Before & After: An Artful Update Streamlines a Portland Midcentury
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Before & After: An Artful Update Streamlines a Portland Midcentury

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By Melissa Dalton
A two-phase remodel revitalizes this 1960 home in the Southwest Hills with warm wood accents and clutter-busting storage.

When the homeowners of this 1960 home in Portland’s Southwest Hills bought the property in 2009, they became the new owners of a lot of white carpeting, tired woodwork, dated wallpaper, and lackluster storage. Over time, they came to wish for a home that better suited their lives, but didn’t want to sacrifice the excellent midcentury bones.

These photos, taken from the home’s real estate listing, shows the "before" state.

These photos, taken from the home’s real estate listing, shows the "before" state.

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A two-pronged renovation became the answer to their problems. For the first phase completed in 2016, Fieldwork Design + Architecture remodeled the main floor. The firm swapped out the white carpeting for warm cork flooring, then strategically inserted variegated cedar planking. Fireplace surrounds received new plaster to bring in a subtle, earthy texture. Sharp black accents, whether via dining chairs or new patio doors, add definition. 

Before: Living and Dining Room

Before: this partial wall separates the living room from the entry. The cork flooring had already been installed, but the wood cladding around the fireplace needed updating.

Before: this partial wall separates the living room from the entry. The cork flooring had already been installed, but the wood cladding around the fireplace needed updating.

Before: the home has great views, but the white trim around the windows seemed out of place. The back of the dining room wall was mirrored.

Before: the home has great views, but the white trim around the windows seemed out of place. The back of the dining room wall was mirrored.

After: Living and Dining Room

The fireplace wall now has a plaster finish in a gray-blue hue and a custom concrete hearth, courtesy of Fieldwork. The firm also designed the privacy screen composed of wood slats and brass dowels. The slate flooring in the entry is original.

The fireplace wall now has a plaster finish in a gray-blue hue and a custom concrete hearth, courtesy of Fieldwork. The firm also designed the privacy screen composed of wood slats and brass dowels. The slate flooring in the entry is original.

Fieldwork replaced the trim around the windows with CVG fir and added variegated cedar planking for warmth and texture.

Fieldwork replaced the trim around the windows with CVG fir and added variegated cedar planking for warmth and texture.

The sectional is from Dellarobbia, and the leather chair is the Toro Lounge Chair from Blu Dot. Annie Wise sourced the rugs and accent pillows.

The sectional is from Dellarobbia, and the leather chair is the Toro Lounge Chair from Blu Dot. Annie Wise sourced the rugs and accent pillows.

The mirror was replaced with a long window. The buffet moved with the owner from her childhood home. Black Eames chairs surround a generous wood table sourced by Annie Wise.

The mirror was replaced with a long window. The buffet moved with the owner from her childhood home. Black Eames chairs surround a generous wood table sourced by Annie Wise.

For the second phase of the transformation, which wrapped in 2019, Annie Wise of Annie Wise Design stepped in for a gut remodel of the kitchen and master bathroom, with the goal of ensuring any changes remained consistent with what had already been done. "We wanted to respect both the era of the home and also the beautiful work that Fieldwork had already completed in the space," says Wise. Her goal was "to give a busy, modern family a minimalist design without sacrificing their maximalist lifestyle." What was the backbone to her approach? "Thoughtfully designed storage to conceal and tuck away the clutter of everyday life," Wise says.

Before: Kitchen, Eating Nook, and Den 

Before: the existing kitchen cabinets were not up to the task of corralling the family’s belongings.

Before: the existing kitchen cabinets were not up to the task of corralling the family’s belongings.

Before: the patio slider would be replaced so that it synced with the rest of the home.

Before: the patio slider would be replaced so that it synced with the rest of the home.

Before: the family also needed more accommodation than what the original built-in shelving could offer.

Before: the family also needed more accommodation than what the original built-in shelving could offer.

Before: the fireplace also needed updating.

Before: the fireplace also needed updating.


After: Kitchen, Eating Nook, and Den

Wise maintained the footprint of the kitchen, which is roughly 125 square feet, then maxed out the storage. "Our goal here was to create a sleek and minimal kitchen respectful to the era of the home that was hyper-functional in a small space," says Wise. The black stools are from IKEA. 

Wise maintained the footprint of the kitchen, which is roughly 125 square feet, then maxed out the storage. "Our goal here was to create a sleek and minimal kitchen respectful to the era of the home that was hyper-functional in a small space," says Wise. The black stools are from IKEA. 

With regards to space planning, Wise’s changes were subtle yet effective. "We paid respect to the original layout but just shifted things around to use all the available space," she says. Removing a soffit allowed Wise to bring the cabinetry up to the ceiling. Adding in drawers means there’s no dusty, unused space at the back of cabinets. Most importantly, the process started with documentation of the clients’ stuff, so the new system would have a place for everything. For instance, the cabinet next to the eat-in bar now has a charging station and spots for mail and papers to avoid stacks on the counter.

The sink was shifted slightly to make room for a hard-working corner cabinet and the cooktop now has a good amount of prep space nearby. The backsplash is glass back-painted with a custom color and the custom cabinetry is hemlock with horizontal grain match. Wise also dropped the windowsill behind the sink. 

