Spectacular barn-like architecture and lush gardens are just two of the amazing features of a Portland, Oregon home designed by Olson Kundig. Created for a master gardener and his multi-generational family, the 5,300-square-foot structure boasts stunning vistas of rolling hills through walls of glass. The materials used, style of the structure and ample gardens blend the house seamlessly with its natural surroundings.
This barn home has a simple silhouette with one main high-pitched gable. It is done in reclaimed barnwood, which emphasizes the natural feel and is a nod to this type of architecture. Architectural gridded windows have a bit of a greenhouse vibe, ideal for the views of the garden which can be seen from every room. In addition, the plentiful windows flood the living spaces with natural light.
The Country Garden House was finished in 2013. Its style makes use of timber both inside and out, allowing it to be in perfect harmony with the landscape. From the exterior, it is used as siding and on soffits while inside, walls, floors and furnishings all feature plenty of wood. The large gridded windows provide a bright respite from all the wood in addition to a light-filled interior.
Coming into the house is much greater experience than just walking through a door. “The entry sequence brings visitors underneath leafy trellises to a front door that opens to a long vista through the living room, opening to views of the verdant hillside beyond,” explains the architects’ project statement. “A long gallery corridor separates the private bedroom spaces from the more ‘public’ living spaces, and showcases the owners’ artworks.”
Cedar walls surround the living areas, which also have reclaimed Baba fir floors. The main living area is focused on a large stone fireplace, which also serves as a divider, separating the living room from the den. The high vaulted ceiling creates a very open feeling and the exposed timber yields “a sense of rustic refinement.” Such rustic counterpoints are a sophisticated addition to the contemporary interior that features eclectic additions like antique furnishings and a coffee table designed by Jim Olson. Together these elements create an earthy yet genteel space that meshes with the gardens outside the windows.
The homeowners have a stunning art collection that is also featured in the main living areas with custom casework created to display a special collection of Asian porcelain. The home also features a hand-painted mural by Leo Adams in the dining room. This view of the dining room shows how layered lights at different levels and in different styles provide warm yet functional lighting for all the areas of the space.
From this angle, looking across the living space, it’s easy to see how the large expanses of glass break up all the wood surfaces and bring in lots of light. Using cabinets to frame the dining area visually separates it from the living room but maintains the open feeling and sightlines out the peaked window at the end of the house.
The style of the kitchen carries on the sophisticated but rustic look with light wood cabinetry and a modern countertop surface. Plenty of countertop workspace is available to the family and an open shelf in combination with all the closed cabinets is very stylish. The floating soffit along the right-hand wall provides the possibility for overhead lighting without disturbing the overhead open truss design.
The spectacular natural gardens that are visible from every room were designed in collaboration with American plant expert and garden writer Dan Hinkley. Because they are such an integral part of the property, the design offers plentiful views from every room and incorporates seating indoors for enjoying the vista. Here, antique chairs are paired with a table in an ideal grouping for playing a game or sharing a cup of morning coffee.
Of course, the house also features beautiful and functional outdoor spaces for the family to enjoy. The back patio includes a pergola, flower gardens and plenty of potted greenery, along with a serene pond. It’s the type of space that can be enjoyed through multiple seasons as well as from indoors. The flowering perennials are appropriate for the region and the location, which makes them look as if they grew up there quite naturally.
A sturdy, natural table and benches are set on the patio amid the plantings for a casual dining area that the family can enjoy every day. Shade from nearby trees creates a sun-dappled setting that is very appealing. Everything outside — from the landscaping to the furniture and the patio surface — is easy to care for, which means the homeowners can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the space than maintaining it.
One of the features that might be overlooked at first glance is the green roof that was installed on part of the house. This element not only takes advantage of all the benefits to sustainability, but it also further ties the house into its natural surroundings. These types of roofs also have advantages for the house with regard to temperature control and other benefits.
In total, this barn-style home is visually part of the natural landscape, thanks to its rustic finishes and the expert gardens surrounding it, which are neither contrived or forced. Instead, the plantings and the house are an accent on the land.