Blog :: 2016

Five Questions on Friday with Designer Ashton Ford

This week we had the pleasure of asking local designer Ashton Ford of AshtonForDesign some of our burning design questions over a delicious coffee.  Ashton, a hands-on local designer, works in residential and commercial spaces to create impactful, comfortable, and functional environments.

        1. You provide design inspiration to Portlanders by creating content for your website, contributions to ‘Where's Your Living Room?’ Living Room Realty’s online magazine. When you are looking to get inspired where do you go?

Inspiration is everywhere.

Physically getting out there and seeing spaces is the best way for me to get inspiration. Taking note when something is done well and/or when something can be done better. Talking to friends or strangers about these characteristics of a space. What’s their opinion?

You shouldn’t ever limit yourself to one form of inspiration. I subscribe to a few magazines, including  Interior Design and PNW publication called Gray. I’ll flip through these to discover new products, styles, and great projects that other designers are accomplishing. When you see or read something you like, scan it into your computer, or find it online to bookmark. That way you will always have it to reference. There are also great apps for your phones that allow you can scan directly to your email, laptop, or desktop.

And... Instagram! Social media is such a great platform to get inspired. If you see an image you like, or you start following someone, it will pull up other content that’s in line with your style.  People can be critical of Pinterest, and to each their own, but I keep boards of inspiration, color contrasts, industrial beauty, or whatever specific design element I am interested in. It’s a great way to organize ideas so that I can refer back to them. Especially when I have an opportunity to put them to use. I make digital and physical files for projects, which help identify a cohesive direction. Imagery (and sketching) is a very useful tool to communicate design ideas to clients and contractors. When I begin a project, I’ll create a layout of inspiration to get clients’ imaginations going and they start to identify what suits their taste. The layout inspires conversation.

2. In some of your writing, you offer a lot of design ideas for renters, what kinds of design upgrades are options for people once they buy a space that are usually not options when renting? What are some design advantages homeowners can take advantage of?

Paint, I know it’s cliché, but it makes a big difference and can change the overall appearance of a space. It is so easy to pick paint and have it done before you move in. This way you don’t have to deal with moving furniture around and risk damaging things.

Lighting is so important as well. You can have an amazing looking home but if you don’t have good lighting you won’t be able to appreciate it. When you’re renting, it isn’t usually worth the cost to install new fixtures, nor is it you are more limited in the lighting changes you can make. When you own a home, however, it makes more sense to invest in new fixtures and, if need be, have them wired to exactly where you want them and not where they were for the previous owners.

Those customizations are the first changes I recommend in a new house. After that, you can start to think about materials like tile, counters, flooring, etc.  It makes a big difference when they are upgraded or modified. These things can get expensive, but remember that things can always be done in phases to maximize your budget. Be on the lookout for remnants or discounted materials around town. For example, you might see that you need 50 square feet of tile for your kitchen backsplash. Remember this quantity when you are perusing the tile showrooms, who sometimes heavily discount tile leftover from past projects.

Personalizing your home with accessories, like rugs, can have a big impact and you can start with discount rugs and upgrade to wool and silk as it becomes affordable. The obvious or not-so-obvious upgrades are decorative objects such as artwork, plants, and the like. Have fun exploring your city’s many shopping venues and personalize your home as your budget allows.

3. You write in your bio that you are interested in the psychology of space. With that interest in mind, how do you think the psychological effects of a space play into a home purchase? How can buyers adjust a space to influence their emotions in a positive way?

It’s easy to dismiss the huge effect that lighting has, but it influences everyone, whether they are conscious of it or not.  People often don’t recognize bad lighting until it has been replaced with better lighting. Then they realize how much more relaxed or motivated they feel in the space. I think that one of the innovations we will soon see in homes are intuitive lights that change throughout the day to positively affect the end-user.

