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sneak peek: r. rolfe + stephen rutledge

by Amy Azzarito


Rolfe and Stephen have lived in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood for 15 years. They’ve christened their home “Post Apocalyptic Bohemia,” referring to their penchant for modern living surrounded by age and patina — they love crumbling objects and the more rust, the better. Their home has been almost completely rebuilt using found, salvaged and repurposed materials. Rolfe started his professional career as an interior designer in the theater. The world of sets, lighting and costumes was the perfect training ground for developing a theatrical style of decorating. Rolfe says that nothing was quite as satisfying as the curtain rising on opening night and hearing a collective sigh or gasp from the audience at the sight of the set. He strives to create that same feeling at home. This home is shared with three four-legged companions: the terriers, Lulu and Junior, and an ancient feline named Henry. In addition to his design work, Rolfe runs Boys’ Fort, a shop that celebrates all things boy-centric. Thanks, Rolfe and Stephen! (All images by Jaclyn Campanaro.) — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Serious stacks of books are everywhere. A nineteenth-century carved Indonesian wall piece with velvet-upholstered inserts is used as a headboard; it’s the most color in the entire house.


Image above: A pair of eighteenth-century Italian fruitwood chairs serve as nightstands. I’m a sucker for a great chair.

See more of Rolfe and Stephen’s Portland home after the jump . . .


Image above: Random-width planks of whitewashed hemlock line the wall, with corresponding lines painted on the adjacent wall. I purchased this 18th-century sofa 40 years ago in Belgium. The frame is carved with flowers and seashells. It stands on a hand-knotted rug from Afghanistan. Above the sofa we showcase our collection of shadow-boxed photos from the 1930s of men being affectionate.


Image above: Stephen’s workspace


Image above: My workspace with one of my collage/assemblages


Image above: The living room. Next to the sofa is our chimney pipe side table with rusted trivet top. Vintage garbage can as tree planter. Enormous reclaimed shutters, leaning in panels against windows. Behind the sofa are stacks of reclaimed doors and windows.


Image above: Living room detail — old wire basket with wooden tool chest atop as an end table

Image above: The fireplace is partially silverleafed but intentionally left unfinished. Our mantel is where sacred things go to live. Mirror on mirror on mirror (a favorite look). Reflection in mirror of our art pottery collection across the room.


Image above: The door to the bathroom


Image above: A reclaimed vintage sink in the bathroom, which is also the resting place for our collection of antique porcelain toothpaste containers, ephemera, etc. (Justin Bieber singing toothbrush!)


Image above: We use an industrial tool chest as storage/pantry. Above the counter is some of the art pottery collection that fills the house.


Image above: Garden room on the way to the boys’ fort at the end of the boardwalk. (The boys’ fort is the best part of the house, built completely from old doors, windows, shutters, cast offs, etc. We live exclusively in this space from July 4th to September 1st, or as we call it, summer in Portland.)


Image above: Bell wheel from an old British church tower, Indonesian daybed, treasured red door


Image above: One of a pair of upholstered daybeds on either side of a floor-to-ceiling window onto the garden. We read, eat and watch television on these. Now it holds a napping Lulu. Behind the daybed is a Belgian carved wall piece — the shutters would slide to either side, and you would crawl into your sleeping berth built into the wall, circa 1800.

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Comments

  • I love this place! The headboard is amazing and I love how personal and collected the whole house is, with all kinds of treasures on display everywhere-especially the stacked books and workspace. I really like that workspace!!

    Love that it’s here in Portland too!

  • I absolutely adore Boys’ Fort! I visited their downtown pop-up location last Fall many times, and was so delighted by all the clever vignettes and stylish curiosities. The home tour definitely does not disappoint. Thanks for the tour!

  • What a great home. I have lived in Portland for just a little over a year now and I am constantly inspired by the eclecticism in this city.

  • this is so inspiring! I tend to be a bit collective, so I’ve worried about my home being a bit cluttered, but really it’s all about organization and the placement of those things!

  • Whenever I see this beautiful houses full of stuff and marvelous objects I wonder ¿how do they do to clean, dust off?

  • What a creative, personal home! And it looks like it’s designed to be lived in – not to be a page or two in a magazine.

  • I just love this home. What an inspiration. I lingered on the images. I wanted to savor them.

  • One of THE best interiors I’ve seen EVER! So many wonderful ideas, it’s difficult to name just one! I am truly inspired to let the ME in me sing. Thanks!

  • There is nothing I don’t love about this entire space. It is warm, welcoming, interesting, eclectic–everything I LOVE! Well done!

