All in the Family

When it came time to sell their family home, a 1907 Craftsman in the Overlook neighborhood of North Portland, Jim and Becky Seeley looked no further than their daughter, Meghan. In fact, the transaction was all part of a larger plan. Meghan, her husband and two small children would live in the main house, and her parents would build their own ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on the property.

“The biggest difference we notice when owners are building an ADU for their own use versus a rental is in the final selections,” said Kristian Thordarson, president of Thordarson Construction, the company that undertook the project. “When it is for you or a family member, you are willing to spend more money for higher-quality or unique finishes.”

The result is a multigenerational family compound of sorts, where parents can comfortably age in place with close proximity to their grandchildren.

To build the ADU and remodel the existing home to suit the new owners, the family enlisted the help of Holly Frixione to put the Seeleys’ dreams on paper and Thordarson Construction to make their dreams a reality. By skillfully coordinating the construction schedules, Thordarson was able to make the transition for both families to their new homes happen simultaneously.

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Moving Out Back

The ADU features custom finishes and unique touches that speak to the owners’ personal tastes. In this case, they wanted a rustic feel and opted for a high-gloss concrete floor with exposed aggregate throughout, along with exposed electrical conduits with barn-style pendant lighting, unfinished Douglas fir beams and collar ties. There's even a cheeky nod to farm life with hog fencing used as a railing on the loft.

Attention to detail and space use extends to the custom cabinetry, built-in bookshelves and a rolling library ladder to access the loft space. A space-saving stackable washer and dryer is tucked into a closet in the bedroom.

Inside the ADU

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The exterior siding on the ADU matches the cedar-lap siding on the main house, as do the wood double-hung windows and trim finishes inside and out.

With its vaulted ceiling, skylights and more than a dozen windows, the unit is light-filled and airy, making it feel even larger than the 500 square feet it occupies. The open floor plan includes a combined kitchen/great room and a loft storage area. A small hallway leads to the bedroom and bathroom with walk-in shower.  

Back in the main house, updates were needed, as there hadn’t been any renovations since the Seeleys bought the house in the 1970s. The kitchen cabinetry and flooring were aging, and the choppy layout wasn’t conducive to modern family life.

Renovations to the main house

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“The kids wanted to update the home to make it their own,” Thordarson said.  

Walls were removed to connect the dining area, living room and kitchen, and a former butler’s staircase was reclaimed to create a new pantry and extra space in the kitchen. The ceiling height was raised to 10 feet after removing a false ceiling and a center island was added. Contemporary brass pendant lights add a modern luxe touch.

Best of all? Parents, kids and grandkids all love their new neighbors.

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