What is romance? A feeling? A state of being? For Sandi and Buzz Siler of Lake Oswego, being romantic is just part of everyday life. And their house they molded from the ground up was shaped by loving hands - to nurture their admiration for each other and fascination with the world around them.
While Valentine's Day is over for many of us, the Silers wanted to feel cozy year round. Their home - inspired by frequent trips to Europe and a book purchased in Paris - displays a collection of worldly items, artistic expression and love of family.
A large TV screen in the family room exhibits family snapshots in a slide show.
'It reminds us of where we've been,' said Buzz. 'It's on throughout the day. It reminds us of our kids and our travels and makes us want to go back.'
The couple raised their children just a few houses away but said they were always drawn to their current house. They vowed that if it ever came up for sale they would buy it and remodel it to resemble a French farmhouse - and they would do all the work themselves.
Working together for a dream
The Silers attended art auctions two years before transforming the original 1912 bungalow into a space reflective of dwellings half a world away. They collected tile, doors and furniture, to create cabinetry.
Since the home is perched on a hill overlooking peek-a-boo views of Oswego Lake, the layout was reconfigured to open up rooms and highlight surroundings. The original home opened to a withered kitchen nowhere near views of the water. Now, the kitchen, dining room and family room flow as one space surrounded by walls of windows with high ceilings. One master suite replaced four small bedrooms.
Trial and error attempts gave the home character. A raised flower pattern behind the stove is a result of dripping clay. The tile floor in the family room is not complete; when the couple ran out of travertine tile in the large room they covered up the gaps without stone using rugs.
'When we made the commitment (to remodel the house ourselves) we said that the perfection is in the imperfection,' Buzz said. 'We didn't worry about what it would look like.'
That attitude mixed with natural artistic abilities - Buzz is a fine-art painter; Sandi is a painter and gardener - allowed for improvisation and experimentation.
A sun-kissed kitchen greets the couple each morning. Natural light flows from an expansive wall of divided windows and fills the rest of the home. Surrounding walls are heavy with texture and display a painting of dancing pears done by Sandi.
The feet were removed from Belgian furniture to create lower kitchen cabinetry that seems to float above the floor. No upper cabinets were created so the kitchen remained uncluttered. An arched alcove made from stone surrounds the stove. Close by, an antique door, originally from a church in Indonesia, connects the kitchen and dining room.
Reflecting an influence
A small round table with flowers in the dining room is reminiscent of a bistro somewhere in the French countryside. Sandi said she wanted the room to feel comfortable, yet a bit worn. She purchased one-foot by one-foot mirrors, flipped them over, and applied paint thinner. The squares were hung touching one another on all sides using upholstery tacks. The expansive wall has a metallic and rustic look.
'I wanted that look of old mirrors,' Sandi said. 'I found a picture in a magazine and copied it.'
The wallpapered ceiling also resembles metal. A balcony off the dining room overlooks a manicured garden and patio for entertaining. Buzz bought hundreds of feet of sturdy orange construction lights at Home Depot and painted them black. Each individual light is spaced about 10 feet apart and floats in straight lines above patios, garden beds, curving pathways and a pond from one end of the yard to the other.
'In Europe, lights are stretched across the streets,' said Sandi. 'Our neighbors always know when we're having a party.'
The Silers' property resembles a small village - a lovely yard surrounds their home, their daughter's English cottage the other side of the property and a free standing art studio.
Home away from home
When remodeling their home, the Silers left a three foot enclosed hallway between the home and a new structure to house an art studio, garage and guestroom.
Spanning 20 by 40 feet, the art studio looks like a large university classroom. Multiple tables house canvases of drying paint. South facing windows and vaulted ceilings allow in plenty of natural light. Paint cans and tools are lined within floor to ceiling shelves encasing multi-colored walls.
'We needed a lot of table space because when I paint, I paint flat on the table. Otherwise, the paint would just run off (the canvas),' Buzz said. 'It's great to have this room here.'
A guestroom the couple nicknamed 'Hotel de Paris' is situated just below the studio and next to the garage. Complete with a TV hung in the corner, full bathroom and soft linens from overseas, the suite is a part of the house, yet separate enough to feel private.
A hand-painted headboard behind the fluffy bedspread reads, 'I love you all the love in the world' - a family saying.
'When you're someplace else, the excitement of being someplace else is great. But when you get home and you go, 'woah, this holds up to some of the most exciting places we've ever been,' it's very romantic,' said Buzz. 'There's something warm about a home.'