After last week’s over-the-top palace house, I decided to reboot in the New Year and start off small; real small.
This little house sits on a big five-acre property on Sauvie Island, an island in the Columbia River a few minutes north of Portland. It’s little, and I mean tiny; 540 square feet. It was rebuilt using nearly exclusively reclaimed materials, and I say rebuilt because the building itself is now in its fourth incarnation.
It was built in the early 1940s as part of Vanport Village, a quickly erected development built to house shipyard workers. In 1948, when the Vanport Village flooded, this house was floated downstream to Sauvie Island, where it became the goose-check station. Years later it was remodeled to become a rental house.
In 2008, it was remodeled by the current owners who chose to live within its existing footprint. The first step was to redesign the interior for maximum space efficiency, with a “great” room housing the kitchen, dining room and living room with built in sofas that double as twin beds for guests; drawers under the sofas hold children’s toys and a wall of shelves houses books and more.
The ceiling was opened up in the “great” room, but the bathroom and kid’s bedroom — with two bunk beds and a full bed for guests — have lower ceilings to accommodate the parent’s sleeping loft.
The walls were insulated, then faced in reclaimed wood siding, most of which was found on site in one of the barns, while the new floors are local Oregon white oak. A wood-burning stove easily and efficiently heats the small house and, as part of the remodel, the old roof was replaced with a green one, planted with moss and ferns gathered along the Columbia River. This new offers insulation as well as a playful visual counterpoint to the traditional white cottage.
It’s cute, it’s small, and it’s kinda green and recycled and easy-to-maintain after a year’s worth of much, much, larger homes.