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Posts from the ‘Basements’ Category

Inspired by the Story: An Interview with Anne De Wolf and the Kitzis-Strasfeld Family


“Designed by Portland’s most renowned architect, A.E. Doyle, this home creates a harmonious marriage of the grand and majestic spaces found in palatial mansions with the warmth and ease of lifestyle prevalent in the Craftsman cottage.” – Dan Volkmer

Moving from their beloved Victorian home in Goose Hollow, Lynne, Alex and their two children, Margot and Anderson, have lived in their current home for over 3 years now. After being referred by Dan Volkmer to Anne De Wolf as a talented designer who specializes in historic remodels, they began a whole-house remodel with Arciform.

“What we liked most about Anne was she knew her stuff when it came to historic home restoration, but she also had a funky flair about her designs,” says Alex as I step into the gorgeous home built in 1909 by local architect A.E. Doyle. Doyle also designed the Multnomah County Central Library, the Meier & Frank Building and the famous Benson Bubblers!

I notice wallpapers that are a clear trademark of Anne’s style and relish in the light, fun and sophisticated feel the Kitzis-Strasfeld home emanates.

This striking L’Oiseau Moderne wallpaper epitomizes the most exuberant Deco style that was popular between 1925-1930. “When done right, historic preservation is never boring,” says Anne.

Lynne Strasfeld and Alex Kitzis are doctors. They’re used to chaos and high stress situations. I keep this in mind when they tell me they chose to live in the home throughout the remodel.

“Living in the home during construction allowed us to be a part of the process, and we were able to make on-the-fly decisions and adjustments to the remodel plan,” Lynne tells me.

“Things like adding a counter below the microwave in the kitchen and replacing the mudroom were decided in-the-moment,” says Alex.


The original mudroom was rebuilt as part of the addition with, tile flooring and walls and built-ins. “The home has many small efficient spaces coupled with large public rooms,” says Anne

“And best of all, Jamie and Adam [Arciform’s lead carpenter and project manager on the project] were always respectful of our space; in the end they became like family,” Lynne says

Two weeks ago I was here getting photos of the home for both Arciform and interior designer Jenna Sheingold. During the photoshoot I played ping-pong in the fully finished basement with 9-year-old son Anderson – he shamelessly beat me five times in a row.

12-year-old Margot showed me her beautiful bedroom. I notice the light sea green ceiling (painted in Benjamin Moore’s Neon Celery) and the attached bathroom with beautiful details like classic white hexagonal tiles with black accents on the floor, the Carrara marble shower threshold and pretty wall-mounted sink by Duravit. The walls have been painted in Ice Blue by Benjamin Moore.

“I like how light and bright my room is,” says Margot.

Today I’m at the home with the Lynne, Alex, Anne, photographer Christopher Dibble and their cheerful golden retriever, Sadie. We’re getting a few more photos, and I’m learning more about the remodel. Anne brought pastries from Ken’s Artisan Bakery and we sit down to enjoy them in the garden room and chat more about the home.


What I love most about these interviews is hearing Anne talk about historical architecture. First of all, she has a charming German accent. Second, she knows her stuff and is passionate about design.

The remodel included expanding along one wall of the kitchen by three feet, removing a wall from the dining area to the living area, adding a new family room and bathroom to the basement and restoring historical details such as the oak hardwood flooring, large, west-facing windows and the pass-through butler’s pantry, among other things.

“The Kitzis-Strasfelds loved their previous home as well. They moved from an old Victorian just ½ mile from their new house. They were especially fond of their former kitchen with its cozy nook, so we took those elements and carried them into their new home. We expanded the kitchen, added wainscoting and banquette seating to the existing nook and used the same paint color—Gaelic Garden by Columbia Paints,” says Anne.


The existing kitchen with butler’s pantry has been updated to modern standards while respecting the vintage of the home

As we exit the house through the cheery red front door, Lynne tells me, “we had many happy hours sitting in our old kitchen, and now we feel the same about our new kitchen.”

This house is on the Ainsworth Holiday Home Tour which happens this Thursday, 11/30! Be sure to check it out.

Written by Snow Blackwood

Photo Gallery (photos by Christopher Dibble):


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Adventures in Remodeling Part 1: the Secret Wine Cellar

How do you make your home something special to you? This series of 3 posts will share stories about how we helped clients make this home all their own.

