Eric and Mimi Kauffman’s 1912 cabin in Oregon is a bold reflection of the zest for life, relaxation and cuisine. Bright colors and a lush garden invite those strolling by to linger and revel in the superb aroma in the kitchen window.
The couple spent the first few decades of the marriage traveling far and wide, directed by their bohemian spirits. As it came time to put down roots, they chose Halfway, Oregon, nestled in Pine Valley near the magnificent Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.Halfway is also the gateway to Hell’s Canyon and the Snake River. This town, with a population of 350, is known for ranching, outdoor recreation and, above all, hospitality.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Eric and Mimi Kauffman and their cat, Dottie
Location: Halfway, Oregon
Size: 1,200 square feet; 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms
Sarah Greenman: What do you love in your community?
Mimi Kauffman: Halfway is the nicest neighborhood of individuals we’ve ever known, and we’ve lived in a great deal of places. People here take some time. You can’t go shopping. You can’t be a spectator. I can’t be as expansive within an urban area as I can here. In the city, you are so busy being busy you could forget that you are. You must have room to let your ideas come through.
Eric Kauffman: Halfway Is a Superb place. And I really like everything about our residence.
SG: What drew you to this home?
MK: I helped a friend move here in 1988. Eric and I returned every once in a while with our trailer for holidays. We came back in 1998 after having lived in Mexico for a while. We arrived on July 5 and so were moved in by mid-August. We looked in a great deal of areas, but they had acreage. We wanted something manageable.
Mimi’s backyard garden is a cornucopia of climbing vines, flowering shrubs, potted plants and hanging baskets.
MK: I totally love flowers. I told my kids that if there is a inheritance money, forget about it. I am spending every last cent on flowers.
The Kauffmans newly retired in the restaurant industry. They also owned and operated a location named Mimi’s on the main road in Halfway for several decades. The tile sign dangling on their porch used to decorate the front of the restaurant.
SG: What motivates your personal personality?
MK: Everything inspires me. It’s a really intuitive thing. I like color and flowers and traveling. Basically, if it makes me more happy, I really do it.
The foyer is a large, open area with passageways on four sides. A set of French doors leads to the porch, a doorway opens to the workplace, an open breezeway contributes to the living room and a staircase extends to a family room and 2 small bedrooms.
MK: I like “workouts” I don’t like to feel trapped. It’s wonderful to know that in any moment, I could be out the door and on my way.
A home office/music room is located just off the foyer and gives room for the couple’s many instruments. Eric plays guitar, trombone, cello and a host of other instruments. He also plays and sings in a local band called The Halfwits. Mimi is also a gifted musician and plays mandolin and guitar.
SG: What did you do to make the home yours?
MK: Paint. The whole home was covered in a soul-sucking white. I had to eliminate it.
SG: Where’s your favourite place to shop for home products?
MK: I am a hunter-gatherer. I can’t give you resources for the things in my home, since they’re just one of a type or I can’t remember!
The kitchen is an explosion of color. Periwinkle walls and lime-green trim are just the beginning of this eye catching space. Mimi and Eric are both amazing chefs and desired a kitchen which inspired their culinary endeavors.
MK: Can you feel there are 21 different paint colors in my residence? It’s a whole lot, I understand, but all of it seems to work. I learned to appreciate food in Thailand, and I learned to appreciate color in Mexico.
When it’s sunflower year, the Kauffman home is always filled with bright yellow blossoms. Volunteer sunflowers have made an annual home on a wall behind the couple’s garage and keep the home in sunflowers throughout the summer.
MK: What’s a surprise. I really like the process of collecting and bringing it all together.
A trendy, easy blue master bedroom on the second floor tempers the high energy of this kitchen below. A traditional wooden bed frame is flanked by 2 low-profile side tables; those pieces are the sole furniture items within the room. A large east-facing window overlooks the side yard.
A narrow hall contributes to a very small bathroom, typical in size for a home this age, and a second bedroom, which Mimi uses as her studio. Even though there are four different colors of trim and two separate wall colors in the photo above, it seems to work.
SG: what’s your favorite place in the home?
EK: Everywhere. Seriously, I really like every area within this home.
MK: Each component! I am comfortable everywhere. But if I had to choose, I’d say my own studio. My area has that special quality — when I go in there, I know I’m going to love what I am doing, whether it’s yoga or art or anything.
Mimi’s studio is well stocked for making art. She consistently includes jars of brushes, boxes of loose and paints paper ready to go. There are little homages to Mexico throughout the Kauffman home. Bright Dia de los Muertos art hangs over her bookcase.
Mimi also believes her studio a sacred space for yoga and meditation. A Buddha painted on fabric oversees an altar of meaningful objects. A stained glass floral motif hangs from the window and then diffuses the night light.
When the Kauffmans moved into the cabin, they pulled an ugly chain link fence which separated them by their neighbor and planted a vegetable garden across the property line. The few now refer to their backyard as “The Park.”
The back porch is just spacious enough to house the spa. Outdoor shades roll to protect the porch from sun or snow.
SG: What was the biggest design dilemma?
MK: The home had no garage or outdoor storage, which can be tough to get a location that gets snow all winter. We had to create a detached garage in the back of the house.
EK: We can’t get the vehicle in it right now. But it is a good place for bikes and all our extra stuff.
The painted garage door is ornately carved and surrounded by a mossy ground cover. Whimsical fish tiles are set into the cement measure.
SG: What is the most recent home improvement project?
EK: I began painting the exterior in April of this year . I’ve just got one little remaining patch around the west side. Once that is done, I will be finished for a while.
Renaissance girl Mimi Kauffman can often be found on her front porch enjoying the most recent issue of The Sun Magazine.
SG: Any advice for other homeowners looking to break from the color rut?
MK: You have to specify what it is you love on your own. Then step back and let the colors shine through.
telephone: Do you live in a colorful cabin? Discuss it with us!