Jennifer and Jason's Elegant Portland Craftsman

Jennifer and Jason's Elegant Portland Craftsman

Leela Cyd
Apr 13, 2011

Name: Jennifer Marsicek and Jason Roberts
Location: Portland, Oregon
Size: 1,720 sf 1st and 2nd floors + 930 sf basement
Years lived in: 12 years

What do two bicycle-commuting Portland architects install when they tenderly restore their 2 story home? A bike garage! Complete with a ramp and pint-sized garage door, made to make access to their much-used bikes that much easier. That's just one of the many creative and artful details of Jennifer and Jason's Portland home.

This Portland home is as elegant as it is casual. It's a space that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, sweet pug (his name is "Chug") at your side, and flip through one of the green architecture books selected from the ghost bookcase, Spring time breezes floating through one of the huge windows. Each room is full of natural light and airy qualities, yet the owners are also avid collectors with an eye for humorous objects. It's this balance between carefully collected things and open space, beautiful furniture, and uncluttered surfaces that make the home so appealing. It's very lived in and accessible, but also very stylish and special.

Another highlight of Jennifer and Jason's place is their green roof. I first caught wind of this project last summer as I stared at a line of ever-growing Portlanders on a green roof tour of the city. This second level garden, outside their bedroom window offers another layer of beautiful greenery (they have a spectacular, ground-level garden too) as well as acting as a rain catch. A very green solution to this wet city. Standing on this roof, amidst the domed skylights, succulents and interesting plants, it's very easy to relax. I dare say it's quite meditative up there, closer to the clouds.

The bike garage is a personal touch that cannot be overlooked. It's a garage door to their basement, the width of about 4 feet (fitting a person and their bike), that makes getting the bikes in and out very easy, a luxurious measure, yes, but these two bike to work almost every day! As someone who lifts her own trusty Schwinn up and down stairs, I definitely appreciated the fun, practicality and beauty of this design, which Jason mapped out with a paper model. A very cool piece of origami that must have been!

Lastly, Jennifer and Jason are great cooks who love to use vegetables grown from their garden and compost most of their organic waste. When I visited them last time, they were making a winter pizza with local cauliflower -- It's this generous love of cooking and great food that make their gorgeous open kitchen and dining room another wonderful spot in the house. I know I'd love to be seated at this table for one of their home-cooked, super tasty meals from their garden!

Re-Nest Survey:

Our style: The simple elegance of the craftsman house meets the minimalist elegance of Charles and Ray Eames in a bar. Can they fall in love?

Inspiration: natural light, the outdoors, the birds

Favorite Element: the kitchen, bike garage/ramp, old chunky wood trim, rope and weight single pane divided lite double hung windows (which Jason has made storm windows for).

Biggest Challenge: completing the design of the addition. It wasn't tough coming up with ideas and schemes for the addition, but with two architects involved it was tough to narrow it down to one option then actually execute it.

What Friends Say: I love your kitchen

Proudest DIY: And the most difficult was restoring the old house and transforming the yard. We spent 10 years taking it from a crumbling walls/ceiling, pet stained, cockroach infested house to a nice home. We had help from many great friends and a great plumber as well, but did most of the work ourselves. Jason is particularly proud of the deck which he built with no exposed fasteners.

Biggest Indulgence: After 10 years of doing things on our own it was a big splurge for us to hire a contractor to build the addition.

Best Advice: Make it your place, resist the urge to compromise in order to satisfy the 'this will be better for re-sale' advice.

Green Elements/Initiatives:

• harvested rainwater system for irrigation (there's a 1200 gallon cistern buried under the deck connected to a hose bib that has virtually eliminated the need to use potable water in the yard during the summer months)
• green roof on addition
• on-site stormwater management
• compost
• bike friendly
• salvaged wood floor
• water saving fixtures and appliances
• recycled content tiles
• fsc wood windows and framing of addition.


• Kitchen Aid stove
•Whirlpool refrigerator
• Asko dishwasher
• Broan hood
• GE washer/dryer
• Kohler shower/toilet
• LaCava bathroom sink
• Sink cabinet from salvaged fir built by Ken Weisler.

Hardware: Rejuvenation and National Builders Hardware
• Natuzzi couch from Hip
• Crate and Barrel sleeper sofa
• lots of used old stuff
• bedroom storage from blu dot
• vintage Heywood-Wakefield in the living room (Jason's grandmother's 'Ethan Allen' furniture)
• random IKEA bits
Room and Board dining table

Accessories: collection of building models picked up on travels and gifts from friends

• Halo LED recessed can lights
• Prudential Snap strip fixtures from Rejuvenation
Tom Dixon mirror ball
• Lava,
• salvaged and refurbished fixtures from the Re-Building Center and garage sales

Rugs and Carpets:
• Stairs and hall: Godfrey Hirst wool and Pottery Barn
FLOR tiles

Tiles and Stone:
• upstairs bath: Ann Sacks slate
• downstairs bath: Daltile, Natural Hues

Window Treatments: IKEA

Beds: We designed our bed together and Jason built it, other one is used.

Artwork: Our own, lots of local artists, group art shows, Sitka Art Invitational, Yaquina Art Association, Guardino Gallery, Oregon Potter's Association annual sale, Prints for PICA. Our anniversary gift each year is to purchase another piece of art. We've purchased paintings, collages, sculpture from different people and places all over Oregon and a few from beyond.

Paint: Benjamin Moore

Flooring: Original red oak, salvage red oak, cork, original fir, marmoleum

Visit Jennifer's Architecture Firm: scott|edwards architecture, llp
Visit Jason's Architecture Firm: Ankrom Moisan Architects

(Thanks, Jennifer and Jason!)

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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)

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