Cooler light may increase productivity and warmer light will help people reduce their energy as the day settles into the night. Bulbs that can change color temperature and wattage output seem like a natural step into the future of custom interior design. Until then, homeowners should try to identify what kinds of light make them feel best and set up their home to fit their needs in each room. You’d be surprised at how many colors an LED now comes in.

Along with lighting, spatial layouts will affect individuals differently based on their needs and personality.  For example, some people find that an open floor plan lends itself to better productivity, while others find open floor plans a bit overwhelming, making it difficult to focus. These personality types might prefer smaller or designated areas for work. Floor plans that are more segmented may also be good for people who live with others and may need to make some specific spaces their own private area. Also, remember that many things in a house can be changed to fit your wants and needs. Whether you have a large open space or a series of rooms, you can create a dynamic plan that suits and inspires yourself.

Again, color has a huge significance in design. Many of the things we are taught about color are sometimes not as accurate as we assume. For example, people say that blue is a very calm or relaxing color, but when applying a blue to a wall, it doesn’t always create that effect. When you think about fire, blue and white are the hottest colors, while reds and oranges are not. The reds and oranges can actually create a relaxed space if done correctly. It totally depends on the hue or saturation you choose as well as the final touch of finish. Blue can be a calming color...or…. it can be bold and reactive! Color is a major attribute of design.

Texture can also play a major role in the psychology of a space. Fabrics versus leathers. Woods versus metals. Plants versus no plants. People have memories and experiences associated with these materials and they should be taken into consideration when designing.

4. It seems that home shopping is aided by some creative thinking to see the possibilities of a space and how it would fit into your life. Do you have any advice for people who are not particularly creative and in the process of home shopping?

Recruit some extra help! Enlist the service of a professional; bring along your designer or seek out a creative friend who understands your style and needs.  They can help you envision how things could be transformed which makes finding a home that much easier and less overwhelming. This step may also help you budget better because a designer can assist in pricing out some of the recommended modifications, which you can then factor into the overall cost. A designer can also give you some helpful perspectives on the overall impact of changes that can be made, such as opening a kitchen to a dining room, creating a bigger master bathroom or providing more storage space. This is extremely important information to consider so you don't unnecessarily rule out a house that has great potential.

5. What do you think are the most cost-effective design changes to make?

Plants are one of the most affordable ways to modify a space. You can buy plants at several places around town for a relatively low cost but there are also a lot of ways to get plants for free! Ask friends if you can propagate their plants, which pretty much means ‘clipping a plant you know can grow roots in water.’ This easy task can add some natural greenery to your space. There is even a woman here in Portland, Julia Barbee, who coordinates a propagated plant exchange. It’s called Portland Propagation and it is awesome!

Add inexpensive life to a space with paint, pillows, a shelf of books/records, artwork that has been collecting dust, and more! Just remember that these things can be subtle touches or extremely dramatic statements. It’s totally up to the end-user how they want to feel in the space and how they want their guests to feel. Your space, whether it is your home, your office, or your commercial business; it is your personal creation. There really are no rules when it comes to decor. Confidence is the key to a successful space.

Bonus question 1. In some of your writing, you talk about shifting things around seasonally, which is an idea I really like. What are some practical ways homeowners can do this?

Sometimes seasonal décor ends up being holiday-specific and you miss out on changes that you could enjoy all season. Instead of just putting up holiday decorations, consider changing textiles like curtains, warm blankets, and table runners with the seasons to make a space airier in the summer and cozier in the winter months. Consider adding accessories to your mantle that set the mood for the whole season. Floral arrangements are a great way to reflect the seasons. A vibrant array of buds and luscious green stems or a textural beauty of branches with dried leaves. Possibilities are endless.

Changing out artwork is another great way to shift it up. Your home can feel fresh and seasonal with what you decide to display. Showcase pieces you’ve collected throughout your travels, but maybe never got around to framing or finding that blank space on your walls. You don’t always have to hang artwork. You can install what they call a ‘piano shelf’ anywhere your heart desires and lean them against the wall! This variety and rotation of art creates an engaging interaction with your home. It can keep things interesting and help you fall in love with your place all over again.

