Caring for what’s under your roof

Caring for what’s under your roof

Summer is the perfect time to give your home some additional TLC.

Safety First

Before you start a home remodeling, demolition or construction project, learn how to avoid toxic materials and handle potential dangers you might encounter, such as asbestos or lead paint.

Before a home project, test for asbestos. Metro transfer stations require documentation for all loads of construction, remodeling and demolition debris that might contain asbestos.

Seasonal Maintenance

Taking good care of your home can prevent big problems and save a lot of money in the long run. Tasks like cleaning out your gutters and repairing exposed wood quickly help your home last as long as possible.

When you need to replace materials, consider reclaimed or salvaged. They provide unique character, and often are stronger, more durable and higher quality — and may be less expensive than new materials.

Local Resources

Find these local resources and more on the Resourceful PDX map to help you improve and maintain your home:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • MetroPaint
  • The ReBuilding Center
  • Green Lents Community Tool Library
  • North Portland Tool Library
  • Northeast Portland Tool Library
  • Southeast Portland Tool Library

Resourceful PDX is your go-to for community resources.

VIDEO: Resourceful PDX offers tools and tips for reducing waste

VIDEO: Resourceful PDX offers tools and tips for reducing waste

All year-round, swap events, repair cafes, neighborhood tool libraries and countless other free or low-cost resources help people find items they need and avoid unnecessarily buying something new at the store.

Check out our new video showcasing many of these resources around Portland! 

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

Change it up

One of the simplest ways to transform a room is to change the color with paint. Color can make a room appear larger or smaller, peaceful or energizing, brighter or softer.

The lighter the color, the larger the room appears. Darker colors make a room feel smaller and more cozy. For a calming effect, try shades of blue, green and cool grey. For the opposite effect, try warmer colors – red, yellow, orange and warm grey.

Every paint manufacturer sells a no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) selection. I recommend this to all my clients, to protect the air quality in your home. Paints that have VOC’s continue to off-gas for weeks as they cure, even after they have dried. For anyone with allergies or lung conditions, this is especially critical to minimize breathing toxic fumes.

My favorite local brand is Colorhouse paint, founded by two artists who supported themselves by painting interiors. They made the decision to create a brand that would be safe for them to work with since they were getting sick from breathing the fumes of other paint.

Move it around

Another way to make a simple update is to rearrange your space. You can move items from one room to another. Or simply reconfigure what is already in the room. Add fresh elements like different pillows, throws and artwork. Be creative and think beyond what you might consider conventional. Experiment and have fun!

In these before and after photos, the owner of this craftsman home in Southeast Portland contacted us to help create a cohesive and functional expression of herself from the charming eclectic collection of items she owned. This included a pair of chairs she had recently inherited from her father and wanted to integrate into her home.

Some simple adjustments were made and many of her items rearranged. The bookshelves were removed from the dining area and the photos and collectibles reorganized and simplified in the built-in shelving. We made updates with the wall colors to create a more cohesive division of the rooms, as well as to open and lighten the space.

And her father’s chairs – they were reupholstered with Makelike textiles, a local design firm specializing in wallpaper, fabrics and graphics.

The house has beautiful hardwood floors, and to add some depth and warmth we ordered FLOR carpet tiles to create a custom designed area rug for the dining room. FLOR carpet tiles are made with recycled materials; tiles can be cleaned individually, and when damaged beyond repair, can be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled.

Additionally, new drapes for the windows added finishing touches.

It is clear that with a little change in paint and some creative rearrangements, you can create a dramatic change for little to no expense.

Check tips from Lynn about maximizing space for efficiency from a previous blog post.

ReClaim It! offers treasures rescued for creative reuse

ReClaim It! offers treasures rescued for creative reuse

What marries reuse and repair with creativity and a whole bunch of volunteers? ReClaim It! The nonprofit arts and reuse retail store salvages materials from the "dump" for artists, neighbors and Do-It-Yourselfers. 

The goal of ReClaim It! is to reduce the number of items that end their journey at the landfill while raising awareness about creative reuse. They do this in partnership with Recology, a resource recovery company, and the Metro Central Transfer Station, where they gather perfectly good materials like wood, metal and vintage items.

