For locals, it immediately brings to mind the quaint row of homes in Southeast Portland cheerfully decorated in an abundance of Christmas lights and décor. The viewing experience – whether by vehicle or on foot – is one of the most iconic and beloved signature holiday traditions in our area.
But what’s it like to live on Peacock Lane? It’s an often asked question. Aaron and Sarah Longwell give us the scoop and lay out the charms of their darling, historic home, which is now for sale! Click HERE to see it.
A blend of old & new
Built in 1925, the 2,158 square foot home has seen updates and additions along the way. Like many houses on the block, the English cottage-style home still has plenty of its charming original features, like the custom tiles lining the fireplace. “We like the quirkiness and the history,” says Sarah.
She and Aaron set about replacing all the home’s doors and most of the windows. They also dedicated a lot of attention to improving the landscaping and now spend a lot of time on the large, upper level patio with room for a container garden. “The apple tree bears thousands, and we have a very productive blackberry vine. The berries are delicious – almost plum-sized!”
The highest of walk scores
“We love this town – so much,” Sarah says. The family walks to see movies at the Bagdad, grab a bite from the restaurants and food carts along Hawthorne or Belmont, and bring their two young boys to visit Powell’s Books or the nickel arcade. The elementary school is less than a mile away, and three main bus lines are accessible nearby.
As close as it is to so many enviable city features, the lane itself is quiet and insulated, one where families are comfortable sending their kids out to play and retirees can relax on the front porch. The large front yards naturally lend themselves to social activity; neighbors often enjoy a large Easter egg hunt, and spontaneous potluck dinners will spring up during the summer months. Residents are close enough to enjoy the Belmont Street Fair and attend movies in Laurelhurst Park.
Significant then and now
The tradition of “Portland’s Christmas Street” began in the 1940s, started by families simply taking pride in a neighborly, festive spirit. Many don’t know that Peacock Lane was designed by a single architect as one of the first commuter neighborhoods in Portland, back when the built-in garage was a brand-new concept and innovative for the time. In recent years, the homes’ architectural significance has earned the lane national historic district status.
The Longwells happened to come upon the neighborhood when relocating to Portland in 2010. First drawn in by its architectural charm and friendly, relaxed vibe, they soon learned they’d stumbled into a local treasure. While participation in the decorating tradition is not mandated (as is often rumored), the neighborhood does attract people who enjoy being part of the magic.
How long does it take to set up such an elaborate light display? Sarah confirms that it takes a good two Saturdays to deck the halls in preparation for the parade of Peacock Lane visitors, but the unexpected result is ultimately a more laid-back holiday season. “It’s a good excuse to take it easy during those frenzied holiday weeks in December. Neighbors will take turns hosting parties, and we’ll just amble between homes, visiting and enjoying each other’s company.”
Adding one family’s memories to a home’s history
“Christmas has been a big deal for our kids,” she says. “They know not every street is a ‘Christmas street’, but they’ve grown up here, and they’ve loved taking their turns on the volunteer shift in the cocoa booth.” This home’s next residents will inherit – along with a few holiday lights – a uniquely appealing living opportunity.
View a 3D tour of this home.
There’s something to be said for a change of scenery…
Especially after more than 20 years living between Kansas and Missouri. Moving to a new city gives you months’ worth of opportunities to answer the question, “What brought you here?” For the dozens of times I’ve answered, I’m certain it could be distilled down to “I like it here” and “It’s extremely chill, and good.”
It’s not substantive or satisfying to the person who asked, but it’s true. And after months of living here, it’s clear what makes Portland a perfect place to call home.
There are perks, like seeing the fog roll into the city on the drive to work, but the best parts of Portland make you feel as though you’ve lived here forever––or at least you should have.
Moving to Portland in the hottest months of the year, when it’s arguably too hot to think thoughts, much less say them out loud, won’t make you appreciate the climate until the leaves change. Settling into the crisp, gorgeous fall months, you’re reminded of why so many people call this home. This city evokes a sense of comfort that’s somehow familiar and refreshingly new at the same time.
Fall in the Northwest is a dream come true, and if you love cloud cover and rain, cool temperatures and so many pretty trees, it’s hard to do better. The vibrant colors of the leaves against the overcast skies, the misty mornings and fog rolling down the hills and into the city––it all culminates in an atmosphere not easily replicated.
