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Recoup Your Renovation Investment with Airbnb


If you are like most people, you share your home with a spouse and children. Maybe some pets, too. If you’re lucky, you’ve carved out a space for yourself somewhere. For many of my friends that space is the bathroom. In the WC they can lock the door and have a good excuse to keep everyone out, away, far on the other side.

But let’s be honest – the bathroom doesn’t work if the personal space you need is a place to paint or practice the trombone. Maybe you need a quiet space to write, work, or simply to breathe.


And, with the impending holidays, you’re probably also figuring out where to put out of town guests. Have you thought about an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)? There are many types: the basement suite, the detached unit, the apartment over the garage. Here’s the obligatory Wikipedia link.

Earhart_1904_Basement_A_1_P_Pro (1)

Pretty cool, right? ADUs can work for many people with space issues.

Are you thinking about your house and what type of ADU would work best for you?

Are you imagining a lovely space for your home office? (Finally – your own space!)

Maybe with a pull-down bed or some cool set-up for guests?

Perhaps you then immediately think: Crap. This will cost money.

Well, in the spirit of justification, let me help you out. If you plan this correctly, you might be able to offset some of your cost by renting your ADU on Airbnb or VRBO. Extra money is always nice, and if you’re inclined to pencil out costs and make a budget, here are some things to consider before you start counting income not yet received.

See, I have an ADU (freakishly cool shipping container, thanks to Arciform), and I have recently listed it on Airbnb. My success so far has been limited in terms of numbers, but awesome in terms of fun and easiness. Here are things to consider before you get started:

1. Renting a room on Airbnb or VRBO means you’re in the realm of real estate, so location is key. If you are within walking distance to good restaurants, a bus or train line, or shopping, you are more likely to do well than if you live a mile from the closest bus stop (as I do).
studio apartment
2. A separate space for guests is ideal. This means their own bathroom (certainly not required), hopefully their own entrance, and maybe even a kitchenette. If a kitchenette is not possible, a coffee pot and toaster will work.
3. People usually travel in pairs, so a space to sleep two is best. If you can sleep more, great.

airplane guest suite
4. The space does not have to be fancy, but if it’s interesting and comfortable it will attract more guests. (I was asked to be in an Airbnb feature about unusual spaces. The more people looking at your pics, the better.)
5. Browse the sites above – prices per night can range from $40 to $1000 per night. This leaves a lot of room for extravagance in the space and location categories.

detached guest house

Now let’s take a look at some pretty pictures! First, here’s a separate space that I adore. Imagine having this in your back yard. If you had something like this, you could go out there to escape the kids and read. Note that this space does not have a bathroom or kitchen, which translates to a more affordable construction bill as it is not plumbed. The location is also fantastic – between Hawthorne and Division in The People’s Republic of Portland. Good restaurants. Great shops.

For more inspiration, here’s another small space without a bathroom. You want one? You can have one.

OK, let’s discuss your unfinished attic or basement space. I really love the idea of finishing the basement / attic and financing it (to the extent possible) with Airbnb. Check out this attic master bedroom with its own bathroom. Here is a remodeled basement. Could you do this? Bet you’d like to.

Let’s go a little bigger now. Check out what these people did in Mt. Tabor! It’s gorgeous. This is a lot more space, and it’s plumbed, with a kitchen – more expensive to build, but worth it for the right people. And you never have to worry about where to put the in-laws again. Ever. And it just might pay for itself.

Nancy container guest house

Want to see my space? Good, ’cause I love to show it off. Here’s the Airbnb link. Arciform did this for me! The fir on the walls was leftover from another job site, the revolving door was on my wish list, and Anne made it happen. Richard and the guys made it cool with car parts sitting around the shop.


We used vintage sprinklers as towel racks and clothes hooks, and the bathroom sink is on a genuine Oregon tree stump with scrap plumbing fixtures. Arciform also figured out the awning and the patio – pretty awesome, right?


Now, from personal experience, these were my budget busters: I had to run water, sewage, and electrical to the container, and there was no close access. Planning can help you locate your ADU where water is close, thus saving on costs. Also, my container had to be craned in to the back yard. Arciform / Richard figured it all out – but placing your ADU in an accessible space will save on costs, of course. (In some ways, I’m not practical. Nobody’s perfect.)

Ranchel_Container_Move_D_ (133)

I have some friends who remodeled their basement (full kitchen, sleeps several, with washing machine, etc.) and renting it out covers the mortgage some months. I believe it rents for $150 / night-ish. (I have not come close to that, but a gal can hope.) Intrigued yet? If an ADU sounds like a possible solution to your space issues, or is just something you’ve always wanted because it’s cool and fun, set up a design meeting. There will be permits to be pulled, perhaps setbacks and other restrictions to be considered, but it’s great to discuss how to best utilize your space and see if an ADU is an option.

