You may recall the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—the most substantial overhaul to the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years—went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The result was likely a big change to your taxes, especially the tax perks of homeownership. This revised tax code is still in effect today.

You may remember that in the past two years, the Internal Revenue Service delayed filing season by about two weeks due to COVID-19. But don’t look for extensions this year, as the date for filing is April 18, 2022. (According to the IRS, “The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states.”)

You might be wondering what else besides a change in the standard filing dates you need to beware of before filing your 2021 taxes, like whether your work-from-home setup might qualify for a tax deduction.

Whatever questions you have, look no further than this complete guide to all the tax benefits of owning a home, where we run down all the tax breaks homeowners should be aware of when they file their 2021 taxes in 2022. Read on to ensure you aren’t missing anything that could save you money!

Tax code audit is long overdue | The Hill

Tax break 1: Mortgage interest

Homeowners with a mortgage that went into effect before Dec. 15, 2017, can deduct interest on loans up to $1 million.

“However, for acquisition debt incurred after Dec. 15, 2017, homeowners can only deduct the interest on the first $750,000,” says Lee Reams Sr., chief content officer of TaxBuzz.

Why it’s important: The ability to deduct the interest on a mortgage continues to be a significant benefit of owning a home. And the more recent your mortgage, the greater your tax savings.

“The way mortgage payments are amortized, the first payments are almost all interest,” says Wendy Connick, owner of Connick Financial Solutions. (See how your loan amortizes and how much you’re paying in interest with this online mortgage calculator.)

Note that the mortgage interest deduction is an itemized deduction. This means that for it to work in your favor, all of your itemized deductions (there are more below) need to be greater than the new standard deduction, which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled.

And note that those standard deduction amounts increased for the 2021 tax year. For individuals, the deduction is now $12,550 (up $150 from 2020), and it’s $25,100 for married couples filing jointly (up $300 from 2020). The deduction also went up to $18,800 for the head of household (up $150 from 2020). And if you’re 65 or older, you can add on an extra $1,350 per person if married and filing jointly or an extra $1,700 if you’re a head of household or a single filer.

As a result of these increased standard deductions, itemizing your deductions may simply not be worth it this filing season.

So when would itemizing work in your favor? As one example, if you’re a married couple under 65 who paid $20,000 in mortgage interest and $6,000 in state and local taxes, you would exceed the standard deduction and be able to reduce your taxable income by an additional $900 by itemizing.

Tax break 2: Property taxes

This deduction is capped at $10,000 for those married filing jointly no matter how high the taxes are. (Here’s more info on how to calculate property taxes.)

Why it’s important: Taxpayers can take one $10,000 deduction, says Brian Ashcraft, director of compliance at Liberty Tax Service.

Just note that property taxes are on that itemized list of all of your deductions that must add up to more than your particular standard deduction to be worth your while.

And remember that if you have a mortgage, your property taxes are built into your monthly payment.

Tax break 3: Private mortgage insurance

If you put less than 20% down on your home, odds are you’re paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which costs from 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan.

But here’s some good news for PMI holders: You can deduct the interest on this insurance thanks to the Mortgage Insurance Tax Deduction Act of 2021, which reinstated certain deductions and credits for homeowners that were set to expire in 2020.

“These include the deduction for PMI,” says Laura Fogel, certified public accountant at Gonzalez and Associates in Massachusetts.

Why it’s important: The PMI interest deduction is also an itemized deduction. But if you can take it, it might help push you over the $25,100 standard deduction for married couples under 65. And here’s how much you’ll save: If you make $100,000 and put down 5% on a $200,000 house, you’ll pay about $1,500 in annual PMI premiums and thus cut your taxable income by $1,500. Nice!

Tax break 4: Energy efficiency upgrades

The Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit was a tax incentive for installing alternative energy upgrades in a home. Most of these tax credits expired after December 2016; however, two credits are still around (but not for long). The credits for solar electric and solar water-heating equipment are now available to Dec. 31, 2023, says Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting, a New York–based accounting firm.

The SECURE Act also retroactively reinstated a $500 deduction for certain qualified energy-efficient upgrades “such as exterior windows, doors, and insulation,” says Fogel.

Why it’s important: You can still save a tidy sum on your solar energy. And—bonus!—this is a credit, so no worrying about itemizing here. However, the percentage of the credit varies based on the installation date. For example, for equipment installed after Dec. 31, 2019 and before Jan. 1, 2023, 26% of the expenditure is eligible for the credit. Note that figure will drop to 22% for installation after Dec. 31, 2022 and Jan. 1, 2024. As of now, the credit ends entirely after 2024.

Tax break 5: A home office

Good news for all self-employed people whose home office is the principal place where they work: You can deduct $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet, of office space, which amounts to a maximum deduction of $1,500.

For those who can take the deduction, understand that there are very strict rules on what constitutes a dedicated, fully deductible home office space. Here’s more on the much-misunderstood home office tax deduction.

The fine print: The bad news for everyone forced to work at home due to COVID-19? Unfortunately, if you are a W-2 employee, you’re not eligible for the home office deduction under the CARES Act, even if you spent most of 2021 in your home office.

Tax break 6: Home improvements to age in place

To get this break, these home improvements will need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. So if you make $60,000, this deduction kicks in only on money spent over $4,500.

The cost of these improvements can result in a nice tax break for many older homeowners who plan to age in place and add renovations such as wheelchair ramps or grab bars in bathrooms. Deductible improvements might also include widening doorways, lowering cabinets or electrical fixtures, and adding stairlifts.

