There's more to exploring Northwest Portland than shopping up and down the bustling N.W. 23rd and N.W. 21st avenues. North and south of Thurman St., when the vibe starts to go industrial, the pickings become more one-of-a-kind. Here are some of our favorite shops to explore after you tire of the national chains' outposts and the hipster boutiques.
If you collect art, expect to end up at Katayama Framing (2219 N.W. Raleigh St., 503-224-3334) one day or another. Entering the large bright-red door will put you in the proximity of owner Marilyn Murdoch (right), who lives and breathes one-of-a-kind framing in this 10,000-square-foot building. "We don’t like to do cookie-cutter framing," she says of the dozen craftspeople who fabricate specialty frames of all kinds and tackle frame restoration services such as regilding. "In fact, 35 percent of what we do starts with raw moldings like these."
She waves her arm Carol Marol-style over a display of tens of frame corners pointing skyward—think carved-ins, added-ons, scraffitos (see sample, which starts at $198 a foot, at the top of this page), etc.—and picks out one of her current favorites: a wide "ribbon" frame that looks like something Portlandia would use to embellish the neckline of her hammered-copper robe. "Nothing shines like gold," she says as she runs her hand over the molding.
Murdoch says many Pearl District loft owners have found their way to her warehouse-looking building as Katayama Framing is one of the few shops in Portland set up to frame art as large as 20 by 15 feet.
The frame shop also has an on-site gallery that displays Katayama-framed works by such artists as Mary Josephson, Rick Bartow and Maude Kerns. "I just can’t stop buying art!" the framing maven says. "Plus, the best way to sell frames is to show great art that’s been well-framed. Good frames are timeless."
Which doesn’t mean they have to always be museum-serious. Above the doorway in the company’s employee lunchroom, for example, is a three-ruffled art dress fashioned out of potato chip bags. Its perfect frame? A super-wide molding decoupaged with a 7-Eleven-worthy assortment of primary-colored chip bags.
With a slogan like "If your home doesn’t stand out, don't blame us," HIP FURNITURE (1829 N.W. 25th Ave., 503-225-5017) stocks the modern goods to keep you from living with what the masses are buying.
If you’d rather ride Max in a never-ending loop than take it to Ikea and spring for four of its ubiquitous Stockholm chairs to put around your dining room or kitchen table, come here. You’ll find surprises such as the Jam Chair by Calligaris Furniture ($264), a two-toned acrylic-seat and chrome-leg chair that smacks of freshness.
Natuzzi leather sofas such as the Greta ($2,155), ergonomically correct IMG chairs, and Bo Concept 10-inch-high platform beds ($1,520 for the Limo) and chests of drawers ($788) in wenge, cherry, oak or walnut—and lots of other well-designed modern furniture!—round out the mix in this 12,000-square-foot warehouse.
MAN OF METALWORK
Don’t let the locked door and RING THE BELL sign scare you off from ducking into TROVO DESIGN (2662 N.W. Vaughn St., 503-223-2690), especially if you’re a metalhead when it comes to such house parts as furniture, fireplace surrounds, mirrors, planters, gates, railings, range hood panels, sconces and mailboxes. Robert Thomas is the designer and fabricator of the architectural metalwork—many pieces of which are treated with specialty patinas and tints (right)—in this storefront showroom with the in-the-back studio, but office manager Ellen Baird is the one that will unlock the door and let you peruse Thomas’ wares and a thick portfolio of his custom work. We especially liked his chemically stained panels ($2,500 for a 35-by 48-inch panel) that looked like an established landscape painter had created a foggy-day masterpiece on a metal canvas.
Organic and sustainable sofas, chairs, beds and accessories fill the 3,500-square-foot ECLECTIC HOME (2259 N.W. Raleigh St., 503-224-0551), where proprietor Dennis Rose, who spent 25 years in the health and fitness industry, sets about bringing health to the home.
We liked this two-toned La Hoya bamboo bed and organic mattresses ($2,795 for a queen) that an upholsterer in Bend, Ore., makes. "Eco-furniture can be bland and brown," says Rose, "but I’m trying to show a selection that's innovative and beautiful—and has the added value of being sustainable."
A MAJOR ILLUMINATION STATION
Prepare to leave GLOBE LIGHTING (1919 N.W. 19th Ave., 503-972-516) with a great light and a crick in your neck from oogling all of the illuminations dangling from the ceiling of this lighting emporium. Here you’ll find Hightech spotlights ($48 each), fluted glass pendants ($93), chandeliers and a back corner filled with more than 25 ceiling fans ranging from sleek to Southern, like the Concentra with rattan woven blades ($355).
