Making the Dream Happen

Capri Architecture melds a one-of-a-kind home into a tricky spot on the Oregon Coast.

Photos by David Papazian

There’s a pretty little street on the way to the scenic Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. For a long time on that street, there sat an empty triangular lot tucked up against a hillside and edged up against a few nearby homes. From surface glances, it didn’t really seem like anyone could build a home on that lot, as nice as it might be.

But then Amanda and Dustin Capri, the husband-and-wife team behind Newport-based Capri Architecture, got a call from an excited couple — Kelli Ennis and Steven Dailey — who had purchased the lot and had a vision for it.

“Everyone was under the impression it was not buildable because of its triangular shape and the other existing development nearby,” Amanda says. “But they fell in love with it anyway. It’s got a view of Ecola Creek and downtown Cannon Beach and the ocean isn’t far. So we set out on this thread of, ‘Let’s make it happen.’”

And make it happen they did.

It took some creativity, like adding extra foundation supports and digging the home 12 feet into a hillside, but they pulled it off. Now, with the help of the incredible builders at Caruana Inc., instead of an empty lot, there’s a trim and attractive home, dark gray with rich wood-toned accents, low stone walls and a sleek, sharp razor blade of a driveway. Tall windows capture all kinds of natural coastal light and frame the signature beauty of the area — far-off mountains, surrounding evergreen trees and, when the weather allows, deep-blue sky and bright sunshine. And despite the odd lot shape, the home looks like it belongs.

“When you’re there, it looks like it has always been there,” Dustin says.

Inside, the home is bright and airy, with lots of white surfaces complemented by warmer elements. The open kitchen is largely white, save for a few shots of color on the island and a tiled wall behind the stove. High and dark wooden beams and warm wood floors cozy up both the kitchen and the adjacent living and dining areas, while bolder colors add vibrance to bathrooms and the primary suite. There’s also a built-in dog-washing station and interesting ledges for the couple’s dog, a corgi named Finn.

To take advantage of the home’s coastal location, Capri designed it to include a balcony off the primary suite. Similarly, a new and very unique feature was added well after construction was underway. Realizing what an amazing view the home offered from the balcony, the owners got to wondering why they couldn’t capture even more of that view by converting what was supposed to be a simple roof into a one-of-a-kind observation deck accessed by a spiral staircase.

“We just realized what an incredible view they had from there, so we added a staircase and railings,” Amanda says. “There’s a little French door off the bathroom, so they can go out and enjoy the view and the fresh air.”

In addition to getting creative to make the site work for this particular home, Dustin and Amanda had to adapt in another way during this project: When the homeowners first called them, it was January 2020. Dailey was completing a medical fellowship on the East Coast, and Ennis was living in Ohio, so they started meeting with them digitally, assuming they’d get together in person when the couple relocated to Oregon.

“Then COVID hit and that evaporated,” Amanda says.

For much of the rest of the project, the architects and homeowners met mostly throughout Zoom.

“It’s not revolutionary anymore, but we always talk about how that project became a pivot for our whole process,” Dustin says. “Now Zoom is so ingrained in our firm, but it was a big transition at the time.”

And while Zoom does work almost as well as in-person meetings between architects and clients, it does have its limitations. Case in point: When designing one of the bathrooms for the home, the architects suggested a window in the shower with a sill height of 5 feet, 4 inches. Having never met the couple in person, they didn’t know Ennis was just under 5 feet tall.

“We all laughed about that,” Amanda says. “So even though you can do most things digitally these days, I still maintain there’s no substitute for being in person, on-site.”