The fine print: You’ll need a letter from your doctor to prove these changes were medically necessary.

Tax break 7: Interest on a home equity line of credit

If you have a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, the interest you pay on that loan is deductible only if that loan is used specifically to “buy, build, or improve a property,” according to the IRS. So you’ll save cash if your home’s crying out for a kitchen overhaul or half-bath. But you can’t use your home as a piggy bank to pay for college or throw a wedding.

The fine print: You can deduct only up to the $750,000 cap, and this is for the amount you pay in interest on your HELOC and mortgage combined. (And if you took out a HELOC before the new 2018 tax plan for anything besides improvements to your home, you cannot legally deduct the interest.)


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So you made it through the closing process. Congrats! You’re finally off the emotional roller coaster that is shopping for and bidding on a house. The inspections are complete, the paperwork has been signed, and you have the keys to your new place. Welcome to your new life as a homeowner.

But even though your home purchase is complete, you might not be quite ready to move in. Many buyers delay moving into their new home for a number of reasons. Some might want to ride out the lease at their apartment. Others might be relocating and need to tie up loose ends at their old job.

Regardless of your reason for not moving in right away, one thing is for sure: You should shore up your new home before leaving it vacant.

“You need to keep the property looking good, even if you aren’t there yet,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving” and a real estate broker at Baird and Warner in Winnetka, IL.

Experts recommend you take the following steps—not just for aesthetic reasons but also as a safety precaution.

Change the Locks—and 7 Other Steps You Should Take To Protect Your Vacant Home After Closing

1. Do a walk-through gain

Remember that final walk-through you did before closing? You should do a similar walk-through before leaving your house vacant for a while.

Look at all the essential home components—like the appliances and the systems—especially the parts of the house that were flagged as issues during the inspection.

“Ensure that all appliances are in good working order. This includes testing the HVAC system and seeing that the hot water works,” says Wenzke.

If you waived a home inspection, it’s a good idea to have an official inspection done before you leave the house vacant. That way, you can repair any critical issues now so they don’t turn into bigger headaches.

2. Change the locks

Think about it: The keys you got at closing might not be the only ones in existence.

“You never know who else had access to your home besides the seller, so it’s best to change your locks for your personal safety,” says Wenzke.

Be sure to lock all the windows and doors and change the locks (or get new codes) for all exterior doors and the garage.

3. Introduce yourself to the neighbors

It might seem like an old-school (and slightly scary) thing to do, but it’s a good idea to establish a friendly rapport with your new neighbors.

“Let them know you’re not moving in just yet and ask them if they can keep an eye out for activity at the home,” says Stacy Brown, director of technical training at Real Property Management, a Neighborly Company.

They may even be willing to collect your mail and newspapers and store packages that are left for you before you officially move in.

4. Create a lived-in look

Grab a few lamps from your old house (and maybe even a sofa or bookshelf) and place them in a room that’s visible from the street.

“It will give the appearance of the home being lived in,” says Brown.

Or, install smart lighting in your new house and program the lights to turn on at certain times of the day. If the curtains and blinds weren’t included in the sale, hang curtains in the house, especially if you’re storing items.

“This will keep prying eyes from looking in to see if the house is vacant,” says Brown.

Hang a seasonal wreath on the front door, or put out a welcome mat to make it look like someone’s home.

5. Invest in smart home devices

Beef up the security of your home with motion sensors and other smart security systems.

“It’s also helpful to install a smart HVAC system so you can control the temperature of your home from afar to avoid any freezing pipes,” says Wenzke.

If your new house has a nonprogrammable system, Brown recommends setting the air conditioning to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. During the winter, set the thermostat to 65. If you live in an area that reaches below-freezing temperatures, open the cabinet doors below the sinks to keep warm air circulating to help keep pipes from freezing and bursting.

6. Protect against plumbing disasters

When you finally move in, the last thing you want to be greeted with is standing water inside your home. Brown says you have a couple of options to protect your home against unforeseen plumbing catastrophes.

One simple strategy is to turn off the main water valve.

You can also install a water leak detection device. Choose a smart model that senses water leaks, sends an alert to your phone, and automatically shuts off the water.

7. Hire a pro to maintain the exterior

An overgrown lawn is unsightly and essentially announces to the neighborhood that no one is home. If you’re not moving in for a while, hire a landscaping company to keep your home’s exterior looking polished.

While you’re at, put out the no-vacancy sign on unwanted critters.

“Consider having a pest control service come by to keep bugs and rodents out of the home,” says Brown.

If winter is coming, hire someone to remove snow from the driveway and walkways so it looks like someone is home.

8. Paint the walls and deep-clean

The advantage of not moving in right away is that you can take care of some home maintenance without having to live amid the chaos. If you’re planning on painting the walls or replacing the flooring, do so now before you move all your stuff in.

“Working with a blank canvas is a luxury most homeowners don’t get. Once the boxes and furniture come in, it takes additional effort to paint the walls and refinish the floors,” says Wenzke.

After the improvements are made, hire a professional cleaning service to do a deep cleaning.

“The best gift you can give yourself on moving day is an immaculate home,” says Wenzke.


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It’s been a mad, mad world the past few years, and that very much includes the real estate market. But the times, they are a changin’—yet again. And the good news for potential homebuyers is that the “anything goes” rules of the COVID-19 pandemic housing market frenzy are lifting.

