Real Estate

Property Watch: A Midcentury Chalet in the Treetops Is Polished to a Shine in Highlands Crest

Even the shower has forest views.

By Melissa Dalton June 6, 2022

Editor’s Note: Portland Monthly’s “Property Watch” column takes a weekly look at an interesting home in Portland’s super-competitive real estate market (with periodic ventures to the burbs and points beyond, for good measure). This week: an absolute showstopper perched high above town. Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].

When Sunset magazine chose this as its “Home of the Year” in 1967, the description was tinged with awe: “When you’re inside relaxing by the fire and watching the treetops sway in the wind, you certainly feel like you’re [in the mountains],” gushed the mag. “But how could that be when you were leaving downtown Portland not ten minutes ago?” 

How, indeed. In the early 1960s, architect Richard Campbell picked this sloped and forested spot in the Highlands Crest area of Sylvan-Highlands for exactly that reason: to create a home that felt like a retreat, only close to the city, where the architect worked as a founding partner in the firm Campbell, Yost & Grube Architecture (now known as YGH Architecture). Campbell’s original 1966 design was midcentury meets modern chalet, and justly lauded for its wood-clad, open-concept main floor that melds with the surrounding trees. 

Forty years later, those trees were obstructing a lot of light, and updates were needed, so the second owners worked with local architect Paul McKean on a sensitive restoration that’s since been approved by the historic advocacy group Restore Oregon. McKean kept the vaulted cedar ceilings, Douglas fir beams, and exposed concrete pillars intact—all key elements of Campbell’s original design—while updating the kitchen, as well as the primary suite, and guest bedrooms and baths. The real showstoppers are still the preserved walls of glass on either end of the great room, which create an effortless transparency with the treetops, just as Sunset once marveled. 

The kitchen was made more open in the remodel, via a generous central island combined with the existing living room fireplace. Now, the three tubular chimney flues still rise to the ceiling, while a new custom metal façade meets a sleek quartz prep counter on the kitchen side. In delightful textural contrast, the exposed concrete support walls sidle up to custom wood cabinetry throughout.  

The lower level hosts the four bedrooms, including the redone primary suite, which features Ann Sacks and Royal Mosa tile, a freestanding soaking tub and glassed shower looking into the trees, and an in-house sauna. A powder room and second bathroom were also combined to create a more generous second bathroom. Most recently, the vintage experts at the Good Mod were brought in to refinish the original built-ins throughout. 

Because Campbell picked such a sloped lot, there’s not much in the way of yard, so the architect installed a series of decks to float off the structure. The largest deck is anchored to the main living area, and received a covered roof in 1979 that mimics the original home’s shape, making a distinct impression upon entry of a roofline that’s been sliced open. McKean designed a custom powder-coated steel and fir deck railing system to wrap the perimeter, deftly knitting together old and new, inside and out, so those enduring treetop views can really be appreciated from everywhere. 

Listing Fast Facts   

Address:   5400 SW Burton Dr, Portland, OR 97221 

Size:   2,505 square feet/4 bedroom/2 bath 

List Date:   6/1/2022   

List Price:  $1,465,000 

Listing Agent:  Jeff Weithman, Where, Inc