The East Bank District - some 39 blocks on the east bank of the Willamette River - was hot in the 1900s as Portland's industrial center. Now it's a major draw for homeowners in search of a gritty, shop-among-the-loading-docks day.
A PATTERNED LANGUAGE
The flocked as frock? Why not! Some of the more than 1,000 wallpaper books at MILLER PAINT (317 S.E. Grand Ave., 503-233-4491) are stylish enough to wrap around your shoulders and stroll into you next event a la Dona White (right), the manager of the department, who is a wallpaper aficionado. "This is my dining room," she coos, pausing on Egremont Mustard Historic in the Brunschwig & Fig wallpaper book, which features pink cows and pink dogs (right). "People who come to dinner at my house think I'm really crazy!" Other papers flying out of the store are Designers Guild flocked flowers on fields of turquoise or green ($95 a roll).
FIRST AT SECONDS
Want to see people with expectation in their eyes? Duck into PRATT & LARSON TILE AND STONE'S SECONDS ROOM (1204 S.E. Water Ave., 503-230-0641), where simple shelves hold boxes of tile, delivered daily, that are sold at a discount." Some regulars come in every week," says Susanne Cavicchi, the marketing director of Pratt & Larson. "The thing about seconds is that they could be damaged or the color could be a little off." We saw field tile ($5 a square foot here; $26 a square foot regularly), circles, decorative tile and trim tile all at bargain prices.
Don't underestimate how much time you can spend in a store-supply shop such as PORTLAND STORE FIXTURES INC. (1101 S.E. Main St., 503-232-4878): We clocked about 30 minutes in this 36,000-square-foot emporium filled to its sklights with everything from mannequins—where else can you nab a man for $12!—to library ladders out of a Waldenbooks store in Hawaii ($350) to glass cubes for storage ($103 for a 9-cube system, unassembled) to a gorgeous National Cash Register piece that looks like it came out of a turn-of-the-century general store. "Some of these mannequins hate standing around naked all the time,"says Cat Schom, the owner of the store, as she steps over shop dogs Briar, a 126-pound malamute-mix and Kila, a malamute puppy. "The dogs are part of our stress-reduction program."
WHAT A WEB OF PARTY GEAR!
Airplane-shaped pinatas ($18). Capri tights imprinted with spiders spinning webs ($8). Tiki bars for rent. THE LIPPMAN CO. (50 S.E. Yamhill St., 503-239-7007 or lippmanco.com) is Party Central whether your next bash is a birthday party, a Halloween party or a home wedding. Just be sure to take the Birthday Boy with you to help with the pickings.
"Yeah! That's my favorite!!" said a grade-schooler to his mom as they tried to decide between buying 14 rub-on pirate tattoos or 14 monkey tattoos to give to his birthday party guests. (The little monkey ultimately went with the pirates.)
The warehouselike store is also a good place to pick up paper plates in many colors ($4 for 9-inch plates, 24 count) as well as napkins ($2.40 for 25 napkins). Hats to top off your latest Halloween costume are here for the picking ($5 a two-horned opera singer's cap, $6 for a captain's hat and $7 for a red felt fez with a gold tassel), too.
Who knew we were such a dress-up town?
FROM EUROPE TO YOU
If you're not a gallery snob, stop into the little shop next to the "E" Annex where you'll find RESALEART.COM (503-310-9507), where Bev Hecht-Levy sells art on consignment (her motto is "Recycle, Resale, Rehang"). Among a white-washed pegboard backdrop, we found a Michele Russo print of nudes ($395) and a watercolor cityscape by Bennet Norrbo ($95).
Forget ROSES: This is a Tile city
If you're at the point in your remodel when you need to select your countertop or backsplash material, grab a water bottle and hit the tile and stone sellers in this district: The East Bank should be renamed Stone Central.
We found this bamboolike Mikado ceramic tile in Ebano ($10.70 for a 12- by 24-inch rectangle) at
BENNETT STONE & TILE COMPANY (600 S.E. Stark St., 503-595-6550 or go to their website, bennettstone.com).