Flexibility is the key. If you can have the space for your personal use, plus rent it out, this might just be a no-brainer. My favorite kind of decision.

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Pioneer Mother’s Cabin Rescued from Willamette

Mothers' Cabin 036

We are delighted to report that the Oregon State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution have commissioned Arciform to begin rescuing one of Restore Oregon’s 2013 Most Endangered Places, the Pioneer Mother’s Cabin in Champoeg, Oregon.

Threatened by the encroaching Willamette River, the historic Pioneer Mother’s Cabin will be minutely catalogued, tagged, deconstructed and prepped for storage by Arciform starting this week as part of a multi-year project that will ultimately see the cabin restored and re-built on the grounds of the Robert Newell House and Museum.

Mothers' Cabin 017

Although the structure is in overall good condition, the south bank of the Willamette River has eroded to within 20 feet of the cabin walls. Moving the cabin to higher ground is imperative to prevent the structure from sustaining water and flood damage this winter. Deconstruction will begin November 11th and will be coordinated by Arciform Project Manager Scott Mumma in collaboration with Arciform owner and historic preservation advocate Richard De Wolf.

De Wolf explains,
“We’re honored and excited to help rescue this important historic structure. Our team has extensive experience with historic restoration projects including the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the Waggoner Farmstead and the Silver Falls Historic Log Cabin. We look forward to putting that experience to work in support of this important effort.”

The Pioneer Mothers Memorial Cabin was built in 1931 to honor female pioneers and house artifacts that crossed the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. Built with funds raised by the Oregon State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), it today operates as a museum and living history exhibit for school children.

Mothers' Cabin 010

Primary goals of the multi-phase preservation project include upgrading the engineering to meet current code without modifying the look and feel of the historic structure and upgrading the comfort and energy performance characteristics of the structure. Deconstruction will require careful cataloguing of each element to be sure that it can be reconstructed in a way that will conserve and restore as much of the existing architectural material as possible. The reconstruction phase will include comfort and performance upgrades like the integration of insulation into the roof and a seismic upgrade that will require drilling threaded rods through the structure to invisibly lock the logs to the foundation.

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Give Thanks for All that Twirls and Tumbles in Arciform’s Custom Workshop

Did you know that Arciform’s shop, in addition to crafting custom cabinets and millwork, also provides space for the creation of wild aerial dance performances?


Thanksgiving weekend you’ll get a chance to check out AWOL Dance, the aerial dance troupe who make their home in our building, along with Polaris Dance and the Circus Project in a benefit party and performance featuring Vagabond Opera that will take place right in our wood shop!


Join us as we give thanks for all that twirls, tumbles, twists and delights on December 1st starting at 6 pm at Arciform’s building (2303 N. Randolph Ave).


We’ll be hosting complimentary beer and wine so join us in raising a glass and raising some money in support of these three excellent organizations.

Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased here.

Thankful Poster

Client’s Eye View: An Elegant, Whimsical Kitchen

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-ba1-aDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

For Paris and Stan, their kitchen renovation was all about adding joy and a touch of elegant whimsy to a hard-working space that needed to serve as kitchen, mudroom, pantry, office and family gathering hub.

Here’s where they began:

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-ba1-bBefore the remodel.

Dated fixtures and finishes and a cramped footprint made this kitchen an unwelcoming and inconvenient space in the heart of their home.

Here’s Paris and Stan’s take on the project goals and challenges and how it all came out:

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-a-4Design by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

Arciform: What were your goals with this kitchen remodel?

We wanted something special, not run-of-the-mill, that would reflect our family’s personality. We also wanted each family member to have their own cubby to store their gear and we wanted the space to be a welcoming hangout for the family to share “family time” together.

Arciform designer Anne De Wolf adds, “The project needed to integrate several overlapping uses into one cohesive space. We focused on efficient solutions for integrated storage and elegant but whimsical finishes that would add color and a light and airy feel to the space.”

Pendant lights selected after much searching add a touch of whimsy to the space, while ice stone counters with embedded flecks of glass and mother of pearl create a sense of luxury and surprise. Turquoise diamond-shaped glass tile add color and texture.

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-a-3 Design by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

Arciform: What were some of the challenges the project faced and  how did you address them?

The space was small and dark and right in the central pathway of the home.

We chose reflective surfaces like stainless steel and light gloss upper cabinet finishes to capture as much light as possible. Full height cabinets make the most of every available inch of storage. The lower cabinets also have additional built-in storage solutions, including access to the storage space from both sides of the breakfast bar.

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-a-1Design by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

Arciform: What’s your favorite part of the completed design?

We love everything. The textures make us happy, from the warm grain of the walnut lower cabinets to the diamond shaped glass tile backsplash and the glass knobs on the cabinet doors.

