Some life changes had this couple looking to move from Albany, Oregon, to Portland, after they’d spent ten years restoring an old house that had both Victorian and Craftsman details. Elva Van Devender, who is a clinical pharmacist, and her chemical-engineer husband, Tye Dodge, were about to purchase a house when they ran across a new-old house in Portland’s Multnomah Village. Coincidentally, Elva was familiar with the house next door, a model called The Tabor, which she’d seen a year earlier. They found this one, dubbed The Multnomah, while checking out The Tabor on Google’s street view.
Inside the 2008 house, the spacious open plan was a pleasant surprise; the couple’s transitional house had had small, compartmentalized rooms. (This house has two full storeys and a third-floor loft—a bonus room that can be outfitted as a home office, media room, or play area. The 3,278-square-foot residence has four bedrooms and two and a half baths.) A period-style colonnade and built-ins, two working fireplaces, glass pocket doors that afford privacy in the den, and floors of Brazilian cherry with walnut inlays were undeniably handsome. The kitchen was large, as was the laundry room. A fir tree grew protectively over the back porch, the tidy yard, and a a separate garage.
The previous owner had upgraded the lighting, selecting reproductions from Rejuvenation and art-glass shades. Elva and Tye say they especially like the built-ins provided by the builder. Nevertheless, they felt the dining room cried out for another, so they soon bought a rescued piece at Aurora Mills Salvage, now used as a sideboard that fills one wall. It had been torn out of a hundred-year-old bungalow in Corvallis by owners who wanted a more modern look. “We just couldn’t believe anyone would discard such beautiful craftsmanship,” Elva says.
Remarkably, the furnishings from their old Albany house fit perfectly here—even the antique stained-glass windows, which the couple had purchased to create privacy from the street. Unique etched-glass windows, ca. 1890–1910, were repurposed into a wardrobe and TV cabinet by Bill Storch of Corvallis, who also reworked the salvaged built-in as a freestanding sideboard in the dining room.
At least one thing has seen the couple through all their moves: an oriental carpet “that never met a room it didn’t like,” as Elva puts it. When her mother planned to throw away the 1960s-vintage rug, Elva took it to her grad-school flat. It has since graced floors in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Portland, Maine, before the Albany and Portland (Oregon) houses.
The couple love to attend LoneSomeVille Pottery’s twice-yearly sales to pick up some of Northwest artist Danny Hills’ renowned Arts & Crafts pottery. “We love talking with Danny and Wayne and spending time in the beautiful LoneSomeVille garden,” Elva says. (Hills’ work is on display at such venues as Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Lodge, the Gamble House in Pasadena, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and The Inn at Torrey Pines.)
Three Bengal cats are in residence: Nyah is the oldest, Angus the only male, and Merida the youngest. They find great pleasure in this house, prowling about the semi-open plan, sprawling in front of the fire, curling up in a Morris chair. Everyone feels at home. Elva and Tye say they envision a long succession of happy owners for this house, which itself will be an old house someday.
Embracing the New
After three viewings, Elva Van Devender and Tye Dodge were all set to buy an older house in Cedar Mill when Tye discovered an Arts & Crafts-style home in Portland’s Multnomah Village—built by Skye Homes in 2008. Initially, they went to see it “to rule it out,” Elva recalls. “But the moment we came in, it felt like ‘our’ house. I couldn’t talk myself out of it.”
Skye Homes owner Bruce McIntosh dubbed this design The Multnomah, and it was a keeper, from its battered porch columns and bungalow-era gable to its colonnades and pocket doors. The couple had thoroughly enjoyed restoring and living in their old house, which was built in 1908. But they came around to appreciate the advantages of a new old house. This one is up to current standards of energy efficiency, and the working fire- places are safe. What’s more, their old house had no built-ins, and this one does.
Skye Homes in Portland, Oregon, is a design/build firm specializing in custom residences, lot development, and land-use planning. “Skye” comes from a Norse word meaning clouds. “In the Pacific Northwest,” McIntosh says, “clouds are as prevalent as rainbows, rain, and sunlight—so the name reflects this special part of the country.”
Skye Homes’ kitchens and bathrooms feature efficient space planning, along with built-ins that are as functional as they are period inspired. In this house, the kitchen incorporates furniture-like cabinets and a wall pantry. The nicely detailed upper cabinets include some with glass fronts to display dishware and pottery. Iridescent travertine tile in the familiar 3" x 6" brick or subway-tile shape makes up the backsplash. Iridescent travertine mosaic tiles back the Viking range. Countertops are granite. Hardware and lighting fixtures are period reproductions. Salvaged stained glass came along from the couple’s previous home.