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A Backsplash with Personality

A backsplash is a great place to showcase your personality in the kitchen. Whether you are looking for a simple solution with a pop of color or a unique modern twist, there are endless options to choose from.

Add extra convenience with a niche at your range to store spices and oils or a special curio.

Spice up your niche with a fun Arabesque tile.

What better place to put a special curio that makes you smile.

Add a pop of color!

These homeowners added some pizazz to their kitchen by selecting a colorful glass tile.

Add some pizzazz to a classic kitchen by selecting a colorful, yet subtle glass tile.

Ocean lover? Bring the sea to your kitchen with a multicolored glass tile.

Are you a salvage king or queen? Show off some of your treasures!

This tile was salvaged from the original 1913 kitchen and found a home above the range in the updated one!

Maybe classic is your thing. Try breaking up a simple subway tile with a unique piece that adds an extra touch of sophistication.

Break up the subway tile and showcase a gorgeous handmade tile.

What about an option that looks more like art?

Go with a large format tile that looks like wallpaper.

Looking for a modern twist that’s easy to maintain?

This modern kitchen kicked it up with a stainless steel backsplash to compliment their stainless steel cabinets.

This client kicked it up with a stainless steel backsplash to complement their stainless steel cabinets and range.

There are so many ways to give your backsplash personality, while respecting the era of your home. Let us help you find your perfect fit.

Looking for more design inspiration for your kitchen? Join us for our Kitchens that Work Design Workshop on May 18th. Get the details and RSVP here by May 15th to attend FREE.

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Meet Design Department Manager Marty Hegg

Marty vacation

Here is Marty after a Cape Lookout hike with “my two favorite people in the whole, wide world, Erik & Birgita.”

After working with Arciform for several years, we are delighted to promote Marty Hegg to the role of Design Department Manager. This recognizes the extremely important (but often behind the scenes) role she plays in every design we execute for our clients.

We sat down with Marty to learn a bit more about what inspires her about the design process.

When did you know you wanted to work in architectural design? Tell us how you got inspired to do this work.

I have a hundred technicolor & tactile memories from Kindergarten: my best friend’s living room walls (Easter egg lavender)…


…our green scratchy frieze upholstery on the “davenport”…
…the oh-so-fancy red, flocked wallpaper at Eve’s Buffet (Fred Meyer’s restaurant)….

brick floor

… the brick-look flooring in my Aunt Mary’s kitchen….

terrycloth bedspread

… and my parents’ terrycloth bedspread I used to pretend was a fancy garden for my Fisher Price toys to play in.

Going over to friends’ or relatives’ homes, I often gave myself a secret, solo house tour to get the layout in my head. I have been drawn to interiors ever since I can remember, especially how different materials and colors can change the look and feel of a space.

Describe one of your favorite Arciform projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

The Hardison home is one of my favorite Arciform projects. I used to think Victorian homes were a little stuffy and formal, but these clients, Anne and all of the crew infused their home with such a sense of play. It is beautiful yet welcoming, cozy and creative, designed for the whole family to really enjoy.


Getting the submarine hatch up to the deck at the 3rd floor addition was a huge challenge! Actually, finding and purchasing the submarine hatch alone was a little scary.
What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love hunting for and finding anything from tile to cabinet hardware to great paint colors, then sharing them with the design team or clients. Pinterest is one of my favorite ways to collect gems to spec for our clients (paper-free, so I don’t fill any file cabinets).
I work with some incredible people, too! It is a beautiful thing to work alongside people who are both creative AND problem solvers. The design-build world is such a dynamic environment. I love walking out in the shop and seeing designs take their beautiful shape. I learn something every day from at least one person under this big roof.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?”
1. To be an aerial photographer over North & South America for a month or so (childhood dream career).

2. To trace my maternal roots while exploring as much of Mexico and Spain as possible.

3. To visit Slovakia and see the house my grandfather grew up in, discover the Tatras Mountains & travel up the Danube.

Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

Postcards from the Field: April

This morning we thought we’d take you on a quick virtual tour of some of the projects we are currently working on here at Arciform…

Here are a few of the projects underway…


This mudroom in Lake Oswego is getting a very cool tile treatment….

