A glowing oasis of thoughtful, modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.
Patrick O’Neill of Greenline Fine Woodworking was called to do a historically sensitive update to one of Pietro Belluschi’s last projects. The project came with a very cool addition: a meditation room. The meditation room was designed collaboratively with Michael McCulloch, a noted Portland architect, the current owner of the home. A Modern Design with Versatile
The intention of the modern design was to create a space that would blur the lines between indoors and out. The effect would be minimizing visual interruptions. This also allows the space to open completely to the exterior as much as possible.
Large, sliding full-lite doors can have challenges related to weight, stability and smooth operability. An additional challenge was to figure out how to allow the doors to meet at a corner. With a only a narrow post to camouflage and complete the seal when closed some ingenuity was required.
Uniquely Versatile Solutions
A tricky mitred corner for the track system allowed the two layers of doors to meet seamlessly in the corner. Very tight tolerances were needed to ensure a weather-tight fit when the panels were closed.
The Versatile Product Design team worked closely with the installing contractor. This was important to ensure measurements were accurate and the modern design parameters could be met.
Bringing multiple tracks together in the corners presented alignment challenges for both the upper and lower panel tracks. The low profile sill makes for a near-flush transition to the interior flooring. Metal tracks were inlaid into solid wood sills to create an elegantly integrated system.
The result: a glowing oasis of thoughtful Mid-Century modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.
Nestled deep in Southwest Portland, the Carle family kitchen was the subject of an extensive remodel that was completed in late 2014. Interior designer Barbara Sumner and architectural designer Kristyn Bester worked with Versatile’s Product Designer Rex Vaccaro. Their job was to update and modernize the kitchen complete with stunning kitchen cabinets.
The design process for this particular project exemplifies our modern era. Most of the communication during the process happened via Skype since the Carle family had been residing in Amsterdam when the project began. As with any remodel project, the designers hit a few snags. The home was still under construction when the family returned to Portland. Ultimately, however, the Arciform and Versatile teams were able to achieve a contemporary, streamlined kitchen. A kitchen that is both functional and beautiful for the Carle family.
What was the scope of the project and what were the design goals?
For Versatile, the scope involved an entire run of custom upper and lower kitchen cabinets. As well as a pantry wall; a large kitchen island with a cantilevered eating area, and a built-in window bench. Some retrofit shelving and a wet bar in an adjacent living room were also included in the design. The finishes ended up being a contemporary mix of stainless steel-wrapped upper kitchen cabinets, paint grade surfaces for the pantry wall, and solid, clear, walnut grain aligned horizontally on the lower kitchen cabinets.
What challenges did the project face?
The biggest challenge that this project presented was the fact that the client had a strong desire for all of the lower kitchen cabinets to carry a visually distinctive horizontal line from the wood grain along the length of the kitchen. The surface area along the sink wall and island was very broad. There was some difficulty in locating beautiful, solid pieces of walnut that were large enough to cover those surfaces. The main issue with long spans of wood, however, is that they will always warp over time. So there was an initial fear that the kitchen cabinet faces would warp and be ruined.
What were the Uniquely Versatile solutions?
The first step in solving the problem was to communicate with designers working on the project. With regards to the sink wall, the solution was to simply compromise on the pattern, and face the cabinets with a classic vertical grain rather than risk the possibility of warping. To create a horizontal appearance on the surface of the nine-foot long island, a laminating method was used. A few boards of walnut were glued together along their long edges in order to add stability.
Laminated wood still carries the possibility of warping. By alternating the grain patterns on the boards (essentially flipping every other board so that the grain pattern is opposite the one before it), more stability is added to the wood, creating a preventive measure against warping. We were also able to retain the horizontal grain pattern that the client wanted, and applying these solutions to the project resulted in a stunningly beautiful set of kitchen cabinets.
Versatile is always looking to come up with inventive solutions for the challenges faced when collaborating with others. Our creative team worked with the talented designers at Arciform to achieve their client’s needs for this beautiful home in Southwest Portland.
This architect designed mid-century modern home featured existing hemlock cabinets that needed restoration, plus a client who wanted to expand square footage and increase the utility of the space for entertaining. Versatile refinished and modified the original kitchen cabinets to house new appliances and fabricated a new bank of cabinets that matched the existing style and hardware, concealed the new refrigerator and expanded the available storage.
To restore and expand the kitchen with as little impact to the original fixtures as possible while modernizing the appliances and integrating them into the existing architecture.
The unusual species of the wood in the existing architect-designed cabinets required a careful exact match of wood and hardware in order to blend the new elements seamlessly with the old.
Integrating contemporary appliances into a space designed for the 1960s without distracting from the period style of the space required extremely precise fits on the surrounding cabinets.
Uniquely Versatile Solutions
Research of the architect’s work and a deep understanding of the principals of the original architectural style helped identify creative but architecturally appropriate solutions to the integration challenges.
Precise measurements and good communication with the contractor during the design of new cabinets ensured a seamless installation.
We love our home and think often about the wonderful job you have done for us.
