Dale Lumpkin of F. Dale Lumpkin G.C. says he never builds the same home twice.
THOUGH HE’S NEVER taken a mechanical drawing class, Dale Lumpkin has been designing homes most of his 41-year career. Even as a 4-year-old, he was outlining crude floor plans instead of drawing crayon houses.
Whether it’s a contemporary, French, Mediterranean or northern European-style home, Lumpkin, a designer and general contractor, works from the vision in his mind.
“I don’t know how I do this,” he says. “I just do.”
Those decades of exercising his creative muscle have paid off. When his homes are resold, realtors often list the properties as “Dale Lumpkin” homes. Starting from nothing every time, Lumpkin’s homes are a true artistic process, a vision that takes shape along with the home.
“We know people who build a lot of houses,” he says. “They have three or four floor plans, and they know exactly what’s going to happen. My homes start with a design, then during the building process new design opportunities present themselves to make the home even better.
“The reason I build, I think, is my creative side,” Lumpkin adds. “It gives me an outlet. I’d make more money building 100 houses a year, but I don’t think I’d like that at all.”
His wife, Peggy, wrote about his work in a book, “The Lumpkin Dream Home.”
“He doesn’t use typical terminology,” she said. “He will just try out different ideas. He says he suddenly sees a ‘thread’ and pulls it together. It’s very unusual.”
Though Lumpkin caters to each client, he does seem to go through style phases.
“When I did the book of his first 30 years of homes, I realized he had done a large number in the ’80s of what I call hip houses — with one big hip roof over the house with rounded corners extended over the walls, supported by pillars,” she says. “It gives almost a longhouse kind of look.”
In an area where contemporary homes are not the norm, Lumpkin made his mark as an innovative designer who incorporated techniques to make flat roofs work in Oregon’s heavy precipitation and used negative space to turn a home into modern art.
“Many of his contemporary designs incorporate outside soffeting to add negative space to the exterior, what I call ‘air’ rooms,” Peggy says. “Those are my favorites.
“Dale made his name, really, as a designer of contemporaries and he tries when he does traditional homes — if that’s what a client wants — to make sure they have all the best of modern technology, so they’re very
livable for today’s client,” Peggy adds.
A Creative Start
After graduating college with a business degree, Dale found himself in the building industry, selling trusses and doors, but eventually moved to creating his first home, which sold for around $17,000. Now, he builds homes with up to $4 million budgets and remodels in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.
He tackles a handful of houses and remodels a year. For new construction, he starts with room sizes and builds out to an overall plan that blends the exterior and interior.
“Normally, what I do is ask: What rooms do you want?” he says. “I say give me room sizes, and then I piece them together. It’s like a puzzle.
“I try to make the inside and the outside reflect each other, to have a similar feel,” Lumpkin adds. “In so many houses, you love the house outside but walk inside and can’t make sense of it. I like to make them go
Enjoying interior design and landscaping as well, the Lumpkins have delivered turnkey homes, those designed and furnished right down to linens and dishes.
That eye for details and artistic touch has become a trademark of Lumpkin Homes. A local homebuilders association recently created a new award for one of his homes: “Best Attention to Detail.”
“A lot of architects, when they design, don’t think about how much something costs,” he says. “I try to get a great effect without having to spend a lot of money to do it. I think that’s one difference from other builders.”
Dale says he always lays out homes in a way that is sensitive to the home’s environment — and practical, too.
“One thing a lot of people do wrong in a subdivision is place a bathtub by a window close to another house,” he says. “I design my houses so you feel like you’re private but you still have a vista around you.”