360modern is a community of modernists including architects, Modern furniture and art experts, non-profits, state historical organizations, county historical groups, and contractors. Today, we’re showcasing the people that make up the Portland Modern community. We had a chance to ask Cole Gerst and Lee-Anne Clifton-Gerst, owners of The Glass House, some questions about their Mid-Century home and about owning an Air B&B.
What is the architectural history of your home?
Our home was designed and built in the late 50’s for a doctor. The architect’s name is Frank Shell. He designed a lot of commercial buildings such as high schools and churches, as well as some dorms at Reed College, but did a handful of homes as well.
Have you completed any renovations? If so, what was the thought process behind them?
When we bought the house it had been sitting empty for years and a previous owner had done some questionable cosmetic work such as using materials on the outside that weren’t weatherproof and adding lighting fixtures that leaned to a more eighties contemporary look than mid-century modern. We did a lot of work to the outside including painting and a new roof. Luckily we have all the original plans so any work we do we try to look to those plans before making any decisions. We were excited when we discovered an outdoor fireplace on our deck that had been completely covered over. A metalsmith took the original plans and built the hood back to those specs. We updated the kitchen but kept the original footprint and cabinets etc. Most all of the lighting fixtures throughout the house have been updated. The bottom floor had been covered over in plush, white carpet. We pulled that up and polished and stained the concrete underneath. Mainly our thought process is just to let the house speak for itself. It already has great bones and for the most part we just want to update without changing much, it doesn’t need it.
What influenced your decisions with your interior design choices?
My father is an interior designer so I picked up some pointers from him throughout the years. I’m a graphic designer and I have designed furniture and lighting as well. I like simple color palettes and geometric features. I have a decent collection of mid-century modern furniture that fits well in the space, but I like mixing those pieces with some newer designs that fit with the clean lines of the house. A lot of the walls are all glass, but some of the interior walls feature art I have collected over the years. A lot of color choices in a room might start with a painting that I want in that room and I just start building off of that.
What features do you love about your Mid-Century home?
We have over 100 windows in this house. Even on the darkest winter days we still get a decent amount of light. We are lucky to be on almost an acre of land with a lot of trees etc. We have deer come through all the time and it’s nice just watching them out the windows. The high ceilings and openness are a key feature. I don’t think I could live in a home with a lot of little rooms and walls. We have 20 foot ceilings in some places and the entrance to our master wing has a solid wood 15 ft door. We have multiple patios and decks but the one we use the most is a large 2nd story deck off of the living room with an outdoor fireplace. That is probably one of my favorite places to sit and relax. The indoor fireplaces are nice. There are 2 upstairs in each living area and we also have one in a bedroom downstairs. We have a fire going most nights.
What led you to opening up your home as an Air B&B? Describe your experience with owning an Air B&B home.
I have always enjoyed touring other peoples homes and always got a lot of inspiration from it. When we bought this house we wanted to make sure we shared it with as many people as we could to sort of pay back the favor. We’ve been on house tours and started letting people do photoshoots in the house. We started discussing renting our house out on Airbnb just when we were traveling. We are pretty selective when it comes to who we let stay, only because we want people with good reviews and a track record of being respectful of other peoples property etc. We have had a lot of people trying to book it for events or parties which we don’t want. For the most part we have had a good experience with renting our home out and people are courteous and respect the house although we have had some negative experiences as well.
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