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home : current news : current news August 27, 2015

7/29/2014 1:00:00 PM
Sisters couple designed and built their dream house
Marcia Salmon at the home she and her husband designed and built in Sisters Country. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Marcia Salmon at the home she and her husband designed and built in Sisters Country. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Marcia and Roy Salmon decided on their honeymoon in 1988 after visiting Sisters that they were going to live and build their dream home in the quaint little picturesque town. Most people think about building their own home rather than moving into someone else's vision of how a home should look. But the idea is usually abandoned quickly in the assumption that it would be too costly and too lengthy a process. However, the Salmons didn't let those fears stop them.

They bought over 45 acres of land in 1988, and from 1990 to 1993 they built a large workshop and purchased the basic equipment for building their house. The workshop also doubled as a shed to store all of their personal property. They added an upstairs attic to live in while they labored on a plan for their vision of a Victorian farmhouse with a little Norwegian influence coming from Marcia Salmon's side of the family.

"My maternal grandparents were from Norway, and I already had their antique furniture and lots of handmade heirlooms shipped over from their estate. Roy had also acquired his grandparents' furniture, and since we had acquired so many beautiful antiques, we were sort of building our dream home around the furniture," said Salmon smiling.

Turning their dream into a reality was more complicated than they thought, and it had nothing to do with the actual building. The Salmons spent the next six years living in the attic of their workshop because they couldn't get a permit to build on their own land.

"We built the workshop, and then in 1993 when we finally moved into the attic part of it, the land-use laws had changed," Salmon said. "We were sitting on an Exclusive Farm Use zoning area (EFU) and for six years we tried to get a building permit to no avail. The definition of the zoning did not fit us; we were not a working farm. It would have been okay if we had 63 acres of water rights, but we only had 45."

Marc Thalacker, project manager for Three Sisters Irrigation District, was a friend of theirs and he wanted to help them to get a permit somehow. They all went to Salem because in the valley there was land zoned for the Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management Program.

"Mark convinced the board to let our EFU roll over into the wildlife program, but first we had to get it approved and needed to qualify. We finally qualified by having 540 native plants and helping wildlife by putting in bat boxes, birdhouses and brush piles to help protect birds and little critters from predators," Salmon said.

Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management Plan objectives is to preserve, enhance or improve the composition, structure or function of habitat for native wildlife species, with emphasis on native habitats

Finally the Salmons received their building permit in 2000 and were raring to go. Roy Salmon did all the electrical and plumbing, while Marcia Salmon did the woodwork.

"I had never taken any woodwork classes, and had never really built much of anything, except when I was a kid, being a tomboy I built my own scooter," recalled Salmon.

Salmon enjoys using her creative side and excels in tole painting, quilting and woodwork; it seems to run in the family.

"My grandfather was a commercial artist and he also painted; I have his art collection throughout the house. Not only that, but Roy's grandmother was also an artist, and we have most of her paintings also," she said.

"Since I love the details and proportions of older homes, I knew that I wanted to make our new house look old, but with a lot of modern conveniences too. I did all the woodwork myself, including the fireplace in which I extended the wooden mantle all the way up to the ceiling using maple, alder and hemlock," said Salmon. "We started with the kitchen; that's where I wanted an open floor plan with lots of light. Then I made my way around the rest of the house working with moldings and doorways."

The two-story Victorian-style home is eclectic, a mix of styles past with contemporary conveniences. Wraparound porches were very popular on Victorian-style farmhouses, and they are designed for comfort. They are usually large, inviting, and they are perfect places upon which to sit and watch the world go by.

"I did all of the woodwork on the porch, including the overhangs, with a bit of gingerbread and hand-carved little birds of Norway to give the porch that Norwegian touch," recalled Salmon.

Each room has its own classic Victorian-flavored theme using the Salmon family's antique furniture. Solid-oak armoires, nineteenth-century-era chairs and bed posts add that vintage flair to the home. Faded family photos adorn walls and dated mahogany furniture tables. Lace doilies, tin-plated ceilings, antique table cloths, and 100-year-old quilts showcase as small Victorian accents throughout the house. Vintage area rugs run along the wooden floors in most rooms.

The home was complete by 2003.

The Salmons have worked hard to make the outside of their home as lovely as the inside. Over the years Marcia Salmon has become an avid green thumb, and in 2005 they started their ever-expanding garden.

She brought her unique gift of designing cozy sitting areas outside into the garden, with islands of colorful flowerbeds, tall trees and pathways to a few secret little gardens tucked away in quiet nooks where you could hide away from the world and relax on a bench in the shade on a summer day.

The Salmons' garden was one of the gardens showcased in "Quilts in the Garden" Home & Garden Tour, hosted by Sisters Garden Club earlier in July.

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