Before you leave, check out the Outlet Center, where refurbished, one-of-a-kind, and light fixtures with minor defects sell at a discounted price. Our favorite find? A desktop Happy Lite sunshine simulator lamp ($160) to give to the grumpiest guy we know.
COFFEE, TEA—OR THAT CHAUSSON AUX?
Rest your size 9s for 20 minutes at one of two good refueling stations on Thurman St.: THE DRAGONFLY COFFEE HOUSE (2387 N.W. Thurman St., 503-224-7888) and the ST. HONORÉ BOULANGERIE (2335 N.W. Thurman St., 503-445-4342). We sat back in an upholstered chair to swig our green tea and munch on a chocolate-chip cookie at The Dragonfly, then—much later!—admired the beautiful butter-yellow marble countertop at St. Honoré when we ordered an apple turnover, a.k.a. a chausson aux, in this stone-floored, chandelier-lit bakery.
On the way out, we bought an assortment of artisan dinner rolls (Auvergnat, Tabatière and Fendu) worthy of being served in the best bistro in town. Love, in a bag!
GOOD LINES LIVE HERE
Designers Bryce Amato and Pamela Johnson specialize in striking interiors where casual comfort rules, and their showroom, AMATO JOHNSON DESIGN (2600 N.W. Vaughn St., 503-297-4615) is similarly as Zen as it is beautiful.
We liked this elongated pendant that reminded us of a fabulous ruffled sleeve or a refreshing seascape of whitewater rolling in (gotta turn your head sideways for that). The shop also had a nice assortment of glasswork ($50 for a 10-by-10 ash tray) by Ellen Jackson, chrome-based table lamps ($220) and pieces of 19th century furniture on consignment such as a French armoire and a dining room table with six chairs ($3,400).
OH, SO HENRY
We’ve loved the work of designer Henry Brown since doing a cover story on his West Hills mid-century modern home several years ago. Here at the store that bears a compilation of his name and that of his partner, Steve Bedford—BEDFORD BROWN (1825 N.W. Vaughn St., 503-227-7755)—you’ll find everything from beveled mirrors in chestnut frames ($395) to Lee Industries sofas, chairs and beds. Deb Adams, the store’s marketing and advertising manager, says Bedford Brown’s buyers shop from Bangkok to Paris to local markets to bring together this clean-lined mix.
Adams says the shop also features an accessorizing service to help you rearrange your existing furniture and accent it with new things from the store ($85 an hour), whether they be floorlamps, chairs or the perfect Old Lacquered Monk ($295 each). Don’t miss the store’s indoor greenhouse and outdoor stoneyard (right) filled with oversize containers for real or faux trees and plants (Bedford’s end of the business began as West Coast Plants and remains a big part of Bedford Brown.)
The latest fixtures around which to design your bathroom or kitchen are available for less than list price at the GEORGE MORLAN PLUMBING SUPPLY DESIGN CENTER (2222 N.W. Raleigh St., 503-274-4222), a 10,000-square-foot showroom filled with wares from such notable manufacturers as Porcher, Hansgrohe and Kallista, among many others. “And if you buy all of your toilets, sinks and faucets from us,” says an assistant manager, “you receive a ‘contractor’s discount.’ Your savings could end up being in the thousands of dollars.”
The free-standing Kallista tub ($9,500) is a popular seller although the center has also sold three solid granite tubs ($18,000 each) that require a reinforced floor to hold its sans water weight of 3,500 pounds. Homeowners are also installing three or four Body Spray watertiles (Left, $92 each) by Kohler, in addition to a shower head.
Looking for a Paul Bunyon-size bronze to fill your two-story-tall foyer? Head for SPRINGBOX GALLERY (2376 N.W. Thurman St., 503-228-1600) where a 13-foot, 6-inch-tall Kodiac bear ($265,000) awaits. “He’s hollow, all bronze,” says gallery co-owner Erin Leonard who runs the double-storefront space with her artist-husband, Eric. “We’re helping the Oregon Humane Society sell it, but he sure takes up a lot of space that we need!”
Springbox features the work of 20 emerging and established artists such as Sidonie Caron, Ivan McLean, Jeff Jenkins (his home was featured in our Nov.-Dec. 2007 issue) and Leo Wayman, who incorporates salvaged materials with his canvases (right). “Portland is the Field of Dreams for a lot of artists, so Eric and I feel good about showcasing their work,” says Erin.