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Designer Holiday Gift Guide (Part 1)


The holidays are upon us again and it’s time to start scratching our heads thinking of gifts for all the special people in our lives.  If you are having a hard time getting your gift list going we have just thing to get you started.  The Arciform Design Team has put together their personal lists of gifts they think will stun even the biggest Scrooges on your list.

For part one of our guide Senior Designer Anne De Wolf, Design Assistant Marty Hegg, and Junior Designer Kat O’Neill share some of their favorite places shop at and items to buy for the holiday season.  Take a look and get inspired to brave the crowds to get the perfect gift for the loved ones on your list.

Anne’s Picks


Look Modern

It’s easy to miss this warehouse filled with mid-century gems located one block off Hawthorne and only being open one day a week doesn’t help.  Those willing to schedule some time on a Saturday or Sunday will be rewarded with a beautiful selection of furniture, art, and home goods.


Old Portland Hardware

For those of you looking for salvaged architectural finds this is your stop.  Bret and his team do an outstanding job of finding and keeping alive some of Portland’s architectural history.  If you know someone looking for that special period piece to adorn their home, this is the place to start looking.


Alder & Company

Alder & Company is my favorite store for this sort of thing.  I want everything in there.  Right now on the top of my list is this striped throwbed in black and white or metallic.


Ink and Peat

Located on bustling Williams Ave., this one stop shop provides gifts ranging from house plants to jewelry to home goods.  You’re guaranteed to check someone off your list if you make your way here.

Marty’s Picks


Spruce Apothecary

For me me me, a trip to this shop is on my list of to-do’s: Spruce Apothecary, at Union Way shopping corridor. This new-ish spot is owned by the same folks who own Canoe.


Lark Press

Lovely cards from lark press. There is nothing like opening that mailbox at the end of the day and finding a handwritten card from a friend. Why not send some of your own on pretty paper? Throw in a little surprise like a fun photobooth picture strip!



This is my dream teapot.  It has a great size and shape and is made in Japan, where they know their tea!


Futagami Brasswares

This crescent bottle opener, by Japanese brand Futagami, makes beer-drinking just a little bit beautiful, doesn’t it? Available at Woonwinkel and Beam & Anchor locally.


Olympic Provisions

Open this link if you’re a carnivore and you’re hungry.  We’ve tried all of the salumis from the Spanish sampler, and can’t pick a favorite.


Pistils Nursery

I love Pistils, up on Mississippi, and they can make up a custom terrarium for you for a really great price.  These are my newest love there: Marimo Moss Balls. They naturally occur in freshwater lakes in Iceland, Scotland, Japan and Estonia, and grow five millimeters a year. Marimo are said to live to be 100 years old.


Herman Miller

I’m a fan of Alexander Girard’s suns, but would love this wool/cotton blanket.  Pendleton recreated his design, made for Braniff Airways back in the day. The only question now is which color?


Finex Cast Iron

I love to cook, and a cast iron skillet can be used on the stovetop, out camping, or in the oven. Look at this 8” octagonal skillet, made in Portland. Awesome gift!


Fetch Eyewear

Fetch eyewear for sunglasses or prescription, Amy Sacks (the daughter of tile maker Ann Sacks) created this great line of eyewear AND donates 100% of proceeds to The Pixie Project, a wonderful non-profit animal rescue and adoption center located here in Portland.


Kaufmann Mercantile

Oh, and a clear glass kettle, just like my dad has used since I can remember:



And I heard about these customizable Adidas this morning!  This might encourage me to do try running again?

Kat’s Picks


The Meadow

For my husband, who loves to cook, I’ll be getting a set of culinary salts from The Meadow (Sshh!  Don’t tell!).


Cornell Farms

I love giving (and getting!) indoor potted plants from Cornell Farms, like rosemary in a pretty glazed terracotta pot for anyone who loves fresh herbs.  They have great stuff all year round.



