There’s a 100-additionally-year-aged Chickering & Sons upright piano in the residing home of Mike and Robin Clark’s residence. It belonged to Robin’s grandmother, and she figured out to engage in it herself. Sitting down on top of it is a Liz Phair album. The CD cover is signed, in reference to Robin, “To Mike, Keep Her Glad —Liz Phair.”
Robin, a designer, amazed Mike with both the piano and the signed album when he returned from tour in 2003—he’s the longtime keyboardist and guitarist for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, as well as an accountant. Even though he’d been away, Robin had satisfied Phair when she opened for the Flaming Lips on the band’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tour at the Crystal Ballroom. That is also wherever Mike and Robin were married in 2002, practically a 10 years right after they each graduated from Reed Faculty.
Indeed, Mike and Robin are critical about songs.
The piano is now, devoid of a doubt, the oldest-seeking factor in their 1899 North Portland bungalow, exactly where they’ve lived for virtually 20 a long time. Their property is an amalgam of tinted plexiglass, shiny black tile, some metallic paint, and a healthier dose of glam-rock-to-pop style and design options that conjure up some of the coolest boutique lodges on the planet. Modern-day artwork and style infuse each and every final detail.
It was not normally this way. In the 1980s, the residence underwent a funky rework that resulted in items like an awkwardly created toilet and a decommissioned wood stove chimney and fireplace chimney, encased flooring-to-ceiling in a six-foot square of brick, smack-dab in the center of the very first ground. The latter manufactured every little thing truly feel compartmentalized and cramped. And so, they worked all around these and other style flaws—assembling low-cost Ikea and Fred Meyer shelving that overstayed its welcome, throwing on a further layer of paint—and believed, “One working day, we’ll make it proper.”
In 2007, Robin was identified with ovarian cancer. For many months, while going through intensive rounds of chemotherapy, she invested a excellent volume of time at residence in a clinic mattress. By 2009, she experienced crushed the most cancers, and gained a certain clarity all-around her residence and lifestyle: “I truly experienced time to search about and believe, ‘Who life listed here? What am I undertaking here? This could be so a great deal improved.’”
That in close proximity to-loss of life expertise propelled the eventual remodel, which thoroughly obtained underway in 2015 when they finally experienced the cash to do it. At that stage, the dwelling also had plenty of serious maintenance challenges that they determined they wanted to both provide it and transfer or majorly renovate. They chose the latter, and they’re so glad they did.
Over the program of four many years, Robin built, Steve Ewoldt of Artifekt Architecture drew up, and contractor Todd Larios fully gutted and rebuilt everything—adding an upstairs bathroom and initially-flooring addition of about 250 square feet to the house. As much as the in general design and style notion, “I came up with ‘dark glam bananas.’ It’s the environment I was heading for, as opposed to French Place or Swedish Minimalism,” Robin clarifies. “Dark glam bananas is type of blingy, but it is also fun and amusing, long run existing, and moody and developed.”
Wherever Robin’s clinic mattress at the time sat is now the comprehensive-of-shine kitchen area with luxe black penny-tile and sparkly gold grout, and a custom “soul love” mosaic Robin dreamed up and established. Further than that is a broad-open up room, complete of contrasting coloration, spliced with a zigzagging carpet custom made-lower by Flor and placed by Robin.
The beating coronary heart of the property is the mobile DJ station with vibration-proof casters. Mike required Beck’s “two turntables and a microphone,” so Robin developed it for him. Modular wall-mounted history cubbies line the walls (for their almost 3,000 information), exhibiting off some of their beloved album artwork. Two other striking layout things consist of a sculptural, place age-searching, tweed grey Tufty Time couch by designer Patricia Urquiola, and a bigger-than-lifestyle wall mural of David Bowie posing in that legendary, vertical-stripe Freddie Burretti go well with. And which is just the initial ground. Upstairs is their tremendous chill, seafoam palette, skylit, chrome-beaded-curtained bedroom and what they refer to as their “disco powder room” with its mirrored-tile ceiling.
When pre-2020 Robin and Mike lived for dwell shows and audio in amazing clubs in Portland and all over the earth, they didn’t go out every single night. Robin was established, “Let’s make our residence the location we want to go to.” And so they did, with unthinkable foresight. During the past calendar year-additionally, even though lots of of us have felt the extremely serious boundaries of our homes, stretched to capacity as we get the job done from household, faculty from home, do just about every thing at home—Mike and Robin have had an even deeper appreciation of their North Gay Avenue digs.
In accordance to Mike, “Since we can’t go any where, it is like, ‘Let’s get an espresso at the Gay Avenue Coffee Residence. Let’s see a film at the Homosexual Avenue Cinemas.’” Just one of their most loved at-house venues has been the Gay Avenue Dance Club. Mike often grabs a couple dozen data from their selection and spins dance songs until finally the wee several hours. The seem process is equally analog and digital many thanks to a Sonos + Ikea collaboration identified as Symfonisk.
They’ve also been often streaming DJs from all-around the globe and pumping that seem through the house’s 10-furthermore speakers. Songs essentially follows you upstairs as it frequently does in hotels. They’ve tapped into some of their most loved reside sets all through the pandemic via United We Stream, which released as a COVID-times fundraising campaign for Berlin golf equipment and is now a world-wide platform. They’ve also truly liked looking at and listening to Beck’s 2019 Hyperspace album paired with NASA visuals.
These days the Clarks can faux they’re checking out the DJ from a songs fest catering tent or an Airbnb in Europe. “We’ll be like, ‘Maybe we ought to get an additional night time at this area? Can we get a late check-out?’” claims Robin. “We significantly speak like that. It is a actually good suspension of actuality.”
Like numerous of us, Mike and Robin have been functioning from house during the pandemic. They typically stream Seattle’s indie, listener-supported station KEXP through the week. When a specially fantastic music will come via, like “Music Would make Me High” by the Avalanches or “Free” by Sault, they’ll end when one of them suggests, “Meet you on the dance flooring!” And then they do just that—take a fast dance break.
It’s testament to the power of their relationship that Mike and Robin lived in the residence through the total transform, a task they experienced to push pause on many instances thanks to inadequate funds. They’ll be the initial to notify you that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, and that chaos exhaustion is serious when it will come to a key rework. Decades spent dwelling lifetime in zipper walls, with all kinds of random holes in the number of partitions continue to standing, frequent dust raining down, equipment strewn about all over the place, and dwelling out of individuals 5 packing containers not in storage is taxing, to set it evenly.
Just one early-on layout boon that softened some of all those sanity-degrading edges was their entire disregard for resale price. “People would say, ‘You want to set a railing here,’ and I would say, ‘No, I never,’” says Robin. “There are no pet dogs, no youngsters. Why shouldn’t we have an full space which is only for new music, that has no furniture, which is just for dancing?”
When questioned if possibly has any regrets following their painstakingly extended three-calendar year residence renovation, the remedy is a resounding no. “It is demanding to are living in the instant when you have blown up your household for a long term oasis that just about no one can see,” suggests Robin. “But worthy issues choose time, patience, and relentless Scorpio-climbing energy which I have. Outside of that, it is all about embracing adjust.”
Uncover additional details at hellorobinclark.com, the place Robin blogged the complete home renovation course of action from start to end.