecta’ of design experts that yields incomparable results.”

Helena says she has collaborated with both Deanna and Cheryle as close partners for years. The order of their process depends on each house, but using their coordinated effort ensures one-of-kind homes.

“We can choose the surfaces first, and then the lighting, or the lighting first that coordinates with the cabinets and then select the other surfaces,” explains Helena. “We can give it a traditional look or a contemporary one. The coordinated choices give the whole home a singularly beautiful and upscale feel.”

Lighting is a Gorgeous Touch

Cheryle Knittle, who is an expert in lighting, has access to the newest products on the market at Olympia Lighting Center. (Courtesy of Rob Rice Homes)

Helena Rice says that Cheryle Knittle is delightful to work with and her many years of lighting experience allow her to put the perfect touch on a home’s design features.

A former manager of the Oyster House restaurant, Cheryle was hired on at Olympia Lighting Center 33 years ago. Her vast knowledge of home lighting has been learned during her many years on the job.

“You learn a lot that you can’t learn in books,” says Cheryle. “You talk to builders, you talk to customers, you talk to electricians. You go to job sites, walk the houses, look at the walls, the ceiling heights… and then you determine what fits.”

Cheryle, who has partnered with Rob Rice Homes for more than 15 years, describes how it all comes together with the local builder.

“Deanna at Signature puts these colors together, which are just fabulous, and then gives them to Helena. Then, Helena comes to me and we start going through light fixtures to see which ones tie in with the way they’re building the home and what they are looking for to make it ‘pop’.”

With the home recently completed in Campus Estates, she says they were able to match the light fixtures to the backsplash, the flooring and the countertops.

The Campus Estates luxury rambler has features and lighting that all worked together for a fabulous look. (photos by Leslie Shipe)

“They are coming out with all kinds of things right now,” remarks Cheryl, who has access to the latest lighting products on the market. “The pendants and dining room fixtures in that home have more of a grayish tone to them. The flooring has more of that same coloring in it. The home is flat-out gorgeous.”

Helena Rice consults with Deanna Collins on the beautiful surfaces for each home. (Courtesy of Rob Rice Homes)

Cheryle says she often helps her customers who have a hard time picturing a home finished.

“That’s where we come in as professionals. You may love a light fixture and want it in your master bedroom. But, I may say…‘no, you don’t!’ The ceiling may not be high enough, or the fixture may be too big or too small for the room.”

“I like what I do,” Cheryle continues. “And, I make sure I know what I am talking about. I don’t bull people. I want people to be happy with their home when they walk out of here.”

Cheryle says she works with many terrific builders and notes that Rob Rice Homes has a great team.

“It takes everybody to make a house work, I mean everybody-the superintendents on the job site, and the people who pour the foundation, frame the house and do the plumbing or wiring. Deanna helps select the surfaces and colors, I do the lighting and Helena pulls it all together and makes sure the colors and lighting all tie in together and match. From start to finish, it takes everybody to make the house work.”

Helena Rice is quick to express her gratitude for her amazing design partners.

“It has always been a thrill to work with these women who are tops in their fields. To see it all come together the way it did in this Campus Estates home is more than phenomenal.”


Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and has been voted the Best of South Sound for the last five years and was voted Best of Show in the 2017 OMB Tour of Homes. He has built nearly 3000 homes in 43 different new home communities over more than 30 years. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia, WA with their two sons, Alex and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.