After SE Division’s overwhelming support of Duane Sorenson’s Stumptown cafe, he opened The Woodsman Tavern to create a gathering place for good food and good drink that felt like it had always been there. The Woodsman Tavern was a 2012 Bon Appétit Best New Restaurant nominee and launched the revitalization of SE Division Street. This led Sorenson to open Ava Gene’s (November 2012) and Roman Candle Baking Company (July 2013) a few blocks away.
Versatile was contracted by Orange-PDX to create a storefront system for The Woodsman Tavern. To supply custom entry doors for Roman Candle and Ava Gene’s.
What were the goals of these projects?
For The Woodsman Tavern, we were to replace the dated aluminum storefront with replicated traditional wood divided lite transoms over picture windows with insulated glass, along with custom entry doors.
The stain grade doors for Roman Candle and Ava Gene’s needed to fit the aesthetic and vibe of the restaurants. While being able to withstand harsh weather exposure.
What challenges did Versatile face during these projects?
The biggest challenge for all three projects was weather exposure as they all face south.
What were the Uniquely Versatile Solutions?
Hand selecting the materials played a major role in the success of these projects. Versatile’s highly experienced carpenter, Jeff Vasey, hand selected the wood to ensure each piece had a tight grain pattern to help extend the life of each item. From an aesthetic side, it was also important to find pieces of wood that matched and had complimentary grain patterns.
Versatile always tries to anticipate possible challenges before they turn into problems, and by selecting such an experienced team we were able to avoid major issues. This team included Versatile shop carpenters and installers from Orange-PDX construction.
In the heart of historic Dayton Oregon, The Block House Café recently moved into the 1886 First Baptist Church on Main Street. Working alongside architect Paul Falsetto and Fackler Construction, Versatile created a large back bar with surrounding cabinetry, wait-station, and tabletops from old floor joists in the building.
Block House Café Goals:
To create a large, functional, and aesthetically pleasing back bar that hides the seismic bracing. Re-purpose original floor joists to create tabletops and a bar top.
Block House Café Challenges:
The biggest challenge we faced with the back bar, which included 10’ high walnut pieces, was installation to conceal three alcoves that were created by updated seismic structuring. The tabletops and bar top proposed a few challenges. They were created from wood salvaged from the original floor joists from the building. We were concerned about the tabletops cupping or warping. We needed to create a flat, smooth surface on the bar top as there were many wormholes in the wood.
Block House Café Uniquely Versatile Solutions:
We worked around installation problems of the bar by pre-building it in 3 separate pieces. Along with some tolerances to allow for variations in the walls when it was installed on site. The three pieces overlapped once installed to look like one piece of furniture while hiding the bracing behind.
To address the tabletops potentially warping, we added a dovetail key underneath to tie the planks together. By attaching the key to the middle plank only, the planks could expand and contract naturally, but not warp or cup. And finally, to create a smooth, flat surface on the bar top. The wormholes were filled with clear epoxy rather than a colored putty. Since the natural color of fir changes over time, the clear epoxy will make a smooth surface without worry that the wood color would ultimately shift away from the color of the putty. Versatile’s experience and expertise allowed us to anticipate potential issues and create solutions before they became real problems on site.
For this project, Versatile was the supplier for all exterior windows and doors. We produced a total of 28 units – over 1000 sq feet of glazing.
What was the goal for the Evergreen Chapel ?
The goal for this project was to produce custom doors and casement windows using vertical grain fir. The fir compliments this traditional 1930’s log cabin design. The timeline for these units was eight-weeks.
What were the challenges for the Evergreen Chapel ?
Because some of the doors were especially tall (each 36” x 114” x 2 ¼” thick), incorporating commercial door hardware specifications was a challenge.
What was the Uniquely Versatile solution for the Evergreen Chapel ?
In conclusion, our solution was to combine a custom, craft-built traditional wood window with a high-level commercial sensibility. We also wanted to incorporate modern-day materials, such as insulated glass, while maintaining the look of the 1930’s design.
Working seamlessly with the largest general contractor in the state requires on-target communications, submittals, delivery and follow through. While this is not unusual for Versatile, working in a commercial field emphasizes our quality.
Washington High School opened in 1906, originally under the name of East Side High School, at SE 14th & Stark. In 1909 it was renamed as Washington High School.
The original building was destroyed by a fire in October of 1922. The replacement building was designed by Houghtaling & Dougan. It was constructed of reinforced concrete with a brick surface at the same site.
Due to declining enrollment, the school closed in May of 1981.
After sitting vacant for decades, the building was purchased by Venerable Properties and is currently being converted to retail and office space. Art DeMuro, founder of Venerable Properties, was instrumental in the sale of the school. Art’s involvement in Portland’s historical redevelopment played a large role in deciding to keep the history alive in the Washington High School building.
What was the goal for Washington High School?
To construct double-hung sash windows that are aesthetically identical to the originals. And operate with the historical and reliable system of weights and pulleys. The windows also needed to be more energy-efficient.
The windows are being primarily installed on the south side of the building.
What challenges did you face with Washington High School ?
Portland Public School system put in replacement aluminum windows 40 years ago. With the replacement, the original pulleys and latches were lost. Luckily, we were successful in finding accurate reproduction pieces that fit with the sashes we created.