Other notable places include:
INTREPID MARBLE AND GRANITE (1140 S.E. 7th Ave., 503-235-2010 or intrepidrocks.com);
OREGON TILE & MARBLE (1845 S.E. 3rd Ave., 503-231-0058 or oregon-tile.com);
CASA BELLA (1901 S.E. Grand Ave., 503-231-4102 or casa-bella.com);
PRATT & LARSON TILE AND STONE (1204 S.E. Water Ave., 503-230-0641);
and ANN SACKS TILE (1210 S.E. Grand Ave., 503-233-0611).
Treasure this treasure
You wouldn't think you'd ever swoon from seeing a plumbing fixture, but the centuries-old blue-and-white porcelain loo in the new gallery at THE ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE CENTER (701 S.E. Grand Ave., 503-231-7264) will bring you to your knees (not like that, Silly; in a good way).
Looking for glass that's a little different?
Walk into the CLINE GLASS COMPANY (1135 S.E. Grand Ave., 503-233-5946) and you finally know where everybody's getting the unconventional glass that's been popping up in newly remodeled kitchens.
For $7.15 a square foot, you can choose between glass panes such as Crocodile, Burlap, Swirling Water, Woven and, even, Paint (yeah, it looks as if your kid went crazy with a hair gel-loaded paint brush). You'll never opt to see your stemware again.
She's Worth her weight in . . .
The outside of gold-leaf restorer Nancy Thorn's studio, GOLD LEAF RESTORATION (544 S.E. Oak St., 503-236-2260 or goldleafdesign.net) is a little intimidating. For example, you have to be buzzed in to enter the building. But if you're a sucker for true artistry, the door weirdness and climb up the staircase after you gain entrance are well worth what awaits.
Thorn does mostly wholesale work and architectural gilding, but works one-on-one with designers and homeowners who need to have heirloom clocks, harps or picture frames regilded. "I never push my moldings on anyone," says the likable Thorn, "but once my clients get started with one gold leaf frame, they can't stop! I love that every gilded piece I do is different."
By the Numbers
May we suggest:
Don't try to cover the East Bank District in one excursion. There are so many interesting businesses to pop into that you have to pace yourself. Here are some of our favorite addresses to haunt when you've got a couple of hours to fill:
. . . 317 S.E. Grand Ave. — MILLER PAINT.
After you grab a fan of paint chips, head for the wallpaper section and paw through a few oversized books filled with amazing wall coverings.
. . . 110 S.E. Main St. — PORTLAND STORE FIXTURES INC.
Tired of trying to get your man—or woman—to listen to you? Buy a mannequin to hear your every rant. You'll find everything from torsos to storage systems at this great place.
. . . 50 S.E. Yamhill St. — THE LIPPMAN CO.
Wonder where partygivers get their butcher paper in cool colors, tiki bars with grass skirts and stockings with spider webs? Fun-loving hostesses shop here!
. . . 1204 S.E. Water Ave. — PRATT & LARSON SECONDS ROOM.
The creative crowd comes to this outpost of the company to get stylish tile for a song.
. . . 1140 S.E. 7th Ave. — INTREPID MARBLE AND GRANITE.
Slab-a-dab-a-do! The slabyard here will give you granite envy—and inspire your next kitchen or bath renovation.
. . . 701 S.E. Grand Ave.— ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE CENTER.
Old-house lovers should check out the ever-changing exhibits—vintage doorknobs, house parts with botanical motifs—that are on display in this lovingly restored brick building.
. . . 1100 S.E. Grand Ave. — REJUVENATION.
You know them for their period lighting, but don't miss their salvaged goods such as vintage doorknobs, old doors and one-of-a-kind finds.
. . . 1135 S.E. Grand Ave.— CLINE GLASS COMPANY.
Want to do something other than clear-glass panes in your cabinetry? Walk the aisles in this unassuming store where you can finger squares of seeded glass, reed glass, Bullseye art glass—and more!