While we have yet to reach homeostasis—where buyers and sellers have equal power—there are signs of a more balanced real estate exchange.

In fact, even with rising interest rates and inflation, a recent survey by fintech mortgage lender Lower found that nearly 6 in 10 potential homebuyers (56%) felt that right now was the right time to buy a house.

How is that possible? While higher interest rates mean some potential buyers will find themselves unable to qualify for a mortgage, this cooling demand benefits the buyers who are still out there, giving them more options—and a little more negotiating power.

Granted, exactly how much power buyers have will vary by location—certain stubbornly hot markets will remain a struggle. But the prevailing winds are blowing a bit more in favor of buyers these days. As such, many of the crazy rules you were hearing (and likely following) during the past two years of real estate pandemonium no longer apply.

To help you reset for this new world, here are some of the pandemic-era real estate rules that are now OK to break.

6 Homebuying ‘Rules’ You’ve Heard Lately—and Should Actually Break

1. ‘If you love a house, you have to make an offer immediately’

During the pandemic, if you hesitated on a house, someone else would very well scoop it up on the spot. Today, however, there may be a little more time to think before you make an offer.

“In the past couple of years, you’d need to put an offer in within hours of seeing a home,” says Elizabeth Sugar Boese, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Boulder, CO. “And while inventory is still low, there are a lot more homes available on the market than throughout the pandemic since 2020. This has provided buyers an opportunity to actually shop around.”® Chief Economist Danielle Hale agrees, saying that homes are taking longer to sell this year than last. (Listings currently linger 50 days—7 days longer than a year earlier.)

“In general, you likely have more time to make an offer, although that’s certainly not a guarantee,” says Hale. “If you’re on the fence about a home or its asking price doesn’t quite fit your budget, you might want to keep an eye on it, and if it doesn’t sell right away, you may have some room to negotiate with the seller.”

In fact, Boese recently worked with clients who fell in love with a home.

“We wanted to put an offer in right away, but also wanted to buy it for less than list price—so we waited a month,” says Boese.

After a month, it was still on the market, which meant her buyers could also break another cardinal pandemic rule. (See our next point.)

2. ‘Prepare to pay way over the asking price’

Boese’s clients were eyeing a home listed for $1,100,000—though their budget was $1,000,000. While lowballing by $100,000 would have been laughable a year earlier, Boese knew it could work today, so they gave it a try.

“We explained that the market had shifted, the home needed a lot of updates, and we were willing to do the renovations but also had an eye on several other properties,” says Boese. “The sellers accepted without any counteroffer, and it appraised for the list price. Instant $100,000 equity.”

This story proves that buyers no longer need to pay over the list price to get the house. In fact, data shows that the share of homes with price cuts has reached nearly 20% today, up from 11% a year earlier.

“With the housing market shifting, it’s really not necessary to go all in on a home in an effort to win the bid, unless it’s in an area that is still hot,” says Jason Gelios, real estate agent with Community Choice Realty in Southeast Michigan and author of “Think Like a Realtor.” “In fact, currently I have more buyers offering less than the asking price because there aren’t many buyers.”

3. ‘Once you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll know what you can afford’

During the pandemic, interest rates were at historic lows. So when people got pre-approved for a mortgage, they could probably assume it would hold once they found a home they wanted to buy.

Today, however, the wild volatility of mortgage rates means that what homebuyers could afford to buy could vary from one week to the next.

As a result, Hale recommends regularly “stress-testing” your budget by running the numbers on a wide range of possible mortgage interest rates so that you can be prepared no matter what happens.

Recent mortgage rates have been moving up and down enough to impact home shopping budgets in a big way,” says Hale.

In other words, pre-approval is no guarantee; make sure to check again at current interest rates before making an offer that is within your financial reach.

4. ‘Waiving contingencies is worth the risk to get the house’

During the peak of COVID-19, many homebuyers were waiving contingencies left and right. From forgoing home inspections to adding appraisal waivers, buyers were putting themselves in a risky position just to win a bid on a home.

“At the height of the pandemic, one of our buyers—an older single lady—was in fierce competition with other buyers for a small cottage that was over 100 years old, and we advised her she would have to waive all inspections and contingencies in order for her offer to be competitive,” says Colleen Gustavson Brownell, a real estate agent with Hunt Country Sotheby’s International Realty in Leesburg, VA. “She did exactly that and ended up with the winning contract.”

Fortunately, in this case, the property proved not to have any major issues.

“The risks this buyer had to take in order to buy her dream cottage luckily worked out in her favor,” says Brownell. “But under normal circumstances—such as today’s rapidly shifting market—we would rarely advise any buyer to waive home inspections because there is too much risk involved.”

Contingencies not only protect homebuyers, but can also bolster their borrowing power.

Tan Tunador, a senior loan officer with Atlantic Coast Mortgage, in Loudon County, VA, recently worked with a couple who couldn’t qualify for a mortgage without selling their current home.

“I asked them why they didn’t make their offer contingent upon the sale of their home, and they had no idea that they could even do that today,” says Tunador.

The couple submitted a new offer with the home sale contingency, which was enough to get the deal done.

“For more than two years, we’ve seen no home sale contingencies,” Tunador explains. “Now, my team has six loans in process with this contingency.”

5. ‘Don’t dare ask a seller for concessions’

During the pandemic, asking a seller for concessions probably meant losing the deal. But now that mortgage rates have topped 6%, asking for a little financial help is no longer verboten.

