Contemporary and Colorful in Portland

After nearly two years of living in a 100-year-old, four-story Craftsman at Northeast Portland, J.S. and Robin May have been searching for something new. Their older daughter had left for college, and their younger daughter was not too far behind. Ready to give up the maintenance of their 5,000-square-foot home, the Mays wanted to downsize. “Our previous house had an exorbitant amount of repairs,” says J.S.”We didn’t want another project.”

That’s not to say there was not a substantial quantity of work in getting their new home in John’s Landing off the ground. The Mays first had to remove and recycle a small lease that stood where the present home now stands.

at a Glance
Who lives here: J.S. and Robin May
Location: Portland, Oregon
Constructed: 2005
Size: 2,400 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Julie Smith

The Mays had the old house dismantled and contributed into the Immunology Center of Portland. In the new house, they used just nontoxic finishes and water-based paint. They also installed photovoltaic (solar) panels on the sloping, southern-facing roof and set into a solar hot water heater. “In the summer, despite air conditioning, our electric bill isn’t greater than $8 per month,” says J.S.

Julie Smith

Whenever the Mays had to eliminate two black walnut trees out of their backyard in order to construct the new house, their contractor, David Hassin of Terrafirma Building, Inc., used the timber to create hardwood flooring for your home. The beautiful black walnut floor now crosses the entire main level.

Dining room desk: Twist

Julie Smith

The few use bold colors freely throughout the home — out of brick red in the entry to vibrant blue-green in the hallway, to a warm, buttery yellow at the living area. The walls also serve as the perfect backdrop for their extensive selection of artwork.

Interior color: Manilla from Devine Color
Artist painting: Ryan Birkland

Julie Smith

The Mays appreciated the services of architect Donna Jean Brown to create their bright and spacious space. The placement and size of this house’s many windows was strategic. “It was very important for us that we receive a good deal of light,” says Robin. Brown also designed Robin’s favorite area of the house: the window-seating location. It offers a luxurious place to unwind; the pillow heats up, which makes it almost impossible to leave.

Lamp and coffee table: Pottery Barn
Seat cushion: Far East Upholstery (503-283-2639)

Julie Smith

The couple’s exuberant personalities shine through their eclectic d├ęcor, and they knew precisely the way to fill the space below the dining area’s 13-foot-high ceilings. “These carved animal heads have hung in every dining room we have ever had,” says J.S. Robin purchased the folk artwork out of Sri Lanka for decades ago.

Julie Smith

The Mays love to entertain, and the spacious plans of this dining area and kitchen make chatting and cooking a breeze. The spacious and classy kitchen features granite countertops, alder wood cabinetry, and stainless steel appliances.

Cabinetry: Cascade Cabinets

Julie Smith

Brushed aluminum bar stools from Crate and Barrel assist pull together the area’s finishes, which makes a casual-modern statement.

Julie Smith

Unlike the omnipresent, speckled selection, the granite at the May’s kitchen includes a honed surface with subtle shifts in color. This gives it a much softer, more natural aesthetic quality. “We love the look of the granite and we are so thankful we weren’t talked into the normal, shiny materials,” says J.S.

Countertops: Wild West from Intrepid Marble

Julie Smith

Robin was glad she didn’t overlook the offerings at her local home improvement shop for stylish lighting. She found them at Lowe’s and they seemed exactly the same as the ones she saw at a high-end design shop. The amber-colored colors add more warmth into the room.

Julie Smith

Avid readers, the Mays turned into the landing of their next story to a bright library and workplace. An inviting chaise couch (a gift passed on to them from family), and tall bookshelves from Ikea specify the distance as the perfect place to settle in with the latest read.

Interior color: Seafoam from Devine Color

Julie Smith

The welcoming entryway leads to the living area as well as to the upper level.

Julie Smith

The homeowners used every opportunity to allow in more light, even in the master bathroom. “The windows here are shoulder-high, so we’re in a position to have sunlight streaming in without forfeiting privacy,” J.S. says.

Julie Smith

Robin handpicked every shower tile in the moments room at Pratt & Larson, and laid them out for the contractor in the order she wanted. Visiting the tile store every week and awaiting the perfect tiles to come together was an exercise in patience, but the outcome is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind mixture of color and texture.

Julie Smith

The Mays created a welcoming media room at one of the three upstairs bedrooms. The wing seat, designed by Danish designer Hans Wegner, and the color-block rug from Crate and Barrel, are perfect examples of their bold palette choices.

Julie Smith

The couple thoroughly enjoys the views in the master bedroom. Two French doors open up above their lush terrace, and on clear daysthey have an ideal view of Mt. Hood. Robin enjoys plants and flowers and in short order, she has turned the garden into a gardener’s paradise.

Julie Smith

For their next job, they’d like to substitute the patio pavers and switch out a few of the plants from the landscape. Proving that every house, even brand new ones, can always stand to use only a little fixing.

Julie Smith

J.S. and Robin May at home.

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Warm and Inviting Bungalow at Portland
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