Real Estate

Price Point: Custom-Built 1960s Split-Level vs. Updated Lair Hill Victorian

Would you rather be in a red midcentury home in woodsy Southwest, or a blue 19th-century number near the aerial tram?

By Melissa Dalton January 18, 2023

WELCOME BACK TO PRICE POINTwhere we look at two very different homes at around the same price point. This month, we're eyeing a split-level with a long deck and a sunlit lower level in Marshall Park, and a closer-in Victorian in Lair Hill, each listed for around $900,000. 

Home 1: A Custom-Built 1960s Split-Level

Two story red wooden home with driveway and garage, and long deck under roofline on second floor

This one has captured our imagination, but let’s start with the basics. It was built in 1968 by local contractor, Lars Bong, and has only ever had one owner. It’s a classic bilevel split, with a generous 3,112 square feet spread over two floors; the entry foyer is staggered between the floors with interior steps going up and down.

Upstairs, find the main living spaces, three bedrooms, and two baths. No dark, subterranean basement, the downstairs family room gets plenty of light via sliding glass doors. That level has an extra bedroom and bathroom, as well as convenient auxiliary spaces, like a shop with built-ins.

It’s true that many of the existing finishes could probably use some sprucing for most buyers, which is where imagination kicks in. There are little details that caught our eye, giving off a cool 1960s vibe that could really sing in the right hands. Things like the stonework and slate floor in the entry, offsetting a swanky inset planter; the brick fireplace that spans both the living room upstairs and the downstairs family room; and the wraparound exterior deck tucked under the jutting prow of the roofline.

Then there’s the location: a 1.33-acre lot in the Marshall Park neighborhood in Southwest, set well back from the main road so as to feel very private in its tree-filled setting. If that’s not enough nature, Tryon Creek State Natural Area is two miles away by car. For more city charms, downtown isn’t too far away either – about twenty minutes.

Listing Fast Facts

  • List price: $899,000
  • Location: 1215 SW Kari Lane, Portland, OR 97219
  • Size: 3,112 square feet on 1.33 acres
  • Year built: 1968
  • Listing agent: Tom Ogden, TBH Real Estate

Home 2: Updated Lair Hill Victorian

This 1890 Lair Hill Victorian has been more recently updated, but still does a good job holding on to its original time and place. Let’s start with what’s changed. This includes all the things new buyers are excited not to deal with, such as mechanicals (new electrical, plumbing, and water heater), as well as key finishes, like the exterior paint.

The kitchen has a suite of handsome new cabinetry, quartz counters, and new appliances, while the bathrooms are looking lovely with new tile and stone-topped vanities. Someone was very thoughtful of how they merged old and new here, from the new lighting picks that look vintage, to the upstairs bathroom with its walk-in shower beside a soaking tub.

All the better to make sure the preserved Victorian details get noticed, such as the exterior sunburst under the roofline and the overlapping shingles, to the wood flooring, interior trim, and stained-glass windows.

The layout was kept pretty traditional as well, with 3249 square feet spread over three floors. The main floor has all the usual living spaces and a bonus room with exterior deck access to the yard. Upstairs, there’s three nice-sized bedrooms, one with its own little balcony. Downstairs is where new owners could go more modern, as the 1089 square feet of unfinished basement has its own exterior entry, and the listing notes its potential to become a separate ADU.

The location is great for certain commutes, including a short walk to the OHSU tram, or easy access to 26, if Nike or Intel is your morning destination. The streetcar is only an 11-minute walk away as well, perfect for exploring downtown.

Listing Fast Facts

  • List price: $899,900
  • Location: 3627 S Kelly Ave, Portland, OR 97239
  • Size: 3,249 square feet on 3,484 square feet
  • Year built: 1890
  • Listing agent: Jennifer Weinhart and Andrew Weinhart, Cascade Hasson Sotheby's International Realty

Final Notes

These homes are only four-and-a-half miles apart, but they offer completely different lifestyles: we’ll cast it as city living vs. country life, only the latter is still within city limits. The Lair Hill Victorian has been nicely updated, so it promises modern must-haves, like those new appliances and refreshed bathrooms, as well as vintage charm. There’s just enough lawn for barbecues or to sit around the fire pit, and its proximity to downtown ensures urban exploration.

In contrast, the Marshall Park home is its own little forested enclave, ideal for feeling more removed from the city, although eating out or going to the movies is still easy enough. Its vintage charm is ever present as well, but it’s begging to have a modern style mixed in. As we’ve seen time and again, Portland is rife with talented designers who could take this home to the next level. Any updates, of course, add costs above the sale price, but the listing notes the home qualifies for a rehab loan for financing.

So, are you the type who prefers the convenience of move-in ready, just add favorite furniture? Or would you like to add your polish to a diamond in the rough?  

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. 

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