In the beginning, the renovation seemed like it would only scratch the surface. The building was constructed in 1923 as a commercial hub in Portland, Oregon's Pearl District, and its floors were all converted into residential lofts in 2008. Designer Courtney Nye was tasked with upgrading the fourth-floor penthouse.
She signed on in 2015, soon after the couple purchased the home. But what was initially thought of as a minor modernization transitioned into a more detailed facelift. It took four years of on-and-off work, and three phases, to turn this property into the dream home the clients had always envisioned.
"When the owners initiated this project, they had one baby," Nye says. "They've since grown to a family of four."
The extended timeline was due in part to busy schedules—both owners are at the respective helms of an investment company and an architecture firm—but also because of its widened scope. When Nye first met the pair through a previous client, they showed her a single two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit to overhaul. But later, the couple purchased the adjoining one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit, and asked if Nye could adjust her plans to make the extra space into a playroom and guest area. She was game, and the clients were excited to see what could be done with a bigger challenge.
"At the initial kick-off, they just needed a few furniture items in the master bedroom and a change of paint. The construction aspect included updating the fireplace tile and remodeling the master bathroom," Nye remembers.
That was before phase two began: Joining the two units into one home. Nye's biggest concern was ensuring that each space would eventually feel like a seamless whole, and she decided that a neutral palette of mostly cream, blue, pink, and gray would be best for the expansive floor plan. Those shades would also do well to highlight the loft's many floor-to-ceiling windows, which look over one of the best areas in Portland. "They have views of the city and restaurants below," she notes. "It's a very vibrant, walkable neighborhood."
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Once Nye had a layout that combined the two units through a hallway, she spent the rest of the second phase updating the kitchen. The couple agreed to keep the original footprint, but they wanted to swap the dated materials and create a flow that would lead naturally to the outdoor entertaining area.
"The granite countertops have the movement of marble and a very unique feel," Nye says. "We grounded the dark countertops with the dark green lower cabinetry and kept the new uppers white to blend in with the wall. We continued elements of this palette on to the outdoor patio with the custom terrazzo dining table."
The final phase turned toward the guest bathrooms. All three bathrooms are centralized in the core of the loft, making its otherwise readily available natural light scarce. But while the master bathroom gains some brightness from its bedroom, the two others aren't so lucky. Nye chose to embrace that mood, especially in what would be the kids' bathroom when visitors weren't around.
"We didn't want it to feel like a kids' bathroom, even if it functions like one," Nye says. "The glass shower partition holds open to 90 degrees against the wall so that the owners can access the controls and bathe the kids easily. The custom vanity cabinet has concealed full doors to hold the kid's towels and baskets of bath toys. And the full length mirror helps to bounce more light around the space."
In the end, Nye and the clients accomplished a hard-won goal. Each phase built on one another to create a comfortable home that was worth the wait.
"When it came to the execution, the owners trusted me to run with the design," she says. "As a whole, the loft feels cohesive, even though it was designed over the course of several stages."
Builder: Oltean Construction, LLC
Interior Design: Courtney Nye Design
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