#HouseThatBrentBuilt Update

A mini update for you all!

All of this hard work and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome! The (mostly)  finished product feels clean, sleek, and inviting — truly a home away from home. 

There are still a few final touches and tidying up to do: a trench dug retaining wall, final sealant, and completion of the balcony. Once these are complete, we have scheduled aerial shots and professional pictures for the end of this month to capture the final product. The final closeout with the contractor is scheduled for the end of this month as well… We can’t wait!

After talking to the property manager, we have decided to pause on the Airbnb process and rent our lovely space for a long-term stay! If you or someone you know find themselves in the Mississippi District for an extended stay, consider us! Smack in the middle of Portland culture, our home is walking distance from EVERYTHING. 

Finally… a HUGE shout out to our designer, Grace Luebke, who formulated an awesome product list, including every detail we may have otherwise overlooked. She made this process a breeze! Check out her work.


Phew! It’s been a while since our last update—thanks for hanging in there! The last few months have been quite exciting. December brought us an early Christmas present, as of last week, our family is fully moved in! A tad delayed after a projected initial move in Thanksgiving week, but we are counting our blessings all of the same. A lot of flexibility and generosity on the part of our new tenants, kind friends, and hardworking contractors have made it possible!

There are still a handful of small projects that have to be completed before Brent and I can say our dream home is ‘done’. Here is what we have been up:


The last couple of months have been all about making finishing touches and last-minute changes – you could even say ‘realizations’. Have you ever made a design decision, only to later realize that you should have gone with something completely different? Well, I have!  Here are the updates November/December have brought:

  • Pouring front steps
  • Laying driveway
  • Front door color chosen
  • Finish rooftop deck
  • Cabinet hardware
Now that we are in our new space, I’ve realized that our fireplace tile is not what I want. Nothing feels worse than realizing that a design element you chose is not fitting the vision you are trying to achieve. Initially, Brent and I were wanting to tile the entire run. When we realized that was slightly outside of our budget, our designer gave us some other options and we went with our second choice and decided to use the tile to frame the fireplace instead. This minor hiccup but I’m happy with our pivot and excited for the new look.

We also realized a little belatedly that we didn’t give as much thought to storage space as we could have. We decided to have an open space concept on the top floor. Originally, we had planned a slanted storage space but decided to take it out of the plans. As I began packing, I wondered where I was going to put everything. We had to get creative with our interior design elements to compensate but I think it’s worth it!

We’ve finished pouring our front steps and laying down our driveway – and we even picked out our front door color! The color is called ‘Overjoy’ and is a yellow hue with green undertones. It is an excellent contrast to our shou shugi ban exterior. I’m also excited about our new kitchen island. Along with the black cabinets and natural wood combination, our kitchen looks amazing! The fourth floor and master bedroom have also come together beautifully. Now that we are all moved in, it has been so exciting to cook in our new kitchen—that’s definitely been my favorite part. This will be baby Camila’s (and ours of course) first Christmas in our new home. I can’t wait to have family over to share our new space together next year.

It’s been a long road and admittedly we don’t feel fully settled. There is still a lot to do—our 4th-floor balcony is incomplete and we are mainly operating in the lower levels. But those homey moments shine through when we’re all hanging out in the main level. I’m excited to feel fully settled, decorate our Christmas tree and ring in the new year with this brand new start!

The new tenants are all moved in! During the process of packing up our stuff, I realized just how long it takes to pack and how much we’ve accumulated. We’ve only lived in the old home for six years, and we were nearly overwhelmed. I can’t even imagine people that live in their houses for 20 years! This process has given me more insight and empathy for what my clients go through when I’m giving them a blueprint of getting a house show-ready.Luckily, when I was pregnant, I started to declutter, which I’m so grateful for now. Our friends and family have been so generous in giving us things for Camila’s first year—we never had to buy much. It’s CRAZY how quickly she grows out of everything month to month. I’m doing my best to pass everything on as fast as possible. I can’t even keep up with how often I have to clean out her closet of things she doesn’t fit into any longer. So my current goal is to find friends, family, and organizations in need to donate all of our extra belongings too. I was able to get rid of quite a lot before moving, but there’s still more to go.


Looking forward, we still have a handful of small projects to get completed. We were hanging on for our certificate of occupancy from the city, which was the primary cause of our delayed move-in. We had to wait through rescheduled inspections and getting in the last minute details the city requires— the fire sprinkler system, handrails, and some window screens.

Landscaping still has a little ways to go. I recently talked with my good friend, who lives in Texas, and she agreed to draft us up a landscaping design. This and our interior design choices will be our next big steps. I did end up choosing a beautiful couch from West Elm and even though it took ten weeks to be delivered, it was well worth the wait. Waiting is so hard when you are so excited!

