Portland Days 3 & 4: Neverending Shopping Spree

The latter half of Day 2—when we got our hands on the keys—and all of Days 3 and 4 in Portland went by in a very busy, yet somehow pleasantly Robitussin-fueled haze. Essentially, they were full of shopping. And shopping. And shopping.

Wait, more shopping.

Not for anything terribly exciting, mostly just collecting all the basics. Even though I did this myself not too long ago (although I came to my apartment with the vast majority of my kitchen stuff, hoarded from my last apartment), I kind of forgot just how much stuff it takes just to get a new home up and running. Cleaning products. Bathroom organizers. Kitchen tools. It all adds up to a whole lot of running around. These shopping trips were fun for me, as I got to role-play as my mother. Trying to remember that this is Chandler’s apartment, and she needs to make her own decisions, it’s my task to gently give unsolicited advice to guide her in the right direction. It’s a delicate job, but some drugged-up-tissue-toting best friend’s got to do it.

There was Fred Meyer for cleaning supplies, where we bought a beast of a vacuum, marked down $60. There was the first shopping trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, then the second, then the third. There was Sears and Target and Walgreens. Oh, and Ikea. Twice.

Chandler hates IKEA, which is something I’ll never quite understand. Not the merchandise, necessarily, but the experience of IKEA. She loathes the trek through the showroom, what with all its tediously modelled rooms, and the way it’s generally organized. She gets grumpy about the other shoppers and becomes overwhelmed in the chaos of the Marketplace section. Getting her to go is like pulling teeth. So you can imagine how thoroughly exciting it was when we got to the KARLSTAD sofa section at the end of a very long Day 2 and discovered no available sofas. Apparently, the Portland IKEA only receives 4 KARLSTAD sofas every couple of days, and we were told they’ve been popular. I mean, no shit, they’re always popular. So we decided to go back when they opened in the morning, bearing looks of staunch determination lest the need arise to intimidate any competitors. We had to slip by the “Welcome to Ikea!” person at the entrance and head in the back door, leading straight to the enormous flat-packed furniture section. That couch was ours, and we weren’t fucking around.

Sweet success. Another KARLSTAD sofa with the Sivik Dark Grey cover and aluminum legs. It’s just like home! After Chandler went through all the same painstaking affordable-sofa-that-isn’t-ugly googling that I did, we ended up at the same conclusion. The KARLSTAD really is a great couch, and the price tag really just can’t be beat. Oh, and I put this thing together in just under an hour. It might have been the cold meds talking, but I felt like a superhero.

The other super-duper-exciting shopping trip was to the Container Store. Chandler and I both love the Container Store, even knowing that realistically most of their stuff is overpriced and comparable items could be picked up cheaper elsewhere. But that doesn’t stop it from being amazing. We could spend days roaming those aisles. Even better? Chandler had a very generous gift card to spend… so you can imagine. Talk about a high you’ve never had before.

We got this cute little paper towel holder. I’m generally not a fan of Umbra stuff, but we both kind of liked the retro style of this. And the little sponge tray thing.

We also got this tension shower organizer, which was actually the same price as the cheap over-the-shower-head caddy but a lot more out of the way. I can’t decide if it’s ugly or not, but it’s in the shower anyway, it holds a ton, and it’s nice to not have shampoo bottles falling over in front of the shower head and spraying water everywhere. The new shower curtain rod came from IKEA (the LILLHOLMEN), the rings and liner are from Bed Bath and Beyond. Still looking for a shower curtain to go over it.

On Day 4 we went back to IKEA (trip #3, for those who are keeping track) and picked up the very pretty STENSTORP kitchen cart to fill up the hole where the washing machine used to be in the kitchen and to hold the microwave.

We left off the top front panel so that the microwave can open, but I think it looks fine without it and it seems just as structurally sound.

The other thing we’ve been doing a lot of, besides shopping, is planning. I really want to replace that kitchen floor (it’s up in the air right now), and Chandler really wanted to paint her bathroom. So off to Home Depot we went, totally exhausted, to price out a new floor and pick up some paint chips and a few assorted tools.

We’re contemplating VCT. The guy explaining VCT to us at Home Depot made it sound really high maintenance, telling tales of having to buff and polish and wax and strip the finish every two years, which is making us think twice (I’ve gotten over it after being reassured by Anna at Door Sixteen, but Chandler’s still skeptical). It would cost about $100. Any thoughts, y’all?