“The pandemic rule was ‘do what the seller wants.’ But now, more and more buyers are asking for price concessions, closing cost assistance, and scenarios buying the interest rate down,” says Tunador. “In the DC metro area, we are seeing homes sit on the market longer and buyers not being afraid to ask for concessions or price discounts.”

6. ‘You’ll need 20% down on a conventional loan’

High down payments were one of the ways potential homebuyers won competitive bids during the pandemic. That left some extremely qualified buyers who were being more conservative with their funds in a tough spot.

For example, during Chicago’s red-hot market, real estate agent Brian Kwilosz had highly qualified buyers who could afford to put down 20%, but preferred to put down just 5%, allowing them plenty of funds left over for renovations later on. They ended up losing several bidding wars.

“Finally, we had the lender issue an additional approval letter stating they were qualified for a 20% down conventional mortgage and were just as qualified as our competition,” says Kwilosz.

That did the trick: “They successfully purchased the home with 5% down,” he says.

Fortunately, today’s homebuyers don’t need to take such extreme measures to prove their worth to sellers.

“During the pandemic, sellers were not even considering lower down payment conventional loans, let alone FHA or VA,” says Kwilosz. “Now, we are having much more success getting our VA and FHA buyers under contract.”


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The interest rate your mortgage lender offers you when you buy or refinance a house is not necessarily the rate you have to stick with. In fact, you can lower your mortgage rate by shelling out at closing for something called mortgage points. But what are they and how can they save you some serious cash (like, thousands of dollars over the years you make monthly payments)? Read on for the answers from loan experts.

What to know about mortgage points

There are two types of mortgage points:

  • Discount points: These points, also known as prepaid points, lower your interest rate but increase your closing costs, because payment for them is due at closing. Discount points are a kind of prepaid interest you “buy” from your lender, based on your loan amount, for a lower mortgage rate.
  • Origination points: These points are charged to recover some costs of the mortgage origination process. This would include compensating your loan officer, notary fees, preparation costs, and inspection fees.

One mortgage origination or discount point typically costs 1% of the loan amount. For example, 1 point on a $250,000 mortgage would equal $2,500.

What Are Mortgage Points? Upfront Fees That Could Save You Money

How do mortgage points lower your interest rate?

The primary purpose of buying discount points from the lender is to reduce your interest rate on your mortgage, and thus lower your monthly payment.

You can pay points during the home-buying process, or when you refinance your home. One point usually reduces the borrower’s interest rate between 0.125% to 0.25%, depending on the lender’s terms, although 0.25% is typical.

For example, if you took out a 30-year, $400,000 loan at an interest rate of 5%, you would pay $2,147 in mortgage payments a month (not including taxes, insurance, or anything else). Paying 2 mortgage points to the lender at 0.25% per point would lower the interest rate to 4.5% and drop the monthly payment to $2,027. You would also need to foot the upfront cost of $8,000 to buy discount points at closing.

Should you buy mortgage points?

Buying points from a lender makes the most sense for borrowers who plan on living in their house and making monthly mortgage payments for many years, either for the life of the loan or close to it.

Consider how long you think you’ll stay in your house and keep your home loan. Generally, if you buy points, you want to stay longer to break even and recoup the money it took to buy the points on the loan. If you sell the house or pay off the loan too soon, you won’t reach the break-even point, and you can lose money.

Let’s go back to the above example of the 30-year, $400,000 loan. The 2 mortgage discount points for $8,000 at closing saves you $120 in monthly payments. It would take about 5.5 years to reach the break-even point of $8,000, before you could start to save money.

However, it would also save you $43,394 in interest over the life of the loan. Deduct that $8,000 in point-buying costs from money saved in interest and you will have actually saved a total of $35,394. Of course, that’s if you see out the life of the loan. If you sell after six or seven years and pay off your mortgage, buying those points from the mortgage lender wasn’t worth it. Know your future plans and move forward accordingly.

You should also consider how much money you have to use for a down payment at the time of closing. If you are looking to pay the least amount possible in mortgage closing costs, and you can’t afford out-of-pocket points on your loan, you may need to opt for a zero-point loan program.

Tax breaks and mortgage points

Because discount points are a form of interest you pay on your loan, they’re usually tax-deductible as mortgage interest for the year you buy your home. However, origination points that are basically document fees for your mortgage are not deductible.

If you’re considering buying discount points, consult your tax adviser to determine if you qualify for these mortgage deductions.

When you refinance your home and pay for mortgage discount points, you amortize the cost of the points over the years you have the loan. If you sell the house or pay off the loan, you can deduct any remaining points in the last year you have the mortgage.

Generally, the bigger the mortgage, interest rate, and mortgage length, the more money discount points will save you. Buying points on mortgages with only a few years left, or on those with already very low mortgage rates, could yield monthly savings of only a few bucks and never reach a break-even point for your closing costs, so be sure to do the math before you finalize any mortgage decision.


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Cascadia has timbered villas and chalets aplenty. But what exactly makes a grand lodge? It should breathe an air of epic romance, a place where quotidian worries succumb to wild beauty and creature comforts. These 10 retreats invoke the mythic best of the Northwest. And each has its perfect season.


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Timberline’s 400-ton fireplace; fire pits ring the lodge; in-room snacks

Timberline Lodge Is a Bastion of American Gumption

Timberline Lodge’s multistory stone hearth—an immense, hexagonal furnace weighing 800,000 pounds—would be at home on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels, along with the rest of this mammoth Mount Hood snow fortress. Dedicated in 1937, Portland’s nearest (dearest?) mountain lodge screams old-fashioned Oregon ingenuity. The Depression-era Works Progress Administration funded its local teams of weavers (who hand-loomed the curtains), artists (who lined its glass mosaics), and carpenters (who hewed beams big enough to hoist sails on the HMS Victory).

