Escutcheon! Gesundheit.


I didn’t even know what an escutcheon was until we bought our house and discovered this place. After every visit we always say we aren’t going to come back again next weekend. We argue with ourselves that we already HAVE enough projects, and the last thing we need are more random retro items taking up space in our garage. But then Saturday arrives, and we hear the siren song of the ReBuilding Center calling us back to NE Portland.

For those who have not yet experienced the reclaimed majesty of this place, it’s basically just like IKEA–cheap, enormous, and full of things you never even knew you needed. Except instead of overworked employees and poorly constructed furniture with ridiculous, unpronounceable names, it’s every type of architectural salvage item you could ever dream up for your home, friendly volunteer staff, and products made out of actual wood and metal. You know, like they’re supposed to be. Oh, and if you see something you really like then you sure as hell better walk out with it because you’ll likely NEVER. SEE IT. AGAIN. This is exactly what draws us back week after week.

Disneyland of Retro Design

The ReBuilding Center is divided into 3 warehouses, all packed to the gills with an insane variety of items that have been discarded by those who’ve failed to see value in the craftsmanship of a bygone era, and have traded their parquet for Pergo, their laminate for granite, and their plywood for particle board. This place is like the Disneyland of retro-design for people like us who want to make their homes truly unique and stray outside of the Pottery Barn catalog.  Looking for some 1950’s bowling alley lanes to use as the flooring in your basement game room? How about a vinyl tufted Chinese restaurant booth for your kitchen breakfast bar? Or maybe a minty-green 1960’s Crane Criterion sink (the Cadillac of sinks!) with brushed aluminum and lucite legs? Yeah. That’s the one we needed too. And it’s now gracing our half-bath underneath a wall of old Hollywood movie star autographed photos. I believe Fred Astaire approves of our choice.

But it’s not just about the old growth wood beams, the swag lamps, or the miles of kitchen cabinets from every decade you can think of (with the crazy-colorful contact paper still inside!). It’s about the carefully crafted details that most people no longer appreciate or pay attention to. These are the small, subtle design features that made ordinary houses truly come alive and are reflective of eras that focused on individual style expression through ornamentation. And let me tell ya, you just won’t get that at Home Depot.

Dig All Those Decades, Man

The ReBuilding Center is permeated with style from so many eras that it’s truly is a different walk through design history every time we visit (also see: those swell escutcheons!). It’s practically a museum of exquisite ornamental design from multiple decades with a rapidly changing inventory. The promise of viewing something truly unique is a promise The ReBuilding Center always keeps. They say that the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, and boy, oh boy, are the parts in the ReBuilding Center hella-good.

2 thoughts on “Escutcheon! Gesundheit.

  1. Just want to quickly add that the Rebuilding Center is a 501(c)3 non profit and an incredible agent of change for Portland, helping to foster a healthier society and environment, and helping our community by offering resources such as valuable work experience, community building tool packets, and educational services. After operating costs 100% goes back into the community.


  2. Pingback: Once, Twice, Three Times for Lighting | Roberts Retro Ranch

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