Modern Craftsman Redesign – Great room creates open, connective tone
By Paul Omundson Photos by Jeremy Bronson
An angular steel roof dotted with skylights and solar tubes contrasts crisply with fir trim and double front doors of this completely redesigned modern Craftsman home in Eugene’s Cal Young neighborhood. Open the front doors with their six distinctive square-stepped windows to reveal the real heart of this home.
The heart, and soul, is the great room, encompassing a large kitchen, adjacent family room and dining room bay. The spaces feature a vaulted ceiling, generous south-facing windows, a bay window seat, and accent lighting. Ample daylight and clear sightlines to the backyard make the area seem bigger and more expansive than it is.
“This is what we envisioned,” says owner John Coble. “We didn’t want a home with a lot of separations.” He and wife Kathy have lived in homes with too many walls and other barriers, as the previous version of this home had. “We like it to be open and inviting,” Kathy Coble adds.
Visitors will notice an interesting twist on connectivity as they step through the beautiful front doors. At the end of the entry hall is a rectangular trimmed 6 foot by 3 foot window opening, providing a visual link into the expansive kitchen. Kathy enjoys the openness that this adds to the space. Designer Roger Ota, with Nir Pearlson Architect, Inc., designed the view to be perfectly balanced with the front doors’ six jewel-like windows and porcelain-tiled entry hall. Kathy enhanced the kitchen opening nicely with a rack of pewter dishes on the display shelf above, playfully placing a favorite Groucho puppet on the window sill.
Inside the house, visitors and residents invariably gravitate to the spacious, comfortable kitchen. “Everyone does,” John nods. It’s the inviting 5 foot by 10.5 foot granite island in the middle that John refers to as a “continent” that provides a draw. Generous passages between work counters facilitate social interaction and make the central kitchen a wide open, pleasant place to spend time. As many as 9 people can sit comfortably at the island, and under-counter refrigerator drawers ensure that supplies are easily at hand for host and guests. A state-of-the-art six-burner gas stove and warming drawers are embedded on one side of the island, and as Kathy and John prepare food for guests and family sitting just a couple of feet away, conversation is unimpeded.
Kathy wanted the new copper farm sink to be located by a window. Since the sink fit best on an interior wall, architects and owners created another “window” there, commissioning local artist Steve Langston (Langston Art Glass) to create a stained glass art piece, depicting the family’s West Coast ties: a Mt. Rainier view, representing Washington; redwood and cypress trees, for California; and Willamette Valley and ocean beaches scenes, for Oregon. The artwork is backlit naturally by day via a tubular skylight, and with soft artificial light at night. It’s a stunning addition to both kitchen and mudroom on the other side of the wall.
Close to the central kitchen is the dining room niche with a built-in buffet and display cabinets. This intimate space features solarium-like windows opening to the backyardand an elegant dining room table and chairs make it a magical spot. Besides dining functions, the room lends itself to large projects such as crafts, puzzles, and paperwork. On the other end of the great room is the living room, accentuated by the fir ceiling and trim and a tall, slate-clad modern gas fireplace. It’s a great place for the Cobles and guests to sink into the comfy couch and bay window seat in the evening, watch TV and visit.
Exterior features include the generous patio terrace connecting the great room to the yard, a timber-framed gazebo, and sustainable living amenities: a 4,500-gallon rainwater harvesting system, and a 5.2 kW photovoltaic solar array on the garage roof. “We wanted to do as much as we could to minimize our impact and energy use,”
says John. They are considering expanding the photovoltaic system, and will soon be adding a greenhouse to compliment the raised garden beds and blueberry patch. The family enjoys gardening and barbequing frequently and sees the south yard as an extension of the indoor living spaces. Another unique element is the high-bay garage on the west end of the home. The 900 squarefoot garage accommodates the family’s car, RV, and larger models to come. “That was a real challenge, architecturally,” says Ota. “We didn’t want it to look out of scale compared to the house so we set the garage back a bit and brought the entry and carport roof edge down.”
The house also accommodates Kathy’s passion for crafts. Located close to the main living space, the room features generous storage and a work counter overlooking the front yard and entry path. Having a dedicated space to work in allows Kathy to come and go from a project without worrying about cluttering a public space, and provides her with a separate environment where she can focus on her art.
“It was a great collaboration with these guys,” John says, referring to Ota in the lead design role and the rest of the team at Nir Pearlson Architect who added creative input. The project’s success owes much to the practical building and design knowledge provided by Paul Allen, builder (Allen Co Design it! Build It! LLC) the craftsmanship of all of his dedicated sub-contractors and suppliers, and the creative structural work of Pioneer Engineering (structural engineers). The harmonious relationship between owner, architect and contractor is apparent in the results of the project. “Projects with Paul are especially satisfying because he is respectful of design ideas, communicative with architect and client, and enjoys providing a beautiful end result. Combine this with the Cobles’ clear vision and goals, and you have a perfect situation for a very successful project”, says Ota.
The Cobles have travelled between families in San Francisco and Seattle for years. In the process, they fell in love with Eugene. Now, they have the pleasure of living here permanently in a gleaming, redesigned modern Craftsman home, tailored to their style.