A 1920s Portland Warehouse Is Rehabbed Into an Industrial-Chic Home

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By Lucy Wang
Blending raw industrial elements with elegant detailing, this one-of-a-kind home is a poster child for adaptive reuse.

Inspired by the loft conversions of TriBeCa, a pair of former New Yorkers were keen on an industrial-chic aesthetic when they purchased an 8,000-square-foot warehouse to serve as their new home in Southeast Portland. To bring their adaptive-reuse abode to life, the couple tapped local studio Emerick Architects, which had completed similar renovations, such as the nearby rehabbed Ford Model-T Factory.

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Occupying a quarter block, the building had formerly housed a corner grocery, printing press, and mechanic’s shop.

Occupying a quarter block, the building had formerly housed a corner grocery, printing press, and mechanic’s shop.

"The clients wanted a dwelling inspired by the authenticity and rawness of commercial buildings, combined with the warmth and beauty of an elegantly crafted, custom home," say the architects, who also directed the interior design.

A massive concrete hearth, placed just off center, anchors the living room. The Douglas fir floors have been painted a creamy white.

A massive concrete hearth, placed just off center, anchors the living room. The Douglas fir floors have been painted a creamy white.

A key to the redesign was the addition of an airy, contemporary penthouse that’s articulated from the outside as a cream-colored block above a "fortress-like" charcoal-painted base. The light-filled penthouse houses the main living spaces, as well as the master suite. 

To satisfy the 11-foot setback requirement, the architects have added a wraparound terrace and garden that helps handle stormwater runoff.

To satisfy the 11-foot setback requirement, the architects have added a wraparound terrace and garden that helps handle stormwater runoff.

Working together with local artisans, the architects mixed design elements from early 20th-century warehouses, such as the penthouse’s period-appropriate 12-foot-tall insulated-glass windows, with contemporary touches that imbue warmth into the 10,883-square-foot residence.

Bi-fold sliding Marvin doors recall steel-framed factory windows, yet are actually built of black-painted wood and insulated glass.

Bi-fold sliding Marvin doors recall steel-framed factory windows, yet are actually built of black-painted wood and insulated glass.

"Marrying practicality with craftsmanship, almost everything for the project was handmade locally by Portland artisans including cabinetry, steel work, railings, doors, stairs, light fixtures, and plaster," adds the firm.

A vintage postoffice desk anchors one end of the office that's fitted with built-in cabinetry with a 16-foot-long walnut top on the far wall.

A vintage postoffice desk anchors one end of the office that's fitted with built-in cabinetry with a 16-foot-long walnut top on the far wall.

Matte-black Tolix chairs surround a 14-foot harvest dining table that dates back to the 1800s.

Matte-black Tolix chairs surround a 14-foot harvest dining table that dates back to the 1800s.

Sustainability was also an important guiding principle, from the materials selected to energy considerations. In addition to the building’s past and present history of adaptive reuse, the home is fitted with salvaged and found fixtures—from the ceilings made of reclaimed decking to a vintage plumbing fixture that the couple purchased and repurposed into a bathroom sink. 

The bathroom features a salvaged French plumbing fixture combined with Kohler fixtures; the couple purposefully left the patina intact.

The bathroom features a salvaged French plumbing fixture combined with Kohler fixtures; the couple purposefully left the patina intact.

Meanwhile, a 2,000-square-foot solar array mounted to the roof produces more electricity than the homeowners need. In fact, the couple receives money back from the electricity company every month.

The kitchen island is topped with a five-by-10-foot slab of Carrera marble.

The kitchen island is topped with a five-by-10-foot slab of Carrera marble.

Stainless steel has been used for the kitchen counters, cabinets, and backsplash.

Stainless steel has been used for the kitchen counters, cabinets, and backsplash.

A sliding fire door controlled by a pulley-and-weight system divides the communal living spaces from the bedroom.

A sliding fire door controlled by a pulley-and-weight system divides the communal living spaces from the bedroom.

The master bedroom opens up to the wraparound terrace. The Restoration Hardware bed is set against an accent wall that is painted Behr's Cracked Pepper.

The master bedroom opens up to the wraparound terrace. The Restoration Hardware bed is set against an accent wall that is painted Behr's Cracked Pepper.

Stairs lead down to a the ground floor that houses a guest apartment, a two-car garage, and a weight room.

Stairs lead down to a the ground floor that houses a guest apartment, a two-car garage, and a weight room.

The light-filled stair wraps around a primitive factory elevator shaft.

The light-filled stair wraps around a primitive factory elevator shaft.

The Division Street Residence Floor Plan.

The Division Street Residence Floor Plan.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Emerick Architects/Melody Emerick / @emerickarchitects

Builder/General Contractor: Right Angle Co.

Structural Engineer: SCE Structural Engineering

Landscape Design Company: Samuel H. Williamson Associates

Interior Design: Emerick Architects

Cabinetry Design/Installation: Custom Metal Fab