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Less room and more space to spread out.

With children gone, most couples want one of two things more space to spread out in, or less space to maintain. But can you have both? This 1,600-square-foot house, designed by Portland architect Michael McCulloch for Linda Larsen and Don Nickerson, says yes.

No one (including guests) feels cramped here, and the open plan and small number of rooms don't rob anyone of privacy. The secret to having it all in so little area is establishing a series of small, open spaces that share the volume of the two-story living room: two cozy studies off the public core downstairs, and the couple's totally private retreat upstairs.

Downstairs, the narrow kitchen opens to a dining area; both overlook a sunken study. The dining space opens to the living room, which soars up to the second floor; there, interior windows let the bedroom share light (and heat if it's wanted) from the south-facing window wall. Below the rest of the house and opening onto a deck, the sunken study is separate enough to serve as Linda Larsen's getaway Her husband's study also serves as an office and guest room. "When we're 'in retreat,' we feel happily remote," says Mr. Nickerson. On the second floor, life without dependents is really indulged. The entire story is the couples' private apartment, including a large master bedroom, two decks, bigger closets than they've ever had, and a large bath. If a guest is using Mr. Nickerson's study and adjoining bath, the couple can go up and get away, with no sense of confinement or lost solitude.

McCulloch's use of shingles, simple painted trim, gentle roof lines, and a boxy shape is reminiscent of the earlier residential architecture in much of the rest of the neighborhood. But the big windows, especially on the side facing away from the street, let in lots of light and views of the Willamette Valley and Mount Hood.
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Date:Apr 1, 1989
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