That being said, some behavior experts say that routine, such as keeping everything in its place or having a capsule wardrobe, frees more space in the mind for other things. So maybe the idea of changing things out varies in appeal from person to person. It’s worth trying out these seasonal changes in your home to see if you like it!

Bonus question 2. One dilemma homeowners often face is how to fit all the design elements they have into their home? Any advice for people looking to integrate items with sentimental value into their space?

Tchotchkes and those items that get passed down can be difficult to find the right place for. Grouping items together on a tabletop or displaying even three-dimensional objects on walls can be a great way to integrate these items into your home.

For example, my dad gave my husband and me a rock he had picked up during our wedding ceremony. He painted ‘09.06.15 - Josh and Ash' plus a little heart on it. It has some serious sentimental value so we needed to find the right place for it. We found a prominent place on our bar shelf, and it even works on a functional level as it can be used to hold down cocktail napkins.

Basically, your house is where you live, often where you work, and a place you share with loved ones, so it should be a home not just in a physical sense but in the cognitive sense too. Decorate and design your home with components that activated your senses and your thoughts. These details may, in turn, inspire your guests as well!

If you would like to know more about Ashton’s work you can follow her on Instagram, browse her Pinterest boards, and definitely bookmark her website! 

Welcome to Our Brand New Website!

Welcome to our new Paris Group Realty blog! You will still be able to find old posts here, but all new content along with an archive of previous posts will be posted here on the new site.

Please let us know if you have a community event to share or would like to be a featured local business!


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    5 Questions on Friday with St. Johns Coffee Roasters

    When our clients look at neighborhoods, we often hear the same requests; that they want to be able to walk to a restaurant or coffee shop. St Johns Coffee Roasters is one of PGR's favorite coffee shops, and this week we chatted with the owner and coffee roaster, Mount Burns.

    Question 1.    How did St Johns Coffee Roasters come to fruition?

    St. Johns Coffee Roasters began in March of 2008. A traumatic life event stressed the importance of not knowing what tomorrow may bring so we better do something we love and have a passion for.

    I had been a "coffee freak" for most of my life and it had been suggested I do something in the coffee industry. I found a small, used roaster on Craigslist, purchased it and installed it in what had been my darkroom in the basement of my home.

    I set upon teaching myself how to roast coffee and neighbors began smelling the roasted coffee and coming to the door to ask if they could purchase the roasted coffee. A few months later, we began doing some farmers markets and we were discovered by Wholefoods, who helped shepherd us through the process of selling wholesale to large grocery stores.

    Approximately one year later, a larger roaster was purchased and a commercial space was acquired and soon thereafter, New Seasons became a customer.

    Since that time, business has continued to grow and we are now at our two-year anniversary of the opening of our Tasting Room.

    Question 2.    Can you tell us about the transition from the farmer's market to the brick and mortar space?


    The transition from farmers market to brick and mortar was natural. Farmers market customers continually asked where the coffees could be purchased during the "off-season" so it was a natural thing to refer them to either Wholefoods, New Seasons, or the roastery.

    Question 3.    Have you run into any permit or bureaucratic challenges for the space?

    Permit or bureaucratic issues. Don't get me started. As much as Portland professes to be "small business friendly". I have found there to be layers and layers of bureaucratic issues, most of which were encountered and addressed during the remodel of the shop for opening the Tasting Room.

    Question 4.    We think St Johns Coffee Roasters facilitates community. Why do you think that is? What other factors do you think help foster neighborhoods/ community?

    I believe we facilitate community by being family friendly, dog friendly and just overall, friendly. I am adamant about my staff not projecting arrogance or negative attitudes. I strive to provide a welcoming environment to everyone because that is the type establishments I'm drawn to and enjoy.

    Questions 5.    People love your coffee- tell us about it!

