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What’s Old Is New: A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell

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What’s Old Is New: A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell

May 5, 2021

What’s old is new—and, in this case, really quite of-the-moment. When Pam Williams wanted to make a change from her tired loft in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon, she was thinking of moving—until she saw another unit in the building that had gotten the Jessica Helgerson treatment. Inspired, she decided to commission the Portland-based interior designer to overhaul the dated insides and re-fit the space to suit her needs.

Helgerson and Mira Eng-Goetz, the lead designer on the project, stripped the loft back to its original brick walls, then gave it a new shell: built-in furniture and storage in every room that provides flexibility and a sense of calm, even playfulness. The new space is finished in subtle washes of pale and grey—a bit pearl-like, fittingly enough.

Join us for a walk through the newly fashioned interiors.

Photography by Aaron Leitz, courtesy of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.

Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell The kitchen, with the entryway just behind, has glimpses of the old—red brick, an arched window—among the new, including a custom concrete countertop and sink by Cement Elegance. A whimsical mobile designed by GamFratesi hangs above the table.
Above: The kitchen, with the entryway just behind, has glimpses of the old—red brick, an arched window—among the new, including a custom concrete countertop and sink by Cement Elegance. A whimsical mobile designed by GamFratesi hangs above the table.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell A counter to ceiling backsplash is made up of tiny, square inch Japanese tiles, plus two inset niches for essentials.
Above: A counter-to-ceiling backsplash is made up of tiny, square-inch Japanese tiles, plus two inset niches for essentials.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell The kitchen opens into the living room, at right. Williams gave away nearly all of her furniture as part of the process, &#8\2\20;except for the tulip dining chairs and the cute wicker chair in the bedroom,&#8\2\2\1; Eng Goetz says. &#8\2\20;Pam already had these and they worked really well with our concept.&#8\2\2\1; All of the other fittings were chosen by the design team.
Above: The kitchen opens into the living room, at right. Williams gave away nearly all of her furniture as part of the process, “except for the tulip dining chairs and the cute wicker chair in the bedroom,” Eng-Goetz says. “Pam already had these and they worked really well with our concept.” All of the other fittings were chosen by the design team.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell &#8\2\20;Before the renovation, the flooring was floating bamboo,&#8\2\2\1; says Eng Goetz. &#8\2\20;We removed that to expose the concrete below and polished it.&#8\2\2\1; The living area is grounded by a large, low built in sofa with drawers underneath and a pale pink Kinnasand rug from The Future Perfect. A built out wall behind offers storage—and a visual change from brick.
Above: “Before the renovation, the flooring was floating bamboo,” says Eng-Goetz. “We removed that to expose the concrete below and polished it.” The living area is grounded by a large, low built-in sofa with drawers underneath and a pale pink Kinnasand rug from The Future Perfect. A built-out wall behind offers storage—and a visual change from brick.

Above: The team stuck to a tight palette of greys and dusky pinks, with the occasional black or brass detail. For a similar light fixture, see 10 Easy Pieces: French Industrial Wall Lights.

Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell Off of the kitchen is a raised niche; Williams&#8\2\17; &#8\2\20;rainy day room&#8\2\2\1;, she told The New York Times. The space is petite but multi functional, with a nook, at left, doubling as a pocket sized desk, and another built in sofa that also serves as a guest bed. A wall of sleek cabinetry and drawers, at right, takes advantage of the vertical space. The mirrored back wall makes the whole room feel much larger.
Above: Off of the kitchen is a raised niche; Williams’ “rainy-day room”, she told The New York TimesThe space is petite but multi-functional, with a nook, at left, doubling as a pocket-sized desk, and another built-in sofa that also serves as a guest bed. A wall of sleek cabinetry and drawers, at right, takes advantage of the vertical space. The mirrored back wall makes the whole room feel much larger.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell The loft&#8\2\17;s sole bedroom also has new bones, with cabinets and bookshelves that turn into slim bedside tables—no need for extra furniture. The felt headboard is a custom design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.
Above: The loft’s sole bedroom also has new bones, with cabinets and bookshelves that turn into slim bedside tables—no need for extra furniture. The felt headboard is a custom design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell Even more storage, at the end of the bed—and Williams&#8\2\17; caned chair.
Above: Even more storage, at the end of the bed—and Williams’ caned chair.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell The bathroom is tiled in the same square inch tile as the kitchen, for cohesiveness, and the sink is also by Cement Elegance.
Above: The bathroom is tiled in the same square-inch tile as the kitchen, for cohesiveness, and the sink is also by Cement Elegance.
Whats Old Is New A Pearl District Loft in Portland Gets a New Shell Schoolhouse&#8\2\17;s Alabax Surface Mount Light Fixture appears in the bathroom and throughout the apartment, in white. Next to the shower, a tiled linen cabinet features a discreet alcove for the cat&#8\2\17;s litter box.
Above: Schoolhouse’s Alabax Surface Mount Light Fixture appears in the bathroom and throughout the apartment, in white. Next to the shower, a tiled linen cabinet features a discreet alcove for the cat’s litter box.

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