Peek Inside This Former Model Home in Hazelwood

Home Tour: Abigail Morgan and Bijan Berahimi.

So many people were interested in the house Abigail Morgan and Bijan Berahimi eventually bought that the couple had just a 15-minute window to view it with their realtor.

Morgan, a copywriter for Rejuvenation, and Berahimi, a graphic designer, had been living in Northeast, off Williams Avenue, and weren’t even looking to move, but they reconsidered when their friend sent them a link to a listing with a note: “Everything about this house—it’s so you guys.” So they joined the throngs of looky-loos who wanted to get a glimpse inside a home built in the heyday of Portland’s midcentury expansion and once lauded as “The Wedgwood Home of Tomorrow.” They headed out in the rain to check it out.

“The lighting was nice and warm,” Morgan says. “We didn’t have much time to decide, but it made looking at other houses just not the same.”

Since purchasing it in January 2021, Morgan and Berahimi have been deep diving into their home’s history and learning about the tenets of International Style that inspired celebrated Portland architect William Fletcher to build the home in 1959. The former model home—located in a cluster of midcentury abodes, all featuring the era’s popular low-slung roofs and brick façades—once stood for all of the advances of the Atomic Age. “I didn’t know that there were houses of this style in the city,” Berahimi says.

The long, one-floor space shows many of the trademarks of Bauhaus-inspired modern architecture of the 1950s: an expansive relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a floating fireplace (original to the era), and prefab walnut panels. Despite the open and airy feeling, it’s a private home, with an entrance fed by an obscured front entry and a courtyard intended to help its residents transition from public to private life.

In the year and a half since the purchase, the couple has been discovering the home’s quirks (like low-voltage electricity) and inhabiting it with their fresh, urban, eclectic style. They’ve got an easy rapport where their tastes meld easily, and if one of them finds something they like, the other is game to try it out. Their objects fit well with the home’s straight-out-of-a-Mondrian primary color palette.

As for larger projects, they started by updating the home’s hardware, drawing on Morgan’s background at Rejuvenation, and by hanging art, some by artists represented at FISK Gallery, where Berahimi is founder and director. They are taking their time selecting furniture that will make the rooms sing.”I’m furniture and plants, you’re the art and objects,” Morgan says, looking at her partner.

To revive the home’s garden, which was created in the Japanese style, they hired the home’s original landscape designer, Kurisu International Ltd., which first installed it in 1980, to teach them how to maintain it to its original integrity during regular pruning.

All in all, it’s been a fascinating introduction to owning a historic home for the couple, they say. “House shopping is really weird, " Berahimi says. “It’s this really bizarre process that doesn’t quite make sense to me. But walking into this house, we recognized that it’s a house that represents a lot of the things we believe in.”

This story also appears in Willamette Week’s Home Guide Magazine, Nester, published October 2022.