A family reclaims a dilapidated Portland cottage, gives it a clever renovation, and discovers the joys of living small.
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On Oregon's rural Sauvie Island, this tiny cottage has itself been recycled over the years. According to local lore, the building has served as housing for shipyard workers, a surveyor's office, and a goose-check station. Now, after an inventive green makeover, it's home to a family of four.
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Yianni Doulis and Jessica Helgerson covered many walls in their cottage in wood cladding reclaimed from a barn on the property. "We stained one wall and painted the rest white -- it was just too much to have natural wood everywhere," says Helgerson. They used metal collar ties instead of wooden joists along the ceiling to create a sense of openness.
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"We wanted to think of the house as a boat, so we built in storage wherever we could," says Helgerson. The wide sofas (which double as extra sleeping accommodations) and bookcases were designed and constructed by Doulis and an architect friend.
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Helgerson and Doulis sleep in a loft that overlooks the living room and kitchen. "I was a little worried about feeling cramped," says Doulis. "But I love the magic of climbing up to our little pup-tent space."
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The Kids' Room
In the room belonging to Max, 9, and Penelope, 7, a closet at the foot of the bunks pulls out to reveal drawers and a hanging rod. The area under the beds holds more storage. The room also has a double bed for guests.
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The slipper tub, salvaged from a friend's place, originally had polished chrome lion feet, Helgerson says. "My husband is a modernist at heart, so he designed and built the wood feet."
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The wall opposite the sink conceals storage.
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The front door opens onto the great room, a kitchen–living space combo large enough for a big farm table that Doulis made. "We expanded the windows and lowered the sills to let in air and light," says Doulis.
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A garden and a hoop house help sustain the family year-round. They keep chickens for meat and eggs, and bees for honey and orchard pollination. They hope to one day turn the grounds into an educational farm, named Wild Goose Farm by Max.