Posts in Portland House
The interior, main level

As you saw in the last post, there is currently an extensive amount of work and refocusing of effort going on with the Fairmount house exterior; but originally going into the project our main intent was to focus most of the renovation on the interior. The house was built in the early 90’s and as such there were plenty of elements that felt out of place today. The main level of the house (there are 3 levels total: you enter into the main level of the house located at the middle, the master is upstairs, and there is a pair of Jack and Jill bedrooms and extra space downstairs) is probably the part of the home interior that is getting the largest update and reconfiguring.

Starting from the entrance (seen above towards the left in image 1) you originally were greeted by a foyer (?) wall which blocked the dining room behind it. To the left of the wall is the living room, and to the right of the wall is an entrance to the kitchen as well as the stairs up/downstairs and also leads into a hall taking you to the main level bathroom and a room that was previously utilized as a den (we’ll be using it as a guest room). We liked the separation of space that the wall provided, but wanted something more airy, so as you can see in images 2 and 3 the wall is being replaced. At the moment there is just a big hole leading directly into the dining room, but it will be replaced with a wooden post screen. The screen will allow for definition of the space while also allowing direct view of the dining room window as you enter through the front doors.

The dining room previously had a very strong contemporary 90’s vibe to it thanks to the tiered cake style ceiling, as seen in image 1 above. The kitchen also had a similar but far less successful tiered ceiling, but I’m saving the kitchen dissection and renovation concept for another post (mostly because I need to get some better photos of it). The plan here was to remove the entrance-facing wall of course (visible to the right of image 1 above – the dining room side featured 2 base cabinets as a built-in buffet, and the entrance-facing side featured 1 cabinet in the center), and also to remove the separator wall between the dining room and the kitchen, creating one long open space and allowing much more light to flood in between the kitchen, dining, and living room. It turned out that the tiered ceilings were purely decoration and not functional at all; I was totally worried that there may have been some hidden duct or piping or other functional reason for wanting to do a tiered ceiling… because why would anyone want one otherwise! 😅

In the background of some of the photos above you’re able to peek the previous and current state of the living room. The living room was mostly harmless, except for the fireplace. Above the fireplace was a large and ultra-contemporary bulge. Aside from housing an overhead light, it served no real purpose, and turned out to have no functional purpose… so it will be removed in favor of just a clean and flat expanse of drywall. The fireplace hearth is going to be removed in order to give a little more space back to the room – the room photographs a little bigger than it really functionally is, and taking into account the window and fireplace placement there aren’t too many furniture layout options, so removing the hearth will give back needed space and hopefully allow for a couple more layout options.

Around the corner of the fireplace was a bench that housed a log storage compartment, we’re also going to remove this again in order to open up the space a little more and expand the furniture layout possibilities. The new fireplace will feature a wide band of raw metal stretching from the left of the fireplace wall all the way around into the window nook where the bench was previously. The living room is a double-height space with lots of windows providing a wonderful amount of natural light. We’ll be augmenting the space with a nice oversized pendant in the center of the room, adding extra light into the space but like the previous fireplace bulge did the pendant will also direct visual attention back up to the top of the space.

The interior will be mostly on pause for a couple more weeks since the majority of the attention is being spent on the exterior in order to wrap up all the outside work before the heavy rains become a daily event… But we’re so excited to see the interior begin to take shape again. We’ll be covering the design changes and progress on the other 2 levels in the house, as well as the new kitchen. Oh, and the Beetlejuice inspired bathroom and guest bedroom on the main level too! Can’t wait, we’re so excited! 😀

Looking on the bright side

Time really does fly! We’ve been in Portland now for a little over two months, and the Fairmount house has progressed quite a lot over those two months. A lot of the progress has been smooth overall, but there were a handful of discoveries and setbacks regarding the exterior that we’ve decided to look at as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Originally the plan and scope for the house renovation was more focused on the interior, with a few projects concentrated on the exterior. At the start of the project the exterior work was limited to the addition of the Beetlejuice-inspired false wall on one of the decks and a full repaint. Little did we know back then that soon enough the exterior would be commanding the bulk of our attention.

As a side effect of some of the interior projects and wall explorations, a lot of vulnerabilities with the home exterior were discovered. Basically the entire exterior was not weatherproofed as effectively as a home in the Northwest should be, causing plenty of issues underneath the original siding once parts of it began coming out to make way for new windows and doors. To make a long (and depressing) story short, in the end we’ve decided to get the entire exterior corrected… That means all repairs to rotting areas, new weatherproofing, new siding, and upgraded windows throughout. Insert cash register sound effect here!

It really is a costly and time-absorbing endeavor that we weren’t fully anticipating to have to do or prepared to take on at this point of home ownership, but we are feeling good about it and the results so far. Our contractor Hammer and Hand are experts at home weatherproofing, so we absolutely couldn’t be in better hands. Plus once the exterior was stripped down to the plywood and all the windows removed, it really gave us the opportunity to do some customization that we otherwise may not have bothered with.

Case in point, the triangle window and the glass block rectangle window above the main entrance (seen in picture 2 above)… the original plans were to keep and embrace the triangle window and replace the glass blocks with a standard rectangle picture window of the same dimensions. Now with the exterior all opened, though, we jumped at the chance to add some more character to the outside. The eventual Beetlejuice false wall on the balcony will feature a large circle cutout detail, so we decided to repeat the circle above the front entrance with a new 5 foot diameter circular window replacing both the triangle window and glass block rectangle.

Above you can see a few more before photos of the exterior along with a couple of shots of the work in progress. As you can see, there is an extensive amount of scaffolding setup around the house, and it actually extends around the entire home (its difficult to get clear shots of the house due to the thick trees… but I will try to get better angles soon).

