Recent Oregonian Story -

A houseboat's new open floor plan brings in the river views

Susan Thompson has lived in a floating home just beyond Oaks Amusement Park on the east bank of the Willamette River for decades.


She's watched the marina, the Oregon Yacht Club, change and grow. It was established more than 100 years ago and was originally just as it is named: a yacht club. Over the years, it evolved into a marina of floating homes.


A few years ago, Susan and her husband, Jim, decided to make some needed renovations to the house, which was built in 1988.


The biggest change came in opening up the home's chunked-up space and improving the sightlines out to the blue waterway beyond the deck and the cityscape in the distance.


"You walked right into a mudroom," Susan explains.


The smaller, "sweet changes," as designer Sandy Hayes calls them, are in the details sprinkled throughout the 1,950- square-foot, two-story home.


Such as the tile trim that looks like river rock and serves as a transition between the bamboo flooring that covers the entry, kitchen and dining room floors and the wool carpet of the living room. Jim designed the way the transition tile flows along like a forest stream instead of just being a straight edge.


Sandy Hayes, of Hayes Designs, had the granite countertop of the island fabricated with a similar, gently curved edge.


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Marv Bondarowicz / The OregonianPainted and glazed cabinetry, bronzed hardware and granite countertops elevated the kitchen from ordinary to classic. Practical and pretty combine in the lighting choices, with cans flooding the space with light and chandeliers providing the jewelry.



Jim and Michelle Fitzhenry




Built in 1990, the home is in Catlin Crest off Southwest Barnes Road.



When the Fitzhenrys bought their 4,000-plus-square-foot home, Michelle knew it was the home. The Alaska native says -- with conviction -- that she's never moving. Only problem was, the house needed some updates. They added a playroom for their son, John Robert, and a wine cellar; redecorated the entry; and refinished Jim's office in classic dark woods, boxed-beam ceiling and wall sconces fit for a men's club.


Finally, it was time to bring the kitchen up to speed.



The original oak cabinets with brass pulls, white tile counter tops and white appliances dated the home. But the layout worked well enough -- except for the wet-bar configuration and the placement of the refrigerator, which required minor changes.



The Fitzhenrys hired Sandy Hayes, who was recommended to them by their contractor, Greg Larson. Hayes met with the couple and reviewed the photos of kitchens and materials that Michelle had been collecting.


Sandy, of Hayes Designs, says there was a consistently classic look to Michelle's choices, but they all agreed they wanted to "give it a twist."


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