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A Secluded Craftsman

With new colors and a renovated kitchen addition, a ca. 1905 Chalet–Craftsman becomes an artistic escape amidst carefully tended gardens.
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Just outside the informal dining area abutting the kitchen, a patio demonstrates how the gardens inform every part of the house. Photos by Elliott Anderson

You don’t see the extraordinary details until you get close, so quietly sited is this house in the trees. It sits next to an island in a bend of Oregon’s Willamette River and enjoys a view toward Portland. “It has such a peaceful location, with a real sense of place,” says Daniel Platter. “Stone pillars show where once the property had elaborate planting…I could hardly believe that I’d ever live in a house with such grandeur.” Dan says he and his wife, Cindy, bought it because it was Arts & Crafts and had more than an acre of land.

Chalet-Craftsman dining room

With its adjacent informal dining room, the kitchen is now a bright and functional workspace for two homeowners who love to cook.

Dan, who is an emergency physician, has always had a passion for growing things. But his enthusiasm for Arts & Crafts came from living in a bungalow when he was single. He found himself tutored by CJ Hurley and Barbara Pierce of CJ Hurley Century Arts, who designed a color scheme and a frieze for his former house. When Dan married Cindy, who is a mammographer, Hurley and Pierce helped the couple find a house— this 4,200-square-foot beauty.

writing desk

The library is a private space distinguished by a wall of built-ins, including bookcases and a graceful writing desk.

“It was definitely architect-designed,” Dan says. “CJ thinks it was a summer house, because it was not well insulated—but I think the details are too grand for it to have been a vacation home. And it was on the trolley line.” The Platters speculate that the house was built in 1905, as that is when it appears in municipal registers. Shingle pattern, knee braces and brackets, and windows are well executed details on the Craftsman-era house, which has English and Swiss Chalet allusions.

Original woodwork includes pocket doors that separate the living room from the formal dining room; inglenooks and wainscoting with arched panels survive. The library has a built-in desk and bookcases. Restoration took three years, as the couple replaced the roofing, refinished floors, repaired plaster, tiled bathrooms, and stripped doors and windows. To strip it, “we boiled all the hardware,” Dan recalls.

Barbara Pierce based the exterior paint colors on Dan’s landscape. “To reinforce his desire for a country house nestled into the garden, we chose colors that integrate the house with the site,” she explains. “The siding is a soft green, the sash is red-brown, the trim is green with a high yellow content. But—so that the house does not get lost in the garden—I added a pop of orange under the eaves and projections.” Colors are custom and unique to each client.

stone fireplace

Woodwork, the coved ceiling, and a substantial stone fireplace, all original, lend period styling to the living room.

Warm, neutral custom colors furnish the interior. “The dining room,” Barbara explains, “overlooks two flower gardens, so we chose a soft green for walls with a darker grey-green trim. Because of the wooded setting, the interior of the house tends to be dark. We opted to keep it light.” Several interior colors also were custom developed by CJ Hurley Century Arts.

The furniture followed the couple from Dan’s previous home. He bought it all when a local antiques store was going out of business, grabbing their vintage English oak and ash furniture. The sleeping porch with its ribbon of lift-out windows has become a TV room, and the laundry room was configured to include a full bath.

“The house and the land grew old together,” Dan muses, “and you can see how, over the years, both became less ornate and formal. I like it better this way.”

The Business of Art

Barbara Pierce is the primary color designer; she’s also the firm’s business manager. CJ Hurley provides design consultation, one-of-a-kind friezes, and commissioned art in several media. Together they established CJ Hurley Century Arts. Today, CJ proudly identifies himself as a Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan, an honor bestowed after exacting review by a jury of masters.

CJ and Barbara met in art school, where both studied not just design and fine art but also architectural and art history. After school, Pierce headed for a corporate career in apparel design, while Hurley worked as a self-employed fine artist. They lived in various places around the U.S. until they launched their consulting company in Portland in 2001.

CJ is dedicated to incorporating art into everyday life. “We’re old-house owners who grew up in old houses,” he says, explaining that many clients live in historic homes. The couple helps owners make decisions that preserve integrity while making houses comfortable and personal.

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