We also picked up a bunch of paint chips for the bathroom. Chandler knew she wanted a light sea foam green bathroom from the get-go, so that’s what we’re doing. These were the contenders (just the lighter hues).

Yay. Painting. My fucking favorite.

P.S.- We finally got internet today (Day 8!), so hopefully I’ll be posting much more regularly from here on out!

P.P.S.- Portlandites! Where’s all the good thrifting at? Tell me everything you know. READY, GO!

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 1.11.11
    ModFruGal said:

    Anna’s right…don’t fear the VCT…it’s great stuff..and if you do it right the first time, maintenance is not a big deal. I never buffed in my old kitchen, I just topcoated every year and it looked great.

  2. 1.11.11
    Margaret said:

    Know nothing about VCT, but just wanted to say: love this blog – you could talk about lint and it’d probably be witty and entertaining – but esp. enjoying this decorating on a time/budget crunch and fueled by cold meds. ;-D Can’t wait to see the finished product (and admire your goals – I haven’t worked up the stamina to paint my new apt. and I’ve been here a month!).

  3. 1.11.11
    kirsten said:

    I am so excited to keep following the project! I think the Karlstadt sofa is a great way to start–it is a big step up from the lower tier more student-y couches but still very affordable. I am sorry that Chandler doesn’t like Ikea–I get kind of crazy at the one in Red Hook–but I hope you can impress upon her that Target+Ikea—hours at really depressing thrift stores and garage sales=the very best use your trip out there to create a lovely space. Beware relying on BB&B and for too much decor stuff, cause it will look cheap. I find that looking through the Ikea catalog first and then storming the place with circled items onhand is a very rewarding and time efficient way to do Ikea. Looks great so far–good luck!

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, that’s what we’ve been doing! Aside from the first trip, we haven’t even set foot in the showroom… just straight to the packed furniture sections and a dash through the marketplace. (and soooo right about BB&B—don’t worry, it’s just been for little stuff like a cutting board and sheets).

  4. 1.11.11
    Laura said:

    My only fear about the vct would be laying it. Once it’s in, this stuff once or twice a year is fine, http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/floor-care/armstrong-satinkeeper-resilient-low-gloss-floor-finish-s-385/product-83442.asp?commodity=vinyl. But since she’s a renter and the floor isn’t THAT horrible, what about creating a large vinyl or linoleum area rug like this http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/neglected-kitchen/index.html, using remnant sheet vinyl as a base, and adhering vct or linoleum? PS- I vote for the bluer paint chip.

  5. 1.11.11
    lisa said:

    my vote for the bathroom paint color is the top or middle color on the left swatch, or the lone blue-ish swatch on the bottom. the others are reading very lime green on my mac… and lime green is not the best color you want reflecting on your face when doing your make-up. :-/

  6. 1.11.11
    Callista said:

    I posted this on another post, but as I’m not sure you got it in all of your shopping-no-internet-cold-ridden haze, I figured I’d post it here again.
    I hope you get this, but . . .

    I would definitely check out the City Liquidators on SE 3rd between Belmont and Morrison. The place is HUGE and AWESOME.

    Also, Modern Pink in Sellwood (http://www.ilovevintagepink.com/). It’s my little secret.

    I also always have good luck at Hawthorne Vintage (http://hawthornevintagepdx.com/).

    Sellwood’s great for antiquing. Hawthorne’s great for vintage stores.

    I wish you lots of luck! If you guys need any more help or details, feel free to shoot me an email!
    Feel free to call me a superfan. I’ve come to terms with it.

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      I did see this before! But thank you!! We’ll definitely be checking those places out!

  7. 1.11.11
    Simone said:

    What is VCT? My two cents: I’d pick the big sample at the bottom…..

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      It’s Vinyl Composition Tile… it’s what you see in schools and hospitals and places like that. Or Anna’s kitchen!

  8. 1.11.11
    Kim said:

    Are you looking for just thrifted furniture? You should (obviously) hit the Goodwill(s) nearby– there are several in Portland. There are also a whole lot of shops that are secondhand/vintage/junk/thrift shops, which have a huge variety of things– sometimes you can find good deals, sometimes you just find good stuff that’s overpriced or out of your price range. It kind of just depends on what you’re looking for, but these are all places I’ve found furniture and/or housewares in the past.