In 2011 on a corner lot in the heart of Lake Oswego sat a charming 1920 bungalow for sale. It captured the hearts of a globetrotting family living in Florida, and they purchased the house with plans to relocate closer to their Oregon roots.

They hired design-build firm Arciform to help turn this gem into their forever home. With plans for a cross-country move, a flurry of emails, team meetings, and trips to local salvage shops started.

The home sits in First Addition, one of Lake Oswego’s oldest neighborhoods. Many homes in this area were first owned and occupied by Oregon Iron & Steel Company workers, built in a variety of architectural styles.

Principal Designer Anne De Wolf worked closely with the couple on a thoughtful interior remodel and additions. They shared a respect of the home’s style and era, using this to guide design decisions: from how to increase the footprint, down to door & cabinet hardware.

Reconfigured spaces and more square footage were desired, so the new plans provided a larger kitchen, a mudroom, a master suite, a new bath for the kids, and an outdoor living space.


The couple has a knack for finding wonderful old pieces with stories to tell. There are many antique fixtures, finishes and furnishings integrated into the project. Reclaimed sinks, shiplap paneling and more were salvaged from all over, including demolition sites, Salvage WorksAurora Mills, eBay, and The ReBuilding Center.

The clients’ inspired vision brought so much fun to this project. One of many examples is the creation of the secret wine cellar.

It all started with four existing concrete steps in the basement. Though he didn’t know what to do with them, our client knew he wanted to do something. What purpose could those serve: storage of some kind? He needed somewhere to keep their wine…but how would they access it?

The adventurous spirit of the client inspired the trap door in the new kitchen floor.


Before: the abandoned steps in question

After: vision and teamwork gave this area new purpose

Site lead Eric Delph says, “When thinking of all the work accomplished at this residence, the one thing that stands out in everyone’s mind is that wine cellar! It evolved from an idea to reality with many hands and great interaction with the clients. From the hidden hatch doors to the storage system and that great final touch by the client himself: a confessional door!”

There are more stories to tell about this project! Stay tuned for the next chapter: Adventures in Remodeling, Part 2: the Garage.

Professional photos by BlankEye and Photo Art Portraits

Everyday Luxuries: A Winning Wine Cellar

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Adding a wine cellar sounds like the kind of investment that would only make sense in a grand residence- and there are certainly some gorgeous wine cellars in some of Portland’s most gracious homes.

Not everybody has that kind of square footage, of course. Is it possible to carve out a little piece of luxury when all you have to work with is a clean and dry corner of a bungalow basement?

This was the question we hoped to answer as part of our Wine Cellar Giveaway collaboration with Portland Monthly. Our wine cellar winner had a wonderful collection of French and Northwest wines… and absolutely nowhere to store it or display it.

Could Arciform Designer Jeffrey Kelly take this dry but unappealing corner of their basement and turn it into a stylish and functional temperature-controlled wine cellar?

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Our first step was to devise a modular, flexible storage rack system that could handle different bottle sizes and shapes (including Magnums) while maintaining a clean and consistent look.

As an additional challenge, we looked for a design that would make use of off-cuts from our custom wood shop, removing waste from the waste stream and re-purposing it in a practical and beautiful way.

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The solution: A series of modular rack components constructed from pieces of reclaimed clear vertical grain fir that were salvaged from our custom window manufacture process.

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The racks were installed on two walls, providing an extraordinary amount of bottle storage in a tight footprint. Salvaged wood paneling along the accent wall tied the space together while a WhisperKool air conditioning unit keeps the space at the optimum temperature for storing wine. A small wine fridge keeps whites chilled.

Congratulations to our Portland Monthly Wine Cellar winner.

It was a pleasure to add a little touch of everyday luxury to your basement!

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Designing an Adventure-Ready Home


The weather is perfect for getting out of the house to explore the beauty of our fair state. Its also a great time to consider how your home can better support your family’s active and adventurous spirit.

Here are a few of our favorite active family design solutions:

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Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Biking may be a year-round sport in Portland, but with 8 months of rain it’s important to consider how to keep the bike dry and safe when you are not riding it. For this Portland client, we integrated bike storage into a basement mudroom to give the whole family a place to prep for the ride in comfort.


Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

The transition from home-time to adventure-time is more fun when everything you need is organized and ready to hand. A great mudroom keeps all of your outdoor gear right where you need it (and NOT on the kitchen table or in a pile in the corner of the basement).


Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

A bit of whimsy can make even the chore of loading out gear more of an adventure. This hidden door offers direct pass-through access to the mudroom for sports equipment, bikes, and other outdoor gear. It’s also spectacular for hide and seek with the new kids on the street.

MilliganUsher_1926_Basement_Entry_A_P_Pro (4)Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Another great option for stashing gear is to add lockers in your mudroom space. These were integrated into the space under the stairwell, making clever use of an otherwise wasted space in the home.


Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Even in the glorious summer months, there will be rainy days that require at-home activity and adventure. Some activity-friendly finishes can turn your basement bonus room into a place for dancing, yoga, or even  an indoor soccer arena. The wraparound metal trim in this basement family room allows the kids to roll back the rug and push back the furniture for a little rainy day footie match when needed.


Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

All that adventure can really work up a muddy mess of sweat, and you probably don’t want your master bath to bear the brunt of the clean up. For this we recommend a wet room in your basement or adjacent to your mudroom that minimizes the distance your family has to travel to wash up after a day’s hike in Forest Park.

Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Wet rooms are designed with floor-to-ceiling water safe finishes that are designed for maximum mess with minimal clean up. This basement wet room (above and below) takes a narrow space and gives it style and practicality with floor-to-ceiling subway tile and polished concrete floors.


Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Last but not least, a weekend full of adventure often leads to a week full of laundry. Taking the time to design a thoughtful and convenient laundry space in your basement, mudroom or even upstairs like this family (below) can make preparing for your next adventure more pleasant.


Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

And then, when all the tromping and stomping and climbing and rolling and cleaning is complete, isn’t it time for a nice, relaxing soak in your outdoor spa? This family (below) tucked an elegant spa area in a wooded corner of their yard, creating a peaceful post-adventure oasis in the heart of their home.

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Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

How can we help you make your home more adventure-ready? Explore our design galleries and get inspired for your next project here.

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

Flex Your Basement for Your Growing Family

When the family is growing and something’s gotta give, the basement is often the first space you look at to provide a little extra elbow room.

What are the most important things you should consider when evaluating your basement for a potential family-friendly remodel?

Keep it Flexible

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This basement renovation designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf tucks flexible guest space behind two sliding panels. Photos by Photo Art Portraits.

Do you need more family space? Play space? Craft space? An exercise room? A place for guests? All of the above? Creating a basement with flexible “zones” that can be reconfigured to serve multiple purposes can help you accomplish more of your renovation goals within the same footprint. It will also allow you to evolve the purpose of those rooms over time as your family’s space needs change, without incurring additional costly remodels.


A guest bedroom space opens to the basement and doubles as a hang-out space after practice in the client’s music room. A sliding panel offers privacy when required then tucks out of sight. Design by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Faux the Finish


This basement renovation omits a drop ceiling and wood floor in favor of polished concrete and a loft-like feel. Design by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Putting in a wood floor and a drop ceiling will certainly give your basement that finished feel. But do you really NEED the added expense? If ceiling height is tight (or the budget is squeezed), consider polishing the concrete floors and spraying the ceiling joists a uniform color for an industrial look that still looks pulled-together. That will allow you to preserve your budget for more important items, like a basement bath or a more luxurious laundry set-up.

NeelyDonoher_1904_Basement_A_P_Pro_ (1) - CopyRe-configurable carpet tiles add visual punch to this basement family room. A built-in wraparound bench designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf fits in with the loft like vibe while adding sophisticated seating options. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/

Walk-in Waterworks


This basement wet room with an adjustable handset shower and floor-to-ceiling subway tile features an ultra-narrow wall mounted sink which helps a small space feel expansive. Design by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

If a basement bathroom is on the wish list, consider making it a walk-in wet room. The open shower configuration and floor-to-ceiling waterproof finishes make rinsing off after outdoor family adventures a snap. Kids and furry family members can clean up without concern for splashes or mess.

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This basement bath features a walk-in shower with a clever detail in the subway tile layout that adds a twist to the classic look. A fold-down teak bench offers welcome respite for family members young and old. Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Laundry Luxuries

A basement renovation is an ideal opportunity to luxe up your laundry routine. Be sure that you are planning in space for sorting, hanging, folding and pre-soaking as well as storage for supplies and sundries.

