There’s a 100-moreover-12 months-old Chickering & Sons upright piano in the residing room of Mike and Robin Clark’s residence. It belonged to Robin’s grandmother, and she learned to engage in it herself. Sitting on top of it is a Liz Phair album. The CD cover is signed, in reference to Robin, “To Mike, Maintain Her Contented —Liz Phair.”
Robin, a designer, shocked Mike with both of those 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 perfectly as an accountant. When he’d been away, Robin experienced satisfied Phair when she opened for the Flaming Lips on the band’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tour at the Crystal Ballroom. That’s also exactly where Mike and Robin were married in 2002, almost a ten years right after they each graduated from Reed Faculty.
Sure, Mike and Robin are serious about new music.
The piano is now, without the need of a question, the oldest-searching matter in their 1899 North Portland bungalow, wherever they’ve lived for virtually 20 decades. Their residence is an amalgam of tinted plexiglass, shiny black tile, some metallic paint, and a healthier dose of glam-rock-to-pop style functions that conjure up some of the coolest boutique hotels on the planet. Contemporary artwork and design and style infuse just about every very last element.
It wasn’t usually this way. In the 1980s, the home underwent a funky transform that resulted in factors like an awkwardly built toilet and a decommissioned wooden stove chimney and fire chimney, encased ground-to-ceiling in a 6-foot sq. of brick, smack-dab in the center of the initially flooring. The latter produced everything truly feel compartmentalized and cramped. And so, they labored about these and other style and design flaws—assembling low-priced Ikea and Fred Meyer shelving that overstayed its welcome, throwing on a further layer of paint—and believed, “One day, we’ll make it proper.”
In 2007, Robin was identified with ovarian cancer. For a number of months, though going through intensive rounds of chemotherapy, she invested a good total of time at dwelling in a healthcare facility bed. By 2009, she experienced beaten the most cancers, and acquired a certain clarity close to her residence and lifestyle: “I genuinely experienced time to glimpse all-around and think, ‘Who lives in this article? What am I carrying out listed here? This could be so significantly much better.’”
That around-death knowledge propelled the eventual transform, which fully acquired underway in 2015 when they finally had the funds to do it. At that position, the household also experienced ample serious routine maintenance issues that they made a decision they desired to both provide it and go or majorly renovate. They chose the latter, and they’re so happy they did.
Over the course of four decades, Robin designed, Steve Ewoldt of Artifekt Architecture drew up, and contractor Todd Larios absolutely gutted and rebuilt everything—adding an upstairs lavatory and very first-floor addition of about 250 sq. ft to the home. As much as the total layout principle, “I arrived 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 kind of blingy, but it’s also pleasurable and funny, long term current, and moody and grown.”
Where by Robin’s clinic mattress at the time sat is now the complete-of-shine kitchen area with luxe black penny-tile and sparkly gold grout, and a custom made “soul love” mosaic Robin dreamed up and established. Over and above that is a vast-open up space, total of contrasting shade, spliced with a zigzagging carpet custom made-cut by Flor and placed by Robin.
The beating heart of the residence is the cell DJ station with vibration-proof casters. Mike wanted Beck’s “two turntables and a microphone,” so Robin designed it for him. Modular wall-mounted record cubbies line the walls (for their nearly 3,000 documents), demonstrating off some of their beloved album art. Two other placing layout elements incorporate a sculptural, place age-wanting, tweed grey Tufty Time sofa by designer Patricia Urquiola, and a bigger-than-lifestyle wall mural of David Bowie posing in that iconic, vertical-stripe Freddie Burretti suit. And which is just the initially ground. Upstairs is their super chill, seafoam palette, skylit, chrome-beaded-curtained bed room and what they refer to as their “disco powder room” with its mirrored-tile ceiling.
When pre-2020 Robin and Mike lived for live reveals and tunes in interesting golf equipment in Portland and all-around the planet, they did not go out every evening. Robin was established, “Let’s make our household the desired destination we want to go to.” And so they did, with unthinkable foresight. All through the previous yr-additionally, though numerous of us have felt the very authentic boundaries of our homes, stretched to potential as we get the job done from dwelling, university from property, do just about anything at home—Mike and Robin have had an even further appreciation of their North Gay Avenue digs.
According to Mike, “Since we cannot go any place, it is like, ‘Let’s get an espresso at the Homosexual Avenue Espresso House. Let us see a movie at the Homosexual Avenue Cinemas.’” 1 of their beloved at-house venues has been the Gay Avenue Dance Club. Mike regularly grabs a pair dozen information from their collection and spins dance music until the wee hrs. The sound technique is both equally analog and electronic many thanks to a Sonos + Ikea collaboration known as Symfonisk.
They’ve also been often streaming DJs from about the world and pumping that audio all through the house’s 10-in addition speakers. Audio essentially follows you upstairs as it generally does in resorts. They’ve tapped into some of their preferred dwell sets all through the pandemic by using United We Stream, which introduced as a COVID-times fundraising campaign for Berlin clubs and is now a world wide system. They’ve also actually liked looking at and listening to Beck’s 2019 Hyperspace album paired with NASA visuals.
These days the Clarks can pretend they’re checking out the DJ from a audio fest catering tent or an Airbnb in Europe. “We’ll be like, ‘Maybe we really should get yet another evening at this location? Can we get a late test-out?’” states Robin. “We critically communicate like that. It’s a actually great suspension of actuality.”
Like a lot of of us, Mike and Robin have been doing the job from dwelling through the pandemic. They typically stream Seattle’s indie, listener-supported station KEXP throughout the 7 days. When a notably great song comes by, like “Music Makes Me High” by the Avalanches or “Free” by Sault, they’ll quit when a person of them suggests, “Meet you on the dance ground!” And then they do just that—take a speedy dance break.
It is testomony to the toughness of their romance that Mike and Robin lived in the household in the course of the whole remodel, a venture they experienced to push pause on several times because of to insufficient money. They’ll be the initial to explain to you that it was not all sunshine and roses, and that chaos tiredness is authentic when it comes to a significant remodel. A long time expended living lifetime in just zipper partitions, with all sorts of random holes in the couple of partitions still standing, continuous dust raining down, tools strewn about in all places, and dwelling out of individuals five bins not in storage is taxing, to put it evenly.
One particular early-on structure boon that softened some of those people sanity-degrading edges was their finish disregard for resale price. “People would say, ‘You require to set a railing listed here,’ and I would say, ‘No, I never,’” suggests Robin. “There are no canine, no kids. Why shouldn’t we have an whole home which is only for tunes, that has no furniture, that’s just for dancing?”
When asked if either has any regrets right after their painstakingly prolonged 3-yr property renovation, the solution is a resounding no. “It is tough to stay in the moment when you’ve blown up your property for a foreseeable future oasis that pretty much no person can see,” claims Robin. “But worthy items just take time, patience, and relentless Scorpio-growing electricity which I have. Further than that, it’s all about embracing transform.”
Come across more aspects at hellorobinclark.com, where Robin blogged the overall home renovation process from commence to finish.