Introducing Our Portland Fixer Upper
Welcome to our new Portland, OR, fixer upper folks because I was desperately in need of something to do (ha). Here’s how it all went down – my brother and sister-in-law were looking to invest in real estate and I was looking for an investor in which to do more high-end projects with no client, for content. So we struck a deal – they would buy the house, I’d design it (with the help of the wonderful Portland-based designer/project manager Jenna Sheingold) and document the whole thing – with complete creative control!!! No client = faster, more beautiful work and more transparent blog posts. YAY. Then after we are done with the content (and maybe an event or two) we’d put it on the market, sell it to someone very lucky, and I get a portion of their net profits. We just entered the big time, and it’s terrifying but so fun. There is a lot to tell you. Let’s start with the basics:
1. It was 1,764 square feet but will be 4,800 sqft when we are done with the addition. It sits on .69 acre on a very private street.
2. It’s in the Dunthorpe area of Portland (in an amazing Riverdale school district, and one of the most beautiful older neighborhoods in all of USA).
3. It’s a mid-1980’s house that needed a complete re-haul and a big dose of soul. It was originally cheaply done.
4. They bought it for $850k and will invest $500k (labor/materials) plus 250k – $300k of high-end product into the renovation, and with my help (and a lot of high-end gifted product) we hope to sell it for, well enough for both of us profit. To call it a flip would be inaccurate. I mean, who buys an $850k flip?? (Ken and Katie, not me :)). I’m doing it to create a showhouse of my work – a set for content creation that isn’t in my own home, and the profit is a hopeful bonus. But since we need to sell it I also have to make sure that I do something with mass appeal, that is timeless, classic and worthy of the neighborhood. But still ‘me’. It’s so exciting and it’s a style that I really haven’t ever done before. Our LA house is traditional but more cottage-y and casual. This is going to be more formal and yet modern (duh). Think mosaic tile and copper hoods …. but with modern lighting and art.
These are the types of houses that are in the neighborhood:
They are generally older, they are almost always big (3500 +), they have beautiful landscaping and they typically feel really grand, more formal and have a decent sized property.
So I have an opportunity to do something special, design-wise and use splurge-y finishes that would typically be outside our budget. And my brother (and sister-in-law) have an opportunity to really invest in something that could sell in the high 1s or even 2 million price range. Talking about money is always tricky but it’s not like you guys aren’t going to find out anyway once we list it. So yah, that is our goal, and while it’s a bit terrifying and the pressure is on me to make it stunning, it sure is a VERY fun project and now that the holidays are over it’s a huge focus.
Oh and one of the best parts is that my brother is learning EVERYTHING about renovation along the way, so someday (soon) he can be the GC and I can finally live out my dream of having someone in my family be a contractor (Brian refuses).
Despite looking fine, this house is a total gut job. So let’s take a tour of it, shall we?
The exterior is pretty basic with fairly inexpensive finishes, for now…
It needs new windows, doors, siding and just a better purpose in life. The landscaping is full of missed opportunities but the property is big (almost an acre) and it’s set back off a street and feels super private. The potential is absolutely there.
Here is the original floorplan, with two floors – an entry level floor and a basement level (that opens to the backyard).
It originally had 3 bedrooms, with the master being right off the family room and the other two in the basement. Totally fine for a normal house, but since it’s in this neighborhood with really beautiful larger ‘estates’ (not really but that’s how they feel) we need it to be bigger and better.
Here is where we are headed:
Here are the major changes:
- Turn the master bedroom into a large formal dining room.
- Add stairway to the new 3rd floor.
We essentially gutted the entire thing (my brother demoed it himself because he’s just that cool and strong) but I think it’s still fun to see the before photos. Just know that virtually every single thing is changing. I didn’t even see it before it was gutted (I’m in LA, the house is in Portland) so these are just the real estate photos. Ken worked directly with an architect and a general contractor to get the plans, and then I hired a designer/project manager (the lovely Jenna Sheingold) to help me with it and be on site when needed.
The trickiest room is going to be this room below – what was and will be the family room – which opens up to the patio and the new formal dining room.
It’s always a bit tricky trying to put a seating area in the middle of a pass-through room, but we can do it.
Below is the office, which will be the new office (with pretty built-ins).
Now to the basement which we are renaming the ‘ground floor’ because this floor will not feel like a basement anymore.
The storage area was HUGE, so we moved the bedroom, to make a HUGE media room and wet bar. And I’m putting in my fantasy laundry room. Someday I’ll have a huge laundry room that doesn’t also have to house the cat box…
Gone, gone it’s all gone!!! A total redo in every way and it will open into the backyard which you’ll see below.
On to the second floor (the new addition), which will all be new construction obviously. We are adding 3 bedrooms, 2 baths a small laundry room and a big walk-in.
UPDATE: there is a small laundry room/closet on the 3rd floor! (right next to master).
Now to the side yard.
It’s a big pretty property with a lot of mature trees (which you know I love) that just needs some TLC. The garage will be dual purpose – for cars, obviously but we are pimping it out to be a dope rec room in the winter. My brother has all the ideas for that (something about a basketball hoop, rock wall … some sort of workout thing … I don’t know, but stay tuned for that.)
We are making the deck much bigger (big enough to have a living and dining room with a huge outdoor TV – which my brother is insisting on having) and then adding another covered patio that spills out of the giant media room.
Of course, when Ken told me that he already chopped down trees to give the house more natural light I had flashbacks of my traumatic tree-cutting episode, but then he reminded me that in Oregon there are TONS of trees and there is a huge lacking in natural light. And if there is one thing I like more than a shady LA yard, it’s a naturally bright house. We are adding all these amazing skylights (with blinds) from Velux to maximize it even more.
This house would likely be a family house so we want the yard to be more usable with some more flat grassy space and some space for entertaining, too.
I was going to show you inspiration images but honestly, the design of it is still in the beginning stages and I want them to be accurate. Of course, you can troll my Pinboard to see where I’m headed.
We are looking to put it on the market in May and I’ll be creating a ton content around it, essentially living in Portland that month. I’d love to do a big event there before it’s listed and create some buzz and meet a bunch of you. We have some great sponsors on board and I’d love to work with any local companies for staging. We’ll need everything – like EVERYTHING to design and style every single room. The idea would be that the new owner would likely purchase a lot of it, but regardless there would be an opportunity for press, PR and professional photos of your work in the house. While the style of the house is more grand and formal we obviously want it to feel a little modern and edgy. I think anything too boho won’t work and as of right now the art direction isn’t terribly rustic. As the design direction gets formalized if you think your art could be staged in this home, let us know! Since the house is so traditional I’ll be looking to edge it up for art (aka I might use vintage portraits, but I don’t really think so as of right now).
Meanwhile, I have to go because I (and Jenna) have SO MUCH WORK TO DO. Both this house and the mountain fixer upper need design plans ASAP and yet I don’t want to rush and make mistakes or miss opportunities.
Wish us luck. We look pretty confident here …. right? Also yes, we look a lot alike. The Starke’s have VERY strong genes …
Any questions, comments or concerns? It’s a lot, I know…
I think the real question is…are we going to love it so much that we sell our place in LA and finally move back to Portland to our newly designed huge house on a lot with gorgeous old trees 2 blocks away from my brother?????
P.S. As we get closer we will need help with the installation so if you are looking to get some experience on that and want to help out, let us know. I’ll likely fly up a few of my people here, but it’s a big job … 🙂 Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep track and reach out as we are closer to the shopping/styling and shooting portion of the job.