Restoring History

By Jon Shadel | Photo by Pete Eckert

This grand American Foursquare home is a local celebrity. One of Northwest Portland’s architectural classics, it has graced its neighborhood for well over a century. It has even been featured on an episode of NBC’s hit police fantasy drama Grimm.

When homeowners David and Karen Brown decided to remodel their dated kitchen, they wanted a design that blended modern convenience and function with a style that was consistent with the rest of the house. Finding the right team to help them accomplish their goals proved to be no easy task.

After a thorough review of many firms, the Browns eventually chose Craftsman Design and Renovation, a nationally recognized design-build company based in Portland. “I liked how they wanted to stay true to the style of the home,” David says. “Also, they were the most specific and transparent in their estimate of costs.”

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Wade Freitag, certified remodeler and owner of Craftsman, has worked on many of Portland’s vintage houses. He recognized the challenge of updating the kitchen while staying true to the home’s historical integrity. “It isn’t easy to make a functional, modern kitchen fit into a home’s period style,” he explains. However, by paying close attention to the original details, Freitag and his team were able to create an open kitchen without altering the home’s structural footprint.

Freitag carefully considered the couple’s needs in the design. By extending the kitchen’s rear wall into the existing porch, they were able to gain needed space without altering the exterior profile of the home. Open shelving maintains the period style while allowing the homeowners to display their pottery collection. A refrigerator and pantry are enclosed in custom-built fir cabinetry. New maple flooring matches the original wood in the home.  Soapstone countertops compliment the natural wood’s color palette.

Due to Freitag’s thoughtful design, the modern kitchen comfortably fits into the historical context of the home. “They tried very hard to be consistent with materials, shapes, colors and textures in the rest of the house,” David says. “I think the kitchen feels like it belongs here.”

For the Browns, the kitchen is just the first step in the home’s remodel. The Craftsman team has already planned for the attic master suite and a second floor bathroom redesign. By making plumbing changes in advance, the kitchen will not need to be torn up for the next stage of the remodel. “A lot of companies don’t work like we do,” Freitag says. “We think about the design-build process holistically, planning for the future of the home while being sensitive to its history.”