Library House

This project was a complete remodel plus an addition to a small structure which was originally the public library in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. When the library moved to a larger facility, this building was repurposed as a church meeting hall. When our clients approached us, it was with the idea to transform the building into their home.

We were struck by how lovely the volume of the old library was, and decided to keep the big open space to house a great room, with kitchen, dining and living areas. We enclosed the open front porch to create an entry and powder room, and added on to the side of the building to create two small bedrooms and a new bathroom. We did quite a bit of excavation work in the basement where we added a sauna, laundry room, exercise room, and a recording studio for the clients who are both voice actors. (We did not photograph the basement). We also added a small new garage. One other fun feature not apparent in the photos is the large television, concealed under the living room bench, which is mounted on a lift mechanism and disappears into a pocket in the basement cabinets when not in use.

In keeping with the theme of the original library, we added bookshelves throughout… they define the entry, flank both sides of the great room, and surround the little desk in the guest bedroom. Since the volume of the main space was so tall we added library ladders at both ends of the room to provide access to the tall shelves. Because of the tight lot, the bedrooms needed to be quite small so we built in useful cabinetry wherever possible, including around and under the bed.

Many aspects of the design are fairly traditional, in keeping with the vintage of the house, but with very modern pieces layered on. A warm palette of jewel-toned color is introduced in the furnishings and art, which include paintings by Portland artists Anya Spielman and Jocelyn Rahm.

The senior designer for the Library House project was Em Shephard.

Featured in
Architectural Digest Spain
The Chamber of Curiosity
Kitchen Kulture
The New York Times

Photos by Lincoln Barbour