Kirby_197x_SiteVisit_April2015_D_ (24)

A gas pass-thru fireplace in SE Portland is being installed in a mid-century whole house remodel…

EugenisAmy_1952_D_ (106)

Some views are being re-framed at a different mid-century addition project….

EugenisAmy_1952_D_ (104)

… with the help of a VERY large crane.

exterior front - porch underway 4

A porch is coming together out in Beaverton…

Lidberg_1952_(N) Bath 1_After_W_NonPro_(9)

… while some very groovy tile is being set for a mid-century bathroom in Hillsdale.


MilliganUsher_1926_Basement_BikeStorage_Print_A_ (1)

Bike racks and lockers are going to add some cool kid style to a basement renovation in NW Portland…

Miltenberger_1940_Radiator_Bench_ (15)

….while this elegant custom radiator cabinet is being prepped for install up in the SW Hills.

Coming soon to Arciform… a historic Portland church gets a bell tower restoration, a Corvallis National Register property gets a new kitchen and the roof gets raised on a collection of dormer addition master suites all over Portland.

So… what are YOU working on?

 Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

Introducing Designer Jeffrey Kelly

Grande Ronde 3

Recently one of Arciform’s talented Junior Designers earned his “stripes” and has been promoted to Designer. He’ll begin taking on his own design projects this year. We thought we’d take a moment to learn about what inspires him most.

When did you know you wanted to be an architectural designer? Tell us how you got inspired to do this work.

My father was a carpenter so building is in my blood. During my childhood, despite my brother’s and my protests, we spent many hours of our family vacations looking at open houses and visiting sites of architectural interest. It must have all sunk in at some point, because in my adolescence and early adulthood I would find myself exploring friend’s houses and looking at details that defined the architecture of the home. It took some years to realize this is what I wanted to do for a living. Once I did there was no looking back.

Describe one of your favorite design projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

One of my favorite projects so far was the recently completed Snyder job. I have to admit I’m a bit partial because this was one of the first jobs I designed to go to construction. The scope of the project was a very compact bathroom that needed some more breathing room. We were able to capture space from an adjacent closet in order to make a more functional bathroom. The most memorable part of the project for me was working with the client. She had a very strong idea of what she wanted, in terms of finishes and overall aesthetics, so it made it a fun and collaborative process.

Tell us what you consider the hallmarks of a well-designed project. How do you know when something is “right?”

For me it is important to respect the existing structure and be an advocate for the lifespan of the home when designing a project. At the same time there have been vast improvements in building technology and the way people interact with their homes is constantly changing. Finding a balance between modern upgrades and lasting style is the challenge for every project. It’s hard to pin point when something is “right” but finding that balance is a great start.

What’s your working style? How do you like to work with a client?

I’ve found that most clients know what is needed for their project to be successful even if they don’t have a clear vision of how to achieve it. It is my job to interpret their needs and provide solutions that help them make their home a more functional environment. I enjoy providing a collaborative relationship for a client and welcome their input at all phases of design. While I enjoy space planning and coming up with configurations that I think are the most effective, the end result has to put the client’s needs first. No one knows how a space functions better than the people who live with it every day and to not utilize the client’s feedback as a resource would be a disservice to the project.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?”

1. Visit every National Park in the United States. This is a goal of my mother’s as well and my parents are currently working their way through this challenge. We live in such a beautiful world and what better way to see it than exploring our own country. It is very important to me to spend time in the outdoors and experience the natural world. Unfortunately it is very easy to get caught up in the day to day life and forget to get outside and explore all the wondrous places that surround us. I have never been disappointed by a National Park and I look forward to checking more off my list.

2. Raft the Colorado river. I am an avid fly fisher and a novice rafter. This past year I purchased a cataraft and have been working on my boating skills. Hopefully one day I will be able to take it down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.

3. Drive from Portland to the tip of Argentina and back. If you can’t tell by now I really love getting out in world and experiencing unfamiliar places. Central and South America has been on the top of my list for a long time and I hope to get there in the next 5 years.

Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

Designer Picks: New Appliances We Love

One of the most important decisions you make when planning a kitchen that will really work for your family is which appliances to select. But how to choose?

We polled our design team to find out which appliances they’ve been recommending recently.

Senior Designer Anne’s Picks

Liebherr Refrigerators

Why? They integrate beautifully and have models that fit fabulously in small spaces.

Viking Ranges


Why? They are great performers and have color options that allow them to integrate well.

Miele Integrated Appliances


Miele integrated range

Why? They are also great performers and are beautifully designed.


Why? This hood is one of my favorites because it comes in different colors and has such a classic shape.

Senior Designer Kristyn’s Picks

BEST Flush Inset Hoods

BEST flush inset hood2BEST flush inset hood

Why? These are ideal for 7’ – 9’ ceilings and can be up to 72” above a range. Great to use in spaces where you want clear sight lines. For example, they are a perfect choice for an island or peninsula that contains the cooking appliance and is open to an adjacent dining room or living room, or where the island extends into a seating area.

Wolf Convection Steam Oven


Wolf convection steam oven

Why? Because moisture, heat and air are the best combination! Moisture, heat and airflow work together to create tasty results while preserving foods’ natural nutrition. You can select a cooking mode that’s ideal for your dish and the oven’s unique digital technology senses the amount and size of the food and automatically adjusts all the details of cooking.

U-Line & Perlick Drawer Refrigeration


perlick drawer

Why? Adding additional refrigeration under the counter is a great space saver and often a must-have for families.

Senior Designer Chelly’s Picks

Jenn-Air’s Obsidian Interior Refrigerator



Why? This fridge is exciting because there are now more options on the market that have dual compressors and LED lighting. And that black interior is pretty cool!

Miele’s Induction Cooktop



Why? I love induction! It’s clean, responsive and energy efficient. Miele cooktops offer a distinctive non-contact method of heating using magnetic fields to transfer energy directly to cookware. They offer the benefits of a gas flame without introducing excess heat into the working environment. Their new induction range is also exciting and great for small kitchens.

Blue Star’s Frenchtop Series Range

Why?  Not only does it let you cook like a pro, it’s available in 750 colors!

Miele Dishwashers


miele dishwasher

Why? Hands down the best dishwashers out there! They are quiet, reliable, innovative and pretty. Rumor has it that they are working on their line up and soon their higher model features will be integrated in the lower classic and crystal models.

Big Chill Appliances

Why? Big Chill appliances (fridges, stoves, ovens, hoods, microwaves) combine modern day amenities with a vintage aesthetic that can play up the retro feel of a space.

Senior Designer Anne also loves Big Chill:

They are fun as they do not need additional work to look good in a kitchen!

Design Assistant Marty’s Picks

Electrolux Dryer


Why?  It has settings for a speedy dry (14 minutes), gentlest dry and steam dry to get rid of wrinkles so you don’t have to iron!

AGA Undercounter Refrigerated Drawers



Why? These are great for those who do not want a full-sized fridge.

Junior Designer Trisha’s Picks


SMEG Retro Refrigerators

smeg retro fridge

Why? A smaller, but still awesome, option.

Junior Designer Kat’s Pick

Blomberg Refrigerator

blomberg fridge

Why? I love their tall, skinny refrigerators. They take up less floor space but give you lots of storage with height. These last for years and are a bargain compared to other brands. The freezer on the bottom puts most foods at eye level.

And of course, who wouldn’t want one of these?

La Cornue W. Freestanding Induction Stove
La Cornue
In the words of designer Kristyn Bester:

“The most beautiful appliance I’ve ever seen!”

We agree.

Looking for more design inspiration for your kitchen? Join us for our Kitchens that Work Design Workshop on May 18th. Get the details and RSVP here by May 15th to attend FREE.

Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

Client’s Eye View: Finding the Perfect Range for Your Kitchen

range pic 2

If you love to cook, selecting the perfect oven & stovetop for your kitchen can be the most important decision you make. Recently Arciform client Linda Schmidt’s quest for the perfect range took her all the way to Woodinville, Wa. We interviewed her to get a client’s eye view of her experience.

