Real Estate

Property Watch: Storybook Style with a Designer Remodel

Fairy-tale whimsy and luxe modern details meet in this century-old home in the Grant Park neighborhood of Northeast Portland.

By Melissa Dalton May 23, 2023

If you thought this house looked like something out of a fairy tale—well, that was the point. Built in 1925 and originally designed by historic Portland architect Carl Linde, who is well-known for many of his surviving apartment buildings around town, this home in the Grant Park neighborhood is a classic example of its type, that being the Storybook style, also sometimes called, yup, Hansel and Gretel.

Technically a more whimsical subset of the Tudor, the Storybook style had a brief heyday for a decade, starting in the 1920s. It’s thought to have originated in Los Angeles, specifically by set designers working in Hollywood. These homes are all about the roof design. With its undulating lines and rolled edges wrapping every eave and dormer, it’s meant to evoke the thatched roof of a medieval English cottage.

And while one major characteristic of Storybook style is a faux-aged look, this particular one has been recently and thoroughly updated by Finley Grace Design Studio. On the exterior, that means the half-timbered stucco facade is a crisp white, while several windows and doors have been replaced with streamlined steel-and-glass units.  

The lot is quite large for inner Portland, measuring over a third of an acre. That’s because the Dolph Park subdivision of Grant Park was developed late compared to others and, when it did, was an enclave of rich Portlanders. (Historical note: Like many early Portland neighborhoods, its exclusivity extended to rules prohibiting people who weren't white to buy and develop there.)  

Inside, this home has a whopping 7,247 square feet across three floors and a finished basement—imagine high ceilings and a flowing connection throughout the somewhat meandering floor plan. That plan is now complemented by a modern, Tudoresque arch motif woven seamlessly throughout, perhaps inspired by the home’s many surviving arch details, like those in the top of the chimney. You’ll find an arched doorway flanking the entry foyer, connecting the dining room and butler’s pantry, and defining the threshold between the living room and central hallway, capturing lovely staggered sight lines to the backyard and up the stairs, and the two with custom rounded steel-and-glass interior doors.

New designer touches offer delightful surprises, from the mural wallpaper in the powder room to the lacquered built-ins in an office and the spectrum of custom cabinetry, which is mint green in the butler’s pantry, blush in the upstairs laundry, and white oak in the kitchen. There, luxe limestone and marble offer a counterpoint to the wood tones, while two sets of oversize steel-and-glass doors and a large picture window connect to the expansive backyard. The latter is beautifully landscaped with seating areas in decomposed granite courts, and shaded with towering Doug fir trees. For a corner lot, there’s abundant privacy and plenty of green space.

The 2021 remodel was a whole-house affair, so the highlights extend well beyond the main floor. On the second floor, there are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and the primary suite, as well as an east-facing balcony. Both bathrooms on this level maintain the luxe vibes, with stone counters and floors, radiant heat underfoot, and the primary shower outfitted with plaster walls and a Mr. Steam shower that pipes essential oils. The top floor has a skylit multipurpose room and full bath, wherein the shower tile even follows the facets of the unique roof planes. Downstairs, there’s a gym, wine cellar, and media room.

Yet for all the modern amenities, the fairy-tale whimsy still emerges, like in the botanical design of the preserved foyer tile and fireplace façade, and in the distinctive stained-glass window depicting a spider’s web, a favorite in the neighborhood.

Listing Fast Facts 

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: 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). Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].

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