Midcentury Details Throughout This Home Are Spot-On

Who: Chris and Kerry Chartier
Where: West Haven, SW Portland, Oregon
Style: Palm Springs meets the Pacific Northwest

When Chris and Kerry Chartier first eyed the sprawling five-bedroom, three-bath midcentury house that would become their home, they had no idea how they were going to do everything that needed to be done.

"We had to see past rotting beams, overgrown bushes, truckloads of garbage in the front yard, and 50 years of bad renovation attempts," says Chartier.

Despite such cosmetic problems, the era of the house, which was built in 1966, and the architecture, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, pulled them right in.

"You can't help but notice that the house has a very unique feel at first glance," says Chartier. "It doesn't look like anything else in the neighborhood." Plus, there was the close proximity to parks and the promise of short commutes to work and downtown.

Over the next four years, the couple would painstakingly renovate the entire property, with special attention to the kitchen and master suite. They kept the palette uniform and clean, with lots of white and warm wood, and hewed to period details. Then they invested in modern appliances, cabinets, and fixtures.

"Anything you touch, we wanted to feel the quality," says Chartier.

They left the kitchen and master bath for last. "We wanted to really get a feel of how we used the house first," says Chartier, who estimates they redesigned the kitchen more than a dozen times before starting to demo.

While the exposed beams and large windows create the backdrop, in each and every room, it's the thoughtfully-chosen midcentury details that really make the home feel cohesive. The couple has spent time collecting midcentury modern furniture — investment pieces from designers like Cherner, Eames, Nelson, Drexel, Panton, and Dux — which show up throughout.

"As far as where we find a lot of our pieces, we've got a fantastic local place in Portland but aren't willing to reveal our secret spot quite yet," says Chartier.

Now, the young family — their daughter, Olive, is almost one — loves the social nature of the home, with its wet bar, and oasis-like backyard, centered around the striking pool.

"It's Palm Springs meets the Pacific Northwest," says Chartier.

The midcentury details throughout the home are spot-on.

Iconic midcentury pieces are in the nursery.

The Chartier's spend a lot of time with friends at the wet bar.

The sunken living room is a favorite for Chartier, because of the way the floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outside in.

The walnut slab dining table is custom-made by Denali Furniture.

The pool "makes us feel like we're on vacation," says Chartier.

In many ways, the home is the best of both worlds. "It's perfect for parties and being social," says Chartier, "but also offers solitude and a closeness to nature, which we love."

Locals Know Best

Favorite piece of design or architecture in your neighborhood, town, or city: Any midcentury home designed by Rummer or any modern structure by Skylab Architecture.

Best places for thrift store finds, antiques, or flea markets: SE Hawthorne

Best happy hour: Ringside Steakhouse

Best cheap and cheerful restaurant: ¿Por Qué No?

Best place to experience art and culture: First Thursdays in the Pearl

Best coffee shop: Cup and Bar

If I were to have visitors, I would take them to: "McMenamins Edgefield, McMenamins Kennedy School, and McMenamins Grand Lodge all offer a really unique bar-restaurant environment compared to other cities, but Portland has such a wealth of ridiculously good restaurants that we rarely take visitors to the same place twice."


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.