An Iconic Portland Midcentury Is Seeking a New Owner For $1.6M

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Once home to a famous artist, a historic midcentury is reimagined as an stunning modern-day dwelling.

Originally designed in 1939 by Roscoe Hemenway, the Burton House was once home to famed artist Verne Tossey, who was best known for his campy pulp fiction book covers throughout the 1950s and 60s. 

Recently, Portland–based designer Benjamin Silver and builder Oliver Olson have completely renovated the home, transforming the property into a modern interpretation of Hemenway's original design. Now, this beautiful abode is being listed for $1,595,000. Scroll ahead for fascinating "before" and "after" images.

The Exterior Before:

As you can see, the original exterior was in desperate need of updating.

As you can see, the original exterior was in desperate need of updating.

"I sat down and looked at the original home and asked myself: What would Roscoe Hemenway design if he were alive today? He wouldn't be designing a tiny kitchen and closed-off spaces. He was a modern man—he would be opening up the house," explains Silver.  

The original entrance. 

The original entrance. 

The Exterior After:

Although Silver did not follow the original footprint exactly, the new layout was clearly inspired by Hemenway's design. 

Although Silver did not follow the original footprint exactly, the new layout was clearly inspired by Hemenway's design. 

By bringing in elements of elegant, modern British design, and blending them with the distinct contemporary aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest, Silver and Olson have carefully considered every aspect of the remodel. The result is a stunning residence where detail, form, and function are in harmony with the surrounding landscape. 

Thanks to a complete revamp, this midcentury gem now has a fresh new look. 

Thanks to a complete revamp, this midcentury gem now has a fresh new look. 


The Living Room Before:

The living room was closed off from the rest of the spaces and had a flat ceiling. 

The living room was closed off from the rest of the spaces and had a flat ceiling. 

The opening to the dining room. 

The opening to the dining room. 

The Living Room After:

Silver opened up and vaulted the ceiling, which instantly created a bright and airy, modern interior. He also centered the picture window and added french doors that lead out to two separate outside patios. 

Silver opened up and vaulted the ceiling, which instantly created a bright and airy, modern interior. He also centered the picture window and added french doors that lead out to two separate outside patios. 

The opening to the dining area has been increased, and the square footage added to the original footprint has allowed for a grand staircase that now connects the lower level. 

The opening to the dining area has been increased, and the square footage added to the original footprint has allowed for a grand staircase that now connects the lower level. 

The new patio space off the living room. 

The new patio space off the living room. 

The Dining Room and Kitchen Before:

The dining room before.

The dining room before.

Before the revamp, the kitchen was tiny and cramped. 

Before the revamp, the kitchen was tiny and cramped. 

The Dining Room and Kitchen After:

Silver opened the kitchen to the dining room, creating the sense of one big space with a seamless flow. He also inserted french doors to an exterior patio. 

Silver opened the kitchen to the dining room, creating the sense of one big space with a seamless flow. He also inserted french doors to an exterior patio. 

At the other end, he added floor-to-ceiling, built-in shelving, which has created a more streamlined look and eliminated the need for additional furniture.

At the other end, he added floor-to-ceiling, built-in shelving, which has created a more streamlined look and eliminated the need for additional furniture.

Bright and spacious, the top-of-the-line chef's kitchen is full of high-end touches. The sub-zero refrigerator even includes integrated wine storage with a shelf for a cigar humidor.

Bright and spacious, the top-of-the-line chef's kitchen is full of high-end touches. The sub-zero refrigerator even includes integrated wine storage with a shelf for a cigar humidor.

The transformed kitchen shows off how bright the home is now. 

The transformed kitchen shows off how bright the home is now. 

Instead of using marble for the countertops, Silver chose Pental Quartz, a more durable and practical material. He also has incorporated marble in the backsplash tiles. 

Instead of using marble for the countertops, Silver chose Pental Quartz, a more durable and practical material. He also has incorporated marble in the backsplash tiles. 

The Master Bedroom Before:

The master bedroom before. 

The master bedroom before. 

The Master Bedroom After:

Silver vaulted the ceilings, while also incorporating french doors to the patio.  

Silver vaulted the ceilings, while also incorporating french doors to the patio.  

More so, a bathroom was added to the suite. 

More so, a bathroom was added to the suite. 

The Basement Before:

Before, this space was dark and featured wood-paneled walls. 

Before, this space was dark and featured wood-paneled walls. 

The Basement After:

"I prefer to think of it as a lower level because it no longer has the feel of a basement," explains Silver. A large picture window lets in lots of natural light and frames an atrium filled with succulents. 

"I prefer to think of it as a lower level because it no longer has the feel of a basement," explains Silver. A large picture window lets in lots of natural light and frames an atrium filled with succulents. 

Silver has also inserted a home office that is located just off of the den. 

Silver has also inserted a home office that is located just off of the den. 

This view shows the space from another angle. The door at the bottom of the staircase leads to the laundry area. The door to the right of the staircase goes to a modern wine cellar with a sleek mounted wine rack from Stact. 

This view shows the space from another angle. The door at the bottom of the staircase leads to the laundry area. The door to the right of the staircase goes to a modern wine cellar with a sleek mounted wine rack from Stact. 

5202 SW Burton Drive is now being listed by Sam Dowlatdad of The Agency PDX. See the full listing here

Know of a home for sale or rent that should be featured on Dwell.com? Drop us a line at community@dwell.com.

An exterior shot of the atrium with the succulents. 

An exterior shot of the atrium with the succulents. 

Project Credits: 

Architectural planning: collaboration by Benjamin Silver Design & Maria Cohen Design 

General Contractor: Oliver Olson Build 

Structural Engineer: Tim Covert 

Landscape Design: Troy Clayton 

Lighting Design: Benjamin Silver Design 

Interior Design: Benjamin Silver Design 

Cabinetry Design: Benjamin Silver Design

Cabinetry Production and Installation: Oliver Olson Build