All to say that staying at Timberline is like bunking in a super-cozy history museum. But Timberline’s two million annual visitors also know that Hood’s only ski-in, ski-out resort is built 6,000 feet up a mountain with one of the longest seasons in the country—and that when it’s raining at Ski Bowl or Meadows, it’s still snowing on Timberline’s 41 varied runs.

The price of sleeping in this creaky castle is also steep: room prices start around $200 and can run more than double that, plus the cost of lift tickets. Vittles, too, will cost you—expect $40–50 entrées for a Cordon Bleu test-kitchen-level dinner in the Cascade Dining Room. (Timberline’s semi-secret, closet-size Blue Ox Bar normally serves topping-heavy pizza at a lower price point, but it’s not currently open; watch for the seasonal Phlox Point Cabin, known for its midmountain street tacos, to open when ski season hits.)

Still, there’s nothing quite like escaping a high-alpine storm through Timberline’s snow tunnel, then opening those heavy, mosaic-fitted doors to greet a toasty fire. And waking up to Hood’s south face beaming through your window? Timeless. Government Camp, Ore., winter rates from $205–420 —Benjamin Tepler

Idaho’s Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge Is a Mini Ski City for the Stars

Imagine a lodge where silver screen star Tyrone Power rubbed elbows with Henry Ford and Hemingway; where Janet Leigh (and, later, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis) skied while presidents and jazzmen sipped whiskey in leather armchairs snugged up to well-stoked hearths.

Such a gratuitously star-struck lodge exists: Sun Valley Resort, built into the eastern slopes of Idaho’s Sawtooth Range. And all that glamorous legend-making? Hand-spun, one zealously courted celebrity at a time, by New York publicists. The story of Sun Valley has always been a study in power plays (and powder playing), starting in 1936, when W. Averell Harriman, heir to Union Pacific Railroad millions, built what he marketed as America’s first destination ski resort.

Eighty-some years later, the once sorta-rustic lodge has swelled into an opulent, mahogany-paneled luxury complex with facilities capable of training Winter Olympians. Sun Valley is, in fact, its own city, with a dedicated zip code, workforce housing, and a “village” of eateries and tchotchke shops winding just beyond the main lodge parking lot. In 2015, the property’s current owners—the Holding family, heirs to Sinclair Oil millions—financed a massive update of the main lodge: vaster guest rooms, an expanded spa, a snazzier basement bowling alley. Also? Five new “celebrity suites,” each a themed tribute to a Sun Valley heavyweight who helped burnish the legend. (Hello, Papa.) Sun Valley, Idaho, winter rates from $345–1,427 —Ramona DeNies


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Boathouse restaurant and marina; Suttle Lake; Suttle Lodge in full winter mode

Suttle Lodge Is a Shabby-Chic Mountain Retreat

Loose Trivial Pursuit cards in plastic bags. Ouija boards. DVDs like Encino Man and Cabin Fever. At Suttle Lodge, 37 miles northwest of Bend near Santiam Pass, the entertainments are quirky and well worn.

It’s as if distractible Portland hipsters and the editors of Bon Appétit dreamt up a mountain retreat and brought it to life, complete with a Pinterest–ready Pendleton woolen throw on every bed, a Traeger grill by every cabin. On the menu of the warm-season Boathouse restaurant (in 2022 it closes September 19), a deliberately prismatic plate of crunchy veggies cuddles up with griddled hot dogs. Other details—say, that dog-eared Gil Scott-Heron record—could well be thrift store finds from nearby Sisters.

There’s both charm and occasional frustration here—a laid-back log palace where execution can feel like a run of incomplete sentences. Luckily for the lodge—which reopened in 2016 with new owners affiliated with the Ace Hotel Portland and bars Pépé le Moko and Spirit of ’77—no one’s going to quibble with the setting. From Suttle’s generous deck, lawn games scatter across soft grass toward a beer garden and pastoral dock. Beyond that: calm Suttle Lake and the fragrant conifers of the trail-laced Deschutes National Forest. And within an hour’s drive, guests can access some of the state’s dreamiest hot springs: Belknap, Breitenbush, and Cougar.

Suttle boasts year-round natural thrills—snowshoeing to canoeing—but it’s also a draw for gastrotourism, with foraging treks, winery pop-ups, and a guest chef series. (Portland chefs Peter Cho and Doug Adams are featured September 20, 2022.) For urbane Portlanders, this is where to rough it, without roughing it at all. Sisters, Ore., spring rates for lodge rooms from $155–387, rustic cabins from $85 —RD

A spa tub at Salish Lodge

Salish Lodge Is Your Great Northern Spa

Perched above Snoqualmie Falls and familiar from pancake-mix packages and the dreamy intro to the ’90s TV series Twin Peaks, 106-year-old Salish Lodge & Spa was once a simple, woodsy traveler’s rest. In 2017, the already slicked-up spot, now nearly absorbed by the Seattle metro area, got even more luxe with a “contemporary mountainside concept” renovation, including updated bathrooms and a new VIP lounge.