I’m about to hit the “add to cart” button on these pillows in Navy Blue.  We’re jazzing up our family/media room because we’re playing host to a big group for Christmas.  I love the hit of color these will add, the graphic punch, the playful not-too-serious tie-dye effect of the pattern.  They’re down-filled, so they’ll be comfy – and because they’re not too expensive or precious, I won’t wince when someone inevitably spills on them.


Atiyeh Brothers

If you really want to splurge on a one-of-a-kind gift for someone, a vintage rug from Atiyeh Brothers would be a fantastic gift.  They can last for generations, hide spills and pet hair really well, and bring an authenticity to a home that new rugs just don’t carry.


Powell’s Books

Gift certificate to Powells.  There’s no better way to spend a rainy Winter day in Portland.  Plus, they have a café where you can refuel with hot chocolate and a croissant from the Pearl bakery when you need a break.

That does it for part one of our designer holiday gift guide.  I hope you found some inspiration from these suggestions.  Stay tuned for part two and more ideas to knock that gift list down to size.

Want more? Check out the other parts of this series:

Part 2: Senior Designer Kristyn Bester and Junior Designer Jeffrey Kelly’s Picks

Part 3: Chelly Wentworth and Trisha Hopkins’ Picks

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2014 Handyman Gift Guide

HecetaHeadLighthouse_D_ (83)

Looking for gift ideas for the handyman or DIY-er in your life? Here are some ideas from Arciform’s carpentry team.


Stanley FatMax Tape Measure

A necessity for almost any job, 25’ or 30’ tape measures are great for those extra-long measurements.

Starting at $22.00

channellock plier

Channellock 426 6.5in. Straight Jaw Tongue and Groove Plier

High-carbon C1080 steel for superior performance on the job and the undercut tongue and groove design won’t slip. The right-angle, laser-heat treated teeth grip are better performing and last longer. A great tool for any job.

Starting at $11.99


5 in 1 Painter’s Tool

Planning on painting? This tool is great for scraping paint, spreading compound, removing putty, opening cracks and cleaning rollers.

Starting at $6.00

voltage tester

Klein Tools Dual Range Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Lets you detect standard voltage in cables, cords, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, switches, outlets and wires. A must-have for any around the house electrical work.

Starting at $21.97

circular saw

DeWalt 20V Lithium-Ion Cordless Circular Saw

No need to waste time finding a power source for this light weight saw! It is convenient for small tasks and has a long run-time.

Starting at $119.00


DeWalt DCK280C2 20V MAX Cordless Lithium-Ion 1/2 in. Compact Drill Driver and Impact Driver Combo Kit

A compact, easy to use option for a wide range of light to medium fastening applications. This combo kit includes two ergonomically designed drills, each with a good battery life.

Starting at $199.00

DeWalt-drill bit set

DeWalt DW2180 35-Piece Impact Ready Drill Bit Set

A great addition to the compact drill driver and impact driver combo kit, this 35-piece drill bit set will allow you to do almost any job. The bits drill clean, easily and fast, and their rugged design maintain sharpness.

Starting at $26.77

orbital sander

DeWalt Orbital Sander

Combined with a block sander and a generous supply of various grit papers, this is a great tool for refinishing jobs around the house.

Starting at $59.00

bosch jigsaw

Bosch JS365 120V Top-Handle Jigsaw Kit

An easy to use, powerful jigsaw with a fast cutting speed. It has varied cutting capacities for wood, aluminum and steel.

Starts at $99.00


pancake compressor

Porter Cable Pancake Compressor

Great for the DIY’er in your life. This light weight compressor is capable of powering a stapler or nail gun.

Starting at $99.00



First Aid Kit

Expert carpenter or DIY’er, this is an essential tool for every toolbox. These can be found in many retail stores and online.

Starting at $20.00

Don’t have a handyman in your life? Hire one of our talented Carpenter on Call Team members. Get started by emailing our Carpenter on Call Team here.

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What’s the Story of Your Home?

At our recent kitchen design workshop we had the opportunity to ask attendees for stories about their home’s history.

Here are a few of our favorite answers:


“Before our home was built the lot was the site of the neighborhood Victory Garden during WWII.”

“It was built by Hemenway for a dentist and his family. 6 families have lived in our home but we are the only family to have a baby and young children raised in the home.”


