A Corvallis Remodel That Proved to Be, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”

Corvallis residents Dr.’s Peter & Ruth Tsai and Son Abe, were in the market for a special place to call their own.

The Tsai’s fell in love with a quiet, wooded and secluded acreage. However, they did not fall in love with the house on that acreage. The house was a simple 2 story box that didn’t take advantage of views, light, or the outdoor experience of the property.

In collaboration with the Tsai’s and WL Construction, we were able to turn the nondescript box of a house into a personal expression that reflects the easy lifestyle of the owners and relates directly to the landscape.

The existing house had a layout that didn’t suit the new owners. Outdoor areas didn’t align with indoor functions. We therefore flipped the location of the garage, kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms. Now the kitchen / great room has direct access to an expansive lawn and deck for summer entertaining. The bedroom areas now have the quiet views of the forest and creek. We also worked with the owners to try to remodel the house to fit their lifestyle. Cooking is central to the family, so the kitchen became the focal point of the house. They also desired cozy, intimate spaces, within large, open expanses, so the great room has a breakfast nook and room for creating intimate spaces.

Photo: Erik Lubbock::JenerikImages.com

The key with the look of the exterior comes from simple design principles of balance, central focus, and hierarchy of the main exterior elements. Creating a tall, central entry gives the front elevation a central focus for the viewer. Lower elements, such as the garage and front bedroom give a balance to the front entry and help in creating a hierarchy of the basic shapes that make up the facade. These are basic principles that help in creating a cohesive and pleasing design.

Lori Stephens, Broadleaf Architecture

One of the most memorable moments of the Tsai’s project for me came when we were pricing the first serious run-through on the cost estimates. I sat down with Pete and Ruth in a rental house where they “felt like they were in a fish bowl”, and handed them the estimate for their project. They both gulped and the next day they said that this was more money than they wanted to spend, and they wanted to see what drastic steps could be done to shrink the project to something more within their original budget. They admitted that it was easy to get caught up in what looked good on paper, but they didn’t need something as complex as what they had ended up with. Pete and Ruth met again with Lori Stephens and myself and we did some brainstorming. In one week Lori completely altered the plan and came up with a more pleasing aesthetic, that we could construct more within the framework of their budget, and we were off and running.

My experience in most construction projects is that once an economic impasse is reached, most people don’t want to give up what it is that they’ve spent a lot of time fantasizing about. It’s always a challenge to strike compromises that shrink budgets and alter designs, but in this case we all embraced the challenge and ended up with a strikingly beautiful result.

Warren Lisser, WL Construction

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