Tucked away in an industrial area of Northwest Portland is a block of appealing, well-kept Victorian homes. The block’s charm and proximity to downtown attracted Pamela Lloyd and Renny Gleeson when they moved from New York City to Portland in 2007. “We’re urban people, and we like to get out and walk around,” says Lloyd.
However, the 1890 home they purchased was dark with an awkward floorplan. They wanted a family-friendly home for their sons and a venue to display their art collection. “Our goal was to reconnect the spaces, open up the living areas spatially and allow more light to easily flow through the house,” says Gleeson. They hired architect Gary Hartill, the principal at OrangeWallStudios in Portland, to transform the downstairs. “We needed to connect the home’s front and back and create a space for the art where you could also get down on the floor and play with the kids,” says Hartill.
Removing a wall and a chimneystack and adding skylights and a bank of windows created a unified, flowing space filled with natural light and a contemporary feel. A kitchen remodel included white cabinetry, a marble-topped island and stainless steel appliances. Missing woodwork was replaced. All the woodwork and, unusually for an old Portland house, the downstairs floor were painted white. “We painted everything because none of the wood matched and because the floors were in bad shape,” says Lloyd. “Painting made the space feel fresher and lighter.”
Lloyd’s keen eye for creating an interesting interior ensures the home doesn’t feel like a gallery. “I’m drawn toward architectural, clean environments that show shape and design,” says Lloyd. “I like to use pops of color, and I like strong colors like red and black and seeing the colors interact with the white.” The furnishings are a mix of family pieces, new pieces and textured accessories that include a set of chairs covered in upholstery with the Declaration of Independence in a graffiti script and a pair of original Le Corbusier LC-1 chairs inherited from Lloyd’s grandmother. “I like to have interest and things that aren’t too matchy-matchy,” she says. “I like practical with a flourish.”
Their eclectic art collection includes works by Gleeson, an artist who works at Wieden+Kennedy; Shepard Fairey; Andres Serrano; Nina Bovasso; and local artists, such as Philip Iosca. “Our collection of art may not be big, but it is deeply personal,” says Gleeson. “Every piece has a story, and I’m happy to say that a few of my paintings have survived our ruthless editing and snuck onto the walls.”
The overall result is a home where art, design and family life coexist and where Jasper, 9, and Rufus, 6, can play with the family dachshunds, Frodo and Pippin, and even have their artwork displayed. “It’s been an interesting process finding out where our art wants to be,” says Gleeson. “I suppose artwork enhances a home, but I believe it enriches the life within that home and activates minds. That’s why it’s also great to see the continuously evolving relationship the kids have with the art and the space.”