In the Mississippi Historic District of Portland, Oregon, builders Jeff Gantert and Brad Bloom have put up three tiny, vernacular cottages that are available as rentals on an unusual (but highly likable) basis: for one month at a time.
Gantert and Bloom were inspired by the historical architecture of their neighborhood, and the cottages are built with loving, artistic attention to detail: kitchen wallpaper made from old flour sacks, flattened olive oil tins used to shed rain outside, deep-set windows and doors and built-in bookshelves, among many other architectural touches.
We caught up with Jeff Gantert via email to ask him a few questions about the cottages themselves and the short-term rental business.
Aol: What was your inspiration for the project?
Jeff Gantert: We live in the Mississippi Historic District of Portland, a small district with a large diverse collection of Formal Victorians, Queen Anne style homes, working class houses, small worker cottages and streetcar-era commercial buildings. The two circa 1890 cottages on Mason Avenue up the street were definitely a starting point in our design.
Aol: Where did the cottage designs come from?
JG: Brad and I both designed and built the cottages.
Aol: How many garden cottages are there? When did they open?
JG: There are three cottages, with one in the works for this spring. The Plum Tree cottage was finished in 2002, and the Sassafras and Tupelo cottages in the spring of 2008. The Plum Tree is 500 square feet and the Sassafras and Tupelo are 364 square feet.
Aol: According to your website, each cottage rents for $1,000 a month, and the minimum rental period is a month. Is that still current?
JG: Yes, with variations for the winter and summer seasons.
Aol: How has occupancy been? Is there a waiting list?
JG: Occupancy's been good. The cottages are usually rented, and we have had many people interested in longer term arrangements .
Aol: A month is a pretty long vacation by many peoples' standards. What purposes do you find that people rent for?
JG: Currently we have someone relocating to Portland, someone taking a month-long conflict resolution class, and we have had international visitors interning at several local businesses. Also we have had people who come to visit their families.
Aol: Are you aware of any other boutique rentals available on a similar time frame, in Portland or elsewhere?
JG: I resent the term "boutique rental." Brad and I constructed these living spaces so they would resonate with their inhabitants, not to make something "cute." There do seem to be more and more shorter-term rentals available in Portland. Maybe a sign of our economic time or a shifting population. We also continue to see a migration of people to our area.
See more pictures at the Cottages of Upper Albina website.