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Posts from the ‘Refresh for Fall’ Category

5 Ways to Warm Up Your Hearth for the Holidays

holiday hearth

Now that Fall is fully upon us and the bitter winds of Winter are not far from sight, it’s time to start thinking about how we can keep cozy through the dark and cold months to come.

What better way to keep warm than to curl up next to a fire with loved ones?  Nothing else quite compares to the sight, smell, and heat of a roaring fire beckoning you to enjoy these crisp Portland days.  Luckily we have some inspiration for you to spruce up your mantel and get ready for the holiday season to come.

Contemporize the Function and Feel 

The paneling surrounding the fireplace below made the space feel too dark and dated.



To bring this fireplace into the modern day, designer Anne De Wolf worked with the client to make the space lighter and better fit their needs.


ClaypoolCraven_1962_LivingRm_A_4_P_ProDesign by Anne De Wolf

Open shelving displays colorful pottery and glass vases along with books to add interest to the surrounding area. The mirrors above the new mantel shelf help reflect the room’s ambient light and give the illusion of more open space.

The cabinet door to the right of the mirror conceals a TV that can pivot out on an arm when needed.

Make Use of the Surrounding Space

Many Portland homes have fireplaces that are flanked by unused space.


Thayer_1926_LivingRm_B_ (4)

This provides a great opportunity for built-in cabinetry, storage, bench seats, and a host of other features.


Thayer_1926_Fireplace_A_1_PDesign by Kristyn Bester

These built in bookshelves were designed to integrate with the existing features of this Arciform client’s living room.  The new tile surround and hearth lighten up the room and work beautifully with their personal style.

Revamp your Mantel with Period Appropriate Details

Fireplaces are a great place to incorporate period appropriate details and millwork.  If your mantel is a victim of a bad remodel, returning it to its original glory is a wonderful way to pay homage to the age of your home.

Tizzano Home for Mullet Cabinet

Versatile Wood Products is a great source for custom millwork to help you build the mantel your home deserves.

When Arciform converted this daylight basement into a guest suite, the main living area had a fireplace that felt dated and inconsistent with the clean and classic style of the rest of the space.


ThiesingVajtai_1936_LivingRm_B_ (2)

The addition of a more substantial mantel with traditional millwork profiles and marble surround brings this hearth into focus as the heart of the new suite.


ThiesingVajtai_1936_LivingRm_A_3_PDesign by Kristyn Bester

Make Use of your Decommissioned Fireplace

There are plenty of decommissioned fireplaces in older homes and to miss out on the opportunity to use them as a design feature would be a shame.  They are a great place to store books or a collection of personal treasures gathered from travels around the world.




Add Color

Whether you are trying to draw attention to or away from the fireplace, a simple coat of paint can work wonders.




What does your hearth need to get it ready for the long winter nights ahead?

Whether you are adding a touch of color,  restoring a classic mantel to its original glory or hoping to add storage space and integrated technology features, Arciform’s Design and Small Projects Teams can help you get your hearth ready for the holiday season.

Get started on your own project by emailing our team here.

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5 Steps to a Welcoming Entry

Halloween has come and gone and Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching.

Were your adorable pint-sized neighbors be delightfully spooked by the cobwebs that you artfully draped on your porch?

Or freaked out by the peeling, warped woodwork and the dripping awning you haven’t quite gotten around to repairing?


And has it occurred to you that your mother-in-law will be climbing your entry stairs come November with her arms full of holiday groceries and a laser-eye focused on your less-than-level front stoop?

Don’t they deserve a warmer welcome?

Here are 5 easy updates our Carpenter on Call Team can tackle for you to refresh your home’s entry:

1. Ditch the Drafty Door. Is your door sticking? Whistling? Warping? Tuning up the operation of your entry door can make a huge difference to your family’s comfort and the first impression your guests receive.

Easy Update: Replace your front door hardware and adjust your hinges to eliminate any sticking, squeaking or drafts.


While you are updating, why don’t you choose some period appropriate reproduction hardware to both improve function and add a bit of style?


Wow Factor: For a real facelift, replace your old door with a new custom entry system from Arciform’s sister company, Versatile Wood Products.

Arciform owner/designer Anne De Wolf recommends converting to a dutch door to let those elusive Portland summer breezes in (without letting the dogs out).


While you are updating, why not add a transom window above the door?


Or some sidelites to add  a bit of style?