But it’s still all about the waterfall (pictured at top). While forking through predictable but pleasing Northwest fare (chinook salmon, cedar-roasted wild mushrooms), eaters in the dining room or Attic restaurant can look out over the fantastical drop of the 268-foot falls, drama heightened by a deep wine list packed with Northwest AVAs. (A few guest rooms also offer Snoqualmie Falls glimpses.)

Note: the lodge is wedged between river and roadway. On summer weekends, that means traffic jams to viewpoints and competition for access to the Salish’s crisp, slate-floored spa from Seattle day-trippers on their way back from Mount Si. Visit, instead, in mistier months, when the spa’s soaking tubs (and area hiking trails and golf courses) are less crowded—and when that in-room fireplace extends a welcome worthy of Twin Peaks’ fictional Great Northern Hotel. (A gin-and-cadramom Dale Cooper cocktail helps, too.) Snoqualmie, Wash., spring rates from $409–1,809 —Margaret Seiler

Sun Mountain Lodge’s spring wildflowers

Sun Mountain Lodge Is a Sportsman’s Brigadoon

In Washington’s North Cascades between Winthrop and Twisp, Sun Mountain Lodge commands 360-degree views of the Methow River Valley. At 3,000 feet on an isolated crest, the perch has a king-of-the-world feeling, this fiefdom fully traversable by a trail system that extends well beyond the resort’s 3,400 acres.

In winter, that means groomed Nordic track; fall and summer are hiking, riding, and mountain biking. But come spring, as sunflowers blanket the valley, the lure is fly-fishing: steelhead, smallmouth bass.

Bearing witness to the circle of life is Sun Mountain’s astounding (confounding? distressing?) taxidermy collection. Hunting trophies—a bequest from a fan—throng the lodge, from the bison staring down guests at reception to the Gould’s turkeys, javelinas, and musk ox marching down the main arcade. In one cozy sitting room, four sheep heads flank a TV showing Tucker Carlson’s apoplectic face. In the wine cellar (home to 3,500 bottles stacked floor-to-ceiling), a polar bear looms over private diners.

Yes, Sun Mountain Lodge isn’t exactly a Left Coast oasis. It is, however, a place where local wild game might appear on a fine dining menu. That vast, America-centric wine list spans everything from a $460 Columbia Valley cab to $27 organic bottles from Chile. And unlike older lodges—built back when bunkrooms and shared bathrooms were endured by the well-heeled—this 55-year-old chalet (renovated in 1990) offers guests seriously private amenities: in-room fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, wet bars. For those seeking refuge from Portland preciousness, behold your Big Game Hunter BrigadoonWinthrop, Wash., spring rates from $240–492 —RD


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Takeoff; Minam’s wood-fired hot tub; garden zucchini; a horse hitch and cabin

Minam River Lodge Is Luxury’s Last Frontier

On warm summer days, Barnes Ellis—a former reporter turned investment adviser and owner of the Minam River Lodge in Eastern Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness—has been known to hop into his Cessna 206 for wine-related emergency flights to Walla Walla. The party he’s refueling could be a wedding, or a lamb roast with guest chef Philippe Boulot. Possibly the lodge ran out of Syrah after a raucous weekend with winemakers from Elk Cove or Walter Scott. Or maybe guests just got extra thirsty on the hike in—nearly nine verdant miles by foot or horseback. The only other entry to this nearly seven-year-old retreat? Private aircraft, landed on a backcountry strip so rugged it can bounce a plane right into its bordering, nationally designated “Wild and Scenic” river. (Not something that intimidates readers of Pilot Getaways magazine, which put Minam on a 2017 cover; the following season, Condé Nast Traveler named it one of world’s top new hotels.)

Minam’s inaccessibility is part of the charm; here, amenities shine with extra luster. The lodge—a neglected hunter’s retreat—took a tight crew of craftspeople six years (and a fortune in helicopter transport) to rebuild. Furniture was milled and hand-built on-site. The now-cushy main lodge is efficiently warmed by one central fireplace; down a trail, a wood-fired hot tub and sauna are tucked near Minam’s more affordable wall tents. Hikes run in all directions. (Consult the lodge’s own guidebook, penned by Pacific Northwest trail junkie Douglas Lorain.) From cabin porches, night skies rain starlight over the snow-dusted Wallowas: isolated splendor that comes with Terminal Gravity on tap and waterfall showers. Cove, Ore., summer rates from $295–595 —RD

Mount Rainier looms over Paradise Inn

Paradise Inn Is an Austere Romance

There’s a lending library tucked into a corner of Paradise Inn’s wraparound mezzanine; its worn titles include a Rock Hudson memoir and what must be the world’s entire catalog of Christmas-themed bodice rippers. Paradise isn’t open in winter—the lodge, built in 1916 just below Mount Rainier’s treeline, is snowbound half of the year. But there’s a crisp chill here even at the height of summer, when tricked-out summiteers and Chinese tour buses clog the parking lots, and the lodge’s yellow cedar–studded bunkrooms are booked solid.

That draft won’t reach the balcony, where guests hole up with schlocky books and complimentary tea and cookies. Below, two roaring fireplaces bookend the great hall; between them, most afternoons, resident pianist (“Bill from Florida,” says the manager) plies the very same ivories tickled by Harry Truman back in 1945.

These comforts aside, Paradise can be, to borrow the manager’s phrase, an austere experience. There’s no pool, fitness center, or spa. And, famously, no Wi-Fi. In the original lodge, only the ADA-accessible ground-floor quarters have private bathrooms—though guests in the lodge’s renovated 79-room annex also enjoy this luxury. The restaurant fare is about what you’d expect for a private concern hawkishly watched by the National Park Service: bland, bulk-sourced, and cooked by kids who’d rather be mountain-climbing.

