A Manzanita house with a story gets a makeover


Legends go, it’s hard to get much bigger in American popular culture than basketball’s original Great One, Mr. Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Been a Blazer himself, Michael Jordan, if only the brass on the team at the time hadn’t not put all their chips on a guy named Sam Bowie.

He may not have come to Oregon to be a Blazer, but legend has it that Jordan, fresh off a national championship at the University of North Carolina and set to make his debut as a Chicago Bull, first agreed to lend his name to the shoe that would become Nike’s hugely popular and highly profitable line, the Air Jordan, in an unassuming home in Manzanita, then owned by the charismatic marketing director and king of Nike , Rob Strasser.

Strasser died young, at 46. So we’ll never know what he might have thought of the recent top-to-bottom reimagining of his Manzanita home, which sits a few blocks south of the town’s main drag, a house or two down. withdrawal from the beach.

When the current owners – who keep their name to themselves, a privacy deed that MJ himself would understand – first saw the house in 2019, it marked the end of months of research around Manzanita and Arch Cape, where they had vacationed for years. . Strasser’s home, which had passed to new owners and was a fixture on the VRBO circuit by the time the current owners saw it, was certainly eccentric, beyond even that familiar beach rental aesthetic of wood paneling, shapeless armchairs, surfboards as decor.

The new owners and their Portland-based interiors firm, Bright Designlab, were faced with an unusual built-in living room sofa, a 15-foot-tall half-moon-shaped bookshelf that ran from the basement to the ground floor with shelves. out of reach of even Jordan’s wingspan, an oddly positioned dumbwaiter in the main living space, a bathroom skylight lined with dated vanity lamps, piles of beige carpeting, and a “theater” room with room for a single armchair, separated from the kitchen by an auditorium-style curtain.

“It had a bit of an ’80s flair,” says Alissa Pulcrano, CEO and lead designer at Bright Designlab.

The new owners wanted to keep the footprint of the house but weren’t looking for an 80s festival. They wanted a retreat, a place where family and friends could gather and breathe. Renovations began in 2019, but it wasn’t until the following summer that they were able to spend a night in the house.

All that woodwork? Finished, in favor of freshly painted walls. The carpet came too. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets are brand new, designed by the Bright Designlab team and built by Portland-based carpenter Maple Key. The kitchen island – a true showpiece, sewn together and sculpted into curves by Portland-based Conrad Stonecutter from a 400-pound slab of marble in a hue reminiscent of salt harvested from the brine of the Pacific Ocean – was a leap of faith that paid off, but took ages to complete.

Structural changes were also made. Pulcrano and team leader Candace Cohu decided to leave the wooden beams in place in the main living area, in part to echo the hardwood floors. The once elevated second floor has become a private bedroom, and the roof has been flipped to create an enclosed widow’s watch that now offers the best ocean view in the house, atop a peaceful new workspace.

The single-seat home theater is gone, replaced by a built-in bench seat and a playful perforated credenza designed to hold the owners’ extensive record collection. (If you’re ever invited for a visit, a disc is the host gift of choice.)

These built-in elements are a recurring theme in the house, some new and some reimagined. Take that sunken couch, which the owners now call the “conversation pit,” its cushions now a sea-foam green. The old dumbwaiter is still in use, now repurposed as a firewood rack and carefully stowed behind custom swivel screens made by Portland-based Boy Boy.

In the master bedroom, a built-in window seat with a view of the dunes has been left in place, with custom throw pillows added. A comfy dorm goes one step further with two built-in queen-size bunk beds, the room painted a dramatic dark blue to suggest a ship’s cabin, down to the circular porthole between the beds, just the right size for the kids in. visit sneak through. A Kat & Maouche rug on the floor gives a touch of color to the cozy space. In the kitchen there is a Bright Designlab signature – an integrated bar cabinet that sits flush with the counter with an easy pull out drawer for storage.

The new owners kept the giant bookcase, which is now slowly filling with books, games and puzzles, with a new custom ladder to reach the upper shelves. In the master bathroom, opposite a gloriously rounded mirror designed by Bright Designlab, they also retained a sunken tub, now re-tiled via Pratt & Larsen in the same mint green as the conversation pit sofa, but used most often as a cold dive. after a visit to the adjoining sauna (the only place in the house where the woodwork still lives) or the steam shower. The effect is like the most Zen of Japanese spas.

Another theme that jumps out the closer you look: curves everywhere, like the angles of a ship, a nautical nod far more subtle than the usual coastal tactic of sticking a anchor on the mantel and hang a scalloped starfish shower curtain. (OK, there’s a painting of a ship’s captain tightening pipes in the dormitory, a find of the owner at a vintage store nearby of Nehalem, but something about him fits the space perfectly.)

Once you see all those luscious curves, you can’t see them: they’re in the curly swivel chairs in The Future Perfect’s living room, complete with a custom ball pillow designed by the Bright team; in the vintage swivel chairs that perch on the edge of the island (from Amsterdam Modern); in the birdcage-shaped light that anchors a seating area designed to be a peaceful reading spot; in the rounded black basin of a guest bath.

Don’t be fooled by all those generous curves, though, says Pulcrano — you can still find ever so delicate lines for balance, in the flap on the dining room walls and the ribbed leather on the backs of the chairs. from the dining room. , and the precise slatted fixtures that dot the home.

“It’s deliberate, the reiteration,” says Pulcrano. “We are looking for a superposition of patterns, of textures.”

The house was completed in time to be used as a pandemic-era retreat – even when the world shrunk, the beach was still wide. The owners say they often visit a hidden cemetery where Strasser is buried, to pay their respects as the new stewards of his former home. They suspect that as a design enthusiast who spotted the potential of a lanky young Jordan all those years ago, he would approve of the update.


Unfortunately, not all of us can live in the house that Rob Strasser built.
But we can recreate some of the vibes at home.

The dorm is comfortable ground sheet comes from the old town Kat & Maouche, which sources its handmade Berber rugs directly from Morocco. (The owners lived there for years.) Rugs this size start at around $2,100. kandmaouche.com

Statement Mirrors can be found throughout the house. The one in the living room is from a Brooklyn-based contemporary furniture and product design house Bower Studios. bower-studios.com

The brutalist-inspired living room low table was made by yucca stuff, in Austin, TX. This is the Lavaca model, and it can have custom finishes and materials. yuccastuff.com

This splash of color glass statement lamp above the dining room bench comes from New York Correctionwho recently landed an article in Architectural summary.

Some cushions around the house were ordered from a local outlet in Portland, the women Motherwhich also manufactures bedding and kitchenware. madrelinen.com

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