You Wouldn't Expect the Rooftop Addition on This American Foursquare in Portland

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By Melissa Dalton
LEVER Architecture calls the project the Fivesquare in reference to the modern glass box that now crowns the traditional Foursquare home.

Upon buying this 1910 home in Portland, Oregon, the homeowners sought to add a little more living space. Local firm LEVER Architecture stepped in with a somewhat unconventional renovation plan. Portland's neighborhoods are filled with American Foursquare-style homes, so called thanks to "two primary load-bearing walls that cross to create four symmetrical spaces on each floor," write the architects. Popular from the 1890s to the 1930s, these simple residences were a response to the intricacies of the Victorian home.

By adding a "fifth square" positioned at a 45-degree angle to the existing roofline, the architects were able to create a generous studio/hang-out space on the house's third floor.

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The architects write, "The design explores the tension between keeping the iconic reading of the house at the street and a contemporary approach at the roof." Sugi ban cladding further blends the new with the old asphalt shingle roof.

Inside, plentiful windows offer fantastic views of the neighborhood's rooftops, as well as downtown Portland.

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A skylight also brings natural light down into the second floor hallway, which was quite dark before, and spotlights the new white oak stairwell there.

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The bathrooms and kitchen also received modern updates, such as Caesarstone counters, streamlined white oak cabinetry, and inky blue Heath tile in the latter. 

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Project Credits:

Design: LEVER Architecture

Builder/General Contractor: Cascade Restoration and Remodeling 

Structural Engineer: SCE, Inc.

Landscape Design: Lango Hansen Landscape Architects

Lighting Design: O-llc

Cabinetry Design/Installation: Cascade Restoration and Remodeling