No, the romance of Paradise stems from the weather god outside: Mount Rainier towering in mist and snow. But that pink in your cheeks lingers indoors, with warm hearths, boozy “campfire cups,” and a good book. (Steamy, of course.) Ashford, Wash., summer rates from $169–417 —RD

FROM LEFT: Rosario Resort; views from Rosario’s townhomes

Rosario Is Where Tired Industrialists Take the Cure

Victorian-era cornflakes purveyor John Harvey Kellogg was something of a hypochondriac; his concerns drove his own buzzy mid-19th-century sanatorium in Michigan, focused on water cures and lots of enemas. Forty years later, another titan of industry—Robert Moran, shipbuilder and onetime Seattle mayor—built a similarly customized health spa, albeit across the nation on an island in the north Salish Sea.

You can still take the cure at Rosario Resort & Spa, with a heated “quiet” pool and two summertime outdoor pools. But where Kellogg focused on quackery, Moran—a fan of environmentalist John Muir—lavished his attention on landscaping: hiring the legendary Olmsted Brothers firm to sculpt the grounds, and donating 5,250 resort-adjacent acres of hushed emerald forests and pocket lakes to form Orcas Island’s Moran State Park. (And yes, there’s also a two-story Aeolian pipe organ in the middle of his mansion.)

More than a century in, it’s fair to say that Rosario has seen some weather—ownership changes, devaluation, wear and tear. The lodge’s old bedrooms are locked up; instead, guests stay in modern cliffside townhomes: by day, cruising the sound in rentable kayaks (or their own sailboats and yachts), and by night, taking in live shows in the townie-friendly Moran Lounge. Orcas Island, Wash., summer rates from $139–299 —RD


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge; wildflowers on a Carlton Farms pork chop; the lodge and Rogue River in the gloaming

Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge Is for Literary Fly-Fishers

At the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge, cedar cladding and an Arts and Crafts framework tell guests they’re in NorCal-adjacent Southern Oregon. Yet what with the rushing Rogue River, on-site fishing licenses for sale, and talk of the day’s catch, this feels like Norman Maclean country. 

Folded into an evergreen hillside off coastal US 101 eight miles east of Gold Beach, this former locals’ river retreat isn’t a place you just stumble upon. Someone must have told you about it, and those who stay here have the satisfied sense of being in on a secret. Pronounced a bit like “high-falutin’,” the Tu Tu’ Tun does attract well-heeled Bay Area ex-bohemians and moneyed Seattleites. (It survived the decline of Oregon’s fishing and logging industries by pivoting, in the 1990s, into a higher-end retreat.) But you’ll also find Canadian retirees here, and the occasional schoolteacher-turned-cowgirl back for a return visit.

Comprising a small lodge building, a guest wing, and three rentable houses, the Tu Tu’ Tun puts on no airs. It pampers, instead, with friendliness and familiarity. Staff greet guests by name, offering a jacket for jet boat rides, visits to the Adirondack chairs on the gently sloping lawn, or a turn on the bocce court, four-hole pitch and putt, or horseshoe pit. There are luxurious touches here: a lap pool, a seasonal spa tent, and river views for each cozy room, some with wood-burning fireplaces and private patio soaking tubs. An add-on dinner might include orchard apples—if the resident black-tailed deer haven’t munched them all—or a corn-and-pea succotash popping with cherry tomatoes from the flowerringed kitchen garden, halibut or poached rockfish, salads with coastal Face Rock cheese, and the lodge’s “famous” piping-hot popovers. But the Tu Tu’ Tun’s personality is more literary fly-fisher than sybaritic shut-in. Take the surprising number of Glimmer Train issues on the bookshelf, or the fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for guest use—one of Tu Tu’ Tun’s many reminders, along with the framed fish art and folks in waders, that a river runs through it. Gold Beach, Ore., fall rooms from $205 —MS

FROM LEFT: Skamania Lodge’s river-facing Adirondack chairs; the lodge’s skylit saline pool

Skamania Is a Normcore Paradise

Like an airport thriller you can’t stop reading, Skamania Lodge is a warm bath for tired minds. Popular with Christian groups, military reunions, and tech confabs, the sprawling complex—just 45 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge—evokes a corporate Breitenbush, rolling out basics without a drop of hipness. But in its serene blandness, Skamania comforts and still surprises.

Here, things stay interesting while evoking family-vacation vibes, from zip lines to lodge-chartered rafting and painting classes. At one end of the 254-room lodge, toddlers splash in the fitness center’s saline pool. Steps away, wholesome teenagers energetically make out in the hot tub. Out-of-state 50-somethings discreetly inquire about recreational pot. Hikers on Skamania’s trails are warned to watch for the area’s swift and heartless aerial predators: stray golf balls launched from its adjacent golf course. 

Built in the early 1990s as a lodge-themed event space, Skamania is about as transportive as a suburban mall, with Sting on the sound system and food that evokes Costco home cooking at fine dining prices. Yet there are good reasons to visit. The setting, for one—a forest-ringed parkland with 270-degree views of Gorge beauty. Also, there’s just too much to do, from monkeying around the new aerial park (a stealth workout) to serious spa exfoliation. Amid the whir of golf carts, find unexpected catharsis from work and politics in the lodge’s new ax-throwing cage. Come dusk, roast s’mores (gear provided) by the fire pit before retiring to your guest room (or one of the lodge’s four new stilt houses in the trees). Like that airport page-turner, a stay here is a predictable, rock-solid win. Stevenson, Wash., fall rooms from $229–593 —Amy Martin

Destination Relaxation

These plush retreats might not qualify as grand lodges, per se. But their spas are far more than your basic scrub-and-rub.

