This year it was easy for Laurel, my wife, and I to visit most of the newly-built Salem houses in the 2022 Tour of Homes, because there were only three. Seven of the eleven homes in the Tour were in Dallas and one was in Monmouth.
Here's photos, and my commentary on them, for the two houses in south Salem that we visited. We passed on a house in NE Salem. The Tour of Homes runs from Saturday, July 9 through Sunday, July 17. Hours are noon-6 pm on weekends, 6 pm-9 pm on weeknights. Free admission.
This is a $785,000 house at 3311 Felton Street S. Our first impression was, "Wow, sure doesn't look like it should be that expensive." But we haven't bought a house since 1990, when we paid $145,000 for a 3,200 square foot house built in 1973 on five acres in rural south Salem.
So, yeah, times have changed. Building costs have risen. Land is more expensive. Tastes have evolved toward more costly materials. For example, our kitchen originally had formica. When we remodeled, the countertops became marble.
Both houses were nicely furnished to make them look lived in. The living room area seemed comfy, though I'm not a fan of a high-up television.
Nice touch, shades that you can either see through, or not see through.
Laurel liked how the kitchen lights had no visible bulbs.
I realize that lots have to be smaller in order to accommodate the density needed to comply with Oregon's land use laws that protect farm and forest land by establishing urban growth boundaries around cities. But for $785,000, to us this seems like a really skimpy yard.
Doesn't seem like there's any room to plant a shade tree either, which would make this patio more useable in the summer.
I was envious of the covered deck, though. That's something we don't have.
Naturally every new house these days seems to have a walk-in closet. In our 1973 house, you could walk into our bedroom closet if you pushed the hangers aside, but you'd only make it a few feet. So this is another feature we envy.
Whenever I see a bed with a million pillows, more or less, my bed with two regular pillows seems decidedly pillow-deprived.
We then headed to this $715,000 house at 6074 Evangelista Avenue S. If you visit this Tour home and use GPS, be aware that Google Maps only had Evangelista Street, no Avenue. So we and quite a few others ended up perplexed at the street address after Google Maps said "you've arrived at your destination." No, the tour home is on a new avenue a ways further up Evangelista.
Another pleasant living room -- though actually it is rare to see an actual living room, since kitchens and "living rooms" typically flow together in modern houses.
Again, we were surprised how little of a yard remains when a 2,215 sq. ft. house is built on a typical lot. However, the steep slope meant that retaining walls took up much of the yard space.
I kept looking for holes in a putting green, but this was just artificial grass with no holes in it.
Kind of a bold kitchen look, with both brown and dark grey cabinets.
Not the sort of view we're used to, but given the nature of the lot, I guess there was no other option.
A room at the front of the house had the most appealing view. This is a problem with building houses with garages in the front next to the street. If cars were parked behind houses via an alley, as in the Fairview Addition development, the living room area can look out onto the street, which in this case would have made for a more attractive view.
Speaking of view, the people in the house behind this Tour home must have considerably less of one now.
Leaving the Tour home, Laurel spotted this cell tower disguised as a tree. Great idea!
One reason we go to the Tour of Homes each year is to get some perspective on our own house -- which both pleases us and irritates us, given its age and lack of some modern features. However, after I parked my car in our carport (no attached garage) I had to take a photo to show what a difference there is between city living and country living.
Yes, there's pluses and minuses to each. What concerns Laurel and me, though, is that nowadays new houses in Salem often lack even a slight connection to nature. Our problem is just the opposite. We have so much nature around us, it's a pain to maintain and keep under control. Especially at our age, 73. But going to the Tour of Homes reminded us of how wonderful it is for us to be able to live where we do.
When we look out of our living room area onto our (non-covered) deck, we see a wall of trees. That's healing. That's invigorating. Unless there's an ice storm, and the trees are crashing down.
Inside, our house has a warm feel with all the wood that was typical in houses built way back when. I shudder to think what all the lumber in our house would cost now, though I've heard that lumber prices have fallen from their shocking peak a while back.
So once again, we came away from a Tour of Homes visit feeling good about our own house. But I still wish we had a fireplace and a covered seating area outside, and Laurel would love to have a genuine walk-in closet.
UPDATE: A commenter on this post shared an interesting New York Times story from 2000, "In Portland, Houses Are Friendly. Or Else." A few excerpts:
They have seen the enemy creep into the settled, earth-toned neighborhoods of this city -- the boxy transplants from the suburban netherland. Houses that turn their backs to the street. Houses that embrace a nesting pair of monster-size sport utility vehicles and little else. Houses that give no idea where the front door might be.
Snout houses, they call them, all garage and muscled front facades. And for the last eight months, Portland has made the snout house illegal, going to a frontier of design dictate where no other big American city has gone before.
...In this ever-quirky city of just under half a million people, the term ''snout house'' has since been shunned as offensive to people who live in snout houses. But the offending structure has been clearly defined in the city code: the garage cannot dominate the front of the house or protrude; the main entrance has to be close to the street and clearly identifiable from the sidewalk; and the side of the house that faces the street must have a certain minimum of window and door space.
These are both snout houses! You couldn't build them in Portland where city code no longer allows them. People who want to live in a brand new snout house will need to move to Salem. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/20/garden/in-portland-houses-are-friendly-or-else.html
Posted by: Jim Scheppke | July 10, 2022 at 08:38 AM
Many Americans, including me, need a large house to store all their tchotchkes, brik-a-brac, and extra shoes. Someone in nearly every family also has a surprisingly large collection of books. That probably explains why the houses on these lots are bigger than would be ideal. Also, I am told that builders like to build large, expensive houses because the profit margins are better. I have heard the snout houses like these called "garagitecture," as distinguished from "architecture."
Posted by: Christine Chute | July 20, 2022 at 02:51 PM