BUILD builds up instead of out, returning land to the yard and capturing views on many levels.
ON THE CREST of one of Bellevue’s highest hills, a mesmerizingly modern form rises above treetops, horizontal lines stretching sideways from an exposed double-height stairway of diagonals and zigzags.
Floating, glowing, beckoning, there and in the covered entry court: more than a dozen unexpected, suspended spheres.
When enticing orbs invite you in, you really should go.
Given its lofty perch, “The approach needed to be dramatic,” says architect Andrew van Leeuwen, who worked with the team at BUILD to design this inspired whole-home remodel for a busy, lucky, family of four: Danny and Allison, and their two kids, ages 5 and 3. “A narrative of spheres was designed into the concept, and they create a sequence of experiences leading up to the front door and through the house. It sets up a rhythm of threes.”
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In the stairway: Six Graypants recycled cardboard lights lead visitors up the driveway and to the house. In the entry: Nine celestial glass spheres radiate above a welcoming Zen garden. Then, once inside: “A collection of 36 glass pendants draws the eye across the common areas and celebrates the dining area,” van Leeuwen says.
There is a lot here to celebrate — including a refreshing approach to the more-challenging aspect of that tall, steep Bellevue hill.
“The house reuses an existing foundation and reduces the footprint of the previous house,” van Leeuwen says. “We built up rather than out, giving 650 square feet of land back to the yard, while capturing better views and daylight. There are so many views, you want to make sure the design doesn’t eclipse any of them.”
It does not. With three levels, 5,700 square feet, five bedrooms, five bathrooms and lower-level space for an aging parent, “The floor plan takes full advantage of a striking site while accommodating all the needs of a growing family,” says van Leeuwen.
Danny and Allison “looked for years for the ideal property,” Danny says. “We were just starting a family and wanted a place that was kid-friendly.” High up on the hill, they found fantastic neighborhood schools, quick highway access, all those views in every direction — and one rather imperfect, dark, T-shaped, split-level home from 1967.
“All the bedrooms were on the back side, with no view,” says Danny. “We moved in for 1½ years and got to know the property. But we became impatient in the creaky old house, and the kids kept tripping and falling on the sunken living and dining room.”
In their newly light and bright, higher-up hilltop home, though, everything works with all shapes and for all sizes:
• In the great room, a centering, shared space to enjoy views and family, an adaptable area between the living and dining areas serves as “a lounging place when we have company,” says Danny and, otherwise, a play area often anchored by their daughter’s portable pink castle. Exposed structural steel columns are striking design features — and, at kid level, handy magnetic boards. That ottoman is soft and forgiving because, “The kids kept hitting themselves on the coffee table,” Danny says. (Plus, inside, Allison reveals: light sabers.)
• In the texture- and character-filled kitchen, Misterio countertops from PentalQuartz “are marker-tested,” says Danny. “We couldn’t go with marble with the kids.”
• Right outside the kitchen, at the edge of a courtyard-like, low-maintenance yard with “lots of usable space for the kids to run around and play,” Danny says, they grow their own plants and vegetables in three COR-TEN planters. “These are situated so we have been able to step outside and pluck some herbs in the middle of cooking.”
• On the lower level, the must-have playroom leads straight out to a backyard play area, and a little-bitty Fisher-Price exercise bike joins the grown-up gear in the gym.
There’s one more critical rectangle, up high, to one side, open to the sky and deeply meaningful. Here, on the glorious upper-level ipe deck, design shapes what matters.
“It feels very private,” says Danny. “My wife and I are both physicians. Our jobs can be pretty stressful, so it is really nice when we arrive home and can immerse ourselves in the natural surroundings, with the lake and mountains framed by evergreen trees. There are bald eagles who nest in the trees around us every year, and it is amazing to me that our family can watch them flying around while eating our meals. I am continually amazed by the natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Pacific Northwest, and I love being able to enjoy much of it from home.”