Portland Backyard Retreat

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This little structure, nearly 200 square feet of enclosed space, offers respite from daily life. Its simplicity is meant to engage the senses while providing shelter for contemplation.

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Indoor-outdoor space, with glass walls that open wide, and wrap-around views. The roof continues over the veranda, providing shelter in the rain.

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Light comes in on three sides, including generous north-facing studio windows. Northern light is generally even and cool, which may be just the thing every now and then.

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The space is simple and open. A wall-mounted cabinet captures the clutter, freeing the floor for whatever. These renderings show the space as it might be used to listen to music. It could also make a great studio for painting, yoga or meditation.

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The view out is expansive. However, the side facing the main house is kept free of openings. This reinforces the removal from daily life, furthering the feeling of getting away for a while.

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From the outside, the retreat is simple and rustic. Its dark, rustic wood siding will deepen with age, becoming part of the surrounding landscape.

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The north-facing entry is modest, with a sense of departure as one steps from a grounded stone stoop to its entry bridge.

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The floor plan is very simple and flexible.

If this design stimulates your ideas about your own retreat, I’d be delighted to talk with you about it.

I designed the project, and created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Southwest Hills House

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The challenges of building in Portland’s Southwest Hills can be great. Steep drops from the street call for creative solutions, and can lead to spectacular results. This four-bedroom, 3,300 square foot house is designed to maximize its inhabitants’ enjoyment of their hillside, while minimizing construction costs.

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I’ve designed this house to address its sloping site in two ways: Concentrate the living spaces into a three-story tower with a compact footprint, and bridge to the street with an entrance deck, garage and driveway.

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Given the vertical orientation of this house, stairs play an important role in its use and enjoyment. This stair, which connects three and a half levels, is located in a glassy bay. Scaling the stair brings dynamic views of inside and outside.

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The main living space is located on the house’s top floor. I’ve capitalized on the freedom afforded by this “up top” location to explore terraced floor levels and varied roof forms. The space is open, and centered on a massive chimney.

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The south facing elevation shows the glassy enclosure of the living areas. In addition to the living, dining and kitchen areas of the third floor, the southwest corner of the second floor has an intimate family room. Both the living and family rooms have outdoor terraces.

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The floor plans show this home’s compact nature. Third floor living spaces cap a family room and the master suite on the second floor. And the first floor is filled with bedrooms at ground level.

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The second floor family room offers a cozy retreat, and has ample connection to the outdoors.

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This axonometric view gives a good idea of the house’s overall organization, especially the staggered terraces of the living and family rooms. It also shows the large skylight located above the fireplace, and the entrance bridge.

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This view of the main living space shows its terraced floor levels and soaring ceilings. Views and light wrap around the space, and light from the sky washes the fireplace’s brick.

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Set five steps above the living and dining level, the kitchen has commanding views. Yet it remains a subtle presence in the living space.

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The kitchen is designed to be practical and enjoyable. It’s located steps from the garage, has ample counter and storage space, and dramatic views in all directions. The sink area is located in a bay that projects outward from the house, surrounded by views and light.

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Looking back toward the living spaces from the kitchen give a good feeling for the sweeping living space of this home.

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A slight turn to the west shows the connection of the kitchen to the entrance level. You can also see the fireplace chimney’s second skylight, illuminating the home’s highest level.

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The view from the southwest gives a good idea of how the home’s terraced living levels interact with site’s steep slope.

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Inside, the ever-changing sweep of light animates the space.

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The design of this house is rooted in classical systems of order, energized by asymmetric elements.

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The house’s romantic massing is especially clear from its sides, where the disjointed roof forms interact with the projecting bays of the stairs and kitchen.

I designed this house as a speculative study on a non-specific site. I created all drawings and renderings. I’m excited to see how we could work together to make a home like this on your own hillside.