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This basement laundry room integrates folding and hanging space above the washer and floor-to-ceiling storage for all those “occasional use only” items. Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

If a bathroom is also on your basement wish list but you are tight on space, consider integrating the bathroom and laundry functions into one flexible space.


This basement bath (above and below) tucks stacking washer and dryer behind a rolling barn door. A long adjacent counter with sorting bins beneath provides space for laundry prep and folding. Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.



These are just a few considerations when designing a flexible basement that will grow with your family’s needs over time.

Ready to learn more? Join us on May 18th for our Designed for Your Growing Family Workshop – find the details and RSVP here.

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Your Whole House Plan Part Three: The Basement and Beyond

Now that you have completed your upper floor renovations you are ready to tackle the basement and some exterior finishing touches. You should have already addressed any water management, seismic or hvac updates, allowing you to focus your energy on the creation of living space that will make good use of your basement real estate.

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This daylight basement, designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf with interior styling by Shannon Quimby, serves a dual purpose as the family’s media room and a swanky space for entertaining.

The real attraction of a basement renovation lies in the glory of all that untapped potential: a whole house footprint of space just waiting to be claimed for the good of the family… or guests… or the mother-in-law. Which brings us to the most important questions to ask when tackling the basement portion of  your whole house plan:

  • Who will be the primary users of this space?
  • Which activities will the space be used for?

This will affect your design and budget in a variety of ways. For example, those polished concrete floors (shown above) make a sophisticated statement as a party room or home office but may be a challenge for small children.

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This basement renovation by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester builds convenient bike racks along with essential storage tucked behind lockers and in under-stair niches. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

On the other hand, your mother-in-law may not value easy access to bike storage, but your teenagers certainly will.

Some practical logistical questions to address with your design team will be:

  • Does the space have enough ceiling height to meet code as a finished space?
  • Which modifications (if any) need to be made to the interior or exterior stairs to accommodate your plan?
  • How will you provide code-required emergency egress?
  • How will you provide access to mechanical systems (like furnaces and electric panels)?
  • Where will you put everything that used to be in the basement (including laundry facilities)?


For this daylight basement remodel designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester, a new staircase was installed with custom millwork. Dead space under the stairs was transformed into an adorable little playspace for their daughter. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Unless your stairs are unsafe or placed in a location that is unworkable with your proposed design, we will often recommend leaving the existing stairs in place, since existing stairs are often “grandfathered in” and will not need to comply with current code.

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 For this project designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester, we spiffed-up the existing stairs with carpet, paint and updated millwork. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.


 For this basement designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf, a stacking washer and dryer were tucked behind a barn door in the bathroom, retaining the room’s original use. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

You’ll also want to consider egress. If there will be a bedroom in your basement, it will need to have a window that fits specific criteria designed to allow for escape in case of fire or emergency.

There are other options for meeting egress requirements depending on the location of your doors and stairs. Your design team will help you identify the most cost-effective solution that fits your design goals.

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A peaceful Buddha peeks in through the egress window in this this basement renovation by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf, setting a serene tone for the room.

Next  you’ll want to consider which level of finish your rooms require. This can range from fully-carpeted rooms with a finished ceiling to a more industrial look with polished concrete and exposed ducting.


By spraying the ceiling a dark color and sealing the concrete floor, Arciform designer Kristyn Bester was able to give this basement family room a polished look at lower cost. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

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At the other end of the spectrum, carpeting and a dropped ceiling with integrated can lights give this basement designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf a finished and family-friendly feel.  Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Finishing Touches

 Once your interior renovations are complete, you are ready to tackle some of the finishing touches to your exterior that are best-saved for last.

Here are the 3 things to save till last on your whole house to-do list:

  1. Replace Your Roof

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Any mechanical upgrades to your home or additions can lead to your existing roof getting pierced in multiple places to allow for venting and other components to be installed. If you are contemplating a whole roof replacement, wait until your interior projects are complete.

2. Paint Your Exterior


The intricate paint job on this “painted lady” Victorian would have been easily damaged by workmen and equipment going in and out of the home as the interior projects were completed. Project designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Painting the exterior of your home before your interior renovations are complete is a bit like putting your makeup on before you finish getting dressed. You CAN do it without having to re-do the paint job when you are through, but do you want to risk it?

