Of the Hill: Building on a Hill

The Pacific Northwest is anything but flat. That’s part of the beauty of our region. Mountainous landscapes and uneven terrain provide intrigue wherever you look. Yet while our landscape may be beautiful, it’s also sometimes hard to find a flat building site with the perfect view. Building on a hill often poses a challenge, to be sure, but it also opens the door to creative design solutions. It’s an opportunity for the art of architecture to thrive in the home design process.

We’ve quoted Frank Lloyd Wright before, but his words bear repeating, “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together, each the happier for the other.” Wright’s addressing our passion: the art of architecture. While building into a hill might be an unavoidable reality in your situation, it’s an opportunity to create a structure that works with its surroundings. We’ve gathered a few tips from our experience to help you make the most of a hillside Seattle home.

Face the Light

A house built into a hill has two distinct sides: that which faces the hill and that which faces the surrounding landscape. In the Asian Ambiance project, Scott Hommas harnessed the Seattle home’s lakefront windows to create spaces filled with light and warmth. He strategically placed primary living spaces—the living room, dining room, and bedrooms—on the outward facing side of the home. Such placement allows light to flood the home’s most frequented areas. Closets, bathrooms, a library, and a media room tuck naturally into the darker, hill-facing side of the home.

Building into a hill for a Seattle home remodel.

Colors of Nature

As with all well-designed homes, colors and materials should combine in a home design that complements (rather than dominates) its surroundings. Situated on a Pacific Northwest lake, Asian Ambiance mimics its forested hillside landscape with an olive green exterior. Brown trim further enhances the natural aesthetic, and the three story home gracefully tucks itself into the hill.

Building into a hill for a Seattle home remodel.

Embrace the Views

Each floor of the home affords a unique view of the surrounding landscape—or seascape! This three story home affords its occupants views of the water at sea level on the ground floor and from a greater perch on the third floor. Every window placement offers something new to admire, whether it’s the up-close ducks on the lake or the sprawling shoreline in the distance.

Building into a hill for a Seattle home remodel.

So, while building on a hill might seem daunting, it’s an opportunity to use spaces creatively and intentionally. It’s a chance to apply the art of architecture to build your Seattle home.