As pure midweek filler I’m planning to post past blog posts from McMansion Makeover 1.0.  This entry was my first actual makeover of a real house with a real person.  Enjoy!

Original post from 3/30/16:

The sum of what I know about Portland, Oregon is as follows:

  • The used to have a basketball team. The team moved to Oklahoma City (boy when you lose out to Oklahoma City, just sayin’). Big Massive Embarrassing Correction!:  The demise of the Portland Trailblazers was grossly exaggerated.  They are alive and well.  It was the Seattle Supersonics that moved to OKC.  Not only am I embarrassed as someone who thought they follow sports pretty closely but I revealed by East Coast bias by confusing Portland and Seattle.  My apologies to Clyde the Glide Drexler. 
  • There is a comedy called Portlandia with Fred Armistead that is set there which I have never watched although I hear is quite funny.  I did see Fred Armistead on Celebrity Game Night and he was hilarious.
  • A couple of dudes named Lewis & Clark explored it and then left.

Actually, I did read an interesting book about the area (interesting if you like stories about people freezing and starving to death). It was called Astoria:  John Jacob Astor & Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark (say that five times fast).  It recounts an expedition sponsored by fat cat John Jacob Astor to settle the Pacific Northwest and establish a fur-trading empire stretching the width of the continent and points beyond.  While finding creative ways to get lost and get killed by Native Americans, the group eventually made it (in canoe no less) and started a fledgling operation.  While they did establish a foothold, it never quite panned out for ole’ Jacob so he comforted himself with lighting cigars with $100 bills.

Why am I writing this?  Because out of the clear blue a lovely woman contacted me about her house in the Portland suburbs that she felt lacked curb appeal.  To protect the innocent I’ll call her Karen.  Karen represents somebody I wasn’t sure existed.  A person who buys a McMansion yet understands that something is wrong with their house.  I thought most people that would buy a house like that would, let’s say, lack the aptitude for discerning its foibles.  Well smack me and call me Judy, because Karen knew something was amiss and as they say, the first step in recovery is to admit there is a problem.  What is Karen’s problem?  Take a look:

Let’s start with the exterior wall material.  Stucco!  Stucco absorbs a good deal of water and great care needs to be taken to make sure the water can drain out or you can get wall rot (yummy!).  So needless to say stucco would be a poor choice of material for a place WHERE IT RAINS EVERYDAY.  That’s why it’s historically seen in dryer climates.  In fact, Karen informed me that the use of EIFS or synthetic stucco is now banned there because of the problems that have developed.  She also told me the builders were originally from Texas so I guess they thought they’d build like they were still in the Lone Star state.  Aside from that the house has a couple mcmansion staples.  The Garage-Face is exacerbated by a double and single garage door arrangement.  The dinosaur entrance is bi-polar.  It’s your typical double-height portico but it’s partially embedded like it’s trying to hide. Sorry we can still see you.  So here’s the makeover . . .

First things first, let’s bring this entrance portico to the front like a boss.  I’m not typically a huge fan of these large entrances but this was the only way find some balance with the monster garage.  I can’t do much about the garage arrangement so I gave it a little more character with some arched doors with windows.  The chimney appears to have a charming brick exterior so I wrapped that around the base to tie things together a bit more.  The upper material I see as Hardi-plank sheets.  To breakdown the scale of the entrance I added a decorative beam with a little ironwork.  So how did Karen like it?  I’ll let her speak for herself:

“That is amazing. I cannot thank you enough!!! I now can see how to make it more attractive- you read my mind on the design deficits and the fix! I may have to do siding as ef is stucco just doesn’t work in our climate / water damage issues and it just won’t sell- but your concept shows what can be done to remedy the issue. This is truly such a help.”

I asked Karen to keep me abreast of the progress.  I’ll keep you posted.



This post has been updated because of a big massive embarrassing mistake.


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