Rental Redux

If only you could turn back time. With a home, it’s actually possible. For Elizabeth and Roger Gomez, owners of Bridge City Contracting, their work on a decades-old rental property didn’t just make shabby into chic but added to the revitalization and thoughtful conservation happening in one of Portland’s most important older neighborhoods.

“I adore the Woodlawn neighborhood,” says Elizabeth, one half of the husband-and-wife team. “To me Woodlawn epitomizes the type of older Portland neighborhood that residents have a deep sense of connection with.”

Since 2008 the city's Woodlawn Triangle Area Master Plan has overseen efforts to bring harmony to rehabilitation activities that will be of benefit to the area’s diverse population. Anyone seeking to make upgrades and changes to existing structures “must be respectful of the area’s rich cultural heritage.”

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The Gomezes have had the opportunity to buy and refurbish two houses in the Woodlawn neighborhood while working within historical property constraints. Their most recent project is the masterful transformation of a rundown rental into a home reflective of the grace and quality of Woodlawn's historic roots and bright future. Built in 1985 by the Portland Development Commission, at a time when Woodlawn was struggling and large pockets of the neighborhood had been abandoned, the original building was constructed for utility and had been a rental for three decades.

“It didn’t have any character,” Gomez said. We wanted to bring it back in line with the very best architectural characteristics of the neighborhood – the mix of quality Tudors, Victorians and Craftsmen – giving it dimension and presence.”

To the exterior, Bridge City Contracting added a new covered entry to invite neighborhood interaction and leveled the front yard creating a blueprint for future extended outdoor living and gardening space. The exterior lighting, entryway and post box have a retro flair.

Inside, the Gomezes continued to explore the themes of connection to place by choosing some of Portland's best local brands for finishes and fixtures – including the reclaimed floating wood shelves in the kitchen and laundry from Salvage Works, up the street from the home. A combination of on-trend utilitarian-style fixtures from locally founded Rejuvenation Hardware and warm woods and creamy tiles from Portland’s Pental Surfaces give the home a glow worthy of a gentler era.

Not only have earth-friendly and sustainable products been chosen throughout the home, but “they have been styled to reflect the nature we revere in the Northwest,” Gomez said. The braided leaf-pattern tile on the kitchen backsplash is from a certified B-Corp company, Fireclay Tile. Its content is 70 percent recycled with no added chemicals in the clay or glaze. The decorative and durable porcelain tile in the laundry has a GREENGUARD certification. Other sustainability features include a tankless hot-water system, low to no VOC paints and new high-performance siding.

The great outdoors isn’t just represented inside through design – it’s invited inside through a clever reworking of access to the backyard.

 “The original house had an awkwardly placed and inaccessible concrete slab off a side door,” explained Gomez. “We’ve added double French doors from the dining area to a new outside patio and living area, including a fire pit.”

The home now hums with all the charm and ease one finds popping up all over Woodlawn – restaurants, shops and amenities designed to elevate an idea of Portland steeped in eclecticism, inclusiveness and craft. Gomez hopes it will be the perfect fit for a family looking to become an integral part of this growing and thriving community.

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