According to Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Caldwell, “ReClaim It! relies on our capable volunteers from the community to prepare found items for reuse, repair and reimagination. We glean roughly 2,000 pounds of materials every week.”

Volunteers are trained to collect items that can be reused in the home and garden or for creative purposes. With a goal of going through one ton of materials every week and the store open five days a week, ReClaim It! has plenty of activities where community support is welcome.

Tasks include:

·         Gleaning items from the waste transfer station

·         Making price tags and in-shop signage

·         Participating in social media outreach

·         Repairing found items

·         Brainstorming project ideas with customers

·         Cashiering in the shop

·         Cleaning newly gleaned items

·         Creating engaging in-shop displays

Many of the items recovered from the transfer station only need a little T.L.C. to reenter the home or garden. Volunteers clean and repair items in the store in an effort to save those pieces for future use.

Their customers are often residents who live in the neighborhood, with many who are DIYers.

ReClaim It! is a project of Crackedpots, a volunteer-driven nonprofit devoted to waste reduction in our community. Volunteers get started with a one-hour orientation and have flexible schedule options in a fun and creative environment. Contact Kelly at 503-432-7712 or to learn more.

Find ReClaim It! under Resale Shop on the Resourceful PDX map. The store is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Or come check it out during one of the monthly Walk Williams events.

Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

By guest blogger Kathy Peterman, Simple Up

With the help of popular books, like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, people are ready to tackle clutter. However, we know a book won’t necessarily help you get started.

Here are my top tips for getting started with decluttering your space. You can do this as part of spring cleaning or anytime of the year, with the 15-minute "clearing clutter" workout.

1.       Start small. Begin by clearing two small surfaces within your home. That might be your bathroom counter, your nightstand, the top of a bookshelf or your kitchen table. It can be any surface.

Take everything off that surface, wipe it down, then go through the items to determine if you have any of the following:

·         duplicates (if so, pick your favorite)

·         items that belong elsewhere and could be put away

·         items you are not using

·         recycling or garbage

Do what you can to reduce the items you put back on the surface. Three is the ideal number, but less is good, no matter what the number is. You can box up items to try it with less if you’re not ready to let go of these things…yet!

2.       Get support. Many people need some support to get going. That can vary from having a friend or family member whom you can share your goals with, to an online group or hiring a professional organizer. Even just speaking or writing down your goals is one way to get more clear and committed. When we share this with someone else, it helps make it more real. It’s ideal if that person is willing to declutter too and you can report back to each other.

3.       Figure out your why. Why do you want to declutter your space? It is to help you find things? To reduce the amount of time it takes to clean? To clear space in preparation for downsizing? To feel more calm and less chaos?

It’s helpful to actually write out your why and post it somewhere you can see it as a reminder, especially when you need a boost. Be sure to share the why with your support person too.

4.       Put it on your calendar. Decluttering is that thing we think of doing, but rarely schedule. By putting it on your calendar and telling your support person when you’ll be doing it, you have a clear plan to follow. Set a timer for 15 minutes and commit to decluttering until it pings. Even if you declutter for just 15 minutes, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

Once you’ve gotten started, you may be ready to move onto other categories like Marie Kondo describes in her book – clothes, books, papers and more. Don’t be afraid to break these into smaller sub-categories that you work through on separate days for 15-30 minutes, such as jackets, shirts and shoes.

Set that timer and start decluttering!

Community Warehouse shares your used goods with neighbors in need

Community Warehouse shares your used goods with neighbors in need

Here’s a typical morning routine: You wake up to an alarm clock, in a bed made with sheets and pillows; take a shower and dry off with a towel; make coffee with a machine and toast bread in a toaster. Perhaps the items themselves – alarm clock, bed, towel, coffee maker, toaster – are taken for granted because they are at our fingertips and in our everyday lives.

According to Rena Satre Meloy, Communications Director for Community Warehouse, the silent role our stuff plays is what makes her organization such a deeply important resource for our neighbors in need.