Settled on the Willamette River with a view of rolling hills and valleys covered in trees, probably the most striking difference in Portland vs. Kansas and Missouri is the stunning nature near and throughout the city––including, as you know, the Pacific ocean. A drive in literally any direction offers some breathtaking sights, and a short drive west brings you to the coast. Drive east, and you’re at the base of Mount Hood. The beauty of the surrounding woods, mountains, rivers and lakes, and the convenience of being within a drive of it all can’t be overstated. It’s awe inspiring on a daily basis.
As tempting as it is though, you can’t just go live in the woods.
Fortunately Portland is a diverse and good-sized city that invites both exploration and recreation. There’s a general buzz and excitement around the city; people have an overwhelming spirit of community and civic pride. It’s rich in culture and encourages creativity. People are excited to live here and even more excited to tell you why. There’s an overwhelming sense of belonging and inclusion, as well as an abundance of opportunities.
Portland and its surroundings create a beautiful melding of lush nature and a bustling city. It’s not only an ideal place for a home; it’s a uniquely serene and growing city steeped in culture and art. You may move to Portland because you fall in love after visiting, but before too long you’ll wonder why you weren’t here sooner.
The NW Natural Street of Dreams is a long-running, annual summer showcase of some of the most acclaimed and experienced builders in the region to both guide and inspire anyone looking to build a home, buy a home, or remodel their current home. Each featured home reflects its builder’s unique vision and shows off the latest trends and offerings in residential construction. This month-long event is a curation of beautiful, fully furnished houses that are diverse in style but not in quality––they’re dream homes.
These expertly designed and decorated houses show current and prospective homeowners the potential of what’s truly possible when they decide to make their home in the Northwest. Street of Dreams features an impressive roster of visionary builders practiced in aesthetics, logistics, and unmatched care for their clients.
Family-owned and operated Westlake Development has been building custom homes throughout the Pacific Northwest for almost 30 years. Owner Gerald Rowlett, his wife Sue and daughter Kelly understand what families need in a home, and they bring that family-oriented spirit into the design and execution of their 2018 Street of Dreams home Fairway Manor. It’s a seamless melding of classic and contemporary, giving the home’s old-world feel a modern, spacious polish with family in mind.
Taking a decidedly more contemporary approach, Suteki designs homes with health, wellness, and sustainability at the core of every concept. Group CEO Koichiro Hirata dedicates himself and his company to “building trust, building dreams, and building the future.” Their 2018 featured home Harmony combines both Northwest and Japanese-inspired cross-cultural design to create a calming and inviting space expertly accented with wood and stone.
Anlon Custom Homes is an all-service, family-owned company, a one-stop for both design and construction, defining themselves as a “family building custom homes for families.” Along with their personable and comforting approach, they design and build with both luxury and functionality in mind. Their 2018 entry Hearth and Home strikes the delicate balance between the luxurious and inviting, featuring thoughtful custom touches including a butler’s pantry in the kitchen and a coffee bar in the master bedroom.
Another builder with a modern aesthetic, BC Custom Construction utilizes over 35 years experience in construction to provide clients with tried and true expertise while keeping current with trends in design. Their 2018 entry Private Reserve invokes that much sought-after and not easily accomplished modern feel, its impressive interior boasting windows from floor to ceiling and a subtle and unifying natural color scheme.
Building homes for over 17 years and owned by a third-generation builder, Legacy Built Custom Homes also shares their years of experience with their clients, proving with their modern and understated beauty Graceview that they bring equally impressive design expertise to their established homebuilding business. The versatility and aesthetic touches show off their talent for modernizing tradition. It’s a culmination of rustic and contemporary, using the timeless influence of the popular farmhouse and gently guiding it into 2018 and beyond, cleverly combing open-concept layouts and a stark color scheme that invites families to make it their own.
Yet another group of experienced and professional builders, Pahlisch Homes started in 1983 and continues to build gorgeous homes that reflect modern trends, resulting in the impressively executed Serenity. The interior expands into airy open living and dining areas, pulling out all the stops to create a spacious, stunning family home and continuing this trend of experience effectively informing contemporary design.
The outstanding homes featured at Street of Dreams 2018 are not only achievements in residential design; they’re a collective benefit to homeowners and aspiring homeowners alike, showing the region’s practiced and endlessly creative builders remain influential in bringing so many to the Northwest in search of homes they’ll enjoy for a lifetime.
What do you think about this year’s collection of homes? Do you have a favorite?