A Beautifully Modern Remodel
A designer’s North Portland home gets a radical makeover that takes it from basic boring to swanky and sleek.
When Alissa Pulcrano of Bright Design Lab bought her place, it was a pretty standard place. But as a designer whose firm does everything from remodels to kitchen planning to custom furniture design to architectural photography, she was well-equipped and ready to tackle her own home. The result? A perfect expression of her design sense: Sleek, a little quirky, full of art, and entirely cool.
AH: Could you tell me a little more about the story behind the house?
AP: This is my third Portland home since I landed here one fine spring April fools day in 2001. It was painted what we like to call the Portland quintessential sage-green-with-red-door, and it was once in a row of three identical Shaker-ish homes called "the sisters". In the ’90’s the corner house burned and now there are two. It was carefully staged with fake flowers and flouncy curtains, whitewashed kitchen cabinets and vinyl floors (not what lured me in) Then, it was all about location, and buying a rental property. I was living in a large loft in the Pearl with a city view (having recently sold house number two in Grant Park) and was convinced I wanted to stay "in town," near work, car free… so I bought the house and put out a bid on another loft on the NW park blocks which I planned to move into. Yet as 2007 moved along it seemed like a better idea to "hunker down" and stay lean! So I moved into the burgeoning Williams Street Corridor and began the house overhaul. It didn’t take long to love the porch view of the "bike freeway" on North Vancouver! An endless source of entertainment.
AH: How big is the house?
AP: The house is 2012 square feet, with 3 bedrooms 1.5 baths.
AH: What did you do to the house? Why?
AP: The main remodel happened in the kitchen and the yard – complete with "raft" (floating deck) an area rug (small patch of grass) some gravel runners for my ridgeback Ernie (who has since left us) and an oasis of bamboo to soften the alley view. The kitchen was a complete gut, the orange peel walls and the vinyl floor were too much for my eyes. Having remodeled two other personal residences, and designing space essentially being my life, I knew what I was in for. So at this point, living now with my carpenter/artist mate, the demo was all in fun. With a bright designlab plan in hand, we hired Hammer & Hand to execute. Level 5 gallery smooth walls, walnut cabinets and white Statuario marble tops. Made to complement a house chock-full of inherited midcentury furniture.
AH: How would you describe your style?
AP: If I had my druthers I would live in a glass box atop a skyscraper, or in a decrepit warehouse in a land far away. For practical reasons, I am still here, designing away in a style flecked with European-parent upbringing, and bounced off of my Dutch raised business partner Leela… perhaps, most definitely, a bauhaus Frank Lloyd Wright influence (I grew up in a house with floor to ceiling glass seamed walls in So Cal much reminiscent of this). We like to gently nudge our clients out of their "normal" and give them comfortable, modern, vaguely nostalgic, and always aim for cohesive, well thought-out designs.
AH: Post-redesign, what do you like most about the house?
AP: My favorite part of the way the house is now functioning is the wall space – and the deciding factor to forgo the upper cabinets in the kitchen – the eclectic ever evolving/revolving artwork that is displayed in my home. Sometimes that means rusty metal negative space pieces, sometimes a Girard-esque sculpture from my partner, derived from a barrel of exotic wood scraps… and large scale 1960’s geometric oil paintings from my mother.