Lovers of the Columbia River Gorge will swoon over this beautiful vacation retreat perched right on Neal Creek, just an hour outside Portland, Oregon. Designed by Portland-based practice Paul McKean Architecture to embrace the outdoors, this two-bedroom weekend getaway was crafted to maximize valley and water views while minimizing impact on the natural environment. The owners—both outdoor enthusiasts—sought an environmentally friendly home that they now serves as a vacation rental available for all to rent.


retreat exterior

dining area

To minimize site impact, Paul McKean Architecture raised the habitable part of the home to one full floor above grade, creating a top-heavy form with elevated views of the creek and treetop canopy. Set atop a concrete plinth, the second level is clad in horizontal planks of timber.

kitchen and dining space

living area

“Their wooded two-acre parcel of land presented many unique challenges including wetlands, creek protection setbacks, and floodplain restrictions,” explains the architecture in a project statement. “Lifting the main space protects the house from potential flooding and brush fire damage while making way for a covered outdoor patio and much needed gear storage below. At the uppermost level, a future planted roof will replace the landscape lost to the building footprint and reduces heat gain to the interior spaces.”

open plan living area

retreat in winter

Related: Spend the night in this magical Hobbit House tucked into the Washington shire

Completed in 2008 for a project budget of $185,000, the weekend retreat spans 960 square feet. However, full-height glazing and white walls give the home a more spacious feel than its size lets on. The two bedrooms include two queen beds, while two twin beds can be added to the hallway; the retreat can sleep a total of six people. The year-round nightly rate at the Neal Creek Retreat starts at $230.

+ Paul McKean Architecture

Images by Stephen Tamiesie