This home is all about the river running behind it. Consider a typical summer Saturday afternoon for the family that lives there: “Our favorite thing to do is to have people float the river and then get out at our house,” says the owner. “After that, we go in the hot tub and barbecue.”

It was just such days that the active, outdoorsy owners envisioned when they were relocating to Bend, Oregon from overseas a few years ago. Their house search led them to this neighborhood, and eventually, a small cottage on a double lot with 100 feet of Deschutes River frontage. “The first thing that they wanted me to help with was to determine whether or not the existing home was salvageable,” says architect Karen Smuland. “They wanted to be really thoughtful about how they could add enough space for a family of four.”

However, not only was the existing house quite small, a portion of it did not have a foundation, making it unfeasible to add a second floor. The next step was deconstruction, led by contractor Trevin Duey Construction. “We deconstructed instead of demolished,” says Duey. “We recycled a good portion of the materials, donating to Habitat for Humanity, and repurposing wood that had value.”

For the ensuing design of the new 3,800 square foot house, Smuland took the whole site into consideration, from the heritage trees in front and back to be preserved, to the dramatic rock outcroppings along the water, to the best interior places to capture the river views. “Karen lives just three or four blocks away from us,” says the owner. “So, she spent a lot of time on our site at different times of day. She would measure and figure out view corridors from different heights and places in the lot.”

The resulting home has an enhanced indoor-outdoor connection. Not only do most rooms capture the views but features like large folding glass doors in the main living room and guest bedroom, an awning window over the kitchen counter, and balcony at the primary suite, all open up to the backyard. There, terraced levels designed by landscape architect Michael Szabo step down to the water, including multiple spots for patios, a hot tub, a covered outdoor kitchen and lounge, and firepit.

“Almost all of the homes that we work on here in Bend prioritize highlighting the natural landscape, but rarely do we get to work on a home that’s right on the river,” says interior designer Lucy Roland of Harper House, who also joined the project team early on. “It’s such a beautiful natural location that is unique to Bend.” Exterior materials like natural wood siding, board-formed concrete, and standing seam metal roofs, ensure the home fits with the special setting, while Roland’s interior design delivers a “modern Scandinavian feel” that’s also up to regular exposure to any mud and water tracked inside. “Lucy really balanced the need for living in a beautiful space with being really functional for young kids, pets, and life on the river,” says the owner.

Since the home’s completion in 2020, the family has come to appreciate the many ways their life aquatic has been considered in the team’s design and build, from the hardworking mudroom that’s perfect for drying wetsuits, to a typical morning sight: “I literally wake up in bed and see the full river, down to the Old Mill and the American flag flying off of the top of REI,” says the owner. “It’s magical.”


Trevin Duey Construction

Karen Smuland Architect

Harper House Design

Szabo Landscape Architecture

Cement Elegance

Mutual Materials

Parr Lumber