A Colorful Portland Home Balances Modern Design & Victorian Charm

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Some of my favorite homes are those that merge modern pieces and plenty of color with century-old, timeless character — and both of these aesthetics are balanced perfectly in this 1898 Victorian beauty. Home to artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon, her wife Clay Lauren Walsh (who works in real estate), Wilfredo the chihuahua, and cats Margaret and Barry, this unique and personalized Portland, OR property has only been a year in the making.

After living in California, the couple decided to relocate to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to Lisa’s family, and they immediately began their house hunt. After losing out on what they thought was “the one,” Lisa happened upon this home in the Kerns neighborhood of Northeast Portland while on a run. “We immediately contacted our agent to get a viewing,” they explain. “When we walked in, we both fell in love — even though the walls were painted brown, there was brown carpet and outdated light fixtures and blinds everywhere!” Overshadowing the less-than-thrilling aesthetics, the pros — an abundance of natural light, an intuitive layout, and the fact that it was situated on a corner lot with beautiful, old growth outside — won them over, and the following week they made an offer. Just like that, the house became the pair’s little project, but despite the cheerful aesthetic the home boasts now, the process wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

“We have been working on renovating the house since we moved in,” Lisa shares, “but we still have a long way to go!” The couple started with the easy stuff — painting the walls, changing the carpet and swapping out the window coverings and light fixtures — but there are still items on the to-do list, such as their kitchen, which hasn’t been updated since the 80s. “There are all kinds of little quirks that we are learning to live with for now,” Lisa begins, “Home ownership is an exercise in patience!”

Through it all, in the short 12 months that they’ve lived here, Lisa and Clay have managed to create a perfect balance between their modern, Scandinavian style while paying homage to the home’s charm and character. The space is clean and organized yet also cozy and livable, filled with plenty of personal touches, making for an entertainer’s dream. Sabrina

Photography by Luke and Mallory Leasure

  1. JB says:

    What a beautiful, colorful home! I love the blue and white plate (and spoon) in the final picture – do you have a source? Thanks for sharing this tour!

  2. Gorgeous! Many congrats to Lisa and Clay on their beautiful home. I had to chuckle over the photo of the happy couple with all their fur kids. Wilfredo looked at little overwhelmed! He normally looks so relaxed when I see him on Lisa’s Instagram feed.

  3. Margot says:

    I love the pops of blue everywhere. It reminds me that I need to get more blue into my house.

  4. Jen says:

    I absolutely love this house although for a few minutes I was thinking Portland Maine and not Oregon. It would be an awesome before and after house to highlight

  5. LYNN says:

    Beautiful! I’d love to know where the blue patterned bedspread is from!

    1. Lisa says:

      Hi Lynn! It’s vintage. From a local vintage shop!

  6. Lexi says:

    This is such a great house… very personal and colorful and animal-ful. You might want to close the bathroom door for pix of your dining room – just a thought.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Holland VanDieren says:

    All my favorites! Mid century/Scandi mod, in an authentically old Victorian, in the Best Little City in the World, Portland.

    Fresh, charming, livable, drool-worthy.

  8. phillylass says:

    Love this house! And I second the request for info on the blue bedspread. Also, how does one go about powder coating a nightstand? Is it a diy project, or do professionals need to handle it?

    1. Lisa says:

      Hi there! The bedspread is from a vintage shop. As for the powder coating, we found a local powder coating shop and took it there. It’s definitely a job for a professional! :)
      Lisa

  9. Annie says:

    The pipe and the tiny stash box crack me up.

    1. Jessica says:

      Haha, I think that’s just a ceramic spoon! But I could be wrong ;)

  10. Such a lovely space Lisa + Clay – I love the clever uses of your wallpaper designs!

  11. Lee says:

    Cute home, but I’m getting pretty tired of homes being declared colorful with room after room of white walls. This home is sweet, it’s got character, but it’s not colorful.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Lee

      I understand your point, although I don’t think paint color is the only thing that can qualify a home as colorful. Lisa and Clay’s home is full of pattern, artwork and textiles that have bold bright colors (as well as a peacock blue wall, so I think that’s what we were referencing here. That said, I’ll make sure we’re extra careful about “color” and how we use the word.

      Grace

  12. Melissa Miller says:

    I have to agree with the last commentator. This house is BEAUTIFUL but to those who are passionate about lots of color our heart skips a beat at the title and is a bit let down by the lack of color within. This happens often on design blogs as of late. That said, this house is JUST BEAUTIFUL. I love the bedspread in the master.

  13. Michelle says:

    Absolutely beautiful and exactly the way I like to see color and pattern used in a home. I have white walls too and it’s the best design decision we ever made! I like to look at photos of spaces with super-colorful painted walls and decor but couldn’t live with it everyday (been there). I love how they left natural wood here and there. It adds a lot of warmth. And of course Lisa’s artwork and wallpaper is to swoon over!

  14. Karen says:

    Love this space! I can imagine how all that light is so cheery on your darker days.
    Is there any way to find a source for Lisa’s wallpaper designs? I loved each one showcased here in their home.

  15. Jen says:

    May I ask where are the Roman shades are
    from and what fabric are they? Love the bright and cheery character of this home.

  16. Great article and great website!

  17. D says:

    Gorgeous house. Lisa and Clay, do you mind sharing what color white the walls are painted? I have a house in Portland and am trying to find a white that doesn’t skew yellow, but also won’t look gray/blue on drizzly days!

  18. Jeannine says:

    I really appreciate the aesthetic of this lovely home. I’m curious about the Danish stools in the kitchen nook. Are they vintage or new? Where did you find them?

  19. Mary says:

    love this home! I’m planning a plate wall of my own and am wondering what hanging method is used here. Thanks!

  20. Lauren says:

    Hi There! I just listened to the two of you on Being Boss–How funny to come across this post right afterward! Beautiful space! Thanks for sharing :)

  21. Robyn Webb says:

    Post an update when you do the kitchen someday. I am sure it will be as lovely as the rest of your place.

  22. Jessica says:

    Lovely house! May I inquire where the side table in picture three (in front of the bay windows) is from? Thank you.

  23. Emily says:

    Beautiful home! Would love to know what color of paint was used on the blue wall? Thanks!

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