Small modern dream home

Slideshow: Tour Foster’s compact west-side Bend home

Editor’s note: The At Home section features a profile of a local home each month. To suggest a home, email athome@bendbulletin.com.

When Sue Foster set out to build her home on Bend’s west side, she wanted to figure out how she could squeeze maximum functionality out of minimal space.

Originally, she wanted to build a 650-square-foot home.

“It’s surprising how difficult it is to get a bank loan to build a smaller home,” said Foster, who ended up increasing the size of her home to 890 square feet. “I really wanted to build the house with one bedroom, but in order to get a loan, I had to add another bedroom.”

Foster said she wanted to reduce her overall carbon footprint on her half-acre lot, and having lived in traditionally larger homes all her life, she realized bigger isn’t always better.

“How much house do you really need to live comfortably well?” asked Foster, who moved to Bend in the winter of 2010 to take a job as director of nordic skiing at Mt. Bachelor.

Sue Foster stands in front of her new, small modern home in Bend.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

For several years, Foster said, she looked all over Bend for a house that would align with her less-is-more approach.

“I saw so many homes, and many of them were quite elaborate, and that just wasn’t me,” said Foster. “I wanted something small and simple. I had almost given up, when I came to look at this lot — a lot that I had passed all winter long on my drive up to the mountain.”

When she came to the lot, she realized she could build the small house of her dreams.

“It had great southern exposure, so I knew the house could be built with passive solar heating, and I could add solar voltaic cells on the roof,” said Foster. “It was also in an area that was close to running and biking trails, and it would be an easy commute to work at the mountain.”

Ready to build

Builder Murray Perkins came on board, as he also believed in Foster’s small-house vision.

“It takes a whole different mindset to build small, because every detail is important to space,” said Perkins.

“If it’s well-designed, a small space can come off seeming twice as big as a poorly laid-out or poorly planned larger home.”

As an example, Perkins points out the Jack-and-Jill entryway closet. It’s a closet that can hold guests’ coats, but on the other side of the shared closet is the guest bedroom closet, too. Every square foot counts.

Small space, big style

The L-shaped home is large on modern style. With its concrete floors plus steel and glass interior accents, it’s low-maintenance but highly energy efficient.

From the entryway, if you walk to the left, which would be the bottom of the “L” in this L-shaped home, you enter Foster’s well-appointed great room, which opens to the kitchen and seating bar area.

The kitchen and living room are combined, to create a great room. The home includes cement floors.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

In a small house, everything has to be efficient.

Foster has a European dishwasher, which doesn’t have a door that pulls down, but rather it’s a dishwasher that pulls out like a drawer.

Sue Foster pulls out the dishwasher drawer in her modern kitchen.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

“It’s a definite space saver, in a smaller kitchen.”

Foster, who loves to cook and entertain, opted for all gourmet appliances, including a large wine cooler.

Sue Foster pulls a bottle of wine out of the wine cellar closet.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

“I wanted an oversized and deep sink, so when you have a big roasting pan it can easily fit in here,” said Foster. “I put in this induction stove because it has a flat surface. My solar panels there power my stove,” said Foster, pointing out the window above her stove, to the solar voltaic panels that line the roof of her detached garage.

A wall lined with tall cherry-wood cupboards provides ample pantry space in the full-size kitchen.

The large kitchen island features a large sink and ample seating.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

Foster is a certified oenologist — a wine expert. So the wine cooler was non-negotiable; even in a small home, she was determined to fit it in, and Perkins was able to build a special space for it near the entryway.

Eyes to the outside

In the great room, four long south-facing rectangular windows, with another four clearstory windows above them, give the wall a neat geometric pattern.

Aside from the pleasing aesthetic look of the windows, Foster said they were strategically placed in the southern direction to add warmth in the winter, where the sun will warm up the house’s concrete floors, which hold in the heat when it’s cold outside.

With the large overhang on the roofline, the opposite effect happens in the summer, as the concrete floors keep the room cool.

“This home is super-tight and super-insulated, with 8-inch walls and offset studs,” said Perkins. “Because it’s so well-insulated, when you’re in the house, you never hear any traffic noise from the outside.”

Foster said strategically placed windows are also important in a small house because your eye never settles on a wall; it moves beyond the wall to the outside.

“I find peace here because I have uninterrupted lines of sight in this house, I can see from here (living room) all the way down to my bedroom, and out to the patio space,” said Foster, pointing down the long hallway. “It takes careful and mindful building.”

On one side of the long hallway is a bank of windows that looks out toward her backyard and patio space.

At the end of the hallway is Foster’s simple but functional master bedroom. Her Shaker-style poster bed gives the streamlined room a sense of warmth and comfort.

The master bedroom is simple, featuring a Shaker style bed frame.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

In her bedroom and throughout the house there is no clutter. Everything she has kept has a purpose and a place in her new home.

Back down the hallway is the home’s well-appointed bathroom.

Next to the bathroom is a specially built nook that holds a full-size stacked washer and dryer.

“This is another example of maximizing the space you have,” explained Perkins. “We knew we weren’t going to have a laundry room, so we built a space into this wall, where we could stack the washer and dryer.”

Next to this space is the second bedroom that Foster reluctantly agreed to in her building plans. As it turns out, she uses this room for dual purposes.

“It’s only 80 square feet, so I use it for my office,” Foster said, pointing to her built-in desk. Then turning around she pulled down the built-in Murphy bed from what looked like a wood-paneled wall. “This is where my guests stay.”

Sue Foster pulls down the Murphy Bed in spare bedroom / office at her home in Bend.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

Opposite the Murphy bed is that Jack-and-Jill closet.

From the guest bedroom/office, a few steps down the hallway is a glass door that leads out to the backyard and courtyard area.

An eye-catching modern patio dining set looks like a piece of art.

Fosters patio furniture features modern lines in a bold color.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

Trees grow in the open-feeling backyard, which is kept private by a rising wall of lava rocks on the north side.

Foster said she has plans to build a brick pizza oven in the backyard this summer.

In a smaller home, these outside areas add livable space. It’s here that Foster said she feels a sense of repose among the trees.

To the side of the home, Foster also had a matching modern woodshed built, to hold her winter’s cord of wood, all neatly stacked.

Foster keeps wood for her wood stove in this enclosure.

Andy Tullis / The Bulletin

Looking at her new home, you can’t help but feel Foster has indeed found her perfectly small dream house, which ties in energy efficiency with the simple and modern look that she had been searching for all these years.