High Design in Lake Oswego

A peek inside the chic new suburban HQ of acclaimed design/build firm Vanillawood

By Kate Goodling October 13, 2014

Kricken and James Yaker clearly have a good thing going. Not only are they the brains behind Vanillawood, a full-service design/build firm responsible for some local stunners, they also happen to be in love. They discovered a mutual passion for design while renovating their own home, and  opened Vanillawood in 2006; they've successfully outfitted aesthetically minded local homes ever since. This summer the couple decided to take their talents to Lake Oswego, relocating Vanillawood’s store from NW Portland to this slice of classic upscale suburbia.

Vanillawood’s new home in Lake Oswego is drenched in sunlight due to a distinctive feature: one entire wall of this storefront is a garage door, bathing the displays in natural light. It is an airy and inviting space, equipped with dining and living room arrangements that allow customers to meander through products at their leisure. “We wanted a space that could introduce the brand in a casual, non-intimidating way” Kricken says. “You can instantly get the sense of our vibe.” Though neither Yaker has formal training in the world of design, they don’t see this as a disadvantage. “We aren’t inhibited by set rules, or concerned about mixing styles and eras,” Kricken says.

Favoring a design style that Kricken playfully describes as “organic contemporary with a little bling,” Vanillawood carries everything from custom-designed pillows to artwork from around the world. Customers can shop these Vanillawood exclusives, or browse fabric swatches, color patches, and lighting options for every stage of their design/build project. Shoppers can als seek personal guidance from Kricken and James themselves. “We don’t want to just be churning out the same projects.” Kricken stresses. “We push ourselves as much as we push the clients to experiment.” James adds,  “Most people only know what they don’t like. That’s where we can help.”

If simultaneously raising three young boys and managing their own business (with aspirations to expand to Los Angeles) is any indicator, this couple clearly likes to keep busy. But this comes naturally, Kricken explains, when your partner is also your love. “Working with my husband, there is such trust. There is no one else I would do this with.” James agrees, “There is no conflict of interest here. We know we have each others backs, and when you have that kind of support, anything seems possible.”

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