The sink was shifted slightly to make room for a hard-working corner cabinet and the cooktop now has a good amount of prep space nearby. The backsplash is glass back-painted with a custom color and the custom cabinetry is hemlock with horizontal grain match. Wise also dropped the windowsill behind the sink. 

Full-height cabinetry, custom-built with a white matte lacquer finish, maxes out every square inch. The appliance garage at the center hides the Vitamix and coffee maker. When closed up, this bank of cabinets reads as a single wall and the finish reflects light, helping the space to feel bigger.

Full-height cabinetry, custom-built with a white matte lacquer finish, maxes out every square inch. The appliance garage at the center hides the Vitamix and coffee maker. When closed up, this bank of cabinets reads as a single wall and the finish reflects light, helping the space to feel bigger.

Fieldwork replaced the previous doors a large, two-panel slider. The cork flooring was laid in place of parquet, as it is "true to the era of the home but gave it a more contemporary feel," says Wise.

Fieldwork replaced the previous doors a large, two-panel slider. The cork flooring was laid in place of parquet, as it is "true to the era of the home but gave it a more contemporary feel," says Wise.

The wall in the den also received variegated cedar planks, as in the living room. Fieldwork redesigned the built-in unit with an open and closed system, fashioned from Hemlock and gray matte lacquer. A built-in sofa creates a seamlessly integrated lounge.

The wall in the den also received variegated cedar planks, as in the living room. Fieldwork redesigned the built-in unit with an open and closed system, fashioned from Hemlock and gray matte lacquer. A built-in sofa creates a seamlessly integrated lounge.

The fireplace was streamlined with plaster and a gas insert.

The fireplace was streamlined with plaster and a gas insert.


Before: The Master Bathroom

Before: The biggest issue with the master bathroom is that it didn’t feel like one, according to Wise. "Previously, it was bisected into a dressing room and the bathroom, all covered in some really retro wallpaper. We tore down that wall to elongate the space," says Wise.

Before: The biggest issue with the master bathroom is that it didn’t feel like one, according to Wise. "Previously, it was bisected into a dressing room and the bathroom, all covered in some really retro wallpaper. We tore down that wall to elongate the space," says Wise.

Before: the shower was very small.

Before: the shower was very small.

Before: an angled vanity chopped up the space and make it awkward to store everyday items.

Before: an angled vanity chopped up the space and make it awkward to store everyday items.


After: The Master Bathroom

Now, a skylight fills the space with natural light. Large-format floor tile from Anne Sacks anchors the room while "the rear wall of the bathroom and entire shower is wrapped in a beautiful, subtle plaster," says Wise. The sculptural sconce on the back wall, a focal point, is from Rejuvenation.   

Now, a skylight fills the space with natural light. Large-format floor tile from Anne Sacks anchors the room while "the rear wall of the bathroom and entire shower is wrapped in a beautiful, subtle plaster," says Wise. The sculptural sconce on the back wall, a focal point, is from Rejuvenation.   

A floating vanity made of rift-sawn white oak with horizontal grain match and custom-routed channel pulls is now a storage powerhouse, corralling everything from toilet paper and towels to hair dryers and curling irons. The goal was to get everything off the counter, so the inset medicine cabinet is also wired for charging razors and electric toothbrushes. The sconces are from Cedar & Moss.

A floating vanity made of rift-sawn white oak with horizontal grain match and custom-routed channel pulls is now a storage powerhouse, corralling everything from toilet paper and towels to hair dryers and curling irons. The goal was to get everything off the counter, so the inset medicine cabinet is also wired for charging razors and electric toothbrushes. The sconces are from Cedar & Moss.

"Previously, the closet was not a walk-in and was stuffed head to toe with clothes," says Wise. "We carved out space from the hallway and created a walk-in that was outfitted from top-to-bottom with functional storage." A pocket door hides the interior when needed. The shower is in the same space as before, but lengthened so that Wise could use the awkward angled wall for a shower bench. 

"Previously, the closet was not a walk-in and was stuffed head to toe with clothes," says Wise. "We carved out space from the hallway and created a walk-in that was outfitted from top-to-bottom with functional storage." A pocket door hides the interior when needed. The shower is in the same space as before, but lengthened so that Wise could use the awkward angled wall for a shower bench. 

Before: Portland SW Hills Midcentury Hideaway floor plan

Before: Portland SW Hills Midcentury Hideaway floor plan

<span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">After: Portland SW Hills Midcentury Hideaway floor plan</span>

After: Portland SW Hills Midcentury Hideaway floor plan

More Before & After:

A 19th-Century Row House Becomes a Boho Newlyweds’ Nest

A Brick Church in Quebec Becomes a Resonant Home

A Melbourne Pub Is Recast as a Funky Home

Project Credits:

Architecture: Fieldwork Design + Architecture / @fieldworkdesign

Builder: Phase 1: EB Construction & Remodeling Phase 2: Hamish Murray Construction

Structural Engineer: Grummel Engineering / Alex Grummel

Lighting Design: Solus / Mariel Acevedo

Interior Design: Annie Wise Design / @anniewisedesign

Cabinetry Design/Installation: On The Level Custom Cabinets / Kevin Roggencamp

Bathroom Plaster Work: Josh Baeckel