“My home was a room boarding home with a community bath and kitchen.We swapped the kitchen and bedroom and opened up the kitchen to triple it to its present design.”

“Our home has a natural spring under the basement.”


“Our basement has nails for drying herbs all throughout the ceiling. When I dried some herbs for the first time and told my husband how convenient and cool that was, he said, “Well, this house was a commune for a time after it was a farm; they probably dried pot down there!”


“I live on a builders’ Street of Dreams from 1972.”


“Our home was once owned by a local car dealer- a golfer, he covered the entire concrete patio with plastic grass and several holes. Inside he built 2 giant cylindrical chimneys… one for the fireplace and another for an indoor barbeque!”



“Built by Mr & Mrs Raven (of Raven Creamery) as their retirement home next door to their original home (The Overlook House) which they donated to the city of Portland to be used as a community center.”

overlook house

“It was originally seasonal housing for orchard workers. During the 1950’s, a family with the last name ‘Disney’ lived here so we like to think we’re somehow connected to the Magic Kingdom!”

Walt Disney, Diane Disney, Sharon Disney, Louisa Wallace
“Dr Horace Francis for whom the house was built, was the physician for the Siletz Tribe.”
horace francis
“The residential living space in my 100 year old building was once a boarding house for sailors who needed a room for a night.”

“Single family ownership from 1945-2001. The woman of the house loved pink and her husband(s) went along for the ride: pink stucco exterior, pink bathroom tile, pink azaleas and roses!”pink
“There were naughty pictures of the original owners hidden on top of the laundry room cabinets. The owners we bought from never found them.”

Name a book that was published the year your house was built.

“The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, by Beatrix Potter”

“The Next Wizard of Oz”

“Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter”

alice zombieland

“How to Give Birth”

What’s the story of your home? Tell us in the comments below to be entered to win 4 hours of complimentary Carpenter on Call service from Arciform.

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The Stories Your House Could Tell

Last night at our Timeless Bathrooms Workshop, we asked participants to share a story they know about the history of their house.

hands holding house

We got some fascinating responses that reminded us just how personal your relationship with your house can be. Here are some of the highlights:


“When we went with our realtor to look at our home the first time, a 20 yr old version of the 6 year old in my first grade class opened the door! He and his family sold our home to us!”

“The architect liked what he built so much he copied it next door to his lot.”

“The previous owners owned the Black Cat Tavern in Sellwood. Lived in this home for over 50 years!”

“The original owner of the house used to sell wood from the trees on the property. Hence the name of the neighborhood: Sellwood.”

“It was built by Thomas Autzen- from Autzen Stadium- he invented plywood.”

“It was built in the mid-thirties and in the furnace clear out we found papers from the year of both our births!”

“The house stood in berry fields, we think it was the oldest son’s house from the 1908 house 3 blocks away.”


What stories do you know about your own home’s history?

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Tell Us Your New Year’s To Do List and Win!


Did your New Year’s Resolutions come with a hefty side order of honey dos and home repairs?

Whether your list includes things like “repair that squeaky stair tread,” “fix the chipped tile in the bathroom” or “make the living room less drafty,” our Carpenter on Call Team would be delighted to give you a jump start on a safer, more comfortable home this month.

So tell us your New Year’s To Do List for your home in the comments below

by January 14th, 2014 and one lucky commenter will

win a gift certificate redeemable for 4 complimentary hours* of Carpenter on Call service.

We can’t wait to hear what you’ve got planned!

*With new signed Carpenter on Call Letter of Agreement. Labor only. Excludes materials.

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May Your Home Always Welcome You with Open Arms


For us, our house was not unsentient matter—it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals, and solicitudes, and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its face did not light up and speak out its eloquent welcome—and we could not enter it unmoved.
—Mark Twain, 1896

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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!

Building a Nest

Jayson Fann's nests

I’ve known Anne and Richard for a long time. And Arciform’s been working on projects at my house for well over ten years, so I’m pretty comfortable stating that they, as a group, can do anything. Any crazy project I dream up, they can do it. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself?