The team is working at an incredible pace in order to try to beat the start of the famous Portland rainy season, and as such these photos are a little dated already! At the moment the entire house has been wrapped with weatherproof wrapping and the first bits of new siding are starting to go on. The plan is to finish up the siding one side of the house and begin painting that side while moving on to the siding on the next side, and so on and so on. The new windows should be arriving by the middle of the month, and by that point the outside will be mostly completed and ready to pop the new windows in place and touch up the siding and paint around them. We’re so excited to see the exterior all freshly painted (new color is black!) and the new windows all in place, especially that round window!

The tile decision!

It took a while (the original post was back in February!), but we did end up making a decision on what tile to use for the guest bathroom as well as what layout to go with. Quick recap, we wanted to give a good nod to Beetlejuice in this room, but didn't want it to feel overly themed. So in the end we opted to reference the iconic black and white scheme that comes to mind with the movie, while referencing a more mature mid-century modern aesthetic for the patterning of the tile layout. 

 Clé Tile — Slant 8x8 tile

Clé Tile — Slant 8x8 tile

 Clé Tile — Solid 8x8 tile

Clé Tile — Solid 8x8 tile

Above are the two tile styles that we are going to be using. The first is a split black and white, and the second will be used in full black as well as full white. As noted in the original post, these are concrete tiles made by Clé Tile

 Alexander Girard Checker Split

Alexander Girard Checker Split

For the layout we looked to the amazing collection of patterns created by Alexander Girard, in particular the Check Split pattern above. It is wild enough to make an impact, while at the same time also giving us that Beetlejuice reference we love so much. Below are some mockups of the tile layout, with and without bathroom elements. We're super excited to see this completed and up on the wall hopefully real soon!

Tile C Situ 1
Alexander Girard Checker Split.jpg
Tiles, Tiles, Tiles

We've got tiles on the mind at the moment, as we've been thinking a lot about the Fairmount bathroom renovations. In specific, the guest bathroom. We're trying to inject bits of Beetlejuice inspirations throughout the redesign, in some cases we're trying to be subtle and in other cases we're opting to go bold. In the case of the guest bathroom, we're thinking of going very bold, and in true Beetlejuice fashion we're opting for intense black and white lines!

 (A) Clé Tile — Zenith 8x8 tile

(A) Clé Tile — Zenith 8x8 tile

 (B) Clé Tile — Industrial Milan 8x8 tile

(B) Clé Tile — Industrial Milan 8x8 tile

Above are the two tiles that we're liking a lot at the moment. They're both concrete tiles made by Clé Tile. We are thinking of applying one of these tiles on one side of the bathroom as an accent wall, and covering the rest of the space with black hexagon or round penny tiles. So considering that the majority of the room will be rather monochromatic, we feel okay with the intensity of the accent wall tiles. And being that these are concrete tiles. they will patina over time, as well as each tile having slight variations that should add to the interest across the entire wall.

 Tile A in situ, 1

Tile A in situ, 1

 Tile A in situ, 2

Tile A in situ, 2

The first tile is interesting because it allows for many fun maze-like constructions depending on how you rotate the tiles. You very well could make a more typical pattern by consistently rotating the tiles in sets, as shown in the first image above, but I think it is much more fun to rotate them more randomly which will result in a more realistic maze pattern as seen in the second image. 

 Come on, admit it… you were thinking about solving the maze too!

Come on, admit it… you were thinking about solving the maze too!

And I just had to take a stab at solving the maze… I mean, come on, of course I had to! Part of me thinks it would be fun to leave markers in the bathroom and allow guests to try and solve the maze, but then I look at the price of the tiles and immediately return to my senses!

 Tile A in situ, 1

Tile A in situ, 1

 Tile B in situ, 2

Tile B in situ, 2

 Tile B in situ, 3

Tile B in situ, 3

The second tile is a much simpler and more traditional striped pattern, but it still offers a lot of interesting possibilities for pattern making. With the Beetlejuice theme in mind, of course we would have to consider a simple diagonal stripe pattern by offsetting the tiles vertically as seen in the first image above. The second image is a little more herringbone-like while still retaining a little bit of that Beetlejuiciness. The third, however, is probably the most bold of all the patterns we tried… but it is so attractive! Perhaps it is a little better in smaller doses, though, like a backsplash? Decisions, decisions…

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice

Jon and I are huge fans of the movie Beetlejuice. So much so that our wedding was heavily themed after the movie (will have to make a post about it in the future)! So when we were looking around for homes one thing that was always in the back of our mind was what was the home's "Beetlejuiciness" (aside from the usual things like views, neighborhood, whether it is haunted… you know, the usual things).

When we found the Fairmount house, we were really excited by the potential the exterior of the home had for some Beetlejuice inspired renovations. The home's simple geometric exterior meshed well with the movie house, right down to the siding and metal clad roof. One big potential difference we may need to make, though, is the house color… we probably will end up painting it a dark gray color instead of the bright white from the movie.

 Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

Fairmount House

Fairmount House

In particular, the iconic balcony wall seems like it could be reproduced off of the Fairmount house's front facing bacony. Maybe even with the yellow horizontal support beam.

 Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

The floating wall from the movie house is our favorite feature of the home, and we are looking forward to hopefully being able to recreate it. While very much so a visual feature, it may prove to be quite functional as well since that balcony is actually located off of the master bedroom, so it may add some privacy from the street as well as from other neighbors located further up the mountain. 

 Fairmount House front facing balcony

Fairmount House front facing balcony

Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

Beetlejuice House. © Warner Bros

Jon and I are very excited to bring out the inner Beetlejuice in our house. Now if you'll please excuse me, I'm off to scour the web for a fabulous pair of lookalike wicker rattan chairs to use in the summertime, dressed in black!