Old House Journal
Authentic Without Compromise
After 14 years designing appropriate kitchens for old-house owners, Karla Pearlstein gets around to doing her own.
A wonderful Victorian kitchen and pantries fit the 1861 house.
Restorers in the Pacific Northwest know about Karla Pearlstein, a design consultant who’s a stickler for authenticity when it comes to kitchens for historic homes. Well, she finally got around to re-creating a kitchen for her own much-remodeled 1861 house in Portland, Oregon. (The 1960s kitchen she inherited was, oddly enough, situated in the front parlor.) The space she created—a main cooking room flanked by two pantries—admirably functions as a modern kitchen. Yet it presents no anachronism in the beautifully restored house. Authentic wainscoting and cabinets, antique pieces, a refurbished stove, and gaslight-era lighting fixtures look as though they survived from the 19th century.
The Italianate house is on the small side, yet it’s elegant and comes with a history, being associated with the fifth Governor of the Oregon Territory (1854–59), George Law Curry, and his wife, Chloe Boone, great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone. The house has weathered countless storms in the name of progress, and was moved twice before arriving on its current site in 1964, after the City condemned it to make way for a freeway. Karla Pearlstein and her family came upon the house in 2000.
“It had been so remuddled inside, I didn’t even want it,” Karla says. “But my husband, Aaron, wanted to live in the Hillsdale area, and I wanted an old house. So we bought it understanding that we were in for an extended restoration and renovation.”