Skjersaas' ultra-modern townhome

Slideshow: View Bend ski shop pioneers' Tetherow home

By Penny Nakamura / For The Bulletin

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

Terry Skjersaa is not afraid of taking risks and doing things other 73-year-olds might consider unconventional.

So when he came to Tetherow looking for an easy-to-care-for dream townhome, he wasn't afraid to go brazenly modern.

“I walked into the Tetherow model of this townhouse, and I knew this is what we wanted. And we had been looking at a lot of other homes in Bend. Some of them were over a million or a million and a half dollars, and they weren't even close to being as nice as this home,” said Skjersaa. “My father was a carpenter, and I learned a lot from him, so I know a well-designed and well-built home when I see one.”

The Skjersaas also knew they wanted big mountain views of the Cascades as the mountains are part of their history.

Mountain roots

You can't say the name Skjersaa without associating it with Terry's famous ski and snowboarding shop on Century Drive in Bend. The two-story wooden shop looks like an old-fashioned European ski chalet. He no longer owns the shop and is happily retired with his wife, Judy. But he fondly remembers those early ski days of Bend.

“Well my father, Olaf Skjersaa, and my mother, Grace, started the very first ski shop in Bend in 1939. It was in the back of our house. A house my father built on 10th Street,” said Skjersaa. “Back in those days, my father and his brother Nels Skjersaa would always try to get the first run on the mountain. When the first snow fell, they would hike to the top.”

Skjersaa also remembers his father putting him in a backpack when he was a toddler and hiking him into what is now the Hoodoo Ski Area.

“You had to hike in from the highway. There was no road then to Hoodoo,” said Skjersaa. “I was skiing by the time I was 3 years old. It was what we did.”

Terry and Judy Skjersaa pulled out an old, iconic black-and-white photo of Olaf Skjersaa ski jumping on his hand-built wooden skis.

“Dad held the jumping record back in those days,” said Terry.

“This photo was actually made into a poster for Blitz-Weinhard beer, back in the day,” added Judy Skjersaa.

Olaf emigrated from Norway to Bend in 1913, following his older brother Nels to the area. At that time, many Scandinavian lumber workers and carpenters came to Central Oregon for work.

Besides their woodworking skill set, the Scandinavians also brought their native love of skiing, and the Skjersaas were no different. Terry said they could envision what Mount Bachelor could be one day.

“They were all skiing long before Bachelor Butte started,” said Terry Skjersaa. “When Bill Healy opened Bachelor Butte in the winter of 1958, he asked our family to have the ski shop up at the mountain.”

The Skjersaa family opened the first ski shop on Bachelor Butte. That first winter when Terry Skjersaa wasn't working in the family ski shop, he was honing his ski racing technique.

“Terry would've been in the 1960 Winter Olympics, but he had a bad skiing accident and broke his neck in training,” said Judy Skjersaa.

Despite missing the Olympics, Skjersaa went on to coach other Central Oregonian ski racers and kept busy buying some fortuitous property on Century Drive.

Ski chalet

In 1965 the Skjersaas decided to come down from the mountain, and Terry bought an empty dirt lot, and built what is now the Skjersaa Ski and Snowboarding shop, which he and his wife owned and operated until 1996.

“When we first started building our shop on Century West, there was nothing there, except for the Timbers bar,” said Skjersaa. “We had no running water out there. The water stopped at Albany (Avenue), so I had to bring the water (line) in from there. You wouldn't believe it.”

Skjersaa said he knew the area would grow because this was the only road to the mountain.

By the time he completed his shop in 1965, Bachelor Butte had 127,000 skier visits that winter.

One young female ski visitor to the mountain needed a pair of new ski boots, and her first stop was the Skjersaa ski shop.

“I got fitted for a new pair of (ski) boots, which I bought, and I got asked out on a date, too,” said Judy Skjersaa, 71, laughing at the memory.

“She was a big flirt,” said Terry, with a twinkle in his eye.

Go big or go home

Married for 40 years now, the Skjersaas have had to give up skiing due to some health problems, but they still enjoy an active lifestyle.

Terry Skjersaa loves his new townhome that overlooks the Tetherow golf course.

Having raised four children in the Sunrise Village subdivision in Bend, they had downsized once before, moving to a townhome in Eagle Crest, but they eventually decided they wanted to be back in Bend.

While their new nearly 2,400-square-foot townhome isn't as large as their family home had been in Sunrise, they say there's more space in the right places for an empty-nest couple.

Because the Skjersaas love to entertain guests and hold dinner parties, the kitchen had to be generous in size, which is what they got. In addition to one kitchen island, they also have an entire peninsula with an additional prepping sink.

