Anchored to a pine-studded slope, the Bailer Hill house is designed to evoke a natural rock outcropping. Seattle-based Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects completed this cascading stack of timber-clad boxes in the San Juan Islands for a retired couple who wanted to feel at one with the surroundings. Faced with glazed sliding doors and topped with feathery green roof patios, the home blends in with the landscape and embraces it through panoramic views.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

living room

exterior view house

Inspired by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects’ previous projects, the clients sought out the firm to help replace the existing converted garage on their San Juan Islands property with a “delightfully surprising” home. The clients worked closely with the architects in a highly collaborative process that led to an unconventional and site-sensitive design carefully sited to mitigate the steep slope and to capture the incredible views. The 3,228-square-foot home, which is spread out across four levels, comprises an open living area, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor that is also linked to a reading room and rear office. The master suite is located on the basement level, while the guest room and studio are placed in the upper two volumes.

green roof

Kitchen with an island and light wood cabinetry

“Looking out over expansive water views, this house is the expression of the clients’ desire to connect to both the immediate landscape and the view beyond,” the architects explained. “Cascading organically down the hill, the house remains firmly rooted to the earth even as it rises high above the ground. It is a complex form with a simple goal: capturing the beauty of this spectacular site.”

window lites

Artist studio with glass walls and a wicker chair

Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands

The stacked formation allowed the architects to create a series of grass-roofed patios accessible from large lift-slide doors. Each volume is carefully rotated to capture select views. Natural light pours into the interior through these large doors as well as through the clusters of small rectangular windows.

+ Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects

Images by Eirik Johnson

Dark rectangular volumes stacked along a slope