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Just Like Martha Would Do

by: Vern Uyetake, Barbara MacIntosh describes the style of her Lake Oswego house as  “Martha Stewart.” The interior features spring colors, left. There’s plenty of room for entertaining and breezy afternoons can be spent on the oversized wrap-around porch.

The air feels calm. Sunshine peeks through branches from tall oak trees. Pebbled pathways twist and turn around a white residence surrounded by nature.

The scene: simple elegance.

The home: a historic 4,872-square-foot marvel nestled in the heart of Lake Oswego with views of the Oswego Lake Country Club.

Home to Brian and Barbara MacIntosh and their family, the 1937 home received a facelift for modern lifestyles when the family moved in a decade ago. Through attention to detail, the home retains its prior-period charm, which will be showcased on the Lake Oswego Historic Home tour in May.

'It's very Martha Stewart-ish in the colors and some of the style,' said Barbara MacIntosh. 'We're very relaxed people so being comfortable is very important.'

The home feels peaceful, like the first day of spring. MacIntosh chose a soft color palette that resembles the original time period and spreads the home with light on rainy days. Walls in the living room are as blue as a clear day. The hallway is adorned with pale green. Soft marigold walls engulf the kitchen in buttery goodness.

MacIntosh is a Martha Stewart in her own right. She gardens; she sews; she researches and completes whole house remodels, and still finds more house projects - like the new chair covers on the porch.

The home is a reminder of MacIntosh's loving hands nurturing the home back to health.

Resilient, like an acorn

MacIntosh said that when she found the home it was far from livable - the roof was caving in, asbestos wrapped the heating pipes and millwork was brittle and unsalvageable. But there was something about its character that caught her eye - and the challenge for another restoration project; she had already brought several other houses back to life.

The home's previous owners - two sons raised in the home since its beginnings who had fond memories of it - had difficulty handing over its ownership, said MacIntosh. They wanted to make sure the home was restored to its original glory days if it passed ownership.

'I saw this home as an opportunity. I like older homes with bones,' said MacIntosh. 'I wanted to keep (the house) pretty much the way it was without adding to it or changing much. (I wanted) a family room and kitchen, to move the front door closer to the street and keep the view. Every window has a great view.'

Within two bathrooms, MacIntosh opted to place a window instead of a mirror above a sink to take advantage of the settings.

'I like the view more than I like looking in the mirror,' said MacIntosh. 'This lot has three of the most beautiful oak trees and I just appreciate the beauty of those so much.'

In fact, while choosing colors, patterns and themes for the house MacIntosh incorporated her love of acorns. Small acorn details adorn tile in the kitchen, wallpaper patterns and exterior light fixtures.

'I had considered the symbolism of the oak when I picked the acorn theme,' said MacIntosh.

MacIntosh said the acorn theme fit the house's feel as well as some of her own traits. Oak trees, she said, are admired for their strength, protection and durability. They are independent, sensitive and do not enjoy change. Acorns symbolize the huge potential in small things.

Along with the help of builder Green Gables, MacIntosh salvaged original framing, old growth wooden floors and staircases, seven-foot doors and siding to restore the home with modern conveniences and the charm of yesteryear.

Rearranging for today

At one time, the formal entry to the home was quite a distance from the driveway. Keeping within the home's original footprint, the floor plan was rearranged to incorporate a new entryway, expansive living room, kitchen with attached family room and private master bathroom.

Originally, guests at the home had to use the master bathroom that had one pedestal sink.

'They must have had so little to store,' said MacIntosh.

Luckily, the master bathroom was so large that it afforded the creation of a separate powder room and still room for a bathtub, two-head shower, separate sinks and plenty of storage.

The master bedroom is spacious with a wall of custom built-in closets that match original cabinetry in the home. French doors lead to the gardens.

The kitchen in its new position incorporates shaker-style cabinetry with glass knobs, a built-in mantle over a large range and granite countertops. The original pull-out cutting boards and wooden countertops were incorporated into the baking center and butler's pantry.

'My cabinet makers helped me with elevation ideas and I knew I wanted to hide the microwave,' said MacIntosh.

Most appliances are hidden behind paneling or cupboards to retain 1930s simplicity.

Additional square footage was added to create more room in her son's bedroom. Upstairs, dormers that existed were raised to provide the required egress for two more bedrooms. This second floor - with its abundant sunlight and wall of books - was once unfinished attic space. The stairway was opened up and door was removed at the bottom of the stairs to make the transition from one floor to the next flow more naturally.

A large front porch wraps around the home, connecting it to the garage and the above Carriage House - a separate space for games, exercise equipment and musical instruments. The room is equipped for a mini-kitchen in case the room needs to be used for live-in guests.

And the green grass

grows all around

Just as important as reviving the home back to life was tending to it's gardens. Considering the home is located near the Iron Mountain trails, natural basalt and dry stack rock appears on the 1.26 acre property.

The front entryway is now tiered and MacIntosh said summer parties upon the patio and porch area are 'fabulous.'

Original planting beds are located on a terrace off the living room. The area drops to a new pea gravel path that winds around the perimeter of the yard. At the opposite end of the property, MacIntosh added a raised bed gardening area. Pillars welcome guests into the rose garden. And an in-ground sandbox can be easily viewed from inside the family room.

Near the home and tucked within a rock shrine sits a statue of a woman - left from the previous owners.

'I have no idea who she is. I didn't want to move her,' said MacIntosh. 'She's just a picture in itself.'

And so is the house - a slice of modernity mixed with historical features.

The house will be on the Lake Oswego Historic Home Tour in May. The house is currently on the market. Contact Susan Gibson Stier at 503-701-0066 for more information.