When architect Anthony Belluschi took on the restoration of a midcentury modern house in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon, he had big architectural shoes to fill — his father’s. Internationally known architect Pietro Belluschi had built the native wood and glass home in 1948 for a client. Years later the architect returned from the East Coast, where he’d been dean of MIT’s School of Architecture, to buy the house he designed. He lived in it from 1973 until his death in 1994. More recently, Anthony — himself a successful architect — rebuilt the teahouse on the property as a small guest studio to live in while his mother’s caregivers used a bedroom in the main house. After his mother died, Belluschi and his brother inherited the house, which had seen few repairs in its six decades. Instead of tearing down the structure, as some suggested, Belluschi moved into the tiny guesthouse and took on a major renovation, enlarging the main residence by more than 700 square feet. The alterations so improved on his father’s original vision that in 2013, Belluschi received a DeMuro Award from the historic preservation organization Restore Oregon, given for “extraordinary historic rehabilitation projects.”
Main house photos by Sally Painter; guesthouse photos by Blaine Covert Watch on Houzz TV: See more of this midcentury gem Houzz at a Glance Location: West Hills, Portland, Oregon Size: Main house: 3,460 square feet (321.4 square meters); guesthouse: 236 square feet (21.9 square meters) Architect: Anthony Belluschi Today this is the home of Anthony Belluschi and his wife, Marti. It has been featured on historic tours and is considered an iconic symbol of the midcentury Northwest regional style, a form of modernism credited to the elder Belluschi. It incorporates low-slung structures of wood and glass and light-filled, open-concept spaces. The Italian-born Pietro had an illustrious career, having designed 17 churches in Oregon, along with the Portland Art Museum in 1932, the Oregonian Building in 1947 and the Equitable Building (now the Commonwealth Building) in downtown Portland. He collaborated on the design of New York’s Pan Am Building and on what was then known as the Juilliard School of Music. Today, thanks to his son Anthony’s dedication, his legacy lives on in the hills of Portland as well. Set high on a ridge in a woodsy neighborhood, the house has expansive windows that provide views of downtown Portland, its bridges and Mt. Hood. Cork flooring was replaced during the renovation. Some windows were replaced about 30 years ago due to failure of the original thermal pane seals, but most are original. Dining room pendant light: Lightology
The deep overhang is a classic modern design feature that also provides protection from the elements all year. A second-story loft added during the renovation sits under the overhang. The loft can be accessed from inside the house and from outside stairs. by Belluschi Consulting Belluschi Consulting A custom-designed ladder leads from the media room to the new loft, which is used for storage, gift wrapping and books, and has a sleeping space for grandkids. A shoji screen pocket door leads to a small bathroom.
The living room fireplace, constructed of Roman brick, is surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling wall of Mt. Adams stone. The noble fir ceiling was extensively refinished during the renovation due to water damage. The Le Corbusier lounge chair is one of two in the house — the other is in the art gallery.
Above the main front door are wood beams, with a skylight above the entry overhang. Vertical slats in the exterior wall provide fresh air for Belluschi’s office inside. At one time this was a door used by patients of the original owner, a psychiatrist.
Wide glass doors bookend an art gallery with a skylight, originally an open-air walkway that was enclosed during the renovation. Belluschi calls the gallery between the addition and the master bedroom “the interstitial space between old and new.” Of the doors, which are 53 inches wide and 83 inches tall, he says, “I’ve been told that these are the largest glass doors ever built for a house in Oregon.”
During the renovation that doubled the size of the kitchen, a pear wood island was added. Belluschi opened the area by removing a wall that divided the middle of the space, where a washer-dryer was on one side, making it difficult to walk to the multipurpose room to the north. That room now houses the washer-dryer in an old kitchenette closet. The kitchen cabinets are Douglas fir; the countertops are Chroma quartz. The refrigerator, far left in the photo above, has paneled wood doors. Refrigerator and stainless steel sink: Liebherr
The one-of-a-kind built-in brick rotisserie from the original house was featured in Sunset magazine in 1955. The cabinets are all-new replicas of the originals. New cork floors replaced the originals and were also installed in the addition and guesthouse. Oven and Monogram induction cooktop: GE
In the master bedroom, the woven wood ceiling of mostly cedar and hemlock was extensively repaired and refinished due to water damage. The guesthouse can be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Outdoor dining spaces include this terrace, where the Belluschis enjoy morning coffee and afternoon tea.
The outdoor dining room adjacent to the courtyard can seat up to 18 for dinner. The Asian-influenced landscape was created by Takashi Fukuda, whom Belluschi calls “an artist when it comes to landscaping of fountains, stone and Asian landscaping.”
The guesthouse was built about 30 feet from the main house, where an old storage shed once stood. The exterior is 3-inch tongue-and-groove siding placed vertically. Belluschi calls the 236-square-foot structure a “minimal house” and says he took cues from his father’s design of the main house. “It is subtle and in harmony with the natural setting of both the surrounding forest and courtyard landscape,” he says. “It has the influences of Scandinavian eloquent simplicity and a Zen-like sense of balance. All in keeping with both my father and my contributions to the design aesthetic for this great site.”
In the guesthouse, the main room serves as a bedroom, living room or study, depending on what’s needed.
A sofa bed transforms the main room from living space to bedroom. Shoji screen pocket doors separate the main space from the rest of the house. Clerestory windows provide views of trees and a sense of privacy. Belluschi says the main house can’t be seen from the guesthouse, and you can’t see inside the guesthouse from the main house.
What Belluschi calls the “kitch-bath” has fir cabinets, cork floors and a Douglas fir ceiling and walls. It is divided into two zones: The kitchen half is on the left — a fridge is tucked into the undercounter cabinet, and a microwave is above it on the bottom upper cabinet. The bath portion includes the right-side cabinets seen above and the shower and bath seen in the next two photos.
The bathroom includes a Toto water-saving toilet and a shower with travertine tile and river rock wall tile.