Architect Nils Finne’s design, (he designed the interiors, too) is both a work of art and tough enough for the snowiest winter.

Share story

BEHOLD, THE RESULT of plain old Norwegian stubbornness.

It is a thing of beauty, is it not? This raised and sweeping house tucked into a copse of trees and placed before a golden meadow in the mountainy getaway mecca of Mazama. It is the house that almost wasn’t.

Cabinets are cherry with a textural band featuring a custom pattern. The backsplash is also custom, from Ann Sacks. The stools have a milled-wood tractor seat. The floor is concrete. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)
Cabinets are cherry with a textural band featuring a custom pattern. The backsplash is also custom, from Ann Sacks. The stools have a milled-wood tractor seat. The floor is concrete. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)

“This house has been in the office for years — eight or nine,” says architect Nils Finne of the recession-battered project, drawn and redrawn. “I just kept saying, ‘I’m gonna finish this. I’m gonna finish this.’ ”

And here it is, so freshly finished that all involved are still taking a swing at the final punch list.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Jeff and Nadine have been heading over to Mazama since they married in 1989. (They’re both from Montana. It reminds them of home.) Immediately they knew that they, too, wanted a piece of this winter-wonderland action. The couple bought land in 1992 and began plotting the future, finding their architect in a magazine ad for Quantum Windows & Doors (used here, too).

“We gave Nils an idea, and then we got out of the way,” says Jeff. (A beautiful great room, prominent fireplace, a home with beams.)

Walls of glass reach for the big skies of Mazama. The prominent fireplace is Montana ledgestone. Finne had the sofa and chairs, from different sources, covered the same wool blend. The end table is steel and black walnut, with bamboo wrapping by artist Del Webber. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)
Walls of glass reach for the big skies of Mazama. The prominent fireplace is Montana ledgestone. Finne had the sofa and chairs, from different sources, covered the same wool blend. The end table is steel and black walnut, with bamboo wrapping by artist Del Webber. (Benjamin Benschneider / The Seattle Times)

But as the stubborn Norwegian (his words, not mine) was drawing up plans, the stock market was falling. “The builder (Rick Mills of North Cascades Contruction) was already committed, so I asked Nils, ‘What if we build a garage with a living unit on it first?” says Jeff. “He said, ‘Yep.’ ”

For six years, that was home.

Meanwhile, Finne readjusted plans to budget. Finally, in 2012 it was go time.

“This is not at all what I had in mind,” says Nadine, seated at the dining table. (It’s a compliment.) “But we trusted him. We knew he had our interests at heart. We had our own requirements, but he put them into his vision, and we really got this fabulous-looking thing.”

Indeed. They got the full Finne treatment, his translation of “crafted modernism” from structure to interiors to furnishings. The two-story bedroom wing grounds the home, anchoring a raised “living pavilion” supported by exposed steel columns. The meadow meets the home and passes beneath. The raised level enhances views and also keeps it well above the 3 to 4 feet of snow typical for the upper Methow Valley.

Finne called for a standing-seam metal roof that warps upward at each end, expressing lightness (and shedding snow). Interior wood beams “appear like an unfolding fan as the roof pitch changes. The main interior bearing columns are steel with a tapered V-shape, recalling the lightness of a dancer.”

There are cast bronze insets at the front door and, inside, variegated laser-cut steel railing panels, a curvilinear cast-glass kitchen counter and waterjet-cut aluminum light fixtures (resembling a river). Finne also either designed or chose all furnishings; the living-room ottoman (brown leather) recalls flagstones. For the great-room rug, dark-brown veining throughout a field of gray greens, “he went out and grabbed some of the seed heads from the meadow and took those with him,” reports Nadine.

Spring Home Design

Finne (project architect Chris Hawley) offered up everything the couple wanted and more in 4,000 square feet, three bedrooms, 4.5 baths, the home built by Rimmer & Roeter Construction in Cashmere. “He’s even got the bed at a level you feel like you’re sleeping outdoors,” Jeff says.

The couple has already gotten what they bargained for: Jeff awoke recently to discover a large black bear working its way up the nearby apple tree.

“The guy has endless energy and he’s so passionate,” Nadine says of their architect. “You have to say yes to him. I would have given up a long time ago, but he never gives up.”