What are your goals for your new range? How will it be an improvement over your current stove?

Currently we have a glass stove top which was present when we purchased the house.  We hate it.  It’s impossible to keep clean, and, given that it’s electric, I don’t think it cooks that well.  It takes forever to heat up a large pot of water if I am making a big batch of chicken soup.  We have a wall oven which works okay, but I find that I am often in need of two ovens as I bake a lot, particularly around the holidays.  Our new range will replace both the stovetop and wall range, making better use of the limited space in our kitchen.  Although the new range won’t be large (approximately 40” wide), it will come with dual electric ovens (each of which can cook a 26 lb turkey!) and 5 gas burners, one of which is 18,000 BTU – this should allow me to heat up a big pot of soup in a jiffy.  From an aesthetic standpoint, the new range will be far more attractive than what we currently have.

 range pic 1

You went to Seattle to check out a range you were excited about. What was it that drew you to that particular model?

Woodinville, WA to be exact!  I saw this range featured in one of the design/home décor magazines I receive.  I loved the timeless and classic look of it.  It’s not trendy.  The other important draw was that it comes in 24 different colors!  With respect to the particular model that we selected, given that our kitchen space is not large, we were limited to a range less than 44” in width.  What I liked best about this model is that it comes with two equal-sized ovens so the overall look is balanced.  My eye was immediately drawn to it when I saw it.  My husband also liked this model best.


What did you learn while you were there? How has it impacted your thinking about which range you’ll select?

I learned a lot.  I had already done a fair amount of on-line research about the different ranges out there as well as about LaCanche.  I even found some internet threads where people write about their experience with a LaCanche range.  Going to the showroom allowed me to see, up close, the different models, learn more about their features, the accessories that come with the range, optional accessories such as griddles and grill plates, and other important things about the ordering process, warranty, service and parts.  I also learned that LaCanche ranges are entirely mechanical – no computer chips or anything like that – so if something goes wrong, it is likely because a part has worn out.  Learning about the different oven options led me to select the particular model I did.  Prior to visiting the showroom, I wasn’t sure which model to select because it wasn’t entirely clear to me from reading through their brochure which oven arrangement would best suit our needs.

range pic 3

 What challenges did you identify with the model you checked out?

Lead and shipping time!  Each range is built to order in France.  Because the demand for this brand has increased significantly over the last year, we were told that there is at least a 10 week lead time after our order is placed.  Add an additional 4 -10 weeks for delivery, depending on whether you select air or sea freight, and you are looking at 5 months before the range arrives if you select with the most cost effective shipping option.

range pic 4

 What’s your next step? Does the search continue?

My next step is to decide on a color (I’ve narrowed it down to two) and then order.  I’ve done enough research on-line and by visiting other showrooms to know that no other brand appeals to me as much in terms of appearance, functionality, and cost.  This range is surprisingly well-priced.  It’s less expensive than some American brands and is definitely better priced than LaCornue.

What advice do you have for others getting started on the appliance selection process?

Do your research.  I did a lot of research on-line.  From there, I identified several brands which appealed to me aesthetically and came in colors I was considering as I knew that I did not want stainless steel.  It then came down to whether the brand/model offered a double oven.  From there, price and value were the ultimate determining factors.  Definitely visit a showroom of the range(s) you are considering.  We learned a lot from spending just over an hour at the LaCanche showroom.  Visiting the showroom also made me feel much more confident in this purchase.

Exploring a possible kitchen renovation? Join us May 18th, 2015 for an inspirational design workshop. Get the details and RSVP here.

Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

5 Things to Consider When Thinking of a Dormer Addition

This dormer addition, designed by Arciform designer Chelly Wentworth, stayed under the 12' size restrictions.

This dormer addition, designed by Arciform designer Chelly Wentworth, stayed under the 12′ size restrictions.

There are many things to think about when designing a dormer addition. Here are 5 things your designer will take into consideration.

