Portland is a staple for Mid-Century Modern architecture, as the stomping ground for MCM architects the likes of Saul Zaik, Pietro Belluschi, John Yeon, John Storrs, Van Evera Bailey (to name a few). Their innovative designs have influenced Portland architecture, from commercial offices, to residential homes, to (more recently) short-term rentals, for decades upon decades.
As the holidays approach, I have found myself dreaming of vacations abroad, soaking up art and architecture outside the northwest. Yet, living in Portland I am surrounded by artistic inspiration around every block. This season, I invite you to take a vacation close to home and explore Portland’s best Mid-Century Modern AirBnb rentals!
Also called the Zidell Treehouse! Now a Portland attraction, this towering one-bedroom home is built atop the 65-foot-tall mass of a World War II ship (the USS O’Hara). Geometric beams crisscross the ceiling, blending nautical infrastructure in a warm, livable space. The home’s circular shape and use of windows allow for a 360° view of Portland. The current owner’s listing invites guests to enjoy the endless views and company of his cat, Bukowski, who roams the property.
This Webster Wilson build was featured in Builder Magazine and awarded the American Institute of Architects Award in 2018! The approach was to design a modern home that was also contextually sensitive.This property was designed as an ADU for the homeowner’s parents to eventually retire in and, “age in grace”. Until that time, the guesthouse remains an accessible haven of mid-century and Scandinavian design.
Low-grade sloped wheelchair ramps at every entrance.
The single-story Wilson design features soaring cathedral ceilings and 10-foot glass doors, which owners Monica & Alex shared were their favorite element of the property. Additionally, all of the wood sourced for the project is sustainable and harvested locally. View images below of the flooring and cabinetry, sourced from Oregon White Oak.
We are traveling a short distance from Portland to feature this modern beach cabin. As you drive up to the Neahkahnie Beach property, you are struck by the beauty and playfulness of the design — three-stories high with a tree-house-like structure. The dark wood and exposed beams blend beautifully with the surrounding forest.
We had the opportunity to speak with homeowners Lea Anne & Cole about their stunning renovated beach house. The home was originally designed by mid-century architect Marvin Witt as a retreat for his family. The home was in a state of disrepair when Lea Anne and Cole purchased it, but they were determined to keep Witt’s original design alive during renovations.
“I wanted to let the house be the star so I chose a minimal palette and complimentary furnishings,” shared Cole, “We put in a modern kitchen, heated floors in the bathrooms etc. to make it feel a bit more luxurious than an average cabin. We were drawn to the property because of the uniqueness and treehouse-like quality to it. The soaring ceilings in the living room is my favorite element..and all the windows.”
Tucked away in the West Hills Forest, the Wald House is a tranquil escape from the city. The property was designed by James G. Tropfenbaum in 1979. True to form for NW Regional design, the property embraces indoor-outdoor living. AirBnb guests are drawn to the 7+ miles of hiking and cycling trails just outside the property limits.
Tropfenbaum’s design captures the spotty forest sunlight with a geometric roofline and towering windows. The homeowner, Vivian Mong and Adam Guzman, are both designers with Nike and handpicked vintage furniture and artwork throughout the home. In fact, you may find ceramics sprinkled throughout designed by Vivian herself! Dwell writer Jennifer Baum Lagdameo writes, “The couple’s long-term vision for the home includes using the space as an art gallery to showcase the work of their artist and maker friends in addition to their own.”
Industrial loft in the heart of Richmond… mere steps away from some of Portland’s top-rated restaurants and bars. The Loft was designed by Bryan Danger, founder of Zenbox Designs, whose mission is to ensure design and craft play a part in every step of the architectural process. Zenbox is known for their small space designs, like The Loft. To conserve space without compromising design, the team installed an industrial accordion door system, seamlessly connecting the loft to the patio.
Bryan Danger spoke with Megan Avila of Pioneer Mill Works about the Loft project and dove into his creative mindset:
“It’s simply how my brain works—I have to be designing or creating something to feel active or alive. It’s not a switch I can turn off and I naturally find my brain creatively redesigning every space I walk into and everything I touch.”
Walk through the front door and step into a cozy atrium, designed with raw wood slabs and natural white oak branches. The home was recently updated to bring out it’s quintessential mid-century design — floor-to-ceiling windows, open concept layout, indoor-outdoor living, and vibrant, vintage furniture. The flat roof creates a soft “pitter patter” white noise throughout the home when it rains. Imagine falling asleep to a soft, Portland drizzle!
This holiday season, or whenever life nudges you to take a well-deserved vacation, I invite you to stay close to home. Appreciate Portland’s modern and historic architecture and the beauty of the Northwest, while supporting local entrepreneurs! When you do, share your trip on Instagram and tag @modernhomesportland
Learn more about Portland’s most influential Mid-Century architects and builders at the linked blogs below: