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Remodeling and Home Design

What nice doors and hardware can do.......

May 9, 2014 | Remodeling

An aspect of a remodel that isn't often discussed is doors and hardware.....or perhaps it sits back stage to other items that play a larger role. On our own house we had hollow core, unstable, doors, with that vinyl type coating over them. They also had brass hardware that wasn't solid and stable feeling, here is a photo of the old doors and hardware.....I had wanted to change them out for years, since I first purchased our house.

Finally the day came, when I just made it happen, we worked with Western Pacific for our new solid core 5 panel doors. Clear Douglas Fir was what we opted for, as opposed to painting a wood door. We stained the door with Vermont Natural Coatings. We love this finish which is made from whey, a by-product of the dairy industry, specifically of cheese making. It flows great, is durable, and has no smell! Here is a link to their site:

http://www.vermontnaturalcoatings.com/our-products/polywhey-natural-furniture-finish/ In Portland Green Depot carries this finish: http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/

Now it's on to the hardware. You know when you shake someone's hand and its a hard, dependable, sturdy handshake, and you think that's solid! That is how I want my door handles to feel. Knobs and handles are like jewelry they can totally change an outfit. We went with Emtek handles: http://emtek.com/ A high quality, great designed line of hardware. We wanted to blend our modern aesthetic with our 100 year old house. This is what we went with:

The black finish next to the Fir is our favorite combination. Modern and classic at the same time. National Builders Hardware in Portland carries this line. http://www.nbhco.com/


The Larger Impact Your Space Has On You

Aug 26, 2013 | Remodeling

My Dad used to walk into my room when I was a teenager and say, “What’s the matter, something must be terribly wrong!”.  “Ohhh Dad your right,” I would reply, and on and on I went telling him of the current drama.

Then there would be other times he would come into the room, look around, and comment on how things must be going great. I always thought he was a mind reader he was so clear in his diagnosis. Years later I asked him how he always knew so well how I was doing, he replied that the state of my bedroom gave him all the insight he needed into my life.  If my bedroom was a mess, then my life was. If things were in their place and orderly, then so was I.

I take that same concept with me as I work with people- the state that your current space is in has an impact on your life. Of course this is distilled, but when thinking about this concept I thought I would share a few more design elements that can help one feel better in their space.

1. Organization:
Clearing out old stuff, recycling items, taking them to goodwill, or if it calls for it, throwing it in the trash, is the first step we advise.
Take a rainy Saturday and clean things out- really clean them out, take everything out of the room and before putting it back in assess should it be in there, the trash, goodwill or basement?
Creative storage is a great way to feel good in a space. We make a lot of these vertical storage units, as they hold a great deal of things and use space in an efficient way.

2. Light:
The more natural light you can get in a room the better. Windows, skylights, and doors add them whenever possible. If you need some privacy try sheer curtains, so light can still filter in, or satin etched glass on windows.
After natural light, multiple light sources is next. One overhead light in the middle of the room is typical for many houses, but if you can add additional light sources for task lighting, ambient lighting, and artistic lighting that really creates a great mood. I love playing with lighting and creating light streams.

3. Color:
Ohhh I know it’s a challenging one! The place I recommend starting is by describing how you want to feel in the room.  For instance in a bedroom, do you want to feel awake and ready for the day? Or do you prefer your room to be a sanctuary for quiet and retreat? There is no “right” way, but a bright vibrant color would be used for the first example whereas a soothing tone would be better for the second.




Aug 27, 2012 | Remodeling

On April 2nd 2012 we purchased a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house on Alberta Street, a funky vibrant retail street in Portland, Oregon. Our goal was to create boutique, short term rentals in the commercial hub which we adore. Creating a rental that was as unique, sustainable, and as creative as Portland is, was & is the objective.

The first question was what to do with the house……we wanted to yield the maximum sleeping space out of the current square footage. This meant we had to make the decision, if we should dig out the basement, or jack up the house, so that we could access a comfortable head height for a second rental in the basement.

We set out by meeting with various sub contractors who raise houses, dig out basements, pour retaining walls, foundation wall, etc. After getting initial estimates, that information showed that digging out the house would cost roughly $25,000 and jacking it up would be $40,000. The pros of going down was that it would be less expensive. The pros of going up would mean more of a garden view feeling, less chance of moisture problems, and more overall light. Was that worth $15,000?

In the end we jacked the house up….why?? When we set out to sign the contracts with the subs a series of questions for digging the basement came to the table and ultimately their original estimates where no longer valid as they really didn’t include the full scope of work. Although financially frustrating we felt that going up was the ultimately the best so we went forward with raising the house.

How does lifting a house work? Well first you have to strip the area clean- take out the electrical, water, furnace, (we took out the old brick chimney chase and saved the brick to use as a wall in the finished living room). Then we had Ram Jack of Oregon come in and set the stage for the lift. They brought in rail road ties, steel I-beams, and a hydrolic lift for the project.

Ram Jack of Oregon - 866.472.6522



Doors: the moment of transition

Jan 2, 2012 | Remodeling

We hope that with each door you enter in 2012, whether its on vacation in a new land or to the front door of your house you enter everyday; that each threshold brings health, passion and peace.  Here is to a year of following your bliss!

As the New Year graces us, it makes me think about the various transitions of the past year.  In building, the object that represents transition, is the door.  Its quite literally the biggest symbol representing a changing of spaces.

The kind of door you use acts as a teaser for what you will see in the room you are about to enter.  I love creating the opportunity to make someone stop and assess how they are interacting with something as ordinary as a door.  Playing with the way it opens, the size, the handle, the color, the texture all of these things make each step to the future that much more original.


Video of NE Portland remodel- eco modern design

Sep 28, 2011 | Remodeling

While putting together this video I had a flash back,  to my days in art school.  The day of the design review, when every one’s projects went up on the wall and the students in the class viewed each others work and gave feed back and critiques.

I realized that houses have become my art piece.  It’s my venue of creation on a much larger scale, and with different mediums, but the entire time I treat each stage as I would my art.

Viewing this video with the before footage, gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment.  When we first walked into this house it truly was in dire need of renovation.  Now that the work is complete I invite you to view our art piece……



Finished Remodel

Aug 19, 2011 | Remodeling

As summer comes to a close, so does our big project. We’re loving how everything turned out. The exterior of the house used to be pink vinyl. The fantastic Chad Wykhuis painted and finished the wood we found under the vinyl. We widened this front door to a gracious 42″ opening and put cedar in to warm it up.

There’s been huge transformation all over the place:

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Color color color & sparkle!

Jul 19, 2011 | Remodeling

Color is one of the best ways to change a space and wow did it help ours!  Selecting color can be a bit tricky- one of the best tips is to choose colors that all have the same value.  The reason I like YOLO Colorhouse so much is that all of the colors flow with each other so you can rest assured the end result will look good.   www.yolocolorhouse.com

The garage door paint- shows a little fun bling with the orange touches.

The garage door paint- shows a little fun bling with the orange touches.

We used YOLO leaf .01, stone .06, and water .07 to create an interesting palette in the hallway.

We used YOLO leaf .01, stone .06, and water .07 to create an interesting palette in the hallway.

The other fun element is the use of lights to cast reflections and images on the surrounding walls.  Both of these fixtures in particular do a fantastic job at adding dazzling effects to the walls.


Any fixture that can create this amazing display of light gets me every time. This fixture is from ET2 one of my favorite lighting companies

Any fixture that can create this amazing display of light gets me every time. This fixture is from ET2 one of my favorite lighting companies

Thousands of flower images on the wall pull you downstairs to the basement. YOLO water .07 creates a perfect backdrop color for fun!

Thousands of flower images on the wall pull you downstairs to the basement. YOLO water .07 creates a perfect backdrop color for fun!


Basements are normally places people don’t want to visit.  But in this house is added almost 1,000/sf of usable space so making the entrance inviting was key.  Hanging the fixture and using a cheerful color lure you into the new space.  We also used the same quality finishes in the basement so you don’t feel like you are going to, what is commonly, a lesser used area.



Apr 12, 2011 | Remodeling

The beginning of any project is by far the funnest and most back breaking part- demolition!   Demolition- must be yelled at the top of your lungs with classic rock playing at full volume in the back round.

Beyond having fun with hammers, and taking out all aggression you ever had on any wall, there are a few practical things I can share.

Mainly, its what to do with the items once they are demoed.  The wonderful thing about Portland is that there are so many places to donate things and so many people who will gladly remove things.  For instance- take out the cabinets in the kitchen and the bathroom whole.  Ie don’t go to town on them with the hammer, but break them apart spending a bit more time with the screws, and you can donate the set to The Rebuilding Center or list them on Craig’s list.  Often we take the drawer pulls and hinges off to use them on other projects.

Anything metal put outside your house in a separate area and the scrappers will come by.  We have metal collectors coming by 3 to 4 times a day.  From galvanized pipes to old stoves, and especially cast iron tubs, they will gladly haul away.

Wood- if you remove the nails and screws many people will take it.  We reuse the studs we remove to frame in the new areas.  If you don’t need them then separate that as well and put it on the street with a free sign.  Most often it gets picked up in a day.  If for some reason it doesn’t the Rebuilding Center or Salvage Works will take de-nailed wood

Wear a hepa approved face mask as many of the materials have something nasty in them- lead paint (in most houses built before 1978), asbestos (taped around ducts, in glues/adhesives holding down floors, in popcorn ceilings).  If you want to know for sure if you are surrounded by nastiness,  there is a lab in town that can test those questionable materials.  Call Lab Cor Portland and they can tell you how to bring in the samples, and usually in 4 hours, give you the results.

Lastly, our incredible regional government, Metro, has a recycling information hot line that has friendly staff with fast, helpful answers for your recycling, disposal and waste prevention questions. Call 503-234-3000 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Resource List for Demo:

The Rebuilding Center: (accepts the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials)

3625 N. Mississippi Ave.
Mon – Sat 9 – 6, Sun 10 – 5


Salvage Works:  (repair or restore your vintage house parts)

2030 N. Willis St. • Portland, Oregon 97217
Tuesday through Saturday, 9 to 5 • 503-285-2555


Lab Cor Portland:

4321 SW Corbett Ave, Ste A Portland, 97239



Metro Hotline:

503-234-3000 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday



People make the house a home

Apr 6, 2011 | Remodeling

As cheesy as it sounds its true, you need people to make a house a home.  The people add the warmth, spirit, and energy…..

Last night we had a “before” party at the house.  We invited our friends, colleagues and mentors over so they could see the house before we gutted it.  They were able to write a dream on the walls which we will lock in with paint, put items in a time capsule that we will hide in the wall framing, and help in the design process.

Having our friends there for the kick off put me in a perfect state of mind to tackle this project.  Thanks to you all for coming out and supporting us and blessing the new house!

The kids writing their dreams on the wall!


Permits are granted!

Mar 23, 2011 | Remodeling


It is so thrilling to go down to the city and have them stamp off plans.  For one, its always wonderful to know that what we are proposing to do actually works.  Klaas and I shared many hilarious moments where I would wave my hand at a wall and say, “lets just take this down”.  No worries about structural feasibility, it simply needed to go.  Now, go it will, opening up the house from box land into a freer flowing space.

I suppose that is one point I would really emphasize- adding or subtracting walls will dramatically change the look and flow of a house and really (assuming there isn’t major structural work) it isn’t too expensive.  Our guru, Diana Moosman, with MOSI architects says to always look at the big picture at first and really play with the current placement and see what isn’t working.  Don’t be afraid to think about moving stairs & walls at this planning juncture.  I will admit to thinking no way are we moving a staircase (and we aren’t).  But that’s really because it doesn’t buy us anything in space- the idea of looking into the whole house and what would work best is smart.

So permits in hand, we will begin the work the week of April 4th 2011.

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