ABOVE: The pretty tile floor dates to the 1930 renovation; cabinets are likely original (1910). Nancy Conescu added the arched doors. Glossy green Marlite on the walls is ca. 1951.Photos by Blackstone Edge Studios
When she first viewed the Ferdinand E. Reed House in Portland’s Laurelhurst district, Nancy Conescu hardly expected to find an Art Deco kitchen tucked into the 1910 Arts & Crafts home. “This is my house!” said Nancy to her husband, Mike Doolin, who is a guitar maker, guitarist, and recording engineer. (Nancy is a singer–guitarist of traditional Irish music.) The couple proceeded to spend two and a half years restoring every inch of the house, and that included the arresting kitchen. “I acted as general contractor,” Nancy explains; she worked with Das Haus, the Portland, Oregon, renovation company. Nancy grew up in the building industry; her late father, Herbert Cohn, was a well-known New York architect and a partner in CWC Construction.
The Reed House, one of the earliest in the exclusive neighborhood, was built on spec by W.N. Stiles, who advertised it in October 1911 for $6,750. Real-estate businessman Ferdinand Elmo Reed purchased the house, became president of the now-defunct Laurelhurst Club in 1916, and went on to develop other single-family homes in the neighborhood. He lived here until 1941.
Nancy asked architectural historian Bo Sullivan to consult on the restoration. “He was floored by the kitchen,” Nancy recalls. “He immediately asked if I’d put it on the Architectural Heritage Center’s Kitchen Revival Tour in 2011.” She did.
Bo tracked down building permits, which indicate plumbing and tile were installed in the third-floor bathroom in 1930. Nancy and Bo surmise that the kitchen was tiled at the same time—walls, floor, and countertops. Another permit, dated 1951, suggests that the Marlite wall cladding edged in aluminum was added then.
Former owners Mike Sheen and Pam Coven (who is the owner of Imelda’s Shoes) put a half-bath in a tiled room off the butler’s pantry, and seated a new, retro-style Heartland refrigerator in a former storage cabinet, alongside a matching Heartland stove. The former owners agreed to part with the “Eat” sign when Mike Doolin took a shine to it.
Nancy merely had to tweak a few elements. She replaced casings around doors and windows, copying the intersecting trim detail from the third floor of the house. She replaced contemporary lighting with vintage Art Deco fixtures. A longtime collector, Nancy also added Arts & Crafts-era treasures to the Deco kitchen, layering the room according to the history of the house.
Renovations/consultants: Martin Munske, Das Haus, Portland, OR: (503) 772-2632 a Bo Sullivan, Arcalus, Portland, OR: (503) 467-4135, arcalus.com
Vintage stove/repairs: Buck’s Stove Palace, Portland: (503) 771-3374, stoves.com
Antique lighting: Vintage Lights (online): vintagelights.com, Hippo Hardware, Portland: (503) 231-1444, hippohardware.com
Retro appliances: Heartland Appliances: heartlandapp.com
Ceramicist: Helen Bommarito, Bend, OR: helenbommarito.com
Antique objects: Eric’s Antiques, Eugene, OR: (541) 345-1676