Community Warehouse, your local nonprofit furniture bank, serves clients from all walks of life. They work with 200 partner agencies that help others find secure housing – veterans, people coming out of homelessness, public school families and those in crisis situations.

They make the most of items you no longer need or want and keep resources circulating in the community. They see themselves as a conduit between neighbors - to help each other and to provide a smarter way to redistribute existing goods directly to others locally.

Resourceful PDX sees reuse at the core of what they do. A system that is closed loop because goods go to someone else who needs them and provides a meaningful interaction for those involved, while also keeping material on a local scale to lessen transportation and disposal costs.

Community Warehouse has two locations: Northeast Portland and Tualatin. Items that are needed the most include linens, kitchen and household goods and furniture, especially stuff like pots and pans, toasters, dressers and twin beds. Gently used mattresses without big stains or tears are also welcome.

What about those treasures you no longer treasure? The ones you may have inherited or no longer serve the purpose they once did? Estate Store at Community Warehouse offers collectibles and antiques for purchase to help further furnish homes for local families and will gladly accept your donations.

We had been struggling for a while to convince our mother to let go of her long-accumulated furniture and belongings. The idea of giving mom’s furniture to Community Warehouse, where it could do such good for local families, was really helpful for her in the letting go process.
— Anonymous Furniture Donor

Watch this 30-second time lapse video to see the volume of goods going in and out of Community Warehouse.

Find Community Warehouse under Resale Shop on the Resourceful PDX map.

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

When setting up a small space, the best way to make the most of it is to consider all the surfaces for storage and function. Walls for shelving, under furniture for storage, and even the ceiling for hanging dividers.

Finding furniture that transforms from one function to another saves space. A simple example is an ottoman that is hollow, and the cushion flips to become a tray. Murphy beds are popular, as well as couches that convert to a bed. In a kid’s room, you can paint the bottom surface of a murphy bed with chalk board paint so they can use it to get creative when the bed is stored.

Plan ahead and look at the entire picture to help you save time and additional expense. Consider color, not only for mood, but to divide the room into its functions, or make it feel larger than it is. Lighter colors make a space feel larger, darker colors make it feel more cozy. Use materials, patterns and lighting to add variety and visual cues.

Here’s an example from a client who shared a room in a house with other people.

He used his bedroom for an office as well and needed to figure out the best way to divide the space. The solution was to hang dividers from the ceiling so he could block out his work area when resting, and could open them to allow for more light when he was working.

We had him hang shelving for his printers and books, add wall hooks to store his bags and guitar, and use a small space-saving desk that attached to the wall.

Want more inspiration? A favorite resource is In the search field type in “small spaces” or “efficient use of space” to get endless ideas for storage solutions.


Five ways to create more space in your home

Five ways to create more space in your home

By guest blogger Casey Hazlett, Sustainably Organized, Inc.

Are you looking for more space to provide storage and organization in your home this year?

Look no further than these five places to refresh your space and repurpose what you already have to fit your family.

1.       Guest bedroom

If a guest bedroom has turned into the catch-all space in your home, consider how to flex the space so it works for you when you need it. Maybe turning the space into a playroom or office space that can shift to a guest room when the occasion arises.

Create more room by getting a murphy bed with a quality mattress to free up floor space. If you need art space for the kids, paint the bottom of the murphy bed with chalkboard paint so they can be creative when the bed is not in use.

2.       Attic or basement

Think about what you need to store and avoid piling just anything in these spaces. Store items that you only need a few times a year, like holiday décor or clothes for your kids when they grow into them. Line the perimeter of the room with shelves with storage bins, keeping the middle open for easy access. Only buy new bins – or reuse something you already have – once you know what’s going to go in them and where are they going to be stored. Don’t forget to label at least two sides of each bin so you can know what’s inside even if the bin gets turned sideways.

3.       Doors

Take advantage of the space behind doors for extra storage by using an over-the-door hanging organizer. Is it the door to the bathroom? Use it for overflow or rarely used toiletries and keep only what you use every day in the bathroom cabinets. Is it the door for the coat closet? Use it for mittens, hats and everything you need to keep warm during the winter months and get out the door faster with less stress in the mornings.