    Lounge Lizard
    1310 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.

    Pretty Good Stuff–lots of junk stuffed in a tiny storefront just up the street from Lounge Lizard– it’s possible to find good stuff, though. There’s always a ton of crap out in the front, you can’t miss it, it’s seriously about 3 doors up Hawthorne from Lounge Lizard.

    Deco To Disco
    1960 SE Hawthorne Blvd
    (503) 736-3326

    Vintage Pink
    2500 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard
    (503) 224-8100

    House of Vintage
    3315 SE Hawthorne Blvd # B
    (503) 236-1991

    Hollywood Antiques
    1969 N.E. 42nd Ave.

    There is also an antique mall and another secondhand/vintage place right across NE 42nd street– both places that you will need to sift through, but I’ve found good things at both.

    There are more shops listed here (http://www.shopvintageportland.com), but I don’t know how up-to-date the site is.

    The Community Warehouse (a local nonprofit) has an attached thrift shop that I have never been to, but might be worth a visit. Info here: http://estatestore.org

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      Thank you thank you! We’ve already checked out House of Vintage (and scored!), and we’ll hit up the others too!

  9. 1.11.11
    Autumn said:

    I don’t know if she’s going for mid-century modern but if she is we love:
    Hawthorne vintage, Portland Modern (NW) and Lounge Lizard. We come from the east coast as well and were blown away by the low pricing on this kind of stuff here.

  10. 1.11.11
    Kim said:

    Oh– there are several tool libraries in Portland– consider checking them out rather than buying some of the tools you need. I mean, everyone should have a hammer, but you might prefer to borrow a belt sander or a circular saw…

    North Portland — http://www.northportlandtoollibrary.org
    NE Portland– http://www.neptl.org
    SE Portland–http://www.septl.org

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      A tool library?! Amazing!! Thanks!

  11. 1.11.11
    Paul said:

    Vintage Pink and Modern Pink are two amazing vintage stores. The furniture prices aren’t incredibly cheap but they have really cool art and other assorted chotskies.


  12. 1.11.11

    I just covered my grody kitchen floor in my rental with a classic black & white checkerboard using Armstrong peel-and-stick vinyl tiles and I LOVE it. it was super easy and cost about $70 (2 boxes of black, 2 boxes of white- and I have almost a full box of each left over that I might sell on c-list). anyway, go for it! can’t wait to see the after!

    also, my paint vote is the top middle Behr color that looks like it has the most grey in it. take it from a girl who had a sea foam living room in her first apartment…it starts to make you craaaazy (and having a green bathroom will make your skin tone look kinda sickly, just sayin’).

    • 9.8.11
      Kate said:

      Hi! Where did you find the black and white checked peel and stick? I can’t find it anywhere in Portland!

  13. 1.11.11
    Lucy said:

    I’m so excited to see the finished apartment! I wanted to ask your opinion on the KARLSTAD sofa, we live in an aparment that has a very tight turn on the staircase, our loveseat wouldn’t even fit up the stairs. So I was wondering if the KARLSTAD comes flat packed and you assemble it, could you unassemble when you need to move? We’re DESPERATE for a new sofa and I don’t know how to solve this problem! Thanks.

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      Yes, it does come flat-packed! The arms are in one box and the body of the sofa is in another with the cushions. The back part of the sofa and the seat part are two separate pieces, so even if you couldn’t get the whole box up your stairs, I’d be surprised if you couldn’t fit the pieces separately! Good luck!

  14. 1.11.11
    Mom said:

    We had VCT in our first house, after re-doing that kitchen (the price point we could afford at the time). It held up great and was easy on the feet and the eyes. I agree with the top middle Behr color or the large swatch to the left. Too green and you look green–which you know is my least favorite color! So, BTW, thanks for making sure I had a bathroom in our house painted that color, courtesy of you and your sister. Blech! You owe me a bathroom paint job, just saying…

  15. 1.11.11
    beansprout said:

    I vote either the blue-er, bigger chip on the bottom or the lightest one on the middle chip at the top. Definitely do not want too much colour in a bathroom because it reflects off your skin and skews your skin tone (and causes you to overcompensate one way or another with make up).

    How does the Karlstad sofa hold up? We’re thinking of upgrading our oak futon and I’m attracted to the Karlstad but the boyfriend hates it!