3. Install any Landscape or Decorative Concrete

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The decorative pavers and succulent-focused landscape design were designed and installed after this main floor master suite addition designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

You won’t want construction equipment and debris rolling over and passing through your brand new concrete driveway or patio. And of course delicate plantings need minimal foot traffic in order to be established properly. So save your exterior landscape and concrete work for the very end.

A thoughtful and detailed whole house plan will save you time, money and heartache over the lifetime of your home. Whether you choose to execute your whole vision over a span of a few months or one phase at a time over a decade, your plan will ensure that the end result will be architecturally cohesive, logistically efficient and truly suited to your family’s changing needs over time.

Ready to get started on creating your own Whole House Master Plan?

Contact to schedule your initial design consultation.

We look forward to helping you create a vision that will support your home renovation goals for years to come!

Want to Review Your Whole House Plan?

Your Whole House Plan Part One: A Solid Foundation

Your Whole House Plan Part Two: A Plan for Every Floor

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Your Whole House Plan Part Two: A Plan for Every Floor

In the second part of our series on the whole house plan, we’ll share some step by step ideas and best practices for your internal renovation plan.


This adventurous Victorian in Sellwood added clever features to each floor that were designed to inspire exploration, discovery and play. Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Start at the Top

As much as you may have been dying to tackle that kitchen renovation first, we usually recommend that you plan your renovations from the top down, starting with the roof (including dormer additions) and working your way to the basement.

This helps ensure that any new electric, plumbing or structural changes that may affect the lower floors will happen before you’ve done all the beautiful finish work on those floors.

Dormer Details

When developing your dormer design, you’ll want to weigh the interior practicalities (headroom, floor space) against the exterior aesthetics. Adding a dormer dramatically changes the look of your home and you’ll want to consider how the design looks from all angles to ensure a cohesive result.


This shed dormer designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf continues the long, low lines of the house’s Mid-Century architecture and features a dramatic eight sash casement window custom built by Versatile Wood Products.

While developing the design for the exterior of your dormer, you will also want to ask:

  • How will rainwater be managed on the newly-proposed roofline?
  • Will the new siding, windows and roof elements be accessible and easy to maintain?

Building out a dormer is also a great time to consider insulating your attic crawlspaces to ensure that any new heating routed to the newly-finished rooms will function at peak efficiency.

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This master bath dormer addition tucks dual sinks and a luxurious walk in shower into a compact shed dormer footprint. Extra-deep medicine cabinets offer elegant, out-of-site storage for all the bathroom sundries. Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Chelly Wentworth. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

The most common reason for a dormer addition is to add a bathroom upstairs. If a bath is on your wish list, your designer will consider:

  • Where is the existing main floor bathroom in relationship to the new proposed bath?
    Typically it will be less expensive to site a new bathroom above an existing bathroom to take advantage of the main plumbing stack.
  • Which direction do your floor joists run to prevent issues with the routing of the drain lines?
    Are they sized to support the increased weight of your proposed rooms and will the drain lines fit within the cavity?
    It’s worth opening a hole in the ceiling to take a look at your joists early in the design process since the size and direction of your joists will have a large impact on your project’s feasibility and cost.

Mastering the Main Floor

Modern preferences tend toward a more open floor plan for the main floor; removing walls and eliminating formal dining spaces is a common request.


The central focus of this Mid-Century Modern whole house renovation was the creation of an open plan living, dining and kitchen area that made the most of the gorgeous views of Mt Hood in the home’s wraparound picture windows. Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Your designer will help you identify which walls in your home might be the best candidates for opening up the space and will help navigate potential structural reinforcements to the home that may become necessary.

Cost vs. Value

We typically recommend that you invest first in the main floor project that will have the largest positive impact on your home’s future value. This is usually the kitchen or a master suite bathroom.

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This kitchen renovation mixes an on-trend color palette with classic elements like subway tile and Carrara marble to create a timeless update that will improve the home’s value for decades to come. Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Kristyn Bester. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Little Spaces, Big Impact

While you are planning your main floor, don’t forget the little spaces that can have a big impact on your guests’ comfort.


