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Sue Firpo has a Bachelors of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After working in architecture firms in California and London, Sue relocated to Portland, Oregon to gain experience working hands on in the construction trades. Five years of experience included carpentry, cabinetry, traditional timber framing, furniture and glass work.

After returning to office life, Sue established SL Firpo Design/Craft in 2000. The practice specializes in the design of residential and small commercial buildings and combines an extensive knowledge of construction techniques with thoughtful, artful design.

Sue is a member of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and the Cascadia Region Green Building Council. Sue is also a graduate of the intensive Sustainable Homes Professional certification program through Earth Advantage.


Good design has the ability to improve people's lives. And good design involves the thoughtfulness and patience to evaluate a project and its environment in balance with the needs and budget of the client.

SL Firpo Design/Craft advocates environmentally responsible building practices and the use of sustainable materials. Energy efficient design strategies are integral to every project. For example, with careful planning and proper site orientation, virtually any type of architecture can integrate passive solar design.

Every project, large or small, benefits from identifying "best practices" to minimize energy consumption and material waste. We work to expand our experience and knowledge of sustainable practices through on going education and through the research of new (and old) technologies. Knowledge is constantly enriched by collaborations with our peers, consultants and mentors.

Creativity and problem solving are essential to carry a project from conception to fruition. Valuable experience as "owner/builder/developer" has allowed SL Firpo Design/Craft a perspective from multiple sides of the table. We bring the sensitivity and sensibility to hold the big picture through the course of the project, ensuring that the overall design remains intact and in synchronicity with the needs and budget of the client.



ALBERTA ARTS - This project is an Energy Star/Earth Advantage certified new residence. The home was designed using passive solar design strategies. The ample south facing windows capture solar gain in the winter months and yet are shaded in the summer by cantilevers and generous overhangs. The home is sited with the long portion on the east-west axis to capture winds for optimum natural ventilation. Other features include water efficient landscaping, solar hot water, hydronic in-floor heat, and the home is pre-wired for a 2kW photovoltaic solar panel system. There was extensive use of reclaimed building materials, including stair treads made from discarded glu-lam beams found on the site at the time of purchase.
Owner/developer: Sl Firpo Design/Craft | Contractor: Olson Design Build

OVERLOOK - This new accessory unit is a guest house complimenting the architectural style of the existing residence.

YACHATS - Overleaf Village is a 22-unit development located in Yachats, Oregon adjacent to the Overleaf Lodge. Working in conjunction with the owners of the Overleaf Lodge, consultant David Laws and landscape architect Jason Graf, the goal was to create a neighborhood that, not only, is architecturally compatible with the Yachats community but also, maintains the air, water and land resources of the area. We restored the existing stream, created a stone bridge over the stream, provided public trails to the beach and to open spaces. There are no attached garages, but rather modest carports or detached garages in obscured locations. The scope of the project also included designing five model homes for the neighborhood, creating a palette of colors for the development, and providing design consulting to the owners of the houses as the lots sold.
Developer: Grand Pacific LL


LAURELHURST - The contractor/owner of this residence enjoys purchasing dilapidated houses more than anyone. This trashed house on a gorgeous street was no exception. Three rooms with potential lying in the existing woodwork were restored to former grandeur. The rest of the house was gutted. The whole house design included: re-excavating the existing basement to allow ample headroom for a self-sufficient accessory unit, a new generous second level to accommodate a large family, and the restoration/reproduction of exterior craftsman era architectural elements.
Engineer: BK Engineers | Contractor: Olson Design Build

MULTNOMAH VILLAGE - A family of four was bursting at the seams in their existing 732 square foot home. The whole house remodel/addition included space for making art projects, entertaining, and comfortable private and public spaces. Attention was given to creating places to display artwork collected from the client's travels. Also included in the scope of work was the construction of the timber framed roof structure in collaboration with blacksmith Jan Katz.

HUMBOLT - This full second story remodel, first floor addition & partial basement remodel is located in historic Piedmont Conservation District. Designation in an historic district requires a separate & fairly rigorous Design Review during the permit process. It was important to the clients (and to the building department) that the remodel design reinforce the area's historic significance and enhance the historic features of the existing building. At the same time , these environmentally conscious clients needed more room for their expanding family and comfortable access for people and bicycles alike.
Engineer: BK Engineers | Contractor: Justin Rideout Construction

