When Tony and Josette Schuur started renovating their new Portland brick ranch (part 1), they met with some backlash as neighbors started seeing the remodeled exterior (part 2). But that didn’t deter them—in fact, they took their visionary MCM landscape further. Despite all these front lawn renovations, the couple devoted as much effort into the private area outside they were building.
Tony learned to weld during the massive project. “We chose mild steel instead of COR-TEN, since getting that much material on the West Coast would have been cost prohibitive,” Josette recalls. The couple rusted the steel once it was in place by sanding off any remaining oils, then spraying a warm saltwater solution using a wall- paper mister. It turned the surface orange overnight and quickly achieved an even, dark-rust patina after only a couple weeks.
“It took a lot of effort, but it got us the look we were after quickly. It normally would have taken years and never would have rusted as evenly,” Tony adds.
Mike Brown from MikeCo Concrete was also instrumental in the process. What was first spec’d as 2′ x 2′ stone pavers became 5′-square, poured-in-place, tinted concrete, etched to look and feel like pool coping. “In the end, it was cheaper, longer lasting and way more modern looking,” says Josette.
Out front, the landing was enlarged and cantilevered front steps poured. Under the front windows, the couple designed a 20′ steel reflecting pool that bounces rippling light up onto the eaves and living room ceiling—a nice bonus in Portland’s notorious gray weather.
The week after the Schuurs had completed most of the initial landscape plantings, they got served with code violations from the city. “They put a lien on our house and we spent countless hours downtown, being shuffled from one department to the next,” Josette recounts. “Let’s just say that, after many hours of dealing with the city, inspectors, permits, right of way and height issues, notifications to surrounding neighbors, a structural engineer and a $3,500 fine, we were able to keep all that we had painstakingly built.”
The duo also installed all of the plant material and shoveled yard after yard of mulch and crushed rock. After some trial and error with individual plants, they have a beautiful, year-round, drought-tolerant MCM landscape that they’re justifiably proud of.
“We’re constantly getting compliments from people walking by, some even pull their cars over and yell out, ‘I love what you’ve done to this house!’ It makes all the hard work worthwhile,” says Tony.
By doing tons of research, finding the right people for the job and spending time with the house and landscape before starting the project, the couple was able to bring a job that was originally bid at $90,000 down to $45,000 and change. “We’re proud of what we have accomplished. It’s been a very inspiring experience on many levels,” Tony muses. “Now the house and yard are one, like I hope the original architect would have intended.”