    I believe our coffee is special for a variety of reasons. First of all, our coffees are exclusively organic and fair trade. Most roasters will have a couple organic coffees in their offerings but not exclusively. We ONLY do organic and fair trade because we believe the absence of chemicals makes a difference not only in the taste of the coffee but on the global impact as well.

    Our coffees are roasted in small batches which allows us to maintain optimal control over the roasting process, assuring each coffee is roasted to its optimum profile.

    We use a process called post-roast blending which means each component of each blend is roasted separately to achieve its optimal profile BEFORE being blended. This results in more complex and interesting blends. This process takes more time and is more laborious but we believe it is the RIGHT way.

    Bonus Question 1.    How has St Johns changed since you opened the shop?

    St. Johns has changed dramatically in the past 3+ years. More and more people have moved into the neighborhood and as a result, there are many new residential developments as well as business developments that did not exist previously.

    Bonus Question 2.    Goals?

    To change the world, one cup at a time and to squash Starbucks. Just kidding. Our goals are simple. To continue what we're already doing but continue refining things to create an even better experience for our customers and continue growing.

    Five Questions on Friday with Black Pest

    This week Bernard Black from Black Pest took some time to talk to us about pests...

    1. What is the most common pest in the Portland area? How many homes have some kind of pest living in them?

    The most common pest that we help people with is the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile.  It is a little brown-black ant that frequents kitchens and is fond of sugary things.  220px-Tapinoma_sessile_casent0005329_profile_1

    Most homes, even brand-new homes have some pest. Beetles and moths in the bird seed, fleas on the dog, lice on the children, mice, rats, ants etc.. I could probably find some pest in or around any home. 

    2. What's the strangest pest infestation you've seen?

    I responded to a call about spiders that was quite terrifying. The home had hundreds of thousands of large, orb-weaving spiders both inside and outside. They were under the sheets and pillows of the bed, in the vents, on the walls. They were in the shower, inside the drain, in the cloths. Everywhere. Following treatment, the sound of spiders falling was like a hail storm. It was so bad even I was creeped out!

    Normally, I can figure out why there is a pest infestation, but in this case, reason and logic were missing. It looked more like a curse than a pest issue. 

    3. How can pests be structurally harmful? What can home owners do to prevent damage?

    Some pests, including termites, wood beetles and carpenter ants, directly damage the wood members of a home. Other pests, like raccoons, rats and mice can damage a home but also contaminate property with their urine and feces.  

    One easy tip on prevention is to repair broken building vents (these are the vents leading into the crawlspace). A broken building vent can allow a raccoon, opossum, rat or other intruder to gain entry into the crawlspace. From there the animal can pull down insulation, chew wires, and do thousands of dollars of damage. 

    Another way to prevent pest damage is to have a pest control company inspect your home (including the crawlspace) periodically. 

    4. Do any of the home remedies you see out there work?

    There are lots of ways to do pest control with everyday things in your home. For example, soapy water will kill most small insects, Mayonnaise can kill head lice (it suffocates them).  Putting flour in the freezer will kill weevils. Cats control mice, (but then you have cats!).  

    5. What pests cause the most damage? What can Black Pest help with?

    Wood destroying insects cause the most physical damage to structures. This includes termites, wood beetles and carpenter ants. We have excellent, low-tox pest elimination programs for each of these pests. For example, we treat termites with a bait (Sentricon) that won the presidential green chemistry award.

     Rodents are a close runner-up in home destruction due to their ability to eat our food, contaminate surfaces and spread disease. They also damage buildings when they gnaw. When we perform a rodent control service, we carefully inspect and repair potential entry points, we remove contaminated items, such as insulation or vapor barriers. We replace the vapor barrier, if necessary. We place traps and bait as required. 

    If you'd like Bernard to help any of your pest questions, email him directly! Bernard Black


    1. Mark Aalto on

      The spider one completely creeped me out. Won't. Sleep. For. Days. MARK AALTO

      Five Questions on Friday with Parkside Restaurant

      This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Angela Gaither, one of the owners of Parkside restaurant in the Kenton neighborhood. Parkside is located on the corner of N. Brandon and N. Willis, just across from Kenton Park, in the North Portland Kenton neighborhood. They are a bar for everyone! You can also read more on their website, here!