Allison Inn & Spa

Champagne-oil massages, grape-seed scrubs, and “pinot pedicures”remind Allison guests they’re in wine country. Consider lingering overnight after that facial to get access to the guests-only, infinity-edge pool. Newberg, Ore., treatments from $20 (chin wax) to $310 (seasonal outdoor couples massage), rooms from $525

Salishan Spa & Resort

The spa at oceanfront Salishan is informed by salt water, marine mud, and something called “retinal of the sea.” Gleneden Beach, Ore., treatments from $70 (weekday signature foot treatment) to $275 (weekend CBD infusion massage), rooms from $149

Willows Lodge & Spa

Microderm resurfacing and micro-needling. Swedish effleurage. A treatment all about oxygen. Some Willows services read like medical-grade sandblasting. Others just ... hug you. Woodinville, Wash., treatments from $20 (lip wax) to $350 (120-minute deep tissue massage), rooms from $369


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Seattle has the Frank Gehry designed MoPop, a shimmer of color and curves, and Rem Koolhaus’ sinuous, blinding downtown central library. A Renzo Piano skyscraper towers over San Francisco’s SoMa district and his California Academy of Sciences building anchors the museum district in Golden Gate Park. And there’s Gehry again in downtown LA for the Disney Concert Hall. 

Portland, by contrast, is not much of a starchitecture town, leaning heavily on homegrown heroes for its biggest design moments, from Skylab’s futuristic design for the latest Nike campus building, which debuted earlier this year, to GBD Architects’ rising Ritz-Carlton in downtown’s West End to ZGF’s roof-raising reimagining of the Portland International Airport.  The last time a truly internationally renowned architect came to town and completed a building, it was 1982, when Michael Graves was commissioned to build the still-polarizing Portland Building downtown, widely considered a retort to the then-iron-clad dominance of modernist architectural influences.  

But forty years later, another globally known architecture firm is poised for a big local design moment: Adjaye Associates, led by Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, (the Sir in his title comes courtesy of his Order of the British Empire, bestowed upon him by Prince William in 2017)  best known in the US for the regal Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC. 

Adjaye is teaming with local firm Holst Architecture, which has carved out a real niche in recent years in innovative affordable housing projectsTogether they will design a new 95,000 square foot flagship library in Gresham. If all goes well, the new library will be open to the public by 2025.  

But first, the library system needs sign-off from TriMet on its hoped-for location, at the Gresham City Hall Park and Ride. Zeroing in on the  right spot has taken months and months, Multnomah County Library executive director Vailey Oehlke says, because library officials wanted to be particularly intentional about a central location, close to public transit, that could be easily accessed by East County’s growing and diverse population. Funding comes via a 2020 bond, which raised nearly $400 million for library construction projects. 

The chance to design an iconic public building like this in your own backyard doesn’t come along every day, and a handful of Portland’s best-known architectural firms had thrown their hats into the proverbial ring, including Bora Architects, the firm behind the new Lincoln High School, which teamed with another global powerhouse, Oslo-based Snøhetta, and Opsis Architecture, well known locally for the new Reser Center for the Performing Arts in Beaverton, which paired with Minneapolis-based MSR Design.  

Oehlke says that ultimately, the Holst/Adjaye Associates team — who will also work with MultiCultural Collaborative on community engagement around the new buildings—was tapped for its sense of place. Holst, she points out, had designed the nearby Rockwood Youth Campus; the firm understood East County and its fast-changing demographics, and what residents there might need from their library. 

After all, Oehlke says, most of the library system’s venerable branches were designed in a pre-Internet age to hold shelves and shelves and shelves of books, but today’s library calls for a more flexible use of space, particularly in a world where libraries and parks are among the last bastions of free, fully accessible public spaces. (The library system has been slow to gear back up after pandemic disruptions; Oehlke says plans are underway for a return to a full slate of future programming.) 

The new Gresham flagship might include an auditorium, she says, and a community kitchen for cooking demonstrations and classes; it will certainly include plenty of flexible space for technology—imagine a recording studio, or a makerspace with state-of-the-art 3D printing capabilities. 

Design plans aren’t even close to ready yet for the big reveal, though Holst principal Dave Otte says an aspirational goal is to use Oregon timber as a key material. But if design inspirations are any indication, the new library will be a genuine departure from any other building in the Multnomah County system. 

 Oehlke says all of her travels are busman’s holidays and include library visits; she cites modern, statement libraries in Calgary, Aarhus, and Helsinki as inspirations for their community mindedness. (In the Aarhus library lobby in Denmark, a giant gong rings every time a family has a baby at a local hospital and the parents choose to press a button that triggers the sound, a subtle announcement that a new community member is joining the fold.) Otte adds libraries in Christchurch, New Zealand and Washington DC as further inspirations. 

“You get drawn into these beacons, these welcoming places,” Otte says, of some of his favorites. “We want to create the kind of place that you want to spend time in, a place that belongs to this region, where everyone feels welcome and inspired and connected. Libraries are so much more than a place for information and books. The investments we make in public buildings, like libraries, are investments in ourselves. We are stewards of something that will be used for generations.” 


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