Sunday, April 01 , 2007
By JAN BEHRS
Neighborhoods such as Alameda, Irvington, Laurelhurst, Ladd’s Addition. Dunthorpe and the West Hills boast an enviable stock of signature homes from the turn of the 20th century, many designed by prominent builders and architects of the day.
Here and there, however, stand homes not quite so grand or notable; the eras that lovers of fine craftsmanship celebrate also include plenty run-of-the-mill dwellings. What to do, then, when one of these-often abused and dilapidated — sits on prime real estate within a venerable neighborhood with good schools and otherwise desirable housing stock?
Builders Brett Fogelstrom and David Hassin believe the answer is to craft homes that look old but live new.
Their companies, Fogelstrom Design Build and Terrafirma Building, create homes with Arts & Crafts, French Country or English lines similar to those of other homes in old Portland neighborhoods. Yet their interiors -while classically finished with inlaid floors, built-in bookcases and wood crown molding — also include open kitchen-family rooms, master baths, second-floor laundries near bedrooms. and wiring for sound, security, video and Internet.
These beauties honor the beloved styles of the past but step securely into the future with features for today.
Two 2006-built homes currently for sale, one built by Hassin at 3015 S.W. Bennington Drive in Arlington Heights, and another built by Fogelstrom at 2408 N.E. 27th Ave. in Dolph Park, boast an attention to detail that often leads to amazed appreciation from those who tour them.
To the lament, “They just don’t build ’em like they used to,” these builders say: “Oh yes. we do.”
“I’ve been working on rehabilitation of old four-squares for nearly 10 years, and in that process I’ve discovered the things that work well and the things that don’t. These are my first homes from sqatch, and I wanted to gather all the good things in one place,” said Fogelstrom, who built the side-by-side Old Portland-style homes at 2408 and 2416 N.E. 27th Ave.
The home at 2416 sold last fall, but the six-bedroom, 4.5-bath home at 2408 is on the market. It’s listed for $1 ,529,000 with broker Billy Grippo of Windermere/Cronin & Caplan Realty Group.
Originally, a dilapidated single-story home sat across the two city lots.
“A tear-down is not my mindset normally; I try to bring them back,” Fogelstrom said, but he felt this one wasn’t worth saving. “I saw a rare opportunity to create something really special here. Two homes of this stature being built in the heart of Irvington has not happened in decades.”
The main level of the 5,180-square-foot home includes formal living and dining rooms straight out of the early 20th century, and an exquisitely designed kitchen-family room that combines the best of old and new. The kitchen has a granite-slab island; Dacor, Bosch and Sub-Zero appliances; and a dining nook flooded with natural light. Outside is a welcoming entertaining space with a wood-burning fireplace, as well as a back porch with wide steps for sitting.
Floors are Brazilian cherry and spaces are human-scaled, with careful attention to wood trim, tile and sandstone fireplace surrounds and wood-clad double-hung windows. There’s also surround sound, a central vacuum, an intercom and a three-car garage. A dumbwaiter stands ready to haul groceries from car to kitchen.
The second floor features four wool-carpeted bedrooms, including a master suite with a heated, Travertine marble bathroom floor. There’s also a laundry room, a sunny sitting area and balconies.
“The third floor was for fun –it’s a big, open, finished space that could be a ballroom,” Fogelstrom said. “Or it would be great for a studio; it has great light.”
“What I like about this house is that none of the space is wasted,” said Grippo, the listing broker. “A lot of new construction is built on drama, rather than usefulness. This has drama but it also has flow. And, after 20 years, it’s going to look like it was always here.”
The home will be open Sunday, April1, from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
In Good Taste
Completed in September 2006, a three-bedroom, three-bath home by Terrafirma Building was designed to suit its hillside site as well as the classic Arlington Heights neighborhood above Washington Park.
Co-listed with Mark Schaeffer of RE/MAX Equity Group and Kathy MacNaughton of Realty Trust Group, the 2,819-square-foot home at 3015 S.W. Bennington Drive is priced at $989,000. The house will be held open Sunday, April 1, from 1 to 4 p.m.
“Terrafirma’s construction is designed to respect the existing houses in a neighborhood,” said Schaeffer. “In this area, most of the houses were built in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. So this was designed to be a kind of 1930s Arts & Crafts style.”
The exterior of the home – stucco and siding with stone accents — echoes Country French-style elements with its arched, windowed garage doors and multiple roof lines. A stained-glass front door and glass niches accent the entry and add a vintage look combining old and new. In the back, a Gunnite retaining wall carved and painted to resemble natural stone curves around a stone terrace.
Traditional elements inside include a pillared arch between living and dining room, gleaming Oregon white oak floors, oiled bronze hardware, glass doorknobs and pocket doors. More contemporary features include large closets with wooden storage systems and a kitchen with Bosch appliances that opens to a family gathering space.
“It’s wired for the information age,” said Schaeffer. “There’s also a central vacuum system; all the windows are traditional-style wood but double-pane with argon gas; and the fireplaces are gas. If you’re looking for a traditional-style home, but you’d like to be worry-free, this is it.”
Because the home is built into the hillside, its backyard terrace is off the second level, which houses the bedrooms, laundry room and a loft sitting area.
The site put his design skills to the test, a challenge he relished, said Hassin, owner of Terrafirma. “It was a difficult site, but it has been very gratifying to see the results,” he said.
“Building this way is our acknowledgement that you can create a new home with character and charm, the way they used to be built, and the marketplace will respond,” Schaeffier said.
The home will be open Sunday, April1 , from 1 to 4 p.m.
Jan Behrs is a Portland freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.