      Question 1: Why did you choose the Kenton neighborhood for a business?

      It was a series of fortunate events. My husband and I have been working in restaurants since we were both about 15 years old; we love what we do. We always wanted to have our own spot, and as we were living in the St Johns neighborhood; we were actually looking at small storefronts there. There were a lot of commercial businesses and lots available in St. Johns, but nothing that quite worked for us.

      North Portland in general is great, there are so many small pockets and wonderful neighborhoods. Our friend, Britta, actually found Parkside for sale on Craigslist.

      The Team

      from left: Dan, Britta, Angela and Jeff

      Britta showed it to Dan [another owner at Parkside], Dan showed it to Jeff [the third Parkside owner, and Angela's husband], Jeff showed it to me. It was an existing business, so we started popping in to it to check it out.

      We loved the neighborhood; and liked that Parkside was tucked away on a quiet little corner. We also thought that we could offer neighbors something a little different than what was already there. We wanted a welcoming neighborhood spot for first dates, families and everyone in between.

      Question 2: How is the neighborhood changing?

      Like every neighborhood in Portland there is a lot of development happening.

      Of course we want to keep the neighborhood small and quaint but the reality is growth is all around us. I think the best way to keep that small, quaint feeling is staying true to ourselves and make it for and about the community. We feel fortunate to be a part of a small business community that is very involved in the growth and direction of the neighborhood.

      Question 3: I heard Parkside is participating in the neighborhood association; what's that like?

      I'm part of the KBA (the Kenton Business Association), and we collaborate with the KNA (the Kenton Neighborhood Association). Most of the small businesses participate in these neighborhood associations and most everyone that own businesses in Kenton works in their business. It's really great, because you can see other people who are in the same boat as you and who are working to make this neighborhood what it is. The KBA & KNA are really hustling to do a lot in the neighborhood, including putting together the street fair every year and raising funds to fix and paint our beloved Paul Bunyan landmark.

      Question 4: What's new at Parkside?parkside logo from website

      Boozy punch and lawn games! Our Parkside Punch is back for the summer. It's a fun way to sip and share on those hot days. We will feature a different punch each week to be ordered as a single cocktail or in a pitcher to share. We have lawn games for people to borrow and take over to the park, bocce, kub, spike ball, & frisbee. More games being added to the collection regularly.

      Question 5: Do you think you'd ever look at another neighborhood for a second Parkside location?

      Every neighborhood needs a good spot to post up, enjoy a drink and a fresh bite. We will always keep options open for a second location. Parkside is in Kenton to stay, this is a neighborhood we feel lucky to be rooted in.

      And if you'd like to help paint Paul Bunyan!


      5 Questions on Friday with Birdsmouth Construction

      This week for 5 Questions on Friday, we were so excited to talk with Josh Salinger from Birdsmouth Construction about passive houses.

      You can also learn more about Birdsmouth on their website: along with their company's FB page here: or Houzz page here:

      1. What is a passive house?

      Passive House is the world's most energy efficient building standard. It's most basic concept is to reduce a buildings energy usage through conservation. This is done through super insulated walls, an air-tight envelope, high quality windows and doors (typically triple pane) and heat recovery ventilation. The Passive House concept can be applied to any architectural style. You can choose the aesthetic that fits your taste. Whether you want commercial, multifamily or residential, craftsman, mid century, English cottage, modern, contemporary, etc. it makes no difference, the building can be designed to meet the standard.

