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Norway Hills II

Location: Bothel, WA 

Size: 15,6
96 SF (Overall project area)

Cost: $189/SF

Completed: Originally completed in 2001

20 Years ago, four speculative residences were constructed on 1-1/2 acre sites in Bothell, Washington. Over the years we have partnered with residents on landscaping projects and home renovations, and in doing so, we’ve shared in the deep sense of community that design has helped build. 

One Norway Hill house became home for a family of five after it was purchased by the director of a large construction firm on Seattle’s east side. The original house was developed with darker woods (mahogany), stained concrete radiant floors, and more saturated interior and exterior colors. The new owners used a series of bright colors and finishes of their own to accent the residence and create a very different environment than the natural material and finish palette of the original Home of the Year.

When our client, Mike, found his Norway Hills home, he had a vision of what this modern country house and property would eventually look like with improvements. What he didn’t know yet was that his renovations would help bring the community together in such a profound way. The improvements included building out the entire upper floor of the garage, adding a pool, waterfall, outdoor fireplace, gabion walls, landscaping lighting and an exterior entrance off of the living room.

“I went back to the original architect, Rhodes Architecture + Light, when I was ready to make changes. I learned early on that they listen to their clients’ needs instead of imposing their own opinions. Their design solutions reflect that attentiveness.” –Mike

We were asked to design an extensive pool complex for the land opposite the developed courtyard that was originally incorporated into the design. The owners wanted a pool court that included a lap pool with an invisible edge, a built-in hot tub, varied, tiered topography and gardens, a tactile stone garden, substantial retaining walls incorporating rock baskets or gabions, falling water, and a fire element. 

We developed a series of tiered levels that gave the pool complex depth and texture and allowed variegated landscape “screens” that sheltered the whole court from the road above and the neighbors. The owners built stereo components into the pool itself for music underwater and we coordinated pool and landscape lighting to create a multi-hued courtyard for gatherings, parties, and a welcoming outdoor family room. The development of industrial dormers adjacent to the complex allowed the reuse of an attic space above the original garages as a separate private home office. 


The development of all these elements together was an amazing opportunity. We created a new covered entry to the existing living room of the Norway Hills house that entered and aligned with a pool and curved 8-foot-high gabion retaining walls (which also hid a site stair leading up to adjacent land). The gabion walls open to reveal a gas-fired flame reflecting off a back water wall created using a cast-in-place concrete retaining wall with a special pebbled concrete form liner. When the waterfall pump is activated the water flowing across the pebbled concrete texture sounds like a smooth rocky stream.


“The renovations were a resounding success. The neighbors loved the changes–so much that it evolved into the neighborhood entertainment and pool center. I’d come home from work and there would be 20 people in my pool with their kids–adults drinking wine on the deck. People still talk about it after all these years, the memories made in our small community. That’s the magic of design.” –Mike

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