Mother Earth Living

A Chat with Melody of Emerick Architects

Mother Earth Living chats with Melody Emerick of Portland, Oregon-based Emerick Architects.
By Allison Martin
July/August 2013
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One of Melody's favorite things is spending time cooking and eating dinner with Brian and daughters Iris (left) and Lily.
Photo By David Papazian


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Mother Earth Living sits down to chat with Melody Emerick of Portland, Oregon-based Emerick Architects about her home and family. To read about the Emerick family's home, check out the original article, Built to Last.

What’s your favorite thing about your house?

That it is really livable.  We didn’t want a showpiece or a design statement. It is tough as architects to not want to flex those design muscles to try and impress people, but ultimately we wanted a home—a place where we raise our kids and family comes over for Thanksgiving and that we gather around the fireplace and read. We wanted it to be well-crafted and beautifully proportioned, but not fancy. We wanted to use every room in the house and enjoy the experience of being in it.

How do you encourage a love of the outdoors in your kids?

We are big outdoors people. We love to camp, and most weekends we do a family hike or run or something that takes us outside. Brian has a wooden drift boat that we take out on the water often. Brian loves to fly fish. Our girls jump off of the boat into freezing cold waters as we glide down a river.  Plus, we bike commute or walk to most places.

What’s a Sunday at your house like?

Sunday is my favorite day. We bike or walk down to the Hillsdale Farmers Market, load up on more food than we think we can consume, come home, crank the music, open a bottle of wine and cook a big meal.  Sometimes family or friends stop by too, but generally it is just the four of us. 

What’s your favorite way to entertain?

I like to cook something that can feed a big group—a large roast or a big pot of soup. We are pretty informal and I don’t like to rush a meal. I want to gather around our large dining table and chat through the evening. I never worry about dishes until after people leave, or even the next day.

What’s your favorite part of living with teenagers?

This is my favorite age by far. Everybody talks about teenagers, and the hormones and the emotions, but I love seeing who they are becoming. They are their own individuals and it is fascinating to watch them become talented, beautiful young women. They also have great senses of humor, so we all sit around laughing a lot. We crack ourselves up.

How do you keep work from taking over home life?

Everybody talks about boundaries, but I think of it as priorities and perspective. There is always something more I could be doing running a small business. But I get my balance and sense of joy out of the simple things of having a family. When we are all home together it actually feels like we are on a vacation, because it is so peaceful and relaxing.

Being a husband and wife that run a business together takes even more care. Brian and I actually prioritize spending more time together outside of work than some couples I know so that we remember we are a husband and wife first, and business partners second. I am a big believer in dates.

What sports are Iris and Lily into?

Cross country, track and swim team. They both are very musical and artistic too.  Between them they play the piano, guitar and sing.

What’s your favorite room in the house?

The master bedroom. It feels like a tree house. It is small and edited down, but like a little jewelbox. We have huge double-hung windows facing east, a vaulted truss ceiling and a wall of candles. We wanted it to be restful and romantic.

A super close second place would be the kitchen. It is the hub of the house, beautiful and very functional. I love how from one side I have a view through a wall of windows to my vegetable garden and looking out the other way I have a view to the forest. We love the farmers market down the road and cook huge meals all week long from the bounty we get.


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