      A certified Passive House is extremely comfortable. There are no cold drafts, no large, noisy forced air systems, or hot or cold areas of the home. Plenty of natural light and reduced noise pollution further add to the extremely high level of comfort in these homes. Also, people who live in Passive Houses continually remark on the exceptional air quality. Interior air is continuously exchanged for outside air that has been filtered and tempered before entering the building, resulting in air that feels and smells great. Cooking smells don't linger, allergens and pollutants don't enter the home, and mold is far less likely to form inside walls. As a result, people with asthma, allergies or chemical sensitivities tend to feel better. One can open windows and doors, do laundry, cook, entertain, or do whatever one does in a typical house, except a Passive House far outperforms typical buildings in terms of comfort, durability, air quality, health, and energy savings.

      2. How did you get involved in building passive houses?

      I first ran into a Passive House on a green homes tour in Portland about 5 years ago. The simplicity of the concept and its effectiveness blew me away. The energy savings of these homes combined with them being superior in all regards when compared to conventional houses answered all questions for me. I never looked back.

      Growing up I helped my father on weekends to renovate our home and have always enjoyed the tangible aspects and problem solving involved with building and design. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Zoology and Conservation, so by combining Passive House building with my values towards the environment I was able to create a living that meets both of these goals.

      41% of all the energy used in the United States is used in our buildings. By creating homes that meet the Passive House standard we can make a huge difference in our collective fight against climate change.

      2. Is there a strong market in the Portland area for passive houses? How much do passive houses cost to build?

      The market for these homes is still pretty nascent. Most people don't know what Passive House is or that it is an option, but when people experience them they are hooked. I think there needs to be a greater awareness of the Passive House concept in the building and real estate fields. That said, local organizations like Earth Advantage or Built Green are currently educating people about the benefits of these types of buildings, and trade magazines have been putting Passive House front and center as the highest bar for years.

      There does tend to be an up-front cost premium for these buildings. That said, a building built to the Passive House standard typically costs less to live in due to energy bills being low to zero, and over the course of a 30 year mortgage the initial upfront premium is more than recovered. With energy code standards increasing, and more and more high performance building materials being available locally, building to this level is likely to reach cost parity with conventional construction within the next 6-10yrs. These homes are the future of building, no question.

      Passive Houses can be a great investment. They are higher quality. They are more comfortable, and are designed to last generations. They have less maintenance issues (fewer systems and moving parts), therefore costing less in upkeep. If one uses renewable energy such as solar panels one can have no energy bills. Studies have also shown that homes built to green certifications can bring a 5-10% sales premium over similar, non-certified homes.

      3. How do airflow and ventilation compare between a passive house and a conventional house?

      A Passive House has 24hr continuous heat recovery ventilation. The air is passed through a 13-micron filter which removes particles smaller than smoke dust. The entire volume of air in the house is exchanged approximately once every 3 hours. Fresh air is supplied to the bedrooms and living areas and stale air is exhausted from bathrooms and kitchens. The ventilation is balanced at all times between supply and exhaust so there are no pressure differences that can cause infiltration or exfiltration of moisture laden air through building assemblies. You can open your windows whenever you like, and use the house just like a normal home.

      A conventional home typically has none of these attributes.

      4. How do heating, cooling, and electricity systems compare in a passive house?

      A certified Passive House uses 90% less energy for heating and cooling than a home built to today's current code standards. A Passive House in Portland's climate does not require any cooling systems- In fact, the last Passive House Birdsmouth built has only a 7% chance of overheating to more than 77 degrees on the interior during a week of 98 degree days!

      The heating systems in these homes are roughly equivalent to the energy usage of a typical hair dryer. There are no loud forced air systems, there are no huge mechanical rooms. The air is always fresh and filtered and the temperature is always comfortable, no matter what the season.

      5. We understand passive houses have incredibly thick walls; can you tell us about them?

      A Passive House wall is intentionally designed to be energy efficient and durable for it's specific climate and geo-location. They are designed to never have condensation, and thus mold or rot. They have an air-tight layer and continuous thermal insulation. There are endless designs and material combinations that can be used to create these walls, but the concept remains. That said, in Portland I have seen walls as thick as 16" to meet the standard. A builder in Anchorage, AK recently built one with 36" walls! Our last Passive House home's walls were about 11" thick. It really depends on climate, a clients goals, materials selections, and budget.

