Living Large on Lake Oswego

New empty-nesters downsize into their dream home. 

With their daughters off to college, new empty-nesters Bill and Lisa Sewell returned home to Oregon, scooping up a 1950s fixer on Lake Oswego’s west bay. Though the lot was tight (5,000 square feet), they were up to the task of creating a lakefront cottage, one where friends and family would feel right at home.

“The original home was essentially a tear-down,” recalls Crystal Elder, interior architect with Metke Remodeling & Luxury Homes. “The goal was to rebuild it as a modern home with a cottage-type feel and do it all in about 3,000 square feet of living space.” This became a true test of Metke’s prowess.

A Tried-And-True Blueprint

While the specifications were straightforward, the Sewells had a distinct vision. They craved the same layout as their California home but in a more compact form. 

“We have two dogs, two cats, and two girls who come home for holidays and the summer. I wanted them to feel like this was their home,” says Lisa. “We knew what we wanted it to feel like, and Metke really listened to that vision.”

Metke Remodeling & Luxury Homes, known for its precision, approached the project with functionality at the forefront. The three-story home, limited to 32 feet in height, focused on the main floor as the workhorse. 

“To maximize livable space, there are no real hallways. One space connects to the next. The kitchen is all straight lines, and the great room allows for flexible furniture arrangements,” says Elder, who made clever use of every nook and cranny with built-in cabinets and benches, and expanded the living space outdoors. The result is an inviting home that lives larger than its footprint.

Clean Design Lets Style Shine

Knowing the couple wanted to spotlight art and treasures acquired through thrifting and travels (Lisa is a travel agent), Elder kept the finishes simple. Walls are white, and wide-plank oak flooring adds texture and a subtle rustic touch. Ceiling beams are also painted white for an airy feel, and a hand-hewn mantel floats above the white fireplace. Large windows flood the space with light and provide unobstructed lake views.

Calcutta marble tops the kitchen island, and a neutral tile backsplash adds texture but doesn’t steal the show. Instead, the spotlight is on a pair of oversize woven pendant lights sourced by Lisa at the Pasadena swap meet, and an eye-catching nickel and black faucet. Accordion doors open onto a covered deck, nearly doubling the functional space of the main floor. 

The stairwell to the upstairs is a gallery of whimsical artwork by friends and family; many light fixtures in the home were fabricated by artist and family friend Chris Buzzell, of LA-based Buzzell Studios, whose chandelier above the dining table glows with 10 handblown-glass orbs.

“It’s a new home, but it was important to have our love of old things mixed with new,” says Lisa.

Comfortable Spaces for Family and Friends

Elder gave the daylight basement a speakeasy vibe with paneled walls, dark cabinetry and matte black quartz counters. The moody hangout space is fit for a lively party or a quiet night at the game table. A cycling theme — a nod to one of Bill’s hobbies — shows up in a cheeky vintage racing poster the family brought home from France. 

A roll-up door opens onto an expansive waterfront deck, and an adjacent soundproof rehearsal room gives Bill a dedicated space to jam with his band. There’s also a home office and bathroom on this level. 

On the upper floor, the girls’ bedrooms are each decorated in a way that reflects their personal style, while the primary suite is bathed in calming neutrals set against a view of the lake. 

“We’ve really had a nice welcome back home. Our friends and family feel good here,” says Lisa. “And we actually prefer this house to the one in California because we use almost every inch of it.”