A Family of 4 Unwinds in 540 Square Feet

Interior designer Jessica Helgerson and her household had every intention of spending just a few nights in their new summer home. However, the weekend turned into a couple weeks , and up until today, the Helgersons can’t bring themselves to depart. “We came over on the weekend of my birthday rather than left,” states Helgerson.

It’s easy to see why. The small home, located north of Portland on picturesque Sauvie Island, is part of a agricultural and wildlife preserve. “We fell in love with the area after our first hike, but it took some time before we found our home. We saw so much potential in this house despite discovering it at an entirely run-down state. Its dimensions is definitely out of the ordinary for this area, but since we must scale things down, we’ve become more educated in regards to what we eat and bring in the house,” states Helgerson.

Who lives here: Jessica Helgerson; her husband, architect Yianni Doulis; plus their 2 kids
Location: Sauvie Island, Oregon
Size: 540 square feet; 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 sleeping loft
That’s intriguing: The home is located in its fifth usage. Previously it was a single-family home in Vanport Village, a shipyard employee’s abode, a goose-checking channel and an auto mechanic’s run-down lease.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

A green roof planted with moss and ferns in the surrounding Columbia River replaced a deteriorating roof and decorate the home economically.

“Every room in the house works hard, and that is really the point. We built everything and gutted it flipped the insides into an extremely efficient distance,” states Helgerson.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

A dining table that is flashed and white oak floors hot up wall cladding and the white cabinetry. Helgerson found the vintage selection on Craigslist, and a wood-burning stove heats the small house.

“The stove occasionally works just a tiny too well in the great room. We usually crack open a window in the winter, because it can get pretty hot,” she states.

Table: habit, Yianni Doulis; chairs: vintage, Paul McCobb; cladding paint: white opulence, Benjamin Moore; pendants: purchased in France

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The great room “takes quite a beating,” Helgerson states. It houses the kitchen, the dining room and the living room. Her husband made the built in sofas with drawers; they twice as twin beds for guests and toy storage.

A walnut ladder leads the eye upward to Helgerson and her husband’s lofty nest.

Sofa, bookshelves, walnut ladder: habit, Jessica Helgerson Design

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The sleeping loft requires the few to think carefully before bringing anything into the space.

“Our general thinking is that if it is not amazing and helpful, then we probably do not want it,” she states.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Two bunk beds with built-in storage, a pullout closet and a complete guest bed (not shown) make up the kids’ minimalist room.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Helgerson flashed the soaking tub from a buddy’s demolition site; her husband built the tub’s wood feet.

The developer admits that sharing a single bathroom with three other folks proves difficult at times, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences.

Water plants: Digs

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

“It is not a perfect means to live,” states Helgerson. “The bathroom gets runny from working hard, and we know that the clock is ticking when it comes to our kids’ sharing a bedroom. But despite all this, we get along pretty well for living in such a small space.”

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The house sees its fair share of friends and family coming through its front door. Only a few weeks before, Helgerson (along with her husband and daughter) hosted a birthday party for her son, Max.

Knowing that storage was an issue, Max emailed his friends and asked for no gifts at the party. “We got him a beautiful bow and arrow, which is what he had wanted, so he was not deprived. One buddy cheated and brought him a tiny box of Mexican jumping beans,” states Helgerson.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The designer, who as a kid divide her time between France and the States, employed her grandparents’ smaller, scalable European plantation model as inspiration for her own garden beds and greenhouse.

Today, the household is self explanatory for food, except for “alcohol, caffeine and most carbohydrates,” states Helgerson. They develop their own tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, onions, okra and “every kind of berry that springs to mind.”

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Even though the small footprint is an organic extension of Helgerson’s design ethos, she finds herself enjoying the practice of looking around for a customer and creating somebody else’s vision of a home.

“I’m not about to confer with somebody else in regards to how to live their own lives,” she states. “However, I think most of my customers know my coworkers and I are pretty thoughtful about what we do. We need each and each of our remodels to be our last [for this home].”

She admits part of her carries the romantic belief that her kids will someday inherit the land of their youth — but she would not be surprised if both her daughter and son declare a preference for city living once they’re a little older.

“They could just come home one day and say they want to live in nyc,” states Helgerson.

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