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Main Homes Staying put, staying small

Staying put, staying small

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Written by Vivian McInerny   
Monday, June 25, 2012

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Above: homeowners Fritz Paulus and Jennifer Viviano and their son, Will.

Below: A thoughtful plan opened the rooms to accommodate modern life while maintaining the home’s 1930s style by using curved archways.

// Photos by Vivian Johnson

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The road home isn't always a straight shot.

Jennifer Viviano and Fritz Paulus struggled with a domestic dilemma. For several years, they debated whether they should stay in their less-than-ideal home in inner Southeast Portland or move on to greener pastures. The discussion intensified after their son, Will, now 5, was born.

Paulus, a real-estate negotiator in the sustainability department of Metro, wanted a green, energy-efficient house.

“I grew up during the oil-crisis days, and that was kind of drilled into our heads,” he says.

Viviano, a graphic designer and artist, appreciated the Old World charm of their 1930s’ cottage home but wanted a healthy environment that vintage construction couldn't promise.

The couple considered remodeling. They met with an architect to talk about “the things we thought we wanted,” says Viviano. The resulting design was beautiful — and far beyond budget. “We sat with it awhile,” she says, and concluded that even if they could afford it, the proposed modern addition felt too large and disconnected from their traditional house. So they shelved the project and looked into buying a new, green-spec home. But after years of living in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, they were uneasy about moving to a drive-everywhere suburb. They even considered buying a teardown in the city and building green from the ground up.

“But then we’d be putting another building in the world,” says Viviano.

And that didn't sit well with the deep green ethos the couple shared.

They weighed all their options. Should they stay or should they go?

In the end, they decided to stay put and go green with a more fitting remodel.