Property Watch: A Pioneering, Climate-Friendly Home in Cully
Editor’s Note: Portland Monthly’s “Property Watch” column takes a weekly look at an interesting home in Portland’s real estate market (with periodic ventures to the burbs and points beyond, for good measure). This week: a climate friendly home in Portland's Cully neighborhood. Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].
Sometime in the late aughts, a pocket of the Cully neighborhood in Northeast Portland became the grounds for a mini, hyperlocal eco-renaissance, led by a group of like-minded neighbors. “We often call it an accidental intentional community,” said one resident. Dubbing themselves the Ainsworth Collective, and spread over the blocks near the intersection of NE Ainsworth and 45th Avenue, this unofficial group would meet monthly in support of living more mindfully with the environment. As such, several members bought land and built pioneering eco-homes that pushed the green technology of the day, seven of which were profiled by us in 2009.
One of those houses, designed by DeBar Architecture and built by W. A. Hughes Construction in 2008, is LEED-Certified Platinum and now for sale. It might draw on the past for its traditional gabled form, but everything else about it, from the rooftop solar panels, to the earthen floor in the living room, are forward-thinking, and aimed at reducing environmental impact.
For starters, there’s the systems, like the aforementioned 2 KW photovoltaic array for gathering solar power, as well as a solar hot water heater. Add to that, a 7,500-gallon rainwater harvesting system, denoted by three large storage tanks on the north side. Water can be captured on-site and treated for use by the whole house, making it so the previous residents only needed to tap city water a couple weeks out of the year.
Inside, it's warm and welcoming thanks to a convivial layout, lots of windows, and natural finishes throughout. Past the front porch, itself wrapped in an artful railing composed of recycled tools and metal pieces, the storage-lined entry cedes to the combined living spaces at the rear and south side.
There, find all sorts of eco-strategies at play. Large windows and strategically placed transoms over interior doors maximize daylight. The earthen floor is designed to absorb winter sun and radiate heat on frigid days. All of the wood trim was salvaged and finished with a natural oil finish, and the Madrone kitchen island top even has a built-in composting pail next to the prep sink.
Upstairs, an uber-useful laundry room occupies the end of the corridor, and there’s two bedrooms and a family bathroom, as well as the primary suite. The entire floor is capped with either a vaulted ceiling, or a skylight-lined loft that spans the three bedrooms and is accessed by ladders in each. (Each bedroom’s loft space also has a door for privacy.)
In the basement, find a tidy mechanical room that allows owners to monitor their green systems easily. There’s also a separate living space that doesn’t feel like it’s in a basement due to the sunlight pouring in from the windows, lovely stained concrete floors, a decorative reclaimed wood accent wall, and high ceilings. It has its own exterior entry, a full bathroom, and an area that could easily be converted to a kitchenette.
Last but not least, there’s a dedicated office behind sliding glass doors, with a large window and two built-in workstations perfect for this modern WFH era, which just goes to show how this home’s design was so ahead of its time.
Listing Fast Facts
Address: 6022 NE 45th Ave, Portland, OR 97218
Size: 3,216 square feet/3 bedroom/3.5 bath
List Date: 10/28/2022
List Price: $874,000
Listing Agent: Aryne Blumklotz and Dulcinea Myers-Newcomb, Living Room Realty
Melissa Dalton is a freelance writer who has focused on Pacific Northwest design and lifestyle since 2008. She is based in Portland, Oregon. Contact Dalton here.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the construction company. Its name has been corrected. Portland Monthly regrets the error.