1. Size

The size of your dormer addition can determine whether you will need additional permits and upgrades. By keeping it under 12′ you can typically avoid major seismic upgrades like sheer wall upgrades or adding posts and footings.

Designed by Chelly Wentworth, this dormer addition has new windows stacked.

Designed by Arciform designer Chelly Wentworth, this dormer addition has new windows stacked.

2. Stacking

Stacking a bath over an existing is the most cost effective way to add a bathroom to a dormer. By tapping into the existing plumbing from below you will avoid major plumbing costs.

To avoid sizable seismic and structural challenges, stack new windows over existing ones. By doing so, the load of your house will not change significantly.

3. Joist Depth

The depth of existing joists can play a large role in whether or not your dormer addition will allow for a bathroom. The joists must be a certain depth to accommodate plumbing lines, specifically for a toilet. Converting an attic into a dormer may also require structural improvements for the purpose of resisting wind or earthquake load and floor live loads (people, furniture).

A plan by Chelly Wentworth shows the insulation in a dormer addition.

A plan by Arciform designer Chelly Wentworth shows the insulation (pink area) in a dormer addition.

4. Insulation

When building a dormer the required roof insulation is rated at R-38, which requires a minimum 2×8 rafter size. If you are planning to install recessed can lighting fixtures you will need a 2×10 rafter to meet insulation requirements. This can provide challenges when you are dealing with existing framing members that are smaller and if you are trying to keep a continuous roof or wall plane.

This main floor addition by Kristyn Bester fits seamlessly with the aesthetics of the house.

This main floor addition by Arciform designer Kristyn Bester fits seamlessly with the aesthetics of the house.

5. Aesthetics

Make sure the type of dormer you are selecting is appropriate for your house – will it work with the existing roof lines? The two most common dormers are sheds and gable.

A shed dormer designed by Anne De Wolf.

A shed dormer designed by Arciform designer Anne De Wolf that ties into the existing roof lines.

Shed Dormer:

Typically off the back of the house, has a flat shed-like roof and allows for more headroom. These aren’t always aesthetically pleasing so adding character to the side will help to keep it appealing.

This dormer addition, designed by Arciform designer Anne De Wolf, is a good illustration of a gable dormer.

A gable dormer addition, designed by Arciform designer Anne De Wolf.

Gable Dormer:

A more expensive option and does not have as much headroom. These are a great option for adding more light to your room.

Are you ready to start planning your dream master suite or art studio? Schedule a design consultation to begin planning your next project here.

Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation

The Suite Life


You know how you feel when you snuggle into bed in a truly great hotel suite? One that has all those little conveniences and surprising luxuries that make you feel cocooned in a peaceful web of relaxation? Wouldn’t it be great to feel like that every time you retreat to your own master suite?

This month we are exploring design ideas to incorporate into a master suite renovation, and we thought we’d start by stealing some of our favorite hotel suite design elements.

Here’s what our designers would steal from their favorite hotels for your master suite:

Kristyn Bester

My fantasy is a built-in espresso machine in the bedroom.  Very hotelesque.


In a London hotel we loved the button that you pushed for instant fogging of the shower glass panel….now you see me, now you don’t.  I’m including a similar element in the master bath for one of our current clients.


LC Private

I also like iPod/iPhone docks for easy music access in the bedroom/bathroom – it makes for a seamless transition between the two, which is nice if you are like me and listen to NPR while you get ready in multiple areas.



The Japanese have a much more civilized approach to the toilet. Add a bidet/washlet for a whole different experience.



Last but not least, consider a dedicated spot for your bathrobe… something that will make the robe a part of the decor.


Chelly Wentworth adds:

Towel warmers make your morning a pleasure.


A soaking tub should have a great view. Maybe not as great as this one below… but consider natural light, window location and a restful/lovely vista for the eye when planning a soaking tub.



A seating area with en suite fireplace is a great feature of hotel suites on the coast. Nothing is more cozy than a good book and a fireplace…



Anne De Wolf would steal:

Well insulated windows and walls to control sounds! A full night’s sleep is so important and a quiet space makes a huge difference.


