Project Description

Tender House & Floating Home

BUILDER: Ed Swartz Construction
ARCHITECT: Sydnor Architecture And Design


This new home, built by Marc Even Construction was floated up to the Willamette River to its present location at the Oregon Yacht Club.  Aptly christened the “water temple” by the owner, Kimberly DeMent.  This fond reference speaks to the deliberate choice of its owner to be as close to the life of the river as possible. The home, with it’s connecting docks, rises and falls along with the river’s twice-daily tides. The black mullioned windows and French doors are positioned to welcome the natural sunlight and views, ensuring that every room interacts with the outdoors.

Influenced by the house-boats in Seattle, the romance of living aboard a boat and a desire to be near nature, the 1500 SF home is all about enjoying the beauty of the river.  Eagles and Osprey fish for their meals in front of the house; while beavers, otters, and deer are sighted almost daily. Wood ducks, Mallards, Purple Martins, Canadian Geese, and the majestic Blue Heron, are just a few of the many birds who make their home on the river.

With water as the theme, the home was designed to be a personal retreat, as well as an efficient and comfortable place to host intimate dinner parties or holiday gatherings.  On two levels, the main floor features an open kitchen, dining and entertaining space. A custom-designed banquette by Jennifer Marshall Design comfortably seats up to 12 people. The seating is paired with an 8ft. dining table that was hand-crafted as a personal gift in walnut with resin insets and a base that resembles the stack of a teamer ship. The kitchen features a  wall of beautiful blue, textured “shagreen” tile from Oregon Tile and Marble.  Open walnut shelves keep the area feeling light and dishware accessible. Even while preparing meals, the counter height and wide vertical opening windows all face the flow of moving water. Polished chrome and flat black hardware were all sourced with the help of Robert at Chown Hardware.

Appliances were sourced from Eastbank Contractor Appliances, scaled toward a smaller footprint.  With so much natural light coming into the house, few overhead lights were required; instead, the team recessed lighting under the shelves and every switch is on a dimmer for ambient lighting in the evenings. The owner selected classic Italian light features from Artemide to keep both form and function timeless. All of the home’s interiors and finishes were collaboratively designed and chosen by the owner and her contractor, Ed Swartz, from ESCM.  The kitchen cabinets were designed and built by Mainly Cabinets of Tualatin using a style-lite acrylic in high gloss white and walnut on the island with Quartz countertops.

The main floor also includes a small home office, with custom furnishings by Eric Butler Design, laundry room with energy-efficient washer/dryer, porcelain Kohler laundry sink, and storage. The main level bath is easily accessible for guests inside or outside, who may need to warm up with a steam shower after kayaking along the river. The floor to ceiling porcelain tile in the shower was sourced from OTM. The sink and toilet are from Icera—the toilet being a wall-mounted space saver.

Upstairs is where the owner retreats to her “spa”. With heated porcelain tile floors, the master bath was conceived from a trip to Kerala; where showering and bathing is an outdoor experience. With French doors replacing one of the shower walls, the outside once again comes in.

The doors open out to water-proofed, natural wood look tile under a covered deck; where the Bain Ultra soaking tub appears to float on black polished river rocks. With a heated backrest, the tub can be enjoyed all year round—bubbles and soaking salts are optional.  All of the master bath fixtures are from Italian artisan makers, Fantini, in polished chrome, again from Chown Hardware. On the opposite side of the deck a  western red cedar, personal sauna by Finlandia, completing the spa experience.  All of the tile in the master was sourced from Ann Sacks and installed by tile craftsman, Jason McDaniel, owner of Stoneman Construction and Tile, who reports it was the first time a customer in Oregon had ever requested an indoor/outdoor master bath.

In addition to the main house, the owner also collaborated with Sydnor Architecture and Design, to create a “tender” house; which is a yacht club term for what used to be a boathouse, workshop or storage shed.  In this case, the tender serves the purpose of guest quarters or a fully functional ADU.  At 380 SF, every inch of space matters. Therefore, details like storage for clothing, food and outdoor gear were all carefully considered.

In spite of its tiny size, the tender has a full bath with a 5 ft. soaking tub and shower, heated towel bar, Quartz countertops, floor to ceiling tile covering the entire room, a space-saving, wall-mounted Icera toilet, and a deluxe Roburn electric lighted mirror cabinet; where appliances can be tucked away in their charge stations.

The tender has every feature that a full-sized kitchen offers, including a pull-out island, space-saving drawer dishwasher, a euro- sized gas range and refrigerator by Bloomberg, horizontal grain white oak cabinets, plenty of counter space, a pantry closet, garbage and recycle storage.  Again, the owner selected a water-colored tile from OTM and floated open shelves with under cabinet lighting for a clean, contemporary look. Using good quality materials and finishes, the tender house is a small living paradise with its riverside deck and large vertical opening windows.

Other details include built-in dressing drawers, an electric fireplace for warmth in the winter and heated cork flooring.  To reach the upstairs sleeping loft, builder and designer, Rob Roy of Recycadelic Design,  “floated” the wood steps with metal plates for support and steel hand-and guardrail, creating a treehouse sleeping loft. Using wood moldings and rice cloth wall covering from Manolo Walls, the owner completed the tender with a “wainscoting” that surprisingly, makes a small space feel larger. Friends and family love staying in this tiny floating home with nature so close.