  • This home is gorgeous and perfect and I can’t imaging living in a better place. Why, when I try to put used things like crates and wire baskets in my home, does it just look like junk? In this home it all looks beautiful! I ditto every admiring comment above!

    May we please please see the boy’s fort?

  • thanks so much for featuring this home. i love all your posts, but was worried that modern danish all white rooms were becoming the norm. i enjoy seeing homes that do not have the same room and board furnishings and would especially like to see more like this, and even others with lots of color and personality. thanks.

  • Absolutely love the jumbles of books, old wood, rust and Persian carpets…..this place is warm, and enchanting. Marvelous!!!

    I do love that they’ve left all the patina in its Glory…why don’t more folks just leave the decayed beauty like this? It is what gives personality.

    And….a FORT too?? I’ve died and gone to heaven…..

    Awesome peek ~ Heidi

  • So glad to hear I’m not the only one whose fave home activity is moving things from room to room. Your spaces as so delightfully creative! Very refreshing.

  • It takes real genius to arrange “junk” to perfection. Obviously from the number of positive comments, I’m not the only one who recognizes genius when they see it.

  • wait, don’t go, this can’t be over. I need a floor plan, a short video, an interview with the creators, to understand what and where the boardwalk is and what the boys fort looks like. crazy about this place. why have we not seen it in magazines or blogs…more please.

  • Lord have Mercy! Literally draw dropping gorgeousness! I wish I lived there. So creative and inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

  • I love the collected-cozy-effortless feel I get from viewing this house. I would enjoy spending some time there.

  • Lisa – it’s in Portland, OR.
    Susan and Heidi – Boys Fort is a store, not an actual fort at their house (alas, because I’m sure that would be amazing!).
    But you can follow the link in the story to the store website.
    Love this example of Portland style. Thanks for sharing!

  • This collection is amazing! the industrial pieces so very well highlight the softness and magic of the house.

  • So obviously well loved and well lived in,a triumph. Masterful use of shape,color,texture,form and wit. (& my prosaic side would love to know where you found that just tufted enough tightback sofa)

  • What an amazing home, but I imagine it would be a nightmare to clean! I love the stacks of books and mix of textures and colours everywhere. The home is like a collage itself!

  • Quelle Joie ! Belge, d’accord ! Mais, je vois que d’autres Personnes vivent “comme moi” dans un “somptueux” (pour vous) capharnaüm, où, nous nous sentons si bien. Et, de plus, “nos trésors” de vieux objets “détournés” . Ici “Tuyau alu” de dessus de vieux poêle (chauffage), avec dessus “coudé” est devenu une “Lampe” (ampoule ‘miroir’) On dirait 1 “Périscope” ! Le ‘divan-lit’ ! on y fait tout et, le chat, ici, m’accompagne! La Récupération des portes et fenêtres … Et, mon coup de coeur …le(s) “mètre-ruban” de Maître–TT —–

  • …(coupée ! sorry)Dans le Bureau, Mètre ruban de Maître Tailleur / Styliste comme feu mon Papa. Aussi, en ai-je, chez moi aussi ! Merci pour ce merveilleux “Accueil” chez vous ! Vi from Belgium

  • love this design!!!

    a very random question – any idea where to find that bedding? I absolutely love it and am way over do for an upgrade!

  • Well, this was fun to read! I see the story is from 5 years ago, so I hope my comment gets seen by Stephen Rutledge and R. Rolfe.

    Back in 2000 my sister gave me the Better Homes and Gardens Book, Flea Market Decorating. I pulled it out to look at the other day, and really loved pages 70-77 of a 2-room house in Seattle, and all the creative ideas used to decorate it. I especially liked the way a green bowl collection was displayed, as I used to collect yelloware. I also found it interesting that the residents used a 17th century Flemish Panel to frame a mirror, and hung the panel’s shutters inside a window frame. Very clever. Of course you’ve figured out by now that the subjects of this 2012 article and my Y2K book are the same designing men.

    I live in Beaverton, Oregon, in a 1970 house which I’ve convinced my husband we should decorate “in the spirit of 1968”. It’s fun having that loose framework to guide me when I’m shopping at thrift stores, and the Portland area has lots of fun thrift stores! Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this article about their Portland digs. I think it’s cool that they still have their favorite pieces and collections (well–of course they do) and have found new ways to display them or incorporate them into the architecture of the place featured in this article.

    BTW–I also love books–have zillions of them, and have stacked them on chairs in lieu of having nightstands. I may just get to use this feature article to defend that decision someday.

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