The Homebuilders Association of Portland bills their annual Street of Dreams event as a luxury home show. And that’s what I expected when I made the trip to Lake Oswego with fellow Berkshire Hathaway brokers on Monday.
The 9 featured properties range in size from 4,100 to over 5,700 square feet and in price from $1.4+ to $2.7+ million. The hillside setting has open fields of wildflowers and many of the homes do a good job of bringing the outside in with floor-to-ceiling and clerestory windows, folding walls of glass and “outdoor rooms.”
But I came away disappointed.
The only home with an architect in the driver’s seat is not new. My personal favorite, it’s a remodel of a 1950 classic designed by John Yeon, a pioneer of the Northwest regional style. My photo and the dark gray paint don’t do justice to its clean, horizontal lines.
Other homes in the show have less graceful and more eclectic silhouettes. For example, the promotional brochure describes one as “classic Victorian design with a Mediterranean style and a unique, modern twist.”
In some cases, the quality of materials and finishes is sacrificed on the altar of square footage. For example, I spotted faux wood laminate on garage doors, a molded concrete fireplace in a great room, and concrete cladding masquerading as brick on an exterior.
Outdoor rooms have every mod con – built-in barbecues and countertops, sinks, dishwashers, sofas, tvs and water features. But most lots are small and some outdoor spaces overlook the same feature in a neighboring backyard.
The brochure points out that all homes in the show have improved efficiency and cost savings needed to qualify for an Energy Performance Score. But it doesn’t reveal actual scores for each property.
In any case, the scoring system compares homes of similar size to each other. The environmental footprint of a home is defined to a large extent by its physical footprint. In addition to being so large, some of the properties have laundry rooms on both floors (in other words, two washers and dryers), as many as 4 giant tv screens, two dishwashers and two refrigerators.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Street of Dreams. The Homebuilders Association deserves credit for inventing the show and running it continuously – through good times and bad.
But I wish less money and fewer resources had been spent on square footage and appliances, and more on design, materials and finishes, sustainability, and soul – key elements of luxurious living in my book.
The show runs through August 30. You can buy tickets online for $17 per person here.