2. Keep it Cozy. A comfortable guest is a happy guest.

How can you add to their comfort before they even make it through the door?


A simple built-in bench can add charm and provide a comfortable resting spot.


Have a bit more of a budget to spend? Protect your guests while they wait at your door by adding an awning over your entry.

3. Safety Check. An untimely slip on a wet front stoop can really wreck your family’s holiday spirit.

Now’s the time to make a few essential safety improvements.

before pictures 778

Repair and repaint iffy railings and steps to make them level, sturdy and slip resistant.

4. Pretty-Up Your Post. Make your postman smile every time they drop off the mail by matching your mail system to the style and era of your home.


A vintage mail slot cover could be just the thing…


Don’t have a mail slot? Arciform designer Kristyn Bester recommends adding a handsome wall-mounted mail box.


5. Accessorize. When you are at a party, the right accessory can really help you stand out from the crowd. The same is true of your entry. Here are a few sleek finishing touches to help your house stand out on the block.

Sparkling New House Numbers


A Charming Vintage Door Bell


A Flag Pole


Or follow the lead of one pair of recent Arciform clients who commissioned a custom-fabricated door knocker with their family name engraved on it…


But whatever you do, make it personal. Your entryway should reflect who you are and what you value.

Ranchel_1978_Exterior_A_1_W (11)

Arciform client Nancy Ranchel wants every guest to feel like they have arrived at a tropical island. Bright colors and clever integration of salvage materials put her guests into a festive frame of mind before they ever walk through the door.

However you choose to create a more welcoming first impression, Arciform’s Carpenter on Call Team will be happy to handle all the technical details . Email to get started on your own entry update and Happy Holidays from all of us at Arciform!

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Mudroom Magic

Hardison_1902_Mudrm_A_3_WDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

As the fall weather turns mercurial and the schoolbags begin piling up on every surface, the urge to corral all that indoor/outdoor stuff into one tidy location can become overwhelming.

But where to put it all?

For one Arciform client, the solution was to build a small mudroom addition to their Sellwood Victorian, complete with a covered “study loft” balcony, secret doors and ingenious integration of salvage materials to showcase the creative, eclectic personalities of this busy family.

Here’s a look at that project in detail. What ideas and solutions can you apply to your own mudroom update?

Hardison_1902_Mudrm_A_12_WDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

This small addition packs a lot of design punch. Salvaged columns, railings and windows help the addition integrate with the quirky Victorian style of the main house, and a touch of gingerbread over the balcony adds whimsy and charm.

Hardison_1902_Mudrm_A_7_WDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Glass entry doors maximize the natural light in the space, creating a warmer welcome than the home’s original side door.

Check out the ceiling in the space- it is assembled from salvaged cabinet doors!

We asked Arciform owner and designer Anne De Wolf  how this particular idea came about. She explains,

I came up with the idea when I saw a bunch of cabinet doors at Hippo Hardware. I went back to our shop to ask if we had some extra doors, which of caurse we had. The challenging part was the layout- each door was a different shape and size! But the result was so fun it was worth it.

Hardison_1902_Mudrm_A_5_WDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

Another cool feature of the project was the addition of “secret doors” that were invisible from the exterior but provided the kids their own fun way to enter and exit the space. the doors also create a convenient way to stash lacrosse equipment, gardening tools and other bulky items directly into the mudroom space.

We asked Anne: What inspired the secret doors? They are such a cool idea!

This was the client’s idea as the parents and the children have very active imaginations and are very playful.

Hardison_1902_Mudrm_A_11_WDesign by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

The final fun touch to the space was the inclusion of a ‘study loft’ balcony. This all-weather reading and study nook gives the kids room to stretch out with a good book or a tricky assignment, while keeping their imaginations fueled with plenty of fresh air and a great view of the neighborhood.

Arciform owner/designer Anne De Wolf suggests that this family’s approach to the project has good lessons for anyone contemplating a mudroom renovation. She explains,

The mudroom is a great space to let out your inner artist as it has “permission” to be a fun, functional and informal sort of space.

Hardison_1902_SalvagedPieces_D_ (11)Design by Anne De Wolf. Photo by Photo Art Portraits.

We’ve been delighted to help this family address a practical back-to-school issue with an inspiring and playful solution that fits both their family’s personality and the unique style of their Sellwood Victorian home.

Their next project? A Jules Verne inspired roof deck and play loft, complete with submarine hatch.


We can’t wait to show you the pictures of that one!

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