REED - This residential remodel is located in an environmental Conservation Overlay Zone in an area of the Johnson Creek Watershed. This designation required that we participate in a complex environmental review as part of the permit process. It was imperative that we minimize the disturbance area of the site to protect the watershed. The design incorporated the existing paved area of the property to develop an addition that could house two families merged in marriage. The existing bi-level residence transformed into a tri-level residence by taking full advantage of the existing carport. Still, the space available to us was compact. The key was efficient space planning to accommodate an office for two professionals and a bedroom suite for a very active teenager.
Engineer: BK Engineers | Contractor: David Rush

WALNUT PARK - The existing 1920 house had suffered the consequences of years of renters and unfortunate "remuddles". The house was dismantled, gutted and brought back to take its rightful place on a street full of classic Portland houses. There was extensive use of reclaimed building materials in this project. Most of the kitchen cabinets were made from re-milling the dismantled douglas fir roof rafters. All of the rest of the built-ins were made from reclaimed lumber as well. A lot of focus was given to create interesting textures and built-ins accessible for a young child to explore.
Owner/Builder : SL Firpo Design/Craft

WOODBURN - To say that the owners of this historic house are AVID gardeners is a gross understatement. The property surrounding the house is a magnificent jungle of unusual and extraordinary plants. Yet, the clients needed comfortable access to their back yard. The design took the shape of a garden den that could house , not only, some of their impressive collection of antiques, but also, two parakeets as well as provide ground level access to two sides of the garden.


A unique characteristic of our practice is our ability to fabricate certain elements of a project ourselves. Examples have included unusual built-in storage, countertops, original windows and doors and unique stairways. A fully equipped wood shop and glass studio enables us to use materials and techniques that would be conventionally prohibitive. Much of the shop work shown here reflects our collection of reclaimed lumber and vintage glass. The process of working through the fabrication ourselves and in collaboration with other artisans allows the project to move from conception to reality on an enriching pathway. The end product reflects the work of creative and careful artisans with every intention to celebrate the beauty of the materials used. Ultimately, the entire project benefits. The overall design gets finely tuned as each detail gets refined. We advocate an integral approach to design that encourages the relationship between art and industry.


Kitchens and baths have more demands on them than any other rooms in a home. Not only do these spaces need to provide specific functions for the people that occupy them, they also need to house a ton of stuff in a comfortable and logical way. Function in these spaces is paramount. Thankfully, as a nice benefit, theses spaces also provide great opportunities to express the personalities of their inhabitants.


LOVELY HULA HANDS 1 - The first location of Lovely Hula Hands was located in a house, originally built in 1910, in the N. Mississippi area of Portland. The house had suffered substantial neglect. The project required a change of occupancy from Single Family Residence (R3) to Restaurant (B). The building design then incorporated an addition to house a compact, efficient kitchen and a new, wheelchair accessible ramp that complemented the style of the original house. The design of the two level restaurant was kept as simple and open as possible so that the artistic owners could display their fabulous collection of vintage "everything".
Engineer: BK Engineers | Contractor: Justin Rideout

LOVELY HULA HANDS 2 - The second location of Lovely Hula Hands restaurant was located on N. Mississippi avenue in Portland. The original two level brick building had suffered substantial neglect. In the design of the restaurant, we kept the brick shell, seismically reinforced the brick and gutted the interior. The second floor framing was dismantled to remove the molding and rotting joists, salvaging as many of them as possible. The salvaged joists went back to the project in the form of benches and tables. An employee stairway was added to access a second level kitchen capable of accommodating a kitchen staff. The design of the two story building was kept as simple and open as possible so that the artistic owners can display their fabulous collection of vintage "everything".

CASA NARANJA - Formerly the offices of Vintage Real Estate, the owners of the company decided to move the office upstairs and open a restaurant. The design converted the main level into a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant. With lots of sweat equity from owner Chris Broderick, the building transformed into an inviting restaurant. The restaurant includes a large bar, eating nooks and an enormous outdoor sandbox patio.

WOODLAWN - Currently under construction in the Woodlawn triangle on NE Dekum Avenue, this historic building is being converted into a cafe on the main level with two spacious apartments above. Upon completion, the Firehouse restaurant located across the street will open their new bakery on the ground floor.
Contractor: Justin Rideout


American Bungalow Online Magazine
Featured Article:"From Trashed to Treasured", May 2005

An American Artisan Online Magazine
Featured Artisan
Stained Glass: "SL Firpo Leaded Glass Studio", Fall 2007, Issue #4

Oregonian, Homes and Gardens.
"Quintessential - Five Portland Homes", Oct 28 2004

"Housing Costs", Oct 3 2006


For More Information,
Sue Firpo, SHP
tel :: 503.282.6885
cel :: 503.758.6928
fax :: 503.493.4234
email us at [email protected]