Oregon Home and Design: A Modern Family Hub in Eugene
written by Melissa Dalton photos by Eric Bishoff
Susie Burgess remembers exactly when she laid eyes on the “epitome of the perfect farm” in her hometown of Eugene. She was in her teens, riding her bike along the McKenzie River, and there it was: “A little white farmhouse with a white picket fence around it. A beautiful red barn and a windmill,” she said. “Then right behind those, the river.” Fast forward to 2012, and Burgess and her husband, Terry, were looking for the ideal spot to settle into their forever home. When they learned that Susie’s “perfect” homestead was for sale, and included about 12 acres and 1/4 mile of river frontage, they snapped it up.
Unfortunately, the small 1900s farmhouse had been neglected for years and exuded the “aroma of cat urine and cigarette smoke,” Terry Burgess said. The couple spent months rehabbing it while planning to build their dream abode nearby. It was designed by their son, Andy Meakins, a designer who studied architecture at the University of Oregon. He took a decidedly more modern approach to the home’s look. “Modern was the cleanest way to accentuate the property and the views,” Meakins said.
The result, built by Six Degrees Construction, embraces a wealth of open space on the main floor, with plenty of glazing to bring in sunlight and the natural setting. The main level fulfills all of the couple’s essential living requirements, functioning like a self-sufficient apartment, while three upstairs bedrooms can be readied for family or closed off as needed. “It was really important for them to have a house for the rest of their lives,” Meakins said. “So the house expands and contracts based on use.” Resource-efficient strategies, including a rooftop solar array, geothermal heat pump with radiant floor heating and airtight construction further raise the comfort.
Oregon Home and Design: A Canvas for Living
Regarding finishes, the group opted for a simple palette with subtle texture in order to create an interior that’s “a canvas for living,” Meakins said. Terry Burgess painstakingly culled reclaimed wood from the property’s old chicken coop, nicknamed the ‘Chicken Hilton,’ which he deconstructed. “The Chicken Hilton was put together very well, but it was also some 80 years old, so the nails had taken a set,” he said. Used as accents throughout, from the bedroom to the kitchen island, the salvaged wood brings warmth and balances white walls, sleek kitchen cabinets and monochromatic tile. A spectacular fireplace facade composed of fiber-reinforced concrete imprinted with a wood grain pattern connects the matte concrete floors and the mix of hemlock and fir on the ceiling. Unexpected details, like the live-edge entry bench milled from a tree felled at Susie’s childhood home, are delightful surprises.
A universal favorite feature is the main room’s 24-foot-wide glass door, which offers a panorama of the landscape and “the feeling of being outside but being protected,” Meakins said. “It’s like you’re on the edge of the wilderness.” The homeowners are constantly drawn to it, whether they’re watching a hawk fly over the river or sliding open the doors for a family party to spill outside. “It’s just a real joy to live here,” Burgess said.