While trends lure you in with their tempting appeal, nothing beats the global charm and timeless appeal of classic and traditional styles. This is the approach Chelsea Kaemingk of Kaemingk Design took when she designed this polished Portland home. Built in 1910, the 3000-square-feet, four-bedroom, three-bathroom residence was stripped down to the studs a few years ago, but the client wanted to maintain the home's history and old-world feel.
"We're constantly influenced by Belgian design, so for the interior, we kept the spaces bright, minimal and full of natural materials," Kaemingk tells me. "We wanted to create a home with a strong European influence that blended the lines between modern and more old-world aesthetics—a home that felt clean and simple but with depth in character." Take the tour and see the old-meets-new fusion for yourself, and then watch your eyes light up as you go.
The staircase is the first thing you see when you enter this home, so Kaemingk wanted to make it a stunning focal point. "The goals were to be strong architecturally but soft in nature," she says. "We achieved those two goals through the use of softer, natural materials and curving details paired with masculine color usage."
The color palette was kept minimal and neutral throughout. It played perfectly with the soft light that streams through every window in the house.
Here the marriage between classic and contemporary is clear. The vintage painting and statement chair speak to a more traditional tone, whereas the neutral color palette and bedding bring it into the modern arena.
Once again, Kaemingk was inspired by European kitchens, so she kept the space traditional in nature and filled it with classic materials, such as the limestone floors and zinc countertops, that will continue to age and beautify over time.
"We love the look of a kitchen without any upper cabinets since we feel it modernizes the space and cleans it up visually," she says. "We chose to plaster the backsplash and the range surround, something that reads both modern and old world visually, and we love that." The biggest design element was the custom reclaimed oak table that acts as an island and an eat-in dining room slash kitchen, something she tells me is seen in a lot of farmhouses in Europe.
"We designed the layout of this house to intentionally not include a formal dining room because we wanted that space to be located in the kitchen," she says. "We felt it was a bold choice that we both loved and lends itself to a more intimate way of cooking, entertaining, and dining. When designing this space, we imagined late evenings of cooking and dining in this space."
Kaemingk wanted the living space to feel dramatic, inviting, and bright, so her first line of action was to drape the majority of the room in natural canvas curtains for that added texture, depth, and softness. "We designed and built a console table to span the width of the room that would anchor the dramatic art by April Coppini," she says.
Dark furnishings were brought in for a more dramatic look against the light backdrop, which paired well with the dramatic art for the space. "We finished the space off with some interesting ceramic cylindrical ceiling lights for that modern touch," says Kaemingk.
The neutral surroundings help to balance out the dark drama within.
The primary bedroom was originally an unfinished (and huge) attic space in the original Craftsman home, so the potential to build out and finish this space was a "no-brainer." She adds: "The tall vaulted ceilings were the main architectural element in this space, so we wanted to play those up with large-scale lighting, drapes that run floor to ceiling, and tall windows. We kept this space simple and calm with the use of linens, wools, reclaimed woods, and tonal colors."
The term "Primary Bedroom" is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term "Master." Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
The soft dove gray headboard anchors the room and ties nicely with the textures of the timber floors and side table.
The graphic artwork throughout is by Coppini. The fragmented, raw effect feels nostalgic and dreamlike, perfect for the old-world interior design theme.
Kaemingk loves using natural and old-world materials, and her team made no exception in this bathroom. "Because this room was long and linear in nature, we wanted to play up that element with a long and rustic floating vanity, complete with a long and rustic handmade concrete sink," she says. "We anchored the area with a custom oversize steel-framed mirror and traditional style sconces we custom-finished to look aged."
They continued the rustic affair with a marble sink, gnarled driftwood, and raw concrete step.
But one of Kaemingk's favorite features of the whole project is the shower. "We tend to fall in love with interesting nooks and crannies in old homes, and love to experiment with them," she says. "Our solution for a small and virtually unusable dormer was to finish it off as an incredible and large plaster shower—the perfect old-world touch." We're completely in awe.
One of the main elements saved from the original 1910 Craftsman home was the original fir floors that they refurbished and custom-refinished. "Since the majority of the home is so clean and minimal, we felt the imperfections and age the floors brought to the home were a perfect balance," she says. And we couldn't agree more.
Since they were working with the bones of a 1910 Craftsman for the exterior (and the home had been neglected for many years), most of the original character was unsalvagable. "From there, we modernized the shape and took it more Nordic in style by eliminating the eaves, adding tall paned windows, and painting it a masculine color," says Kaemingk. It matches the old-world theme perfectly.