When people walk by Rambo Halpern and Ayumi Angel’s Northeast Portland Craftsman-style home, they often ask when it was remodeled. “It feels good when people ask,” says Halpern, a real estate agent specializing in bungalows. “It’s new, but when we built it, we wanted it to fit the neighborhood.”
After moving to Portland in 2002 and living in a Craftsman home, Halpern and Angel became fans of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic. “We lived in a 1920s bungalow our first six years here,” says Halpern. “It had wood floors, a wood-burning fireplace and coved ceilings. We fell in love with all that.”
Like many older homes in Portland, that house had drawbacks. “The kitchen was small, and we had no yard,” says Angel, a jewelry designer. “It didn’t have an entry, and we didn’t like that you walked right into the house. We wanted a house that worked for our family.”
Rather than renovate, the couple decided to build a home combining the best of Craftsman style with a modern floor plan and sustainable features. They wanted to find a double lot in their Northeast neighborhood so their 9-year-old son, Tai, could continue at the same school, and they wanted a separate carriage-house garage with an apartment above it. “It took about three years to find a double lot in our neighborhood,” says Halpern.
Completed in 2009, the 3,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath home and separate 800-square-foot three-car garage with living space combine Craftsman design with modern family life. To design the home, Halpern, who worked as the project’s general contractor, purchased plans from the Internet. “The designs gave us a footprint,” Halpern says. “But we modified them for our family and added and changed features.”
Alterations included adding full front and back porches, as well as interior archways, alcoves and niches, converting a first-floor bedroom into a den, enlarging the kitchen, adding a hexagonal breakfast nook and creating a circular flow downstairs. “What I like about the main floor is that we can be in the same area together but still have space to do what we need to,” says Angel.
The sunny master suite was modified to include a vaulted and beamed ceiling. “We liked the idea of exposed timber and lots of light,” says Angel. In the basement, an entertainment area includes wine storage, a pool table, a tequila bar and a guest suite.
A major impetus for building was to have the sustainable features most Craftsman homes lack. The couple included on-demand hot water heaters, dual-flush toilets, recycled decking material, an insulated attic, and radiant heat and rigid foam insulation in the basement. “Insulation was key,” says Halpern. “Our old home leaked like a sieve and had single-pane windows. Now we have dual-pane, high-tech wood windows.”
By combining traditional and contemporary design, Halpern and Angel created a home that not only works for them but also for their neighborhood. “The interior works for us, and the exterior really blends in with what’s around us,” says Halpern. “That is exactly how we hoped it would turn out.”