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      I LOVE the Karlstad. Just make sure you put all the screws in tight when you’re assembling and it’s really solid, really comfortable, and the cushions all hold up really nicely (granted, I’ve only had mine less than a year! But I’ve only heard good things about how they age, and I think they have a 10 year warranty). I find it really comfortable, too… kind of firm so it maintains a nice clean shape, but definitely not hard. Tell your boyfriend to hop on the Karlstad bandwagon!

    • 1.11.11
      Beatrice said:

      I also vote the big blue-er chip on the bottom. My mom has a greenish bathroom, it does not only make you look sick. Just imagine yourself really really hung-over and looking in the mirror in the morning, the green walls reflecting on your skin. It makes you even sicker than you already are! NOT FUN! :)

      Also, the Karlstad, which I’m currently sitting on, is the new big love in my life besides the guy sitting next to me. He showed it to me and I hated it at first and then I saw the aluminum legs and I suddenly loved it. The standard wooden legs that come with it, not so much. It looks to much like IKEA. But the aluminum makes it classy! And it’s comfy.

      Speaking of IKEA, I always look up all things I want to get online, check the availability, make a shopping list and print it. The list tells me where everything is. I love it! this of course only works if you have internet in your new home :-)

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      Yes, the aluminum legs are the ONLY way to go, in my opinion. If you’re spending $500 anyway, you might as well throw in the extra $30 to make it look nice, right?

  16. 1.11.11
    buckwheat said:

    Hi. It looks like you have some great paint colors there, but i thought I’d share with you a few things I learned when painting my bathroom sea-foam green. See, what I though would be a delightful vintage-y green color turned out to be more like radioactive martian green. Of course I went back an re-did it, and what I found was that its best to use the LIGHTEST shade possible. Also, I recommend using one with more of a blueish tone because the green will reflect on to your skin when you look in the mirror and look super unflattering. Anyway, good luck!

  17. 1.11.11
    Laura said:

    Thank you for the update – the anticipation was starting to kill/annoy me. :)

    I put in another vote for the top middle paint colour – though I’m personally a fan of all white bathrooms and then adding colour with accessories. Pick a great shower curtain and the room could be made – Here is ours (couldn’t find on google image search): http://wrjnotthatbad.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/bathroom3_finalsm.jpg

  18. 1.11.11
    megan said:

    totally do VCT.

    i work as a commercial interior designer and yes, there are those issues the HD people mentioned – but only for high traffic commercial spaces.

    over a year ago i installed VCT in my basement. i never attempt any home project myself and this is about the only one i did. super easy and you definitely have more DIY experience than me. also, i like the look of unsealed VCT (more matte) vs. waxed/polished so i didn’t seal it. it’s been completely fine and we don’t treat it all that well.

    oh – one more thing. find a floor distributor that sells either Mannington VCT (my preference because the seams disappear more) or Armstrong VCT. you’ll have way more color selections than a big box retailer and VCT is so inexpensive and widely used, distributors always keep the stuff in stock.

    good luck!

  19. 1.11.11
    natalie said:

    I vote for house of vintage and vintage pink! they are full of amazing finds. Also, be sure to use the photo booth at house of vintage!!!! There is also this amazing waffle place don’t know the name off the top of my head, but it’s sooooo good!!! Also check out Chelsea over at Seablanket city guide http://seablanket.blogspot.com/2010/11/trendy-thursday-portland-oregon.html#links for Portland.

  20. 1.11.11
    Amanda said:

    I second what Megan said. I used Mannington VCT in my kitchen, and I love it.

    Another vintage store that I don’t think anyone mentioned is Village Merchants at 3360 SE Division St. It’s kinda hit or miss, but I’ve found some neat/well priced stuff there. :)

  21. 1.11.11

    I now know what VCT is! Thanks everybody! Though, I have to say that changing the floor of a rental kitchen might be risky, landlord-wise. Might you consider an easily removable indoor/outdoor rug as an option? Perhaps you could paint your own design on some flat floor covering that could give you the design you crave, without risking losing the deposit when it comes time to move. Whatever you guys decide, I’m definitely tuning in to see what’s next. Good luck, and feel better!

