New Business in Historic Building

KB Cabinets opened a new showroom in the historic building located at 206 NE 80th Ave. This new location represents an expansion of a 40-year-old family business. Carol Swanson-Petterson and her husband, Ross Petterson, operate KB Cabinets in the Bay Area of California. KB Cabinets’ new Portland location is run by their daughter-in-law, Maria Petterson.

KB Cabinets sells cabinetry and offers design services for custom kitchens and bathrooms. “It’s a comprehensive process. “Said Maria Petterson, in an interview at the newly completed showroom. KB Cabinets will work with an architect or the homeowner to create a plan for the room. A key goal is to use design to create flow within the function of the space. Some projects could begin and end with the design work. However, many projects have KB Cabinets staff onsite to check in deliveries and mark hardware placement on the cabinetry. They see the process as more than sales and design. By working with the client’s contractor, they can deliver a finished room that matches the customer’s goal.

Carol Swanson-Petterson is an NKBA Certified Kitchen Designer® (CKD). She travels to the region frequently to ensure that the Portland projects receive the same attention as her California clients. The new showroom features many varieties of cabinetry with different construction types and integrated organizers. Currently, they have just one kitchen style on display but will soon add display cabinetry that features a modern design.

Effective kitchen and bathroom design depend on custom cabinetry that fits into a remodel precisely as called for. KB Cabinets works with a variety of cabinet makers to deliver a custom fit solution. The challenge with older homes is navigating spatial constraints. “It can be more of a puzzle than a blank canvas,” said Maria Petterson. They take care to consider the home’s original influences while honoring what the client wants for the room.

Portland’s many older homes and a renovation culture was an attraction for opening here, explained Maria Petterson. Additionally, family ties to Portland also a factor in this decision. Carol Swanson-Petterson and Ross Petterson have two children. Both children started families and made homes in Portland. That shifted the family center to the region, and as the family business grew, Portland was the logical location.

When choosing a showroom, KB Cabinets was looking for a property to own instead of leasing. They wanted to make a long-term investment in the business. After seeing the property on NE 80th, Montavilla became the only choice. “This gem came on the market, and we all instantly fell in love with it. It was definitely a project.” Said Maria Petterson. “We did the best we could to honor the history of the building.”

Built in 1904 on what was once Hibbard Street, 206 NE 80th Ave is a prime example of western False Front commercial construction. A building style that has an artificially large squared front facade, hiding a pitched roof. The Montavilla Streetcar once ran along 80th Ave from NE Glisan to SE Stark. At the time of the streetcar, 80th was active with businesses. Consequently, little storefronts, like this one, can still be seen along 80th. After annexation to Portland, this part of Hibbard Street became East 80th Street North. The building’s street number was initially 66, but a 1933 renumbering effort in Portland changed it to 206. Patricia Sanders, a Montavilla historian, researched the history of the 1904 building. “According to Dianne Dickson, [of] Dickson Drug Store, this used to be a candy store; this would presumably be the late 1940s to late 1950s. In the 1930 Portland City Directory, the property is listed as vacant. The 1943 Portland City Directory listed this location as a grocery store owned or managed by Axel V. Anderson. “Wrote Sanders. Most recently, the building had been the office of A New Dimension In Denture Services.

Details about the storefront before 1930 are less definitive. A researcher with Montavilla News, Crossett Freilinger, has found some hints. In a photograph from the Oregon Historical Society (OHS), men pose inside a delivery wagon labeled G.W. Farrier Wood Co. The wagon is parked in front of what looks to be the building at 206 NE 80th. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1909 shows that building labeled as “Plumbing.” A Montavilla plumber named G.W. Farrier was involved in a 1905 lawsuit over an unpaid bill. His name on the wagon and the maps Plumbing designation, lending credibility that the OHS image was featuring 206 NE 80th Ave. This also affirms the store once functioned as a plumbers office or store. Details of the lawsuit appeared in the Morning Oregonian‘s October 25th, 1905 issue, just a year after the building’s construction. A 1914 article in the Morning Oregonian list G.W. Farrier as owning a Montavilla woodyard. That should set the OHS image’s date around 1914 and suggests that G.W. Farrier transitioned his business towards other building supplies beyond plumbing.

Image courtesy of Oregon Historical Society Research Library

With such a long history of housing Montavilla businesses, it is fitting that this building has been saved and will continue as a business location. KB Cabinets had hoped for a more public opening following the remodel, but the pandemic canceled those plans. The showroom is open by appointment only. However, they would welcome visits if they have the shades open and are not with another client. Because they will not keep regular hours, appointments remain the best way to work with KB Cabinets. Maria Petterson said they are considering a small opening event in the summer if they can safely hold an event.

Kitchens and bathrooms are some of the most heavily used rooms in a home. Consequently, when those rooms are old or poorly configured, the adverse effects become a big concern. Montavilla now has a local option to recreate the kitchen or bathroom you have always wanted but unsure how to achieve.