It may be a small space, but your powder room can offer the opportunity for a big design statement. This powder room (above) features a bold pop of color and a fun twist with a wallpaper called “Brooklyn Toile” designed by Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys. Designed by Arciform Senior Designer Chelly Wentworth. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.


    • Should you add or update a powder room for guests?
    • How will you tackle your mudroom needs?

Whether you design a full mudroom addition like the one below or simply designate an area adjacent to the back door, you’ll want to consider how the essential functions of capturing coats, keys, shoes and other items will be handled in your master plan.


This mudroom addition to a Sellwood Victorian includes secret pass through doors to load athletic equipment through and an unusual ceiling assembled from salvage cabinet doors.
Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.


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This entry area tucks away mudroom storage behind a set of stylish built-ins beneath the stairs. A bench seat offers a handy spot for shedding rain boots and packages on the way in the door.
Designed by Arciform Principal Designer Anne De Wolf. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/BLANKEYE.

Next on the renovation list should be the basement. Whether you are building in an investment opportunity with an ADU or giving the kids room to spread out, the basement should be the last room on your to-do list.

Such a flexible and complicated space is worthy of its own post, so look to Part Three for details on making the most of your basement renovation.

Part Three: The Basement and Beyond

Previous Post: A Solid Foundation

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Your Whole House Plan Part One: A Solid Foundation

You may only be thinking about a quick update to your master bath or basement right now. But have you considered how the choices you are making on this remodel will affect the future plans you may have for your house?


Creating a whole house plan will ensure that each step you take to improve your home will be thoughtfully considered and efficiently executed with the needs of future projects in mind. This will save time, prevent costly re-dos and offer the peace of mind that each improvement you make will dovetail seamlessly with the projects before and after it.

In this three part series, we’ll break it down step by step to offer which questions to consider and which best practices to keep in mind for each phase of your plan to ensure a result you’ll be happy with for the lifetime of your home.

Part One: Creating a Solid Foundation for your Whole House Plan

1. Identify Your Goals

Before you spend any money on your home, it will be important to consider carefully the following questions:

  • Which investment will be right for your home based on its current value?
  • How does your plan fit in with the style and scope of homes in your neighborhood?
  • Which kinds of improvements are most appropriate for your stage of life and the life cycle of your family? Some remodeling projects recoup nearly 100% of their cost in increased home value- others may not but may be worth the investment for other reasons.

You’ll also need to keep both your family’s long term and short term needs in mind.

  • How will your family’s needs change over the time you plan to be in your home?
  • Will you need to accommodate an aging parent?
  • Make room for your family to grow?
  • Prepare for an empty nest?

2. Assemble Your Team

Assembling the team of professionals you’d like to work with at the beginning will ensure clear communication and avoid unnecessary overlap or conflict between the responsibilities of each professional.


At minimum, you’ll want to identify your:

        • Architectural Design Team
        • Construction Team
        • Interior Decorator
        • Landscape Architect

Keep in mind that each of these teams will have existing relationships with city officials and subcontractors who will also end up being an important part of the decision making process as you develop your plan.

As a design|build company, Arciform offers an integrated design and construction team that will stay with you every step of the way and coordinate all of the other professionals you will need to complete your projects.

3. Develop Your Design

Your whole house design will take into consideration any engineering, systems upgrades (like new heating or electrical) and structural changes required to meet your long term goals.


It will also develop the design details for each proposed project so that they will fit the architectural style of your home while showcasing your family’s unique tastes and personality. Along the way your design team will help you consider the following questions:

  • Which layout changes will make your home function better?
  • What storage needs do you have?
  • Which appliance or technology upgrades are you hoping to incorporate?
  • Which architectural details will integrate well with your home’s era and style?
  • What mood and design aesthetic would you like the finished spaces to evoke?
  • Which colors, shapes, textures and design details would you like to see integrated into the finished project? Every detail of your proposed project that can be selected in advance will save costly delays and change orders later.

4. Deal with the Foundation First

If your goals include updating the seismic bracing, mitigating water infiltration or expanding the head height in your basement, these are all projects that should be tackled prior to any interior renovations. This includes digging out your foundation or lifting your house if necessary.


Getting your basement completely dry will often also require a look at your rooftop water management systems, your landscaping plan (to be sure water is being directed away from your foundation with appropriate grading) and may include the installation of underground french drains to route groundwater around and away from your home.

