Name: Risa Boyer Leritz, Nick Leritz, their 3-year-old daughter Harper, and two cats
Location: Alameda — Portland, Oregon
Size: 1720 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 — owned
The process of buying a house is already tough on the nerves, let alone going into escrow on a serious fixer-upper — sight unseen — in a city almost 1,000 miles away from home. But the serene, modern house in Portland that architect Risa Boyer Leritz, her husband, Nick, and their 3-year-old daughter, Harper, now call home looks so effortless, it hardly reveals the hours and hours of work (much of it DIY) that went in to making it so beautifully livable.
Two and a half years ago, with plans to relocate from their home in Los Angeles to Portland and an infant daughter, Risa and Nick relied on their family and a single visit for inspections before taking the leap of buying the house. The previous owner had lived there for 30 years and not only was a ton of cleanup necessary, many of the house's previous fixes hadn't been done as well as they should have been (check out
The couple knew they had their work cut out for them, but they were more than up to the task, completing most of the renovations — which included a 220-square-foot, 2-story addition — themselves. Risa also refurbished many of the vintage pieces of furniture she found at thrift stores in LA and Portland. Though they still have plenty of details to work out before they consider the house truly done, their living space is absolutely lovely, not to mention functional. The pair's well-honed eye for architecture and design surely has much to do with the impressive result of their effort and their determination and hard work should serve as inspiration to novice and experienced DIY-ers alike.
Visit Risa's website to see more of her architecture projects.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Modern Eclectic
Inspiration: 1950s and 60s modern architecture and design — it was a time when modern design started to move away from the hard-edged international style and began to get more organic and relate to its environment. I (Risa) am really inspired by Oscar Niemeyer and John Lautner's work during this period.
Favorite Element: Our very functional kitchen. It is the center of our daily life and where I spend most of my time — cooking, eating, entertaining, working and coloring with my daughter.
Biggest Challenge: Finding the time to work on the house. It was a complete disaster when we bought it so every room and every surface needed work. Nick built an addition off the back of the house when we first moved in which converted the old kitchen into the powder room, added a new kitchen and a master bathroom on the second floor. Once that work was complete everything else slowed way down. We still have stripped and unpainted doors and molding through out the house that I have to look at every day, constantly reminding me of all the work left to do.
What Friends Say: After seeing the master bathroom they usually say that they want to take a bath in our giant bathtub. And people often comment on the paint color in the living room (which is Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey HC-105).
Biggest Embarrassment: The original bathroom (not shown in the tour) which hasn't been touched since a very bad remodel in the 80s. It's quite a sight.
Proudest DIY: The 220-square-foot, 2-story addition that Nick built off the back of house. I am also proud of my first wallpaper job in the powder room which was a total pain because it was unbacked and untrimmed and I had no idea what I was undertaking.
Biggest Indulgence: We don't spend a lot of money furnishing our home. Our biggest indulgence is probably the finishes. The marble countertops and the high-end plumbing fittings are where we indulged. I think, being an architect, I focus on the quality of the built-in elements because those are harder to change out down the road. We very slowly invest in the furniture.
Best Advice: Hire excellent professionals to help you with your home, contractors, landscape designers, architects, etc. Ask friends to recommend people they liked and try not to hire the cheapest guy/gal you can find, you will pay for it in the long run. And of course do what construction projects you can yourself because you will not only save money but will be fulfilled by the experience.
Dream Sources: For inspiration on interiors I always look at British Elle Decor.
Other Inspiration: Art, music, film, and my very resourceful and eco-minded husband
Resources of Note:
- • Paint: Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey HC-105
• Sofa from Futurama
• Vintage teak coffee table by Lang
• Vintage Danish lounge chair from Denmark 50 in LA
• Steel & leather chairs Paulistano
• Armchair from Design Within Reach
• 1970s vintage teak & chrome credenza from St Vincent de Paul thrift store
• Douglas Fir side table by Nick
• TV and kid consoles from IKEA
• Notable pottery pieces by Adam Silverman of Atwater Pottery, Heath Ceramics, and Jonathan Adler
• Colored glass pieces by unknown artists
• Green enameled dish by Kiln Studio out of Brooklyn
• Wall Sconces by Flos
• Vintage brass lamp from Nick's grandmother
• Vintage black lamp — unknown
• Black & white abstract painting by Bradley Streeper
• Paper-mâché rhino bust from Anthropologie
• Bird on a Wire 1 print by Option G
• Female Figure in India Ink by Malaika Zweig
- • Vintage Danish teak and white laminate dining set from an out-of-business vintage store in Santa Rosa, CA
• Teak Slat bench from Scan Design in Eugene, Oregon
• Green and bronze pot from Portland Nursery
• Colorful fiberglass pots from Dig Garden Shop in Portland
• Danish folded pendant by Le Klint
• Wall sconces by Flos
- • Counter tops are white Carrera marble fabricated and installed by Classico Marmo
• Rift Sawn Fumed White Oak island counter top from The Joinery in Portland
• Cabinets are stained Rift Sawn White Oak
• Electrolux 36" Dual Fuel Range and Refrigerator
• Miele Dishwasher
• Heath Salt & Pepper Shaker
• Collection of vintage Dansk pepper grinders
• Hansgrohe Faucet
• Small oil paintings by Malaika Zweig
• Architecture black & white photo by Risa
• Brass chandelier by Risa, inspired by Lindsey Adelman's 'You Make It' Chandelier' DIY project
• Vintage grey glass pendant by unknown
- • Faucet by Axor Hansgrohe
• Sink by Duravit
• Wallpaper by Madison & Grow, Michelle in Smoked Bluefish Pate
• Ceiling mounted light fixture Anemone by Robert Abbey, Inc.
- • Converted crib by Dwell Studio for Target, with added rail by Nick
• Dresser from Ikea with painted drawers
• 3 men prints by Ashley Goldberg
• Red bookshelf by Nick & Risa
• Pink alphabet poster by Stephanie Taylor
- • Bed by Deform
• Duvet by Marimekko from Crate & Barrel
• Walnut Side Tables by Umbra
• Vintage teak dresser from St. Vincent de Paul thrift store
- • Bathtub by Victoria + Albert
• Faucets by Axor Hansgrohe
• Sinks by Duravit
• Medicine cabinets by Robern
• Pottery by Roost and Jonathan Adler
• Enameled dishes and wood sculptures by Kiln Studio
• Toilet by Toto
• Floor tile limestone from Walker Zanger
• Ceramic wall tile from United Tile in Portland, installed by Paris Brothers
• Wall Sconces by Ginger
Thanks, Risa & Nick!
Images: Sarah Rainwater
• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE Check out past house tours here
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.