Featured Stories

Living in a fairytale

by: Vern Uyetake, Ellyn Bye’s 1929 house in Lake Oswego twists and turns to surround beautiful gardens and a large patio. A glass transition room connects the original home — on the right — with the new master suite on the left.

Travel to a land of fantasy, enchantment, creatures and legends - a place where fairies, goblins, elves and animals gather beneath a canopy of trees. In the center of a forest glen sits a fancy cottage, but humble with low roofs and unassuming with exposed timber.

And it's in the center of Lake Oswego.

Ellyn Bye purchased her 1929 cottage a few years ago and says she still gets butterflies when she comes home.

'It's a fairytale house,' said Bye. 'It's just charming - that's the only word I can think of.'

Men describe the home as Hansel and Gretel's house, women prefer to attribute Sleeping Beauty to the ambiance, but to Bye it's just home.

Upon entering the driveway, current time seems to fade into a dreamy past. A stone shed and wall surrounds what once was a monkey house. Bye said the home was built by Englishmen who had several pet monkeys that lived in the structure - with plenty of room, windows and a small door to let the monkeys in and out.

Now a potting shed, a Curious George stuffed monkey hangs in the window as a tribute to what once was.

Once inside the home, nature becomes a part of the decorating. In the quaint kitchen, natural light shines in from windows of leaded glass. Outside, a pathway beneath tall trees twists and turns leading visitors around the property. The fairy room is next door - an area with minimal furniture but plenty of characters. Fairies of all sizes and shapes hang along the perimeter of the room.

'This is where the dogs stay. They like it here because the windows are low so they can see when I get home,' said Bye.

Noodles - a young Labrador/golden retriever - and Mooch - a Labrador/Border collie - usually have free reign of the house but stay self-contained in the fairy room. As a board member with both Portland Center Stage and DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, Bye combines her love for the arts and dogs at home.

The dining room has tall wooden ceilings and rope-and-pulley venting windows, from when there wasn't air conditioning. Around the holidays the room serves as a dessert destination for guests, piled with sweets and festive décor.

A pointed archway and leaded-glass doors connect the dining room to the living room. The great room is expansive while sitting arrangements and built-in bookshelves keep the room comfortable. An antique linen press sits in a corner.

'This truly is a great room. I love my house,' said Bye. 'Whenever I go away and come back I still feel that, 'oh my gosh this is my house' feeling. I bought it in 2001. You'd think I'd be over that by now.'

From the great room the home splits into a wing for guests and the master suite. Two bunkers are situated beneath the house and were built - Bye thinks - because the house was constructed during wartime.

Sunny bedrooms with views of the opposite end of the house and garden are used often. One guestroom is the original master bedroom.

'It's rare that a month goes by without a guest,' said Bye.

A few years back Bye worked with a local architect to design a master suite that felt separate but flowed architecturally with the rest of the home and its surrounding gardens.

Now, a glass-enclosed walkway transports Bye from a TV room, through a patio and courtyard to the master suite. The master bedroom is hexagonal in shape with minimal furniture. Fir wood paneling surrounds the six-sided room with panoramic windows and built-ins for books.

'My bedroom is everything I hoped it would be,' said Bye. 'I built a hexagonal gazebo in the yard to balance the shapes. Then I added a waterfall so I can hear the water from here. When things are blooming it's just beautiful.'

The adjoining oversized bathroom features an enclosed tub, built into a small room similar to ancient Roman bathing accommodations.

Bye's garden surrounds the 4,000 square foot home. With sunny and shady areas, a rainbow of flowers, large tiered patio for entertaining and shrubs lining pathways, the home is more of an experience than a structure.

And while the home has cozy beginnings similar to a fairytale, this story also has a happy ending.

Bye doesn't seem interested in moving anytime soon.

'When I first pulled in the driveway and looked at the front door I knew I could grow old in this house,' said Bye. 'I plan on being here forever.'

In May, Bye's home will be on the Lake Oswego Historic Home Tour along with other historical houses around the city.