A timber-frame outdoor pavilion draws a West Linn family outside

written by Melissa Dalton

An Outdoor Pavilion, rustic and accommodating

When Daniel Harkavy and his wife bought their West Linn house in 2013, its 5-acre plot included woodland, pasture and lovely valley views, but the deck off the back door overlooked a swing set. On warm weather days, you might sit on the deck’s built-in bench while waiting for the barbecue to fire up, but there was little else to beckon anyone outdoors. Yet the prospect of enjoying all that acreage was just what had attracted the family to buy in the first place. “We moved from three-quarters of an acre to 5 acres,” said Harkavy, an executive coach. “I always had a dream of living out on a bit more land and having more to play with.”

The classic timber-frame home that came with the land had excellent bones, including vaulted ceilings and exposed beams, but the worn fixtures and finishes weren’t quite to the new owners’ taste. They approached New Energy Works, an Oregon and New York-based firm that specializes in designing and building timber frame structures, for a renovation. “They really liked the location,” Jonathan Orpin, founder of New Energy Works, said. “They wanted to know if we could do anything to help them like their house.” The resulting design plan encompassed a makeover, inside and out.

In the main house, the team opened up the floorplan, replaced windows and cut new doors, then updated the kitchens and baths. Outside, the couple swapped out the existing deck for a pool, and Orpin’s team installed a timber-frame pavilion that complements the style of the main house. “We saw it as an extension of living space, with a kitchen and dining room, and casual hangout space, regardless of the time of year. We wanted it to be all-weather,” Harkavy said.

The pavilion serves as an extension of the house, with a kitchen and living area. Photo by New Energy Works/(c) Loren Nelson Photography.

Old-World Craftsmanship

Timber-frame construction is a traditional method, defined by posts and beams hewn from heavy timbers, as opposed to pre-cut lumber, and connected together by mortise and tenon joinery. Orpin’s outfit typically roughs out the joinery with a CNC machine, then finishes it with hand tools. “It’s structure as craft,” Orpin said. The longevity of such sturdily built buildings, as well as their distinct aesthetic, is part of their appeal. Think 19th-century buildings in Europe.

The Harkavys’ pavilion is composed of big reclaimed logs pulled from an industrial building. “I love reclaimed timbers because of their story,” Orpin said. “They immediately give us a sense that they have a place in history. These timbers have been somewhere before us and they’ll probably be somewhere after us.” His team cut the outdoor pavilion’s posts, rafters and ridge pole in their McMinnville workshop and fit them together, “kind of like a Lincoln Log set,” Harkavy said. The structure was then disassembled and brought to the site for construction, which can feel like an old-fashioned barn raising. “We were able to help with the raising,” Harkavy said. “My sons and I and friends were all able to play a role in building it.”

Getting the Design Right

For the pavilion’s location, the couple chose an empty grassy side yard for the way it accessed the view. Then Orpin oriented the pavilion’s roofline to run parallel to the house. “That allowed a nice sense of capturing and framing that view against the gable,” Orpin said. Achieving the right scale was also paramount. “You have to have a certain proportionality between the structures to create a community of buildings, otherwise they tend to stick out poorly,” Orpin said. The pavilion attaches to the main house via a pergola, which defines the walkway and provides physical connection without darkening the living area inside the home. “They wanted the pavilion connected to the house, but not on top of the house, so that they could move inside and outside comfortably,” Orpin said.

The interior layout needed to flow well, especially in the case of bigger gatherings, which the Harkavys enjoy, since they have several kids and host large dinners for work or play. “When you create these outdoor living areas, there’s two main functions to it—eating and socializing,” Orpin said. “We tried to balance that hangout space with the functionality of preparing and sharing a meal.” Now, comfortable chairs surround the fireplace, with overflow benches lining the outdoor room’s perimeter. A nearby kitchenette, including a stainless-steel sink, fridge and integrated grill, mirrors a floating bar on the opposite side of the room, which can be used for buffet serving or overflow seating. At the center, a dining table with seating for fourteen is ready to bring people together.

Adding Modern Contrast

Regarding styling, the couple opted to balance the reclaimed wood with streamlined modern furnishings and artisanal concrete accents. Smooth concrete, via the scored patio floor, fireplace façade and counters, balances the rustic texture of the posts and beams, as well as the wood cabinetry in the kitchen area. Metal Tolix-style dining chairs and white powder-coated bar stools offer contemporary pops. The dining table, handmade by Harkavy’s sons, unites the modern industrial look, thanks to the combination of a wood top and a streamlined steel base. Copious lighting, including gooseneck sconces over the kitchen and whimsical string lights, are the inviting finishing touch, while restaurant-grade ceiling heaters ensure the room can be used beyond summer nights.

Come the weekend or after work, it’s not uncommon for Harkavy to gravitate outside whenever the opportunity presents itself. “In the summer months, I’ll have my tea and start my day out there. In the evenings, we’ll hang out and start a fire for chill downtime. It can be just my wife and I, or family gatherings,” Harkavy said. “Truthfully, it’s my favorite room in the house.”

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