86th Avenue: New Digs

The last post, on stairs, was published in April 2014. It’s no longer April — nor 2014. We moved on July 3, 2014, and spent the rest of the year unpacking boxes, fixing, and upgrading our new post-WWII house to live in — hoping for a good long stay here, at least as long as SE Main.

We’ve left our grand old Portland four-square, built in 1900, for a somewhat less elegant but a whole lot more liveable place:




This house is 49 years younger than SE Main and a number of years younger than ourselves. And although we went through great groanings and moanings getting it updated and fixed as we wanted it, by November or so we were pleased with the results.

We downsized to a flat house — that is, all the essentials needed for one-story living are on one story. It does, however, have stairs — a couple to the garage, on the right above, some narrow curved ones to the single, long, upstairs room, and traditional ones to the basement (with a railing all the way down). These add the delight of storage space without essential trips up and down. In all the important senses, we did not downsize, we flat-sized. And in regard to the studio — well, more about that later.

The interior of the house is pretty much like post-war houses anywhere — with somewhat smaller rooms than SE Main. It has some nice touches — slightly arched doorways, echoed in the cabinetry, a gas fireplace. It has glorious light, partly because the street does not have the huge old trees of SE Main. This is definitely an advantage. Old trees are for young people.


This is the street we live on, in the front. All post-war, except for a farmhouse that stood on this hill back when.

The interior rooms of our “new” house are beautifully painted. This, as some of you may know, prevents various June neuroses from  surfacing:


The living room, which is an orange-red hue


The dining room, which is open to the living room. It’s painted a lovely muted green. The bay window admits additional light to both rooms.

We bought a lot of new furniture as the furnishings of the old house, when not simply functional, were more suitable for a turn-of-the-last-century dwelling. For example, we gave away our former dining room and furnished the new dining room with Danish Modern. For once, I enjoyed shopping. Jer enjoyed it, too, a shocking revelation to both of us.


The “galley” kitchen


Hallway past the laundry/half-bath to the library


The library with its comfy chairs


The library’s, ahem, media center (still being refurnished). The cabinetry here as well as elsewhere in the house was done by the fine woodworker who sold the house to us.

We thought the galley kitchen would be a pain, but it turns out to be easy for two of us to work in; it’s wider than many galley kitchens. The hallway and back door, with the laundry room and half-bath opposite, lead to one of the eccentricities of the house, an additional room in delicious yellows that we call the library. Many stories revolve about this room (furnishing and shopping, trying to insert our humongous TV into the space provided, water invasion. However, I will not indulge in these here). It is perhaps our favorite room, although I am fond of napping on the couch in the living room, and we spend a lot of time at the dining table, as usual.

The house has the other usual amenities — three bedrooms, one of which serves as Jer’s office — and a full bath. Aside from the fun colors, these are more ordinary. However, outside, to the rear of the property, is another matter.

The back door leads to the patio, another new item on the Underwoods’ list of how-did-we-live-without-this.


The patio from the side of the house


The bubbler/fountain, a delight for ourselves and our neighbors. The kids next door find it an object of fascination and fun, especially on hot days.


The bay window in the dining room, which looks onto the deck

The bay window in the dining room projects out on the deck, and the deck has a view in through the bay window. Normally this might make us feel a bit fish-bowlish, but the big yellow building seen in the reflection blocks all views from the street. Oh, right, the big yellow building? And the street?

The photos above and below are at the “back” of the house (opposite the official address on 86th), where the big yellow building is my studio, and the street is Billingher. Our back property runs clear through to a curved gem of a neighborhood street, very different from the post-war street in front, and along the nice big driveway, there is a large building — The Studio.


The street that the “back” of the house faces. The studio (below) is behind and to the right of this image.


June’s art studio. Note the new windows in the big honking garage door.

The studio is about twice as big as June’s old art studio, and it has (glory be!) its own bathroom and muck-out sink. It wasn’t much to look at inside, not being finished, but it’s well-insulated and well-lit. It had been a wood-working shop.


The primary painting area of the studio. The muck-out sink is out of sight at the bottom left.


My office space, which used to be in the dining room at SE Main, has been transferred to the opposite end of the painting space. The bathroom is to the right in the photo.

Currently, the studio is being painted — when we moved in, all the surfaces were raw materials — sheet rock, particle board over studs over concrete, and open ceiling with insulation. The lights have been updated and upgraded. A storm door has been installed so I can have More Light. The bathroom will have decent flooring and maybe even something besides a bare bulb for light. In short, I will have nothing but my paintings to complain about.

Outside the studio door are two objects that seem symbolic. One is our newly planted persimmon tree within the enclosed wall at the head of the driveway:


The newly-planted, putting-down-roots, persimmon


Camellia blossoms, keeping up the spirit of the place.

The other is an espaliered camellia, which has been blooming since November. Definitely twin symbols of our move.


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14 Responses to 86th Avenue: New Digs

  1. gericon says:

    I really enjoyed seeing your new home. It is a bit of a change, but really lovely. I am gobsmacked over your studio.


  2. Rachel Cochran says:

    We made a similar move May 2014. Couldn’t be happier. Know what you went through, and glad it worked out for you, too.


  3. Jan says:



  4. Cynthia Wenslow says:

    A beautiful and peaceful space, June. Thanks for sharing it. (I’m so envious of that studio!)


  5. terrygrant says:

    it looks great—cheerful and airy! Wishing you many happy and productive years there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • june says:

      Terry, we will have you and Ray over one of these days, sooner rather than later, I think. But I need to have the studio painted and dry first, so I can almost (well, sorta almost) match yours:-)


  6. Janet says:

    It’s a splendid house & studio. When I’m schlepping laundry from 3 stories down to the basement, I think of it longingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mcooter3 says:

    surely a little corner of heaven – with a lot of thought snd work to get it that way!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. june says:

    I wish I could claim credit for the colors, but I just have to admit that they were chosen by someone much wiser than I. I was smart enough to know they were beautiful, though. Now you’ll have to come and see for yourself.


  9. Oh, I love love love it! The colors you’ve chosen for the various rooms are just fabulous – especially the red orange for the living room. And I also approve of the new furniture choices. Thanks for the tour – truly wonderful spaces for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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