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      The photos make the floor look much better than it does in real life, if you can imagine. Fresh new VCT would be SUCH an improvement, and this really isn’t the kind of property where the landlord has put any time or effort into making things look nice (the walls were all painted and the carpet is new, but the sheet lino in the bathroom and kitchen are definitely older). I would replace it in a SECOND, but it’s not my apartment :-).

  22. 1.11.11
    Monica said:

    On the color choices, I know I always like to see what a color looks like when the whole room is painted – paint chips just don’t give me enough info, unfortunately. And the couple over at YoungHouseLove just painted their bedroom a really nice seafoam color here (scroll down to the final pic to get the best idea of what the color really looks like): http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/01/carolina-inn-club-aqua/

  23. 1.11.11
    Jenna said:

    Love your site. Stumbled upon and it’s become a daily stop.
    Design Sponge
    Apartment Therapy
    Manhattan Nest
    and Clients From Hell
    + news.
    Every day needs.

    That being said, I assume you’ve checked Design Sponge’s city guides?

    Can’t wait for finished results!

  24. 1.11.11

    Can I talk to you a little bit about that shower organizer?

    Okay, good, I’m going to.

    In a few (or maybe several) months, it’s going to acquire some rust. Chandler may ignore it, or she may try to clean it (this will prove fruitless, due to the inordinate amount of nooks and crannies). Either way, after a year or so, it will be rusted to all shit, and need to be replaced.

    If this concerns you and you can still return it, I’ve found that plastic versions of the same tool withstand rust far longer.

    If this concerns you and you can’t return it, this is your warning: now you have time to figure out a solution. When I tossed my old, I was going to try rustoleum on the new. But, I ended up with a plastic instead.

    I bet others have good input on this as well.

    • 1.11.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh my! Yeah, the box is long gone, so I think it’s Chandler’s now. Thanks for the head’s up, maybe we’ll spray paint it white in the next couple of days.

    • 1.12.11
      Amy said:

      Mine fell apart in less than a year. Is this the chrome one? I ended up splurging on a stainless one after that which was much pricier (I think around $70?), but it doesn’t rust, and it’s lasted about 4 years now! Mary is right about the plastic ones. I gave one to my parents that was a plastic-coated white, and they’ve had it for about 3 years, and it’s still going strong. I LOVE how much storage space it has!

  25. 1.11.11
    S@sha said:

    I can’t wait to see it as you get more furniture and smalls into the apartment. And I love that your mom always comments here. Totally cute.

  26. 1.12.11
    Matt said:

    Dang Daniel, just realized you were in my town. Hit me up if you need any advice or help!

    • 1.12.11
      Daniel said:

      I always need both! Um, tell me all your Portland secrets, please.

  27. 1.12.11
    Beclu said:

    I did VCT in my kitchen and bathroom and loved it. The maintenance was no biggie however installing it was a little messy, the glue is kind of hard to work with. Just make sure you do it right at first ie: the floor needs to be level, no lumps of old linoleum underneath etc… But the color and pattern possibilities are endless ENDLESS!!!! You could do a crazay color like orange! Or you could do some kind of pattern! It would be so awesome! Do it! !!!!!!

  28. 1.12.11

    I’m soooooo late to the party here, but tell Chandler VCT is where it’s at. It’ll withstand a nuclear war without needing to be resealed! (And I prefer the matte look, anyway.)

    Also, as others have said: NO GREEN IN THE BATHROOM. She will regret it.

  29. 2.10.11
    Molly said:

    Before moving across the country, I worked in an architecture firm that designed hospitals. VCT is the cheapest stuff you can buy at commercial grade, and that’s the reason that you find it in hospitals, not because it’s high quality. It isn’t. It off gasses toxic fumes (like anything made of vinyl, really), and it breaks. It really only has a life expectancy of a few years in a commercial setting before it starts to break, or the seams get gross, even with a good maintenance department. Of course, in a home, it won’t get the same level of traffic, so it will last longer if properly maintained. I did live in a house where the landlord had installed VCT because he was cheap, and it was gross. The gaps between the tile were thin like a knife edge, but they were there, and they trapped dirt. It got worse over time because it’s not dimensionally stable, unlike real linoleum or rubber. If you install VCT, you have to make sure you get a good tight install. Also, it is not enough to mop the floor. You really have to seal it regularly, and you have to make sure it was sealed right to begin with, so that nothing gets trapped in the seams.