Old Friends


Buildings have power. As a kid, I believed they set the stage for all human thought and behavior. The fab ‘50s ranch house I grew up in, with its light blond wood cabinetry and boomerang pattern kitchen counters, seemed the perfect backdrop for my casual, noisy, thoroughly modern family life.  But then I’d go off to school and step back in time. The floorboards of the ancient building creaked with each step, the cast iron radiators clanked, and the dark wood cloak room  — not a closet but a “cloak” room as though our outerwear arrived mail order circa 1776  – suited the old world formalities expected of students.

All the world was but a stage and I was simultaneously playing in “The Brady Bunch” and some warped Victor Hugo revival.

The two sides finally came together for me at age 17 when I entered a modern restaurant furnished with reused-repurposed-and-revived building parts.  It truck me as intensely original to marry the old with the new, make the antique modern, and give the spanking new a sense of history.

It still does.

Fortunately, Oregon Home readers have easy access to reuse and repurpose businesses such as Arciform.

Anne and Richard De Wolf have made that a hallmark of their Arciform preservation and remodeling business for 11 years. They’ve worked on big projects such as Union Station and the Gallon House Covered Bridge, and many residential projects. They help people figure out how to use salvage items in their home in creative ways. Like framing an alcove in a kitchen with vintage box beams and trim, using broken bits of tile on stairways, or even putting old cabinet doors, complete with knobs, on ceilings.

“They’ve always looked at salvaging and repurposing,” says Melissa Fryback of Arciform. “They are always on the hunt.”

So when the couple spotted a vintage school bus in an old field they knew they had to put it to good use. They just weren’t sure how.

Soon the revamped school bus will roll up to street fairs and community events with a “Get Home Schooled” program that focuses on educating homeowners on the importance of sustainability and the creative use of salvage. The kickoff party is August 10th at Arciform’s annual open house. Mill around Arciforms’s 20,000 square foot workshop, meet the team of craftsmen and designers, and learn about their period work projects while sampling BBQ by Great Escape Catering and beer from Widmer Brewing.

What: Arciform’s “The Builders & The Butchers” open house

When: 5-8 p.m., August 10

Where: 2303 N. Randolph Ave., Portland