Modernism

Though Terry Skjersaa built an old-fashioned-looking chalet ski shop, he's always embraced the latest and greatest in technology.

“I was the first ski shop in Bend to have a computer. We originally did all our point of sales on an Apple II,” said Skjersaa. “I've always loved electronic gadgets. I'm a techy kind of guy.”

He waved his iPad as proof.

The Skjersaas' sleek living room features a modern glass-front gas-powered fireplace that burns a warm fire in a straight line across the wall, which makes it look like art. Just above this modernistic fireplace, is Skjersaa's 65-inch flat-screen television.

Because the wall that houses the fireplace and television is tiled in large rectangular black ceramic tiles, neither the television nor the fireplace overwhelm the room. The living area is decorated in black and white tones, with rich eggplant-colored highlights and silver-accented decor.

The living room has a luxurious white leather sectional, and Skjersaa's favorite lounge chair is in eggplant. This isn't your grandfather's La-Z-Boy lounge chair, as it has the modern lines to fit in with the home.

Judy Skjersaa says they brought very little from their other homes, which were more traditionally mountain-lodge styled. They wanted to start fresh with this European modern two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home.

Terry Skjersaa walked over to the built-in glass cabinetry, where valuable crystal glasses are displayed, and fiddled with a remote control that varied the brightness of the lights.

“I really like this. You can change the lights remotely. It's like mood lighting in your cabinets,” he said.

Judy Skjersaa walked to her favorite part of the kitchen, the built-in pantry that looks more like a hidden wall. She opened the large discreet floor-to-ceiling pantry door, where she keeps electric appliances like a coffeemaker and toaster. Every appliance has an outlet, which allows the couple to make coffee right inside the pantry.

“I love this because you don't have to have all these appliances on your sink. It stays hidden, so your kitchen sinks don't look cluttered,” she said.

Right next to the hidden wall pantry is one of the most modern ovens on the market.

“Have you seen this before? It's a convection oven and a microwave oven, all in one,” said Judy Skjersaa, opening up the stainless steel dual oven. “It has computerized directions in this screen here.”

The kitchen is designed with a soft touch of industrialized modernism, with a serious nod to functionality.

While some modern kitchens can look stark, the Skjersaas' kitchen has clean, warm lines that give it a feel of an efficient home kitchen, instead of a commercial one.

To add warmth, the Skjersaas also picked custom counters that incorporate recycled glass, which makes them sparkle.

The couple also appreciates the fact that their new townhome is energy-efficient and built to conserve water to a high standard.

Open design

From the moment you enter the Skjersaas' townhome, you are surrounded by big mountain views. There are no walls from the entry space to the back of the home, which allows the floor-to-ceiling windows in the great room to provide ample natural, continuous lighting throughout the home.

The kitchen is open to the dining room, and the dining room naturally flows into the living room with vaulted ceilings. The effect is dramatic.

Accent pieces throughout the home also draw attention.

A piece that Terry Skjersaa is especially proud of is a Sequoia tree root that was carved down into a sideboard table and then painted muted silver. It looks like metal until you touch it and realize it's actually wood.

Off the great room and dining room is the outdoor patio, where the Skjersaas had a custom-made cement fire pit built. The corner faces directly to Mount Bachelor. The Skjersaas have surprisingly comfortable cement chairs that match the fire pit.

“What we like about the cement chairs is that they're really heavy, and they're not going to get blown around by the wind,” said Judy Skjersaa. “Sometimes we come out here, and roast hot dogs and look at the mountain.”

Back inside, we walked past the dining room and to the master bedroom, where the Skjersaas awaken to huge mountain views from their elegant queen-size bed. The wall along their bedroom is one long panoramic view from Mount Bachelor to Mount Jefferson.

Judy Skjersaa showed the triple-sized shower in the master bath that runs along one side of the room. The seamless floor-to-shower transition offers easy access into the space.

“It's like a spa, isn't it?” said Skjersaa. “The entire house is made for people who don't want a lot of home maintenance. It's an easy-to-care-for single-level home.”

She also appreciates the separate water closet that has a European-style, tankless, suspended wall toilet.

Skjersaa walked from the large master bathroom into her large walk-in closet.

“There are so many little things you can appreciate in a closet like this,” she said, pointing to the built-in ironing board that slips sideways into the closet wall. A matching full-length mirror slips out of a wall pocket, opposite the ironing board.

The guest bedroom and bathroom on the other side of this townhome match the modern style.

These townhomes were designed by architect John Muir. Yes, the grand nephew of the legendary naturalist and mountain explorer, John Muir.

The connection isn't lost on the Skjersaas, who are familiar with mountains and who share the love of this natural setting all around them. It's a perfect townhouse designed by another descendent of someone who also loved the mountains.

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