When Jim and Michelle Brown received a knock on the door of their 1952 brick ranch house, they never expected to see the previous homeowners, Ray and Mary Niehaus, standing on their doorstep (part 1). Filled with stories of when Ray and Mary added their own touch to the 1952 brick ranch in Portland, the conversation took a turn toward the home updates and renovations that had been made throughout the years.
Both Ray and his wife were in their 40s when they bought from the 70-something Rubensteins, just like the Niehauses today. “Anna Rubenstein had drapes that were psychedelic with great big flowers,” Mary said with a laugh. “I thought they were just awful. They couldn’t understand why we didn’t buy their furniture.”
“They had a big wool rug and a glass partition between the living room and dining room, like the glass block near the front door; we wanted the room open so we removed it,” Ray explained. Over the years, the Niehauses worked hard to take care of the house and the new couple inherited a solid structure with beautiful oak floors and a meticulously penciled chart ID-ing the circuit breakers down in the basement.
The person who bought the Niehauses’ home did a refresh and relist on the property, the third house she’s renovated in the neighborhood. She considered putting on a second story, but thankfully instead took a more conservative approach. The house was tastefully painted inside and out using some of Devine Color’s hues, new linoleum was put in the kitchen and laundry room, and the hardwood floors given a coat of satin urethane. Most of the original kitchen cabinets were replaced with new bungalow-esque MDF doors and boxes, and reproduction Arts and Crafts light fixtures installed throughout.
Downstairs, what sounds like a great kitschy bar is no more. “The kids loved the party room; we had a pool table down there for a while and a ping-pong table. It was darling and so inviting,” Mary said. “Our son wanted the bar but the buyer requested that it stay.”
A knotty pine paneled bedroom escaped the paintbrush and the bathroom and kitchen thankfully retained the original tile counters. Mostly, it seems as if owner no. 3 stripped away the traditional touches the Niehauses enjoyed and revealed the clean-lined architecture, albeit in a bungalow aesthetic.
From all appearances, the ranch appeared to be move-in ready, and they congratulated themselves on having found a home that wouldn’t require months of rehabbing and home updates to make it livable. Moving from 900 miles away meant they had little downtime and they added, “At our ages, neither of us had the appetite for a full-bore DIY project.”
Of course, there were the usual nuisance home updates: the dryer vent sealed inside the wall, shower valves leaking into the garage, long lead times and expensive quotes for needed electric and plumbing fixes, but certainly nothing like the major projects we often feature in AR. The relatively minor repairs did give us additional insight into the solid construction of the house, which included sheet lath, a 1 1/2-inch-thick, double layer precursor to standard drywall and decoratively textured ceilings with nary a crack after 50 years.
With the home updated for the new century, the two sets of homeowners talk about the best fixtures and furniture for this gem in Portland. See what pieces made the house a home in part 3!