Also a dressing area with nice chair/ottoman to sit on or toss things onto as you pass and a full height mirror to check every detail before you leave for the day.


And last but not least…


Room service – naturally!

What suite features would you steal from your favorite hotels for your own master suite renovation? Join us February 18th for a Master Suite Design Workshop to get inspired for your next project. Details and RSVP here.


 Explore the Arciform Project Galleries | About Arciform | Schedule a Design Consultation



Help Pass the Revitalize Main Street Act and Save Oregon’s Historic Buildings!


Since the Historic Preservation Act in 1966, state and federally funded tax credits specifically directed towards supporting historic preservation and rehabilitation projects have become the financial backbone for many ventures.  Oregon is currently one of five states that, while having an income tax, does not offer such incentives for preservation related construction.

With your help Restore Oregon hopes to turn that around when they bring the Revitalize Main Street Act to legislation in the January 2015 session.  Once passed the Act would lead to a 25% state tax rebate on historic preservation and rehabilitation construction projects.

What’s in it for Oregon?

While it’s easy to see benefits for individual buildings, a study by EcoNorthwest determined that with just a $10.6M investment by the state of Oregon we would see 1,369 jobs generated per year, a $2.3M net increase in property taxes to pay for public services, and a $35.8M net increase in the state GDP by 2018.


What are the Rules?

  • The 25% state tax rebate can be applied to any costs directly related to the historic rehabilitation.  This includes any costs incurred during construction, but does not cover superfluous purchases such as hotel lobby chairs or drapes.
  • Funding would come from money generated by the state income tax at a yearly capped amount.
  • If passed, this 25% state tax rebate can be used in conjunction with the 20% federal Historic Tax Credit.
  • There must be a minimum investment of $10,000.


Who Can Use It?

  • The credit can only be applied to income producing properties such as apartments, theaters, hotels, factories, stores, etc.If any portion of the structure being rehabilitated is non-income producing, any work done in that area would need to be separated out from the remaining cost of the rehabilitation and would not count towards the tax credit.
  • The credit can be used on properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This includes approximately 2,600 buildings in 77 Oregon towns.
  • Only work done within the guidelines outlined by the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for an appropriate rehabilitation may be applicable.  An addition to a historic building may be allowed so long as it is reversible, but any costs incurred do not count towards the state tax rebate.

La GrandeBA

What are the Benefits?

While there are tangible benefits to preserving our historic landscape that include a sense of identity, community pride and aesthetics, there are also many economic benefits on a state and local level.

  • Thriving main streets and historic attractions bring in tourists who give an added boost to the local economy.
  • Several studies have shown that construction waste can make up more than half of a city or town’s overall landfill composition.  Simply put, the reuse of existing buildings will keep more waste out of our nation’s landfills.
  • The rehabilitation and maintenance of older buildings create more sustained jobs for local businesses, while new construction materials are increasingly comprised prefabricated parts that are shipped in.
  • One study from Profiting from the Past: The Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Georgia showed that between 1992 and 1996 the rehabilitation of historic properties created 7,550 jobs, $201 million in earnings, and had a total impact of $559 on the state economy.  as our current economic outlook brightens, imagine how the Main Street Revitalization Act could keep creating jobs and keep Oregon’s economic growth headed in the right direction!

Arciform and Versatile Wood Products are proud sponsors of Restore Oregon and the Revitalize Main Street Act, but they need public support to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  Click here to show your support and learn more about the Act so we can start saving Oregon’s historic buildings!

Support the Portland Baroque Orchestra

PBO joanna and viol

Arciform values fresh interpretations of history in all its forms and is proud to support the Portland Baroque Orchestra who “produce fresh and historically informed interpretations of music composed before 1840 for a wide audience.” Join us in supporting their education and outreach missions by donating in support of their year-end campaign.

When you make a gift of $75 or more today, and enter Arciform in the notes, you will receive a copy of the Portland Baroque Orchestra in Concert CD (while supplies last), recognition in an upcoming playbill and your name will be entered in a March drawing for a pair of tickets to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in April 2015.

Click here to donate today.


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