Recently I read this article about human nests in the NYT, and it got me thinking. Personally, I don’t want one of these nests, because I’m more of a hedonist than a roughing-it kind of gal. If the nest had a good mattress and a reading light, maybe, but it’s doubtful. What would be really cool, though, is if one of my friends built a nest, and I could enjoy it and then go home. Kind of like how I feel about children.

But how much would a nest cost? Whom could I con into building a nest? Richard came to mind first, and I think I know why. For years I’ve spent July 4th with Anne and Richard. They have a big camping trip for the 4th, with fireworks and campfires and all that type of thing. I do not camp, of course, but I love to drive over from the local motel, freshly showered, with a coffee and some donuts, and check on the festivities.  Scoff at the campers, sip my coffee, watch the bonfire.

The bonfire. This is probably why I associate a nest with Richard. Every year he makes a HUGE funeral pyre / mountain of driftwood on the beach. He salts the interior of the pyre with fireworks; the goal being to light the bonfire and start the festivities with a bang.  But this is Oregon on July 4th. The driftwood is always soaking wet. How do you start a fire with wet wood? Well, Arciform guys can do anything. Richard pours a gasoline trail to the bonfire and throws a match.

Unsafe you say? Well, it’s just a fire and gasoline with a bunch of families sitting around. Nothing to worry about, right? The first year I participated, I was so scared I almost wet myself. The children were generally just excited at the prospect of fire, the dads thought a gasoline trail was a fantastic idea, and the moms? Well, after a few days camping with husbands and kids, without a shower, the moms are drunk. So they’re all calmly watching Richard pour the gasoline while I’m halfway up the trail to the car, 9-1 already dialed on the phone, with my thumb over the last 1, waiting to call the paramedics, fire department, whatever.

And of course, the gasoline lighting goes off without a hitch. No injuries – year after year. And then one year the wood is so drenched that even the gasoline isn’t doing the trick. Richard is laboring away, perhaps getting frustrated (hard to tell), when a ten year-old boy looks up at him and says, Too bad you don’t have a flame-thrower.

Richard looked down at the kid with a speculative look in his eye.  I do have a flame-thrower.


That’s Arciform – always prepared. Getting the job done. Here’s a pic of Anne and the pyre before the lighting ceremony. If Richard can make this every year just to burn it down, don’t you think he should make a nest? How about in your backyard? He can leave the flame-thrower behind.

About Nancy Ranchel

Nancy is an accountant who offsets the practicality of her day job with extravagant and outrageous remodeling projects, often involving massive amounts of scrap metal.  In her free time she can be found dreaming up new ways to turn her house into an art installation, digging through scrap heaps, and contemplating a world without plastic. Check out Nancy’s blog here:

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First Repair Café a Success!

The first Repair Café event is under our collective belts. And it was a blast! Huge sigh of relief. Huge. Right on, Portland!

repair sign

There was a little hiccup in the beginning as the repair tables and equipment were blocking NE 17th Ave, per the fire marshal. Damn rules and regulations! Safety first? Who cares about that stuff? (Well, people do.) The group did a quick bit of juggling and planted the two tents in front of the Umoja Center. Things were up and running by 6:30pm.


What with the tents, tables and chairs, signs and equipment and tools brought by the repair volunteers, the group definitely displayed a presence. I’m not sure the Last Thursday habituées were prepared to see a sewing machine – complete with a seamstress – plus disassembled computers at the (depending on when you dropped by) hippie/ster festival (or, perhaps, debauched event) that is Alberta Street once a month in the summer.
The sewing machines and computers did offer certain appeal. Pretty soon, people were stopping by to ask What’s going on? The answer?

It’s a Repair Event – Renee and Terra are sewing, Bryce is working on electronics, and JD is showing people how to polish and care for their shoes. We’re keeping things out of the landfill, baby! Do you have anything that needs fixin’?

