Many people are unsure about mixing styles and objects from different design eras. Setting a Danish midcentury table next to an ornate stained-glass window, for instance. Or combining painted tin ceilings with blue glass tile and Carrera marble. But then, Richard and Anne De Wolf were never ones to be bound by the rules.
Thirteen years ago, fresh out of high school, German native Anne traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to help her father fix up a vintage sailboat. At the marina she met Richard, who was living on his boat just after studying architecture at Clemson University. The following month, they set off on a spur-of-the-moment cross-country trip in his convertible ― top down the entire way; their last stop was Portland, where they married and founded a design-build firm called Arciform, specializing in the restoration of pre-World War II homes.
"We have a passion and respect for old houses," Richard says. "Anything with age possesses a sense of security. It feels like a safe place to call home."
Their spirit of adventure came in handy in their own remodel ― a 1908 Craftsman in North Portland's Overlook Neighborhood. Built in the Western Stick style, the house had been turned into a blue-collar duplex in the '20s and had suffered through "80 years of neglect and bad decisions" when they bought it for $170,000. "It was a disaster ― definitely the worst house on the block," Richard says, noting the four layers of asphalt roof and the two-story back deck that would "sway in the wind."
Undeterred, the young couple moved into the smaller upstairs apartment, ran their fledgling firm out of the dining room, and embarked on an eight-year remodel that combined an appreciation for old-school craftsmanship with a celebration of eclectic personal style.