4.       Office

Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

If your New Year’s resolution includes organizing your home office, take the time to set up the desk to be ergonomically comfortable. Now may be the time to try a standing desk. If your monitor or laptop needs to be higher to get it at eye level, repurpose something you already own, like a box or drawer, to set your laptop or monitor on. Use the bin or drawer for additional office supply storage.

5.       Vertical space

Look for unused vertical space in every room. Do you have space to install shelves to create more storage and help you stay organized? Think about space above the toilet or to the sides of the sink in the bathroom. These are great for often used bathroom supplies. Do you have a partial empty wall in the living room? Use it as a place to set up a household command station.


Top 10 waste-free gift ideas create more memories

Top 10 waste-free gift ideas create more memories

The holidays provide moments for meaningful gift ideas that show love and appreciation for those in your life - and ways to create more memories instead of more stuff.

Alicia Polacok from Resourceful PDX partner, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, shared examples from this Top 10 Waste-Free Gifts on the KATU Afternoon Live TV show. She also told viewers about the Portland Winter Curbsider, in mailboxes now and full of more good ideas and holiday related information. 



1. Classes or lessons

2. Activities or adventures together

3. Virtual downloads (music, movies, games)


4. Memberships or tickets

5. Get-away experiences (babysitter, restaurant, hotel)


6. Service-oriented businesses (house cleaning, organizer)

7.  Gift cards for pampering (massage, nails)

8. Your time! (helping with home project or teaching a skill)

9. Local handmade gifts (crafts, food, drinks)

10. Vintage or secondhand finds

Find more ideas to create memories in your life in our resourceful #holiday series. 

Need even more ideas? The Center for a New American Dream has you covered. Check out the many ways to Simplify the Holidays with the More Fun Less Stuff Catalog and this year’s calendar to get six weeks of daily inspirations and practical tips for simplifying your holiday season.

Alternative gift ideas for kids bring more joy (and less stuff!)

Alternative gift ideas for kids bring more joy (and less stuff!)

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a gift that fits just right, especially for kids, check out these fresh ideas for something that’s one-of-a-kind and maybe even enjoy it together this holiday season!

Families with kids may like a membership to the zoo, OMSI, children’s museum, or tickets to a play, movie or a sports event. While experience gifts can be a tough sell to little kids, you can help make it fun in the moment too.

Try creating a countdown calendar and mark off the days until they get to go to the event or destination. Or print out photos from similar past experiences, and wrap them up, to help them imagine the experience and create excitement.

Inviting friends can make it even more fun, if that’s an option for the type of experience you’re giving. And helping kids choose experience gifts for others can also help them appreciate this kind of gift giving. Starting this tradition with them now can create memories that will last long beyond the holiday season.

Here are some more non-toy gift ideas for kids (borrowed from Nourishing Minimalism's Non-Toy Gift Guide):

  • Classes: Music, dance, riding, drawing – classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy.
  • Activities: Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives; they want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
  • Recipe and ingredients: Cooking brings people together. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together. Bonus: PDX Parent has a profile of Portland chefs cooking with their kids – recipes included!
  • Arts and crafts supplies: If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven't used before. A gift of arts and crafts supplies often brings on the imagination, and kids can't wait to get to work. Bonus: Set up a crafting date, take time out of your own schedule and make crafts together! Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration.
  • Coupons: An envelope of coupons that they can "spend" at any time: I'll do one chore -- no questions asked; movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!; 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child's interest is in); sit and read a book with me; stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime.
  • Restaurant gift card: Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake – whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whomever they wish: it may be mom or dad; it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher they would like to spend more time with.
  • Dress-up clothes: Gently used clothing offers hours of play.
  • Books: Get books from the library or pick up a used copy at one of Portland’s many bookstores. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don't clutter up your home.

Photo credit: Oregon Zoo

Find gift ideas for other hard-to-buy-for people in your life in our resourceful holiday series. #holiday