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Design History in the Making

An iconic Portland Penthouse is brought to the 21st Century

Presented by Garrison Hullinger Interior Design September 10, 2019

SET AGAINST KING’S HILL HISTORIC DISTRICT, The Envoy Apartment Building has long been a graceful Portland landmark since its 1929 debut. Known for its eye-catching pink exterior and variety of well-known inhabitants, including Fred G. Meyer, the building was designed by architect Carl L. Linde for developer Jack L. Easson and obtained National Register of Historic Places status in 1986. A 2004 facelift turned its apartments into condominiums. A year later its two penthouses were joined into a single 5,026 sq. ft. apartment with 5,558 sq. ft. of terraces. Ten years later, Garrison Hullinger of Garrison Hullinger Interior Design (GHID) was contacted by a prospective client living on the East Coast to discuss yet another update of the conjoined penthouses. During a series of long-distance video meetings, a design came to life.

 Hullinger and Nikki Maeda, the lead interior designer on the project, worked hard to suit the kitchen to the family’s lifestyle with two active teens and three big, loveable dogs. By keeping the six burner Wolf cooktop in place and installing refrigeration drawers in the island facing the stove, everything is at hand.

After demoing the former kitchen’s cabinets and awkward island that was separated from the cooktop by a hefty butcher block, one of the homeowners recommended creating an open workspace by removing all upper cabinets and providing better island usage. She also recommended the Portola Paint “Soapstone” lime wash with low satin sheen for most of the penthouse walls.

“The homeowner had a very clear understanding of color because of her background as an artist,” says Hullinger. “She really helped fine tune the colors, knowing exactly which shade of Benjamin Moore white she didn’t want because they had studied them during a recent extensive remodel they had undertaken of a very old historical home.”

“The family wanted a unique look to the master suite when we first met,” recalls Hullinger, “but with the penthouse sitting on a concrete slab and the plumbing for numerous condos below to consider, we realized that although we couldn’t move the tub where we wanted it, we could create an elegant design solution by adding a step-up to the bath to both accommodate the drainage and give importance to the Victoria & Albert bathtub.”

By modifying the existing powder room and a space allotted for a hall office into a bedroom with a space-saving murphy bed, GHID had room to add a shower in the adjacent powder room. There, Maeda’s simple but elegant design called for large Olympia white subway tile grounded by a black mosaic tile shower bottom, presented with the same step-up technique to accommodate draining issues.

Working with GHID is a pleasure for the contractor, Olson & Jones. “One of the biggest reasons,” says Jones, “is their ability to prepare proper construction documents. Nikki was very thorough and communicative and straight to the point, which we both enjoyed a lot.”

Hullinger has become accustomed to working with remote clients over the years, but this was the first time he had an out-of-state client come to him in Portland. Working to modernize the fireplace long-distance was challenging, however, since GHID wanted to keep the 10-year-old firebox but revamp the design. Maeda sketched out a successful solution—a cold rolled steel firebox surround finished using a bluing technique that prevents rust. Everything around it, however, was torn out, reframed and updated.

In the end, what brought the whole project together was the glue formed by working with the family.

“They were just so wonderful to work with,” says Hullinger. “The husband was partial to darker elements that add contrast to the simple, tonal effects throughout that his artist wife had recommended. She provided an inspiration photo for the master vanity and even introduced us to lines we’d never heard of!”

Not only were the owners extremely pleased with the outcome, but they were also incredibly pleased with how painless, efficient and effective the design and building process was. In the end, Garrison Hullinger Interior Design came in on-time and on-budget—no small accomplishment, considering the constraints of working on an almost 100-year-old building with long-distance clients and a limited timeframe.

This story is adapted from “The Envoy”, written by Donna Pizzi in issue 43 of Portrait Magazine.

Photos By Blackstone Edge Studios