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A green roof planted with moss and ferns from the surrounding Columbia River replaced a deteriorating roof and insulates the home efficiently.
"Every room in the house works hard, and that's really the point. We remodeled everything and gutted it and turned the interiors into a highly efficient space," says Helgerson.
Local white oak floors and a locally salvaged walnut dining table warm up the bright white cabinetry and wall cladding. Helgerson found the vintage range on Craigslist, and a wood-burning stove heats the small house.
"The stove sometimes works a little too well in the great room. We usually crack open a window in the winter, because it can get pretty hot," she says.
Table: custom, Yianni Doulis; chairs: vintage, Paul McCobb; cladding paint: white opulence, Benjamin Moore; pendants: bought in France
The great room "takes quite a beating," Helgerson says. It houses the kitchen, the dining room and the living room. She and her husband designed the built-in sofas with drawers; they double 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: custom, Jessica Helgerson Design
Two bunk beds with built-in storage, a pullout closet and a full guest bed (not shown) make up the kids' minimalist room.
Although the small footprint is an organic extension of Helgerson's design ethos, she still finds herself enjoying the process of shopping for a client and creating someone else's vision of a home.
"I'm not about to preach to somebody else when it comes to how to live their lives," she says. "But I think most of my clients know that my colleagues and I are pretty thoughtful about what we do. We want each and every one of our remodels to be our last [for that home]."
She admits that a part of her carries the romantic notion that her kids will someday inherit the land of their youth — but she wouldn't be surprised if both her daughter and son declare a preference for city living once they're a bit older.
"They might just come home one day and say that they want to live in New York City," says Helgerson.
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