Family time is important to us, so we love the nook and the large breakfast counter. Our daughter can sit and clean her aquarium while we’re prepping dinner or finishing up work from the office.

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-a-8Design by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

Arciform: Tell us about the experience of working with Arciform.

Anne kept saying it would look great. We were skeptical at first but we love it now. We’re really happy we went this direction.

parisstan-s-1937-kitchen-a-6Design by Anne De Wolf. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

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Check out the Bat Houses!

Each year, the 2nd graders at St Joseph Catholic School celebrate”Bat Tuesday,” a day of hands-on learning experiences about the fantastic and misunderstood nocturnal creatures that are a part of our local habitat.

Mrs. Houser Class

To assist with that effort, Arciform coordinates with Parr Lumber to provide them with a hands on experience building and decorating their own bat houses.

Carter and Leo

Parents and volunteers assist the kids with the building process, making the day a great experience for the whole community.

We’re so delighted to have the opportunity to assist these tiny ecologists as they learn about bats.. and building techniques!

Kitchen Makeover: Ready, Set, Launch!

Contracts are signed, designs are complete, and now it is time to for our Kitchen Makeover winners to get real about the fact that there is about to be a big hole where their kitchen used to be!

Cifelli chan 012

Before each construction project begins, Arciform Project Manager Scott Mumma (pictured, center right) likes to sit down with the designer, client services manager and the client to address some of their frequently asked questions about the remodeling process and how it will impact their daily lives.

For Makeover winners Darrick and Monica, the first question was about how they would handle their own daily routine with a hole where there kitchen used to be.


To address that, Scott recommends that the fridge, microwave and pantry essentials be moved to a nearby location out of the path of the construction team. Derek and Monica have elected to use a portion of their living room as their temporary kitchen. The team puts down floor coverings throughout the temporary kitchen area (and along every path from the entrance to the construction area) to protect the home from dust and damage during the renovation process.

Cifelli chan 007

Scott then introduces them to the Job Box, which includes a set of documents that will be used to track the progress of the job from beginning to end.

The job box includes reminders about lead safety techniques, checklists to ensure all necessary items have been completed at each critical stage of the project and a copy of the contract for reference by the client and the construction team as questions come up throughout the construction process.

One cool feature: The job box also contains weekly progress reports that give both managers and carpenters the opportunity to document issues, discoveries and concerns that may need to be addressed before the next week’s work begins.


Next Scott works with the client to determine how all waste material and chemicals will be handled during the demolition and construction phase.

Locations are identified for where trash and recycling materials will be stored and picked up (check out the orange dumpster in front of their entry stairs) and where paint equipment and other materials can be safely rinsed and cleaned at the end of the work day. Arciform routinely re-captures as much of the waste stream as possible, with each week’s debris sorted into re-useable, recyclable, compostable and burnable subcategories and returned to the Arciform shop for appropriate storage or disposal.


The last step is to identify what elements of the demolition will be the client’s responsibility before construction begins.

In this case, our contest winners have taken on the removal of the existing chimney stack and the demolition of the drywall from the wall that is being removed. You can see the results of that demo above.

Already, the whole space feels lighter and brighter!

From there, the project is off and running- literally. The whole team is looking forward to getting a great workout running up and down those entry stairs during the project.

Next Up: Surprise! Expecting the Unexpected During Construction

Explore More with these Previous Kitchen Makeover Posts:

Contract Revisions: The Devil in the Details

Design Phase

Meet the Makeover Winners

Announcing the Winner

Makeover Contest Finalists

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Thanks again to our Small Kitchen Makeover Contest Partners:

Basic CMYK


CZ Becker logo

Wall to Wall Stone Corp

George Morlan logo


Schoolhouse Electric logo

Standard TV logo


You’re Invited: Arciform Client Joins First Thursday

We’re delighted to share that Arciform client Judy Jacobson is about to launch her new Pearl District gallery, HAP, this November. We helped Judy prep her gallery for opening, so we’ll be there on first Thursday to toast her success. The exhibit looks totally fascinating and features an artist with a who worked with Laika Studios on the movie Coraline. Take a look:


Will you join us in helping her celebrate the opening of her new gallery?

Here’s the details:

Bartek Prusiewicz

New work

Under the Moon

When: First Thursday, November 7, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Where: 916 NW Flanders Street


Bartek Prusiewicz collects tin wind-up toys, vintage comics, science fiction posters, and 19th century ephemera. His work, crafted of ceramics and wood, re-imagines the forms of early and mid-century science fiction, embodying a sense of futuristic nostalgia.

He has a honed sense of dark and naturalistic whimsy, having worked on stop-motion animations for the films ParaNorman, Coraline, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and Creature Comforts America.