5. Update your Mechanical Systems

Are new furnace or heating systems part of the long term plan for your home?

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As un-sexy as these basic mechanical upgrades can be, they can make a huge difference to your comfort in the home. They also require ripping into walls, usually on multiple floors, so it is best to take care of them early before you start any internal renovation projects.

The last thing you want to do is tear into your beautiful new paint job to arrange the installation of a  heating duct.

6. Button Up Your Envelope

After your mechanical systems are updated, its time to consider what energy performance upgrades might be needed in your home.


Sealing the cracks and air holes that create drafts, adding insulation and installing new windows and doors can all happen prior to any internal renovations.

Thayer Perspective

Next Step: The Fun Part! Planning your Interior Renovations

In the next installment we’ll take it floor by floor to offer insight into which projects to tackle first and what questions to ask as you design your dream kitchen, master suite and basement.

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Multi-Faceted Remodeling for Your Multi-Generational Family

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Design by Kristyn Bester.

Historically, there has always been a visible connection between socioeconomic trends and architectural trends. One such example is the current boom we are seeing in multi-generational living.

With an aging population and sky-rocketing property values, more and more families are opting to live together under the same roof.

Perhaps you have an elderly family member who wants to age in place, or young children who need a play space. Maybe your adult child has moved back home and needs an apartment-style living space. It may even be that all of these things are true!
It can certainly be a challenge. You want to stay in the home you know and love, but it needs to evolve with the changing needs of your family.

Here are some remodel ideas that will allow kids, parents and grandparents to enjoy the benefits of living together, while still maintaining privacy and independence.

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Design by Kristyn Bester.

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Design by Kristyn Bester.

A master bedroom suite can provide a private sanctuary from the rest of the world. Here, we used a soft, neutral color palette and maximized daylight access, enhancing the feel of calm and serenity.


Design by Anne De Wolf.

With the right design, your basement can be converted to an inviting play space for the kids, or serve as an additional informal family room. Here, we used full-height built-ins to maximize storage for toys and games, allowing for a spacious play area. The stainless steel wainscoting enhances the aesthetic of a modern industrial loft, while doubling as a wall protector when the family wants to play indoor soccer!

When people of different ages and abilities are living together, it is very important to have adaptable design features that can enhance the safety and comfort of everyone in the house.

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Design by Anne De Wolf.

This bathroom shows that you do not have to compromise style in order to have a functional, adaptable space. A European-style curbless shower is a great solution for an elderly family member or any person who has balance or mobility challenges. The teak fold-down seat and adjustable hand-held shower head are elegant and stylish, while allowing for maximum end-user control.

Grab bars are also a great safety feature for shower and wet areas.


Design by Kristyn Bester.

When more people are living in a space, finishes often need to be cleaned and maintained more frequently, due to heavy use. There are many wonderful finish options that are as beautiful as they are durable.

Tired of scrubbing and sealing the tile and grout in your bathroom? Corian (seen in the shower surround above) is a durable solid surface material that provides a contemporary, easy-to-clean finish for your shower surround or countertop.

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Design by Anne De Wolf.

When it comes to quality of life, it’s the little things that count. When you are starting to think about a remodel, be sure to consider all of the various activities that you and your family engage in. How can your home support your unique hobbies and pastimes?

In this basement conversion, we created a large, versatile room in which the client could enjoy a sewing and crafting area without dominating the space. The built-in bench doubles as storage for crafting supplies to be neatly stowed away when not in use.

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Design by Anne De Wolf.

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Design by Anne De Wolf.

Your basement can also be a great opportunity for a private guest suite or “mother-in-law” suite. In this hip, loft-style basement conversion, we utilized the existing structural posts and beams to create perceived spatial allocations for sleeping, cooking, dining and lounging/entertainment. Multiple lighting layers allow the spaces to feel light and bright or soft and cozy. With this type of autonomous living space, your guest or adult family member can enjoy the privacy of apartment-style living, or you could even rent it out as an ADU or Airbnb unit!

Ready to start planning your phased multi-generational living remodel? Schedule a design consultation to begin planning your next project here.

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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….

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

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

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… with the help of a VERY large crane.

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A porch is coming together out in Beaverton…

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


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

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….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?

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