On Saturday I was one of the lucky 700 attending the Street of Eames tour of modern homes. (Many weren’t able to get tickets after they sold out in 48 hours a few weeks ago.)
After a ticket snafu caused a brief delay, we began at the Boles house, a lovely West Hills enclave with a great view. I liked this house a lot, and my three traveling companions also listed it very high among the six. The strongest aspect of the house was the wood-festooned interior walls and floors. It felt like a modernist ski lodge or beach house. Come to think of it, the wood interior was very similar to a beach house at Neskowin designed by BOORA Architects, to which Boles house owner Stan Boles belongs.
(I believe he’s the ‘B’.) (Note: it turns out this is actually not the case; my mistake.)
One of my other favorite parts of the house was outside, where the owners have constructed a small array of metal arms to help hold up a beautiful old tree.
Incidentally, I seem to recall when the tour was first announced, this place was called the ‘Ritz House’ in honor of its original owner and architect, Richard Ritz, who passed away last year. The BOORA/Boles imprint is clear here, and an impressive one, but I’d have favored calling it something like the Ritz-Boles house.
Next we visited a house owned by architect Brian White of Architecture W (and his wife). This was a small, unextraordinary old ranch house that was imaginatively transformed into a two-story home with a nice combination of simplicity and eye-catching good looks. I wrote about this home a couple years ago in Western Interiors before Dwell later picked up the scent as well.
Perhaps my favorite house on the tour was owned by architect Joachim Grube of Yost Grube Hall. (The two dominant themes in this years Street of Eames were architect-owned homes and the West Hills.) This house, designed and built in 1965, was the epitome of Northwest Modernism that took root in the mid-20th Century. Nestled into a hillside, the house rests on a series of six concrete piers, with wood beams stretching the space into a seamless combination of indoor and outdoor space. The house felt very cozy but with plenty of room for lots of built-in shelves, holding the German-born Grube’s series of history books on Hitler and novels by Günter Grass.
The home on NW Raleigh Street owned by Ben Watson (a brand-strategy expert and design consultant who heads Watson + Partners) and painter Claudio Tschopp I wrote about for Dwell a couple years ago. It was originally designed by Portland architect Edgar Waehrer. For the renovation, Watson had the wood floors and wall paneling bleached white, for a pristine look that celebrates the color of light penetrating through from the forest outside. Great furniture here, too (Watson used to work for Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra.)
Just off NW 23rd Avenue was the Vaivoda house, designed by architect Ned Vaivoda, a co-founding principal of TVA Architects (he’s the ‘V’) now at Yost Grube Hall. With an angular glass and metal façade, this house stands strikingly on its gentle hillside sight, providing a nice contrast to the surrounding homes. It’s a bit 1980s to me, faintly recalling the Miami Vice TV show, but impressive. The house was also sleek on the inside, with white marble floors and a collection of vases in a display case.
The last house on the tour was also a particular favorite, and the only one in a mixed-use location, downtown at SW 12th and Alder. Designed by Skylab Design head principal Jeff Kovel, the residence is on the upper floor of a 100-year-old quarter-block building that Skylab remodeled and completely re-imagined, to the tune of a top AIA design award last year. The residence was eye-popping cool inside, with sloping bamboo countertops and a glass-enclosed outdoor stairway in the middle of the space that formed a small atrium leading up to the roof. Skylab also designed (and originated) the Doug Fir restaurant, and there was similar blend of natural materials and bubbly imagination here.
By tour’s end it was nice to be able to keep my shoes on (or not put on shoe-cover booties), and it was helpful to be able to relieve a full bladder (bathroom use in tour houses verboten). But it was an excellent event for a good cause, homeless students in Portland schools. Congratulations and thanks co-organizers Sherri Nee, Caroline Fenn, and all the Street of Eames volunteers for a great tour. (By the way, I've always wondered: exactly what is a docent?)