Scott and Jennifer Ericson remodeled their home in Lake Oswego, Ore., two years ago, but the family's remodeling challenges originated in 1957, when their low-slung bungalow was built in the midst of a lakeside building boom. Back then, half a century ago, zoning laws at the lake were pale or nonexistent, which allowed a hodgepodge of residences ranging from stately manor houses to humble cottages in the now-upscale community 10 miles from Portland.
Fast-forward to 2004, when local company Metke Remodeling & Woodworking was brought in to enlarge and update the home, and, company president Jeff Metke notes, “Enter zoning laws.”
In addition to the $434,000 and seven months it took to transform the dowdy house into a dazzling, wood-infused Northwest lodge, it took an extra eight months and $4,000 for the project to wend its way through the city's infill design process.
The family's goals were not extreme. After all, “It wasn't an unlimited budget,” says homeowner Scott Ericson, regional sales manager for Parr Lumber, a chain of building supply stores. Still, he and his wife wanted a dream home by the lake where they could water ski and drive their boat to dinner and to the farmer's market on the far shore. “This is going to be our home for many years,” he says.
The original 2,044-square-foot house had a main floor with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a walkout basement, and was on a small lot. The home's outstanding feature was its location, just one lot away from the lake and its stunning views.
Metke, who has been in business for 17 years, brought in designer Ed Spencer to create an ad hoc design/build team. The Ericsons had seen work by both local professionals and liked what they saw. Plus, they knew that the builder and designer had worked together before, and that both had worked with the City of Lake Oswego to update other old homes.
As it turned out, the original home's placement on the lot did not conform to current zoning laws, which have been tightened in recent years in response to a trend toward overbuilding around the lake.
A special infill design review board had been set up to allow some flexibility so that vintage homes could be remodeled rather than torn down; the homeowner, designer, and contractor worked with the review board, explored the options, and concluded that they couldn't build out to the front, to the back, or to either side.
“The route was up,” Metke says. But the height of most lake properties is limited because they cannot block lake views for neighboring homes.
After permits were finally issued, construction began in June 2005 and ended that December.
The family had three goals: expand the size of the house, increase lake views, and create a place to park cars. While the back of the remodeled house is designed to take full advantage of lake views, the front features a wide carport with a pitched roof and exposed beams. The carport is made even wider by the addition of open trellises on each side, all sitting upon Craftsman-style columns that will be faced with stone when the budget permits.
A carport was chosen in lieu of a garage — the latter would have consumed a valuable percentage of the building's allowable square footage, which the family preferred to use for living space.
The completely remodeled main floor was built on the original footprint, except for a few hundred square feet that were allowed in the front. That space was used to create a dining room — which the house previously lacked — and a more dramatic entryway.
The exterior is a pleasing blend of lap siding, fieldstone wainscoting, white windows, and cedar shingles under the dormers and on the gable ends.
Inside, the ground floor retained much of the original floor plan, with the kitchen straight ahead, the living room to the right of that, and the bedrooms and bathroom to the far left. The new dining room is just inside the front door to the left. But a modest change — eliminating the wall between the kitchen and living room — provides lovely lake views from the entry-way, where they were once partially blocked.
Though the floor plan stayed much the same, the finishes did not. As befits a team that includes a carpentry specialist (Metke began his career as a carpentry subcontractor) and a lumberyard executive, the once-tiled kitchen floor now glows with oak flooring that matches the floors throughout the downstairs area of the home. The living room ceiling is warmed with tongue-and-groove hemlock. A thick cherry mantel fronts the ceramic tiled fireplace, which previously was white painted brick. The tile used on the fireplace has a dynamic, metallic appearance, and is repeated on the entryway floor, and on a band along the kitchen backsplash.
When it came to deciding on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, Ericson recalls asking Metke if they could use stock cabinets from Parr Lumber, his employer, in order to shave about $18,000 off the total cost, rather than the custom cabinets that Metke generally prefers. The remodeler agreed. The cherry cabinets give a rich tone to the kitchen, which has granite counters, stainless steel Frigidaire appliances, and a dramatic black exhaust hood. An enlarged kitchen window offers expansive lake views.
Completing the main floor's aesthetic, thick wood trims the windows and French doors, while the original thin moldings and base have given way to wide strips of fir. The staircase leading to the second-story addition — with oak treads and railing, along with white balusters against a blue-gray wall — is a striking center point.
The new upstairs has bedrooms for each of the two children, a guest room, a family room, the laundry room, and one-and-a-half bathrooms. To stay within budget, the Ericsons opted for carpet upstairs, rather than hardwood, and paint-grade moldings rather than stain-grade.
All told, the upscale remodel cost $274 per square foot. Scott Ericson is happy with the house, saying “it's better than we could have imagined.” He's also happy with the growing friendship between him and Metke. “We're better friends than when we started,” Ericson says.