In Partnership WithNational Association of REALTORS®

Tour a Colorful Modern Cabin Full of Joy

published Sep 2, 2019
Credit: Brian Rohloff
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Trystan and Biff began their house hunt knowing they wanted this particular house.

Name: Trystan, Biff, and their three children
Location: Portland, OR
Years lived in: 4

Many people fall in love with their homes on the first visit, but for Trystan and Biff, it happened even earlier. The couple was already smitten with their East Portland neighborhood, where they were renting a tiny house less than a mile from the place they now call home. An avid runner, Biff kept passing a cozy cabin he began referring to as “the house with the pink door.”

After a few jog-by viewings, Biff noticed the house had gone up for sale. He and Trystan made an appointment to go inside. As soon as the couple saw the home’s eclectic charm (a fireplace in the living room! A stage in the basement!), they decided they would make an offer. “It was quirky and fun and exactly what we wanted,” Biff says.

Trystan and Biff worked with Kaira, a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Kaira came recommended from several friends for her expertise working with LGBTQ families. “Anyone can slap a rainbow sticker on their window, but it doesn’t mean they’ll listen to you,” Trystan says. “They need training or a personal connection with the community.”

After Trystan and Biff made an offer under asking price, they found out that the owners had gone through a bad divorce and were in pre-foreclosure—and the asking price was the exact amount they owed the bank. Trystan and Biff asked Kaira not only to stop negotiating but to raise their original offer back up to list price.

“I wanted everyone to feel great about our first home purchase,” Trystan says. “You don’t want any bad karma floating around. It was not worth it to feel like we had taken advantage of somebody.”

Even though it’s unusual to have a negotiation process without, well, negotiations, Kaira honored their wishes and put in an offer for the asking price. And to say thank you, the previous owners left Trystan and Biff a trove of major appliances and furnishings, including the washer and dryer, stove, dishwasher, and even a crib! Which was especially helpful since their youngest child, Leo, was born soon after.

Once they moved in, they got to work putting their own colorful stamp on the eclectic space—well, Biff did. “If decorating is not your gift, then you support your partner in doing it,” Trystan says. Ditto DIY projects like laying laminate hardwood floors in the garage and re-tiling the bathroom by hand, both tasks that Biff nailed: “I highly recommend marrying someone who is good at things,” Trystan jokes.

Inspired by color, geometric shapes, and their travels—especially their honeymoon in Montreal—Biff also added big splashes of color everywhere, from the yellow detailing on the stairs to the patterns on the living room walls.

“If I could just graffiti all of my walls, that’s what I would do,” Biff says. His love of color goes back to a time in his life when he could finally live freely as himself. “When I finally got the chance to feel free about [my identity] or make the choices I wanted to, I wanted to be colorful.”

Trystan and Biff are grateful for the ability to give their children such a unique and loving home. “There was a lot of love in my house,” Trystan says. “My parents were very supportive, and my family is the one where all the kids who didn’t have a loving, supportive home would go. I’m used to chaos and people moving around, so it feels like home when our house is like that.”

Apartment Therapy Survey

My home’s style: Rustic Modern

Inspiration: Color and Art

Favorite element of the home: The living room, where we can be together. We love our sectional couch that has lots of room for friends and family. 

Biggest challenge, and how you overcame it: The gaudy ’80s style of the former owners; we overcame it with brand new paint colors and choices like painting some wood accents and the stone fireplace white so there were cleaner lines throughout the house. We updated lots of light fixtures, outlet plate covers, light switches, and door knobs. 

What friends say about your home: Our friends always love the amount of color in our home. We want our house to be full of laughter and joy. Our friends usually recognize that quality in our decor. 

Biggest embarrassment: The fact that the upstairs bathroom still isn’t done. Biff took on this project before Leo started walking. Once Leo started walking, it became clear that Biff would be much busier than expected. 

Proudest DIY: The garage. We installed walls, floors and designed a space that we use all of the time. And we did it on a budget!

Biggest indulgence: Our couch. We bought it brand new and got to design it ourselves. We got to pick the design of the cushions, armrests, couch base, and fabric. It comes with a 5-year warranty that covers ANYTHING. The cushion covers come off and are machine washable which is SUPER important when you’ve got kids. 

Best advice: Don’t follow the rules. People say you’re supposed to use muted tones on your walls, and aren’t supposed to go dark or bold. We did dark AND bold, and think the result is really cool. Fill your space with things that bring you joy.

Dream sources: Obviously, the internet. We also feel really inspired when we visit swanky bars or fun boutique hotels. These places often have bold, risky decor, and it’s fun to get ideas. 


Living room: Our couch is made by Ashley Furniture. We found our coffee table on Craigslist. We love fun decor, so MissMe did the art above the piano (@miss_me_art), and the wooden rainbow on the fireplace is from Modern Rascals (@modernrascals) and made by Grimms Wooden Toys (@grimmswoodentoys). Our shelves on both sides of the fireplace are from IKEA. The walls are painted with Behr Flat Gray. 

Dining room: Our table is an IKEA table, but the design has been discontinued. Our dining chairs are Camden; we bought them on Amazon and they’re super affordable at about $40 each. We love our chandelier which we also bought on Amazon — it’s from Kira Home, and the model is called Orbits. The walls are “It’s a Girl” pink by Behr. 

Kitchen: There aren’t a whole lot of design elements, but it’s worth noting that our dishwasher is a GE Profile and it works really well. The walls are two-toned green, flat paint over glossy (Behr Salamander over Behr Cricket Field). 

Leo’s room: The futon is the Monterey Wood Futon that was a hand-me-down from a friend. Leo’s rug is a high-pile grass-green rug from IKEA. 

Riley’s room: His LED lights are from Amazon. His little kids’ chairs are made by Pillowfort, sold at Target. 

Hailey’s room: The desk is from IKEA, and the paint is Behr’s “Carriage Ride.” 

Garage: The floors are a wood laminate click system. They are made by Traffic Master and can be found here.

You’ll see lots of succulents around, most of them are fake and come from Michael’s garden collection. 

Patio: Most of the design elements are from Michael’s decor collections: the hanging cactus pictures, decorative rocks, “open” sign, and metal flowers. The table is a wood patio table from IKEA that we painted white. 

Basement: Bins for the kids’ clothes are from IKEA. The washer and dryer are Whirlpool Cabrio, and they are both super quiet!

Thanks, Trystan and Biff!