One gentleman dropped off his jacket for Renee to repair and picked it up on his way back down the street, but this time around it was mostly the volunteers who got their stuff fixed. And that’s cool – volunteers are repair-worthy! (FYI – that’s a good reason to volunteer! Handle the mailing list, baby, and get your computer fixed. Perfect trade.) People saw the group, added their names to the mailing list, AND they found a lot of prospective volunteers in the crowd. Not a bad night’s work!


The next event is at Ford Food and Drink on Thursday, June 20th. Check it out on the RepairPDX site, which is now live. Look around – you know you’ve got something that needs repair. Go have a coffee and get ‘er done. FYI – check out what the crew will be offering on June 20:

Jewelry Repair
Bike Repair
Small Appliance Repair
Plus, Becky, the owner of Ford, will also be doing free résumé editing. Nice.

And, a big shout-out / thank you to Grand Central Bakery in Beaumont for the much appreciated and much needed food during the inaugural event!

Arciform’s Summer Reading List


One of our favorite design blogs, Remodelista, recently inspired us with a post of their summer reading suggestions. Arciform’s design team have a few ideas of their own- feel free to borrow a few of your favorites for your next “lazing about in a sunny corner” afternoon.

Senior Designer Kristyn Bester has an ambitious nightstand. Here’s what she’s reading this month:


Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed… Jared Diamond.
She explains, “It’s about the fates of past societies that have collapsed for ecological reasons, and how the collapse might have been prevented. I’m a non-fiction junkie so it’s been really interesting.”


On the Road….by Jack Kerouac.
“Good ol’ classic American fiction. Can’t go wrong. I’m reading the original version.”

Outliers: The Story of Success….by Malcom Gladwell.
“Love anything by him.”

Summer reading

Junior Designer Jeffrey Kelly reveals some hidden talents in his reading selections.

The Complete book of WESTERN HATCHES

The Complete Book of Western Hatches by Rick Hafele.
What’s this? He explains, “Entomology for fishermen and how to mimic regional and seasonal insect hatches to catch more fish.”

Now you know who to invite as your ringer on your next Deschutes River trip…

Next on Jeffrey’s list?


The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles.
“A novel set in 1950’s Fez, Morocco, that explores the social impact of the French occupation during this era.”

Charred and Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang. A revolutionary approach to cooking methods regarding the grill and cooking by fire.


Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.
“This man and his musings should need no introduction,” says Jeffrey. But just in case you need a bit of an explainer, see Portland Center Stage’s annual production of Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries.


Design Assistant Marty Hegg‘s daughter Brigitta does most of the reading selections for her, making her the office’s reigning expert on all things Beatrix Potter.

“I’ve been trying to finish Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie since Birgie was born,” she explains. But when midnight is the earliest you have any time to yourself…

Should she get a moment to spare, she’d love to revisit some of her favorite magical realism classics. Here’s what’s next in her queue:


The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


Senior Designer Chelly Wentworth just joined the team and we are so happy to have her!

She’s evidently experiencing some wanderlust… and her summer reading list is giving us wanderlust too!


She’s reading In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Her take: “A very entertaining armchair travel book about Australia.”


Next on her list is The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, which she describes as “a historical novel that takes place in the Pacific Northwest”

Last, but surely not least, she’s picking up some travel books about France and Scotland, “since I am going there in September.”

Maybe we can sneak into her suitcase and hitch a ride?


Senior Designer and co-owner Anne De Wolf seems to be prepping to go undercover with her cloak and dagger themed list:

Gang leader for a day
She is currently in the midst of Gang Leader For A Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (by Sudhir Venkatesh) and will read Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (by Steven D. Levitt) next.

“Very interesting,” she explains, “They were both recommended to me by (Arciform client) Jim Hardison.”

Hmm. We wonder what roguish impulse inspired those two selections?

Anne continues, “I also read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and am planning on reading The Man Called Intrepid which is a book about the actual James Bond.”


Anne’s husband, Arciform co-owner Richard De Wolf has one brief but telling suggestion:


Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, a true story about the architect behind the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and  the serial killer who used the fair for his own nefarious ends. Richard relates to the architect, of course- not the serial killer!

What’s on your nightstand these days? And how can Arciform help you ready your perfect summer reading nook?

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