Raphael packed up his truck and toured the country in 1992, and 10 months later he settled in Portland, where his brother lived. He quickly fell in love with the city’s stately Craftsman homes—and rediscovered his passion for residential design, working briefly for an architect, then for a home builder. In 1993, a friend asked Raphael to repair his front porch. One carpentry job led to another, and soon Raphael was running a small furniture-making and remodeling company, Raphael Design.

Raphael’s creative impulses arise, he says, simply from his love of wood and woodworking.

Among Raphael’s clients was an old high school friend and his wife, who’d also relocated to Portland. Pleased with Raphael’s remodel of their Laurelhurst house, the couple invited him to design and build their vacation residence in Hood River. It was an opportunity that experienced architects his age rarely encountered, and Raphael grabbed it, completing the 3,000-square-foot home by the end of 2006. “To trust me, given that I hadn’t built a house before, and let me take it to that level, was great,” he says.

That same year, it came time for his own family to put the same trust in him. He and his wife, Rachel, had purchased a double lot on Mount Tabor in 2002. After subdividing the property and renovating and selling the existing house, Raphael designed a home for the vacant corner lot. The couple’s intention was to sell it immediately, but finding it easier to design the building with a particular client in mind, Raphael tailored it to the needs of his own growing brood. By the time construction finally commenced in 2006, he and his family had decided they wanted the home for themselves.

In part to maximize the home’s resale value, Raphael gave it a fairly conventional outward appearance—gable roof, cedar-shingle siding, big garage. Still, as the framing went up, his neighbors worried over whether it would fit in with the surrounding stock, which ranges from old Colonial revivals to midcentury ranches. “Before the sloped roof went on, a neighbor asked, ‘Is this going to be architectural?’—as if that was a bad word,” Raphael recalls. “My employee said to him, ‘If you’re asking whether it’s going to be nice, the answer is yes.’”