A huge thank you to our friends who let us stay in their lovely detached Airbnb while we were waiting to move-in to our new home. So unexpected but there’s no way we would have gotten through as seamlessly without them.

By the time I write next, I’m hoping we’ll be far more settled with far more finished room pics to share! See you then!

Two Months To Go On Our Home Build!

If you have been keeping up with our home build, you know that we’ve encountered some delays. With the devastating PNW fires and COVID and the resulting busy season for contractors, I suppose it’s to be expected. Our new date is in early November and hopefully, we can stick to it. I’m happy to say that we are still pushing through and have made some very exciting updates! With each step closer, we get more and more excited to be in our new home.

What’s new? This months’ progress:

  • Drywall is installed
  • Painting has begun
  • Lighting ordered
  • Cabinets delivered
  • Shou sugi ban ordered
This month brought cabinetry, which I love! Everything behind the walls is finished and the drywall is up. We’ve decided on some shades of white for the interior walls to start.

Brent and I have learned so much about throughout this process—the biggest of which is to expect delays. It’s part of the process and is next to impossible to avoid. Plan accordingly and factor in buffer time for those projects that end up taking longer than anticipated.

When building your own home, there are a thousand different small choices to make and each one feels just as important as the last. We just finally completed our design decision-making process, but let me tell you, it was not easy. First, it’s incredibly overwhelming and I found myself getting too deep in all of the little details. In the end, it was the easiest to start with the large design decisions – cabinets, countertops, paint, etc. Once you have those key components in place, pick one small piece at a time. Will the process be perfect and work exactly as you wanted it to? Fortunately, we had the guidance of our designer every step in the way and she was skilled at keeping us focused in each decision.

On top of juggling the new house construction, we have also been doing some kitchen remodeling in our old house.  I totally wish I would have done a kitchen update years ago.  We tried to do some DIY updating a few years ago and ended up with a failed attempt at cabinet painting.  Lesson learned—hire experts when needed!
Now, we are looking into getting renters moved in. To say this process is stressful is an understatement. Luckily, we have amazing help from Living Room Realty Property Management to help us. Now is not typically the time of year that most people are on the hunt for new places to rent, but single-family homes are really desirable at the moment. With Living Room Realty’s help we shouldn’t have any problem finding renters. Living Room has coached us on prepping the house, checking that we have records of the state and making sure things are in working order. With all the new rental Laws like pet rent and security deposit, Living Room has been critical in making sure we are successful. We are so appreciative of their services and hard work.
So what can we look forward to next? We have ordered our lighting from Destination Lighting and we are absolutely stoked to see the beautiful pieces installed! The exterior of our home has also been making some progress. We decided to go with some Shou sugi ban details on the exterior (examples below). If you are not familiar with this design, it is a bold method of preserving wood by charring it with fire. Typically, this process is used with Japanese cedar and helps to weatherproof the material. The surface of the wood is first charred and then coated with natural oils to give it a beautiful finish. It’s all been ordered and is on its way!
Perhaps most exciting of all—Brent and I are thinking of commissioning a local Portland artist to design a mural for one of our retaining walls. Retaining walls are a pretty typical feature of homes in our area, and many sport a mural. When we were walking through our neighborhood, we were struck by a dynamic abstract mural on a neighbor’s wall and decided to reach out to the artist to see if they would be interested in adding their art to our new home. We can’t think of a better way to bring a piece of Portland into our own space. I’ll update you when we hear back and make a decision on the artist!

Two more months to go! Make sure to come back around Halloween to see what October has in store!


July 2018

While our land division application was with the city we began to get feedback from our city planner.  The first hurdle had to do with storm water systems.  The gutters on our existing home feed to pipes in the ground that we did not know where they ran to.  To discover this I hired Environmental Works to come out and scope the rain drains.

It was found that the drains went to an underground *drywell.  This is a great stormwater mitigation, but unfortunately the drywell is located in the backyard mostly on the new lot.  The city let us know that we would be required to decommission the drywell and redirect our storm water on the existing house.  To do this we pulled the rain drains out of the pipes to the drywell and directed them to splashguards.  Easy peasy.

*A drywell is an underground structure that disposes of unwanted water, most commonly surface runoff and stormwater, and in some cases greywater. It is a covered, porous-walled chamber that allows water to slowly soak into the ground, dissipating into the groundwater.

Land Division Application Submittal

June 2018

With confidence that our new lot and plan to build would be acceptable to the city we moved forward with the submitting our official land division application to the city.  Prior to the submittal our surveyor had to come out again to confirm lot lines and elevations.  Our A&E filled out the land division application and a company called Faster Permits submitted it to the city.

*Faster Permits is a great resource to get documents filed with the city quickly and efficiently.  They work with the permitting system daily and know the ins and outs of the system.