Gray Mid Century Modern Renovation in Oregon
A small window on the far right was expanded, replicating original windows on the opposite side of the house. Original to the home, a curved wall displays the address numbers while providing privacy and wind protection for the front door.

“It was very exciting, I just really felt like the space was calling us more than anything,” Marisa Swenson recalls about her Gresham, Oregon home. “We weren’t actively on the hunt for a mid century home. A lot of them are high maintenance and at this stage in my life, I wasn’t really interested in a high maintenance house,” she admits.

Mid century modern gray home with turquoise door
Entry to the home is illuminated by a mod lamppost, which has been set into the low brick wall. The front door’s bright pop of turquoise is a fun surprise, hidden away from in view in the front elevation.

In fact, Marisa, a real estate broker who specializes in Mid Century Modern, first visited this 1960 Portland area gem with the intent of listing it. But her keen eye quickly noted the well-planned materials, combined with an efficient design, and she fell in love. Instead of listing the property, Marisa and her husband, Peter, purchased the home and moved in with their two children in 2013.

Mid century modern entry way with exposed beams, brick walls and terrazzo floors
The entry is a welcoming space, with a cohesive mix of textures and finishes in the brick walls, wood paneling and terrazzo flooring.
Mid Century Modern Renovation in Oregon. Living room with wood paneling and exposed beams
Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for tremendous views of mount hood, and original wood panels shine above new VCT flooring. Serendipitously spotted and purchased by Marisa at a local vintage store, the portrait of a woman in a straw hat was painted by a previous owner of the house, Louise Pfieffer.

“The structure itself was in incredible shape,” says Marisa. The original owner was a commercial contractor with a company that’s still in business today. When the home had been built, “ he had access to a lot of commercial grade products and that’s what he used in the house,” she continues. With no major plumbing, electrical or foundation issues, the couple first focused on painting, flooring and yard work.

Mid Century Modern brick fireplace
A unique design, the living room’s brick fireplace is original to the home and shows the experimental spirit of the first owner. Brick was utilized heavily in the home—and thanks to conscientious owners along the years—remains in excellent shape.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE

Thanks to the care of previous owners, many of the home’s original features were not only intact, but in pristine condition. Guests are still greeted with gorgeous terrazzo flooring from 1960 in the entry. Once inside, a unique recessed brick fireplace showcases the first owner’s experimental spirit in the living room, which is partially separated from the entry with original wooden built-ins. A second fireplace in the dining room features a scalloped hood—one of Marisa’s favorite details—and sits next to a built-in barbecue that appears to have never been used.

Mid Century Modern dining room with brick fireplace in a midcentury modern renovation in oregon
An original brick fireplace and barbecue create a unique backdrop for the dining
Room. Carpet tiles were removed from the floor, and the concrete underneath was polished for a durable yet sleek finish.
Mid Century Modern Kitchen Renovation
Reconfigured to meet the family’s needs, a wall was removed to connect the kitchen with the dining room. After the removal of plastic ceiling tiles, beams were exposed and painted to be consistent with the rest of the house.

CUSTOM SPACE

“But then when it came to our kitchen, it had been remodeled in 2004 and it was basically falling apart. Doors were coming off the hinges, it just wasn’t the style we wanted and it didn’t meet our family needs,” says Marisa. The kitchen and dining room quickly became the family gathering place, but she admits that “We were always running into each other.” The compartmentalized kitchen was separated from the dining space by a partial wall, and the dropped ceiling felt confining and inconsistent with the rest of the home.

Mid Century Modern kitchen renovation with walnut finishes and blue tile backsplash
Custom walnut pieces create a warm accent throughout the kitchen, and off-white tile counters were replaced with white quartz. Fresh blue backsplash tiles provide a dimensional focal point to the range and bar area.

Originally intending to keep the same kitchen footprint, an architect and designer team changed Marisa’s mind with several innovative options to reconfigure the layout to meet the family’s current needs. “They opened our eyes to reorienting the entire space,” she says. Beams were exposed and restored in the kitchen ceiling while skylights were moved to maximize their placement between beams.

A small window was replaced with larger ones, replicating the look from other parts of the home. Concrete flooring received a polished finish, and a wood sliding door was added to create a path into the hallway. Now open and airy, the updates allow for more family time in their favorite room. “We are always in that space and now it’s in a configuration where we’re able to spread out, but also be in the same space,” says Marisa.

Mid Century Modern mud room
Serving as a transitional area to the back yard, the mud room’s custom shelving echoes the walnut touches found throughout the kitchen.

HISTORY RECOGNIZED

With so many unique and well-preserved original features, it’s fitting that Marisa’s home is now on the Historic and Cultural Landmarks List in the city of Gresham. Looking ahead, Marisa envisions possible updates for the backyard “We have a greenhouse right now, which we like, but we want to do an outdoor patio cooking space. But after doing this kitchen renovation, we’re going to take some time off!”

Mid Century Modern Backyard with orange chairs and wood-burning fireplace
Marisa’s lush backyard is accented with a pergola in the background, mod furniture and a wood-burning stove. The space is perfectly situated for evening entertaining.