As much as a couple loved the clean, modern look of the Canby, Oregon, home they were building, they knew they wanted to bring a cozy and inviting vibe to its interiors.
Enter Courtney Nye, a designer who just so happens to be known for her ability to infuse those modern spaces with warmth and charm. “I tend to opt against being too trendy,” notes Nye, who conceived a design for her clients that is both contemporary and timeless. “They want to stay in this house forever.” That meant both spaces and individual furniture pieces needed to be adaptable for different uses, and nothing could be so precious that it could not be easily moved around or switched out in the future. “The areas had to be usable,” says the designer. “This isn’t a showroom.”
It helped that the bones Nye was working with offered her a light-drenched framework, thanks to residential designer Alan Mascord. “We created a modern interpretation of a Prairie-style home, adapted with larger windows for additional light to counter Oregon’s gray winters,” says Mascord. Adds the wife: “Natural light is very important to us, it’s like medicine.” General contractor Jan Lewis worked to bring Mascord’s plan to life, and the result–thanks to plenty of expansive, strategically placed windows, designed to stand alone without elaborate drapery–fulfilled the tall order of maximizing light. The open, airy layout also offered plenty of space for friends and family to congregate.
Designer Courtney Nye opted for a customized sofa from Perch Furniture, an RH rug and Phloem Studio lounge chairs in the great room of a Canby house. It also features a fireplace surround made from raw steel in a blackened-finish by Zion Metal Works. General contractor Jan Lewis installed white-oak floors from Solid Wood Floors and a cedar ceiling that set the stage for the airy, open-plan space.
To make the residence inviting for friends and family, the design team turned to the materials and finishes to add warmth. Complementing the soaring cedar ceiling in the great room, Nye chose wide oak floor planks, which she ended up using throughout. While their swirling wood grain added richness and character, they also presented a challenge in the variable Oregon climate. “True hardwood moves with humidity, and the wider the board, the greater the risk that it will shift,” says Lewis, who needed to install humidifiers to combat this issue.
Nye provided contrast by mixing dark and light tones, most notably in the kitchen, which features cupboards in both white and charcoal, inspired by the dark window casings and the blackened-steel fireplace surround in the great room. For a sense of cohesion, she brought materials from the home’s exterior, such as wood and stone, to the inside and repeated similar hues from room to room. The delicate blue of the stone feature wall on the stairs, for example, is echoed in the watery glass tiles in the master bath, while the dark tile and the shelves in the powder room and loft respectively tie back to the black kitchen cupboards. “It was a stretch for me to mix colors, especially in the kitchen, but I love it now,” says the wife, who is also thrilled with the versatility the neutral palette allows. “It lets me add pops of color for holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations, which are so important to us,” she says. “I like to be able to bring color in through natural elements, like fresh flowers.”
To furnish the home, Nye relied in part on works by local artisans, from larger furnishings, like the expandable dining table and the sectional designed to fit a crowd, to smaller pieces like the handblown smoked-glass pendants sprinkled throughout the space. “I usually like to bring in works by local makers and craftspeople, especially because Portland is known for its many artisans,” says Nye. “Everything we chose adheres to the clean, modern principles the client likes, but also had a personal touch.” The client, too, was happy to support local talent. “It was a new thing for us,” she says. “But we have adult children who are entrepreneurs, so we like supporting those efforts.”
The home’s flexibility is nowhere more apparent than in the guest room, which also functions as a playroom for the grandchildren, thanks to a cleverly concealed bed. Nye maintained the whimsical feel one would expect in a children’s room by sticking to a wood-and-white palette, while the built-in cabinetry not only looks stylish, but houses a guest bed, and provides plenty of space for stowing toys and accessories. “We actually finalized the design of this room a year-and-a-half after the rest,” recalls Nye. “Adapting the house to how the family lives is an ongoing process, and I’m always happy to come back and help them rework it.”