This 1957 home was originally designed by Portland, Oregon architect Bud Oringdulph. The new owners purchased the house in its original condition, having had only two owners over its sixty years. Workaday Design sought to bring the home back to its midcentury look with some 21st century twists. It was to be a study of the past as well as an exploration of materials and space for the future.
They first needed to tackle a major roof leak and burst floor pipes and did so by adding a completely new roof, adding skylights and refinishing the concrete floors. They also sand blasted the wood ceilings to take the reddish tint back to a more natural color. An old pool house was restored and turned into a studio for remote work, complete with a full bathroom and coffee bar.
We spoke with the architects to find out more about the project and their advice to others on how to best to approach midcentury design elements and some of the challenges that owners can be faced with.
What do you think was so special about the midcentury period in American design?
“Everything was streamlined in shape and layout, going from the ornate and walled off spaces separating the utility from the living spaces and moved to creating more open floor plans, usable spaces and focus on family living.“
What were your challenges for this project?
“Our challenge with this project was finding the best way to restore and celebrate the original qualities of the home while also achieving our goals of adding more light and updated touches to the home. Things were debated like painting the brick but in the end we decided to leave the original brick and paint the walls a bright white, adding two skylights and sandblasting the wood ceilings to bring back the original lighter quality of the natural wood. Keeping things like the original cabinets was a no brainer, they are so unique and luckily were still in great condition.”
What in your opinion are the best features of the home?
“The best feature of this home is the way the home is oriented towards the back yard. The home has large windows and sliding doors along the entire west side of the house that faces the yard and higher windows on the east / street side giving a great sense of privacy and guiding the inhabitant to focus their attention to the private yard. You feel like you have left Portland / the city and are on vacation in some other magical place when you are at this home. Which I think is something we should all strive for – to have your house, where your life unfolds, make you feel like you are on vacation everyday.”
Do you have any tips for people interested in buying a midcentury house or building a new home with midcentury design elements? What should they pay attention to and why?
“I think the most important thing to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a mid century house is whether or not you are going to be able to respect the origin of the home and make critical decisions when deciding what to do to update in it and make your own. To us there is nothing sadder than seeing a midcentury home that was bought in the 90’s, then gutted and has cheap 90’s glossy oak cabinets.
In the midcentury era materials were meant to be significant elements of expression and rhythm in the home and I think oftentimes in the later eras that was forgotten. If you have the option to build new it’s so important to think about the connection to the landscape creating courtyards and intimate moments with nature throughout the home. Don’t over design and pay attention to the details, the way materials meet, and the way you flow through the spaces. The small intimate moments are just as important as the big grand gestures.“
The home is now going to be used as a mid term month to month rental to allow people working remotely to explore a new city for a month or two. On top of being able to experience Portland, they will get the chance to experience life in a lovingly restored midcentury modern home too.
Photos by Meagan Larsen