This was not the first house that Ali Afghan had built, but it was the first to receive the brunt of his mechanical engineering background. Yet for all its practical features, the first thing that anyone notices is the home’s effortless luxury.

Afghan had been searching for a home in the Portland area for himself and his “significant other,” when he found a tired 1940s-era house on a south-facing lot near downtown Lake Oswego. “The house was small and dark,” Afghan recalled, “but the lot was perfect.”

When the couple realized that they would build, they knew it would be a Mediterranean-style home. “I had always liked that style of house,” Afghan explained, “and I had a very good idea of the floor plan.” When the basic layout had been drawn, the architect had to depart, and Afghan took over the project. He enlisted builder Howard Goodman of Wing Ridge Construction in Pacific City. Goodman had rebuilt Afghan’s beach home after it had burned several years before. “Howard is one of the most honest people I have come across,” said Afghan, “and, at the time, I didn’t know the scope 100 percent. I needed some flexibility, and we agreed on a contract with a fixed fee. It was an arrangement that worked for both of us.”

“I was honored that they would drag me over to the Valley,” said Goodman who pulled down the old house and built the new one. Building in Lake Oswego was a bit different than at the coast. “We didn’t have the same seismic concerns,” he said, “but we did include the same amount of waterproofing and we did pay just as close attention to detail.”

“While this was not the first house I ever built, I wanted everything to be coordinated and be awesome. I talked to a lot of designers. I picked the person with the most potential energy,” said Afghan of his choosing Wendy O’Brien of Wendy O’Brien Interior Planning & Design in Portland. “Wendy got into my head with her ideas and showed me what I could do.”

Working with the existing floor plan that had the public rooms on the first floor and the master suite and two bedrooms and a bath on the second level, O’Brien designed the exterior and interior architectural details of the 2,628-square foot home. “I felt strongly that we should embrace the location of the home near downtown Lake Oswego,” said O’Brien. “Once we had the style established, which is a ‘Mediterranean Northwest,’ that set the tone for the interior. We wanted the materials, colors and textures in the home to not only embody the architecture but also reflect the colors and movement of the rich soil and Mediterranean Sea.”

The home was designed from the inside out starting with a rustic flavor of rich warm tones and classic architectural details. Dark-stained distressed Appalachian oak floors reminiscent of wine barrels and natural stone tiles from Macadam Floor and Design were used with earth tones on the walls and espresso-stained custom built ins designed by O’Brien. Authentically proportioned French doors by Simpson from Northwest Door & Supply and Jeld Wen windows from Parr Lumber let in the plentiful light. Not forgetting Afghan’s wish for a “warm and comfortable home,” she also hand selected the custom sofa, wing and side chairs, bar stool and ottomans, which were then made locally at Portland Furniture and covered in cream linen, tan and gold. “I am,” she said, “very detail oriented. I provide floor, furniture and lighting plans, elevations and detailed specifications. Whatever is needed to complete the perfect dream home.”

The attention to detail continued upstairs in the two bedrooms and bath used by Afghan’s daughters and in the master bedroom and bath. “A lot of people thought I was crazy,” said Afghan, “when I said I wanted the bathtub in the bedroom. You can take a bath and talk with your significant other or watch TV or enjoy the fire. You are not segregated in the bathroom. Certainly this would not work for small children, but for adults, it is for pleasure and leisure.” O’Brien found a Victoria + Albert tub on espresso wood supports which made it more closely resemble a moveable piece of furniture rather than a permanent fixture. Afghan’s ideas for a different kind of master suite did not end with the tub. The back half of the expansive shower– located more traditionally in the bathroom--acts as a drying off area for anyone exiting the shower and as a hallway leading between the bathroom and the hot tub on the adjoining deck.

Throughout the plan, O’Brien worked with Afghan to provide a home designed for how the couple planned to live. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of O’Brien and how she approaches the interior experience; by meticulously profiling her client’s complete lifestyle and designing the perfect living environment no matter what the style, be it traditional, transitional, contemporary or modern.

“I am a mechanical engineer,” explained Afghan, “and I wanted the design to be intuitive. It is for people of any age but also for in your Golden years. The steps in the stairs are shallow so they are not difficult to climb. There is an elevator with doorways wide enough for a wheel chair. There is only one step from the entry into the house that was added to provide character but it could easily be fitted with a ramp. “This was also my first house where I thought about home automation,” he continued. “The outdoor and indoor lighting, thermostat, security and surveillance system and sound system can all be controlled remotely by my iPhone or iPad.”

Other innovations introduced by the engineer were tie downs for safety ropes on the house and the garage to ensure the wellbeing of anyone working on the roof, wiring the garden wall for lighting, standardizing the vent sizes so all filters will be the same size, and positioning a camera so you can always check to make sure you shut the garage door.

“Working with Wendy was a constant conversation; for everything I wanted to do she gave me two or three ideas. No question this is a luxury home,” said Afghan, “but it makes you feel comfortable. It is a home where people are meant to live. I look forward to coming home every day.”


CONTRACTOR: Wing Ridge Construction

INTERIOR DESIGN: Wendy O'Brien Interior Planning & Design


CUSTOM FURNITURE: Portland Furniture

HARDWARE: Chown Hardware

KITCHEN APPLIANCES: Viking; Faucets: Victoria & Albert, Moen, Delta; Sinks: Kohler