Since double pane, insulated glass is heavier than the original single pane, we had to find a solution to create a perfectly balanced window.
What was the Uniquely Versatile solution for Washington High School ?
As the original window frames remain intact and the weights were preserved inside the walls, our new sashes are being installed into the original frames and reconnected to those original weights.
To balance the windows we have taken the weights from the top sash, which are now fixed in place, and added them to the weight for the bottom sash.
Once the frames and sashes are fully weather-stripped, these windows will have the same energy-efficiency as brand-new, manufactured windows.
We are excited to see the finished project…stay tuned!
This lovely condo building on the National Historic Register was in need of refurbishment. There were strict requirements to meet in order to maintain the historic character of the building. Their budget precluded custom replacement sash and other window components. Here’s how we helped their contractor, PATH Construction, find a Uniquely Versatile solution that was right for them.
What were the design goals of the project (including any performance, historic review or unusual specs?
Historic accuracy on a budget was the name of the game. The primary hurdle was matching an historic glass stop profile on all the replacement sash. No manufactured window company could provide the beaded profile and the project’s budget did not allow for custom windows.
What challenges did the project face?
We were challenged to meet very strict historic requirements for this building which is now on the National Register. We also had to stay within a tight budget for a project this size. These requirements included a specific glass stop profile, no visible vinyl or balance system on the front of the building, and maintaining the original window sizes. This included the 1 round top window on the 3rd floor.
What uniquely versatile solutions were used to address those challenges?
Versatile mixed a variety of products from Marvin (Wood Magnum Tilt Pacs, Ultimate Double Hungs, Ultimate Awnings, fiberglass Integrity sliders and double-hungs in the basement).
However, even Marvin was unable to produce the beaded profile glass stops so Versatile purchased the window systems from Marvin without any glazing. Our shop then machined the custom stops and glazed the windows ourselves using the same Cardinal Insulated glass that Marvin would have used. The result was a “custom” window at a manufactured price.
It was delightful to assist in the restoration of this important piece of Portland’s architectural history in the heart of NW Portland.
Hot tip: these lovingly restored condos go on the market this week and they won’t last long. Check them out at NW 21st and Flanders.
We were happy to recently complete a custom storefront system for Full Sail Brewing’s Hood River corporate offices. It was the perfect mix of Uniquely Versatile elements: unusual scale, specific climate and weather conditions. And a client with a very specific design aesthetic in mind. Here’s a look at the goals and challenges of the project:
The Goal for Full Sail Brewing
Use of Vertical Grain Douglas Fir was a central design theme throughout this project. The main entrance is meant to highlight that theme. With solid CVG Douglas fir transom, sidelites, and doors with a clear finished interior and exterior.
The Challenges for Full Sail Brewing
TMencer Construction Company approached us with this opportunity along with other custom shops in the region. Although our price point was higher, Tim Mencer valued our commitment to on-site consulting services. Our ability to provide complete AutoCAD drawings for review. Our expertise in integrating very specialized hardware for custom projects like this one.
An Off-Kilter Rough Opening:
The biggest challenge to the project was that the existing masonry opening was not at all square, plumb or level. Several framing options had to be explored to find a solution that would fit the doors and glass as designed while adjusting for the variances in the existing opening.
Complex Commercial Hardware:
The commercial hardware specified for the doors was very complex and challenging to integrate into an entry door of normal thickness.
The Uniquely Versatile Solutions for Full Sail Brewing
Extensive onsite and off site consulting by our product development team about the available framing options helped TMencer Construction narrow down some workable solutions to the site’s out of kilter opening measurements.
To address the hardware issue, we ultimately decided to make the doors thicker than originally specified (2_1/4” instead of 1_3/4”) in order to overcome some of the biggest hardware integration challenges and ensure greater long term durability.
The Result for Full Sail Brewing
The final project’s simple lines and unadorned clear grain fir makes the entrance seem easy and approachable without hinting at the surprisingly complex design solutions required to integrate them into the space. We are proud to provide such a warm wood welcome to the staff and guests of Full Sail Brewing.
This may look like a humble little double hung but what appears to be straightforward actually involved a lot of attention to detail, careful coordination and amazing craftsmanship.
When this job is finished it will be very difficult to identify the original windows from our new window; aside from the fact that the new window operates like butter.
Our colleagues at Kem’s Woodworking needed to help their clients meet current egress codes for a new basement bedroom with a historically accurate window that matches all the original double hung windows throughout this 1930’s West Hills home.
Kem’s cut a hole in the exterior wall directly between two existing windows and challenged Versatile to deliver a window that looked like it had always been there.
The Uniquely Versatile Solution
Versatile built a traditional weight and pulley double hung to the necessary size to meet the egress requirements. We matched the reverse ogee interior detail and the exterior stucco mould exactly.
Even the stepped exterior window sill was reproduced to match all original sills.
(The picture below shows the window before the finish painting was complete.)
You would be hard pressed to identify at a glance which window was added to the home and which were original. Sometimes, the best Versatile solutions are the ones that are impossible to identify once they are installed!