Two architects turn a falling-down beach shack into a family oasis
Paige Porter Fischer
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Portland-based architects Melody and Brian Emerick (emerick-architects.com) were visiting Seaside, Oregon, when they passed an abandoned beach cottage that was up for sale—and priced as a teardown. The couple bought the 1910 house and began restoring it to its original glory, which meant leveling the foundation, correcting an unsightly addition, redoing the façade, lifting the attic ceiling to create a master suite, and adding new windows throughout. After six months of architectural work, the Emericks faced their next challenge: outfitting the entire house for what was left of their budget, less than $10,000. Melody didn’t want anything new in a house this age, so she and Brian hunted for antiques and refurbished pieces. They modeled it after an old sea captain’s quarters, with cream colors and brass accents. “Old Salty,” as the family dubbed the home, issues a siren call nearly every weekend and on school breaks for the couple and their daughters.
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To create the feeling of a wraparound porch, Melody and Brian outfitted the enclosed portion with wood windows. All the frames, old and new, got a coat of yellow-gold paint to update the exterior.
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This bench sits in the enclosed porch, which acts as a mudroom.
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The enclosed porch was reinvented as a lightfilled dining room. The Emericks hung vintage chandeliers and added a long reclaimed wood table. “We have great family meals out here for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July,” says Melody. The couple saved money by painting the wood floors (and the floor for the porch outside) dark gray, rather than replacing them.
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The Emericks ripped out the red carpet in the living room, refinished the original fir floors, painted the walls cream, and removed teal tile from the fireplace surround to reveal beautifully aged brick, which better fits the home’s age. A steamer trunk from a Portland antiques store acts as the coffee table.
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The Emericks removed all of the upper cabinetry, adding new native-fir open shelves and countertops. Cream-colored cabinets, brass hardware and light fixtures, and the farm sink give the cottage a farmhouse vibe. The back of the fireplace became an architectural frame for the stove, which the couple found at a garage sale.
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The family sacrificed a dishwasher to make room for the large vintage farm sink complete with a drain board. Vintage paintings add to the room’s charm.
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The slim staircase behind the kitchen leads to a wide hallway and the master suite. The horizontal bead board continues onto the ceiling.
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A new stairwell leads to the master suite, a 375-square-foot space the couple fashioned from the attic. Melody scored the gilded mirror on eBay.
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Melody wanted the downstairs beds to feel like sleeping berths. “Brian and Iris [one of the couple's daughters] built all of the bunks out of reclaimed lumber,” she says. The family hunted for the mismatched old quilts and blankets at antiques stores and garage sales.
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Brian discovered a second ceiling in the attic 2 feet higher than the 6-foot dropped one. He and their 17-year-old daughter, Lily, tore down the ceiling and removed the existing beadboard, saving it to weave in with new boards. New awning windows bathe the room in natural light. In addition, they stripped the floors and refinished them, not bothering to correct holes and nicks.
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The couple repainted the entire house and covered the addition on the back of the house with board and batten to make it feel more in keeping with the home’s character.