      I do think that the thick walls give the home a sense of strength and quality that other, flimsy construction lacks. They also give one the chance for some great design touches such as large window sills and texture on the façade of the homes. All in all it is my opinion that these thick walls are a net aesthetic benefit to a home.

      6. Do you think passive houses will effect conventional home construction?

      There is no question that they already have. California has just passed laws requiring all new residential and commercial buildings to be net zero by 2020, and the easiest way to net zero is through the Passive House concept. A lot of Passive House trade groups such as Passive House Northwest and others in California, New York and Canada are working with local policymakers to inform building energy code updates. A lot of the current accepted building science has its roots in Passive House and the people behind it. North American manufacturers are starting to make Passive House compatible building materials and systems. Typically states have the option to adopt the residential building codes every three years, and in 3 code cycle changes the energy code is going to require an energy efficiency standard equivalent to what Passive House is currently doing. The list goes on. If you are not familiar with Passive House now, my guess is you will within the next few years. Birdsmouth has made the decision to be the leaders in our state in terms of this type of building not just as a values-based decision, but a business decision. The future, whether it is prompted by the energy code, or the demand in the marketplace will be Passive House.

      About Joshua Salinger:


      Joshua Salinger is Founder and President of Birdsmouth Construction, a residential and small commercial building and design services company located in Portland OR. Josh graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Zoology and Conservation. In 2007 he started Birdsmouth Construction with the goal of designing and building beautiful, high performing homes that transform and improve the built environment. He has received certifications from Earth Advantage's Sustainable Homes Professional course, and graduated from the Passive House Builders Training program administered by PHIUS. He also sits on the board of Passive House Northwest, a regional trade group dedicated to the promotion of the Passive House concept. He lives in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood of Portland with his wife and 2 children. He enjoys playing guitar, cooking, bemoaning the inefficiency of his house, and making the world's best cup of coffee.

      Five Ways to Get Involved With Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East


      Today, Paris Group Realty will be spending our day with Habitat for Humanity. With that in mind, we asked them to share with us 5 ways people can get involved with Habitat for Humanity! For more information head over to


      If swinging a hammer and sawing wood sound like your style, you can sign up to help build affordable homes with Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers help Habitat build homes alongside future homeowners who put in 500 hours of "sweat equity" in building their home. If heavy lifting and power tools sound scary, don't worry! Volunteers do everything from painting walls and landscaping, to sorting supplies and pouring coffee.

      Donate Money

      Habitat for Humanity runs on the generosity of our friends and neighbors. Donations from the community help Habitat build more homes with more low-income families, and in Portland's increasingly expensive housing market, low-income families are the most at-risk of being displaced from their communities. 91.7% of every dollar donated goes directly towards building homes, and as an added bonus, your donation is tax-deductible!

      Donate Goods or Services

      A donation of goods or services allows Habitat to stretch each dollar we raise even further. If you have extra stock of things like cabinets, flooring, appliances, or windows & doors, we may be interested! If your company does construction services and would be willing to donate your service, we may be interested in that too! Contact Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East to see if you have what we're looking for.

      Attend an Event

      Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East has two annual events you can attend to learn more about and become more involved with the program. In the spring, the HopeBuilder Breakfast is a free-one hour event that features inspirational speakers and testimonials from future Habitat homeowners. In the fall, the Hard Hat & Black Tie Dinner and Auction is an exciting silent and live auction, with all proceeds going directly to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. You can learn more about our events at

      Volunteer at the ReStore

      The ReStore depends on volunteers to do a variety of jobs that keep the stores running smoothly. They need truck drivers, office assistants, customer service assistants, receiving assistants, stockers and cleaners, and so much more. Look for your closest ReStore and contact them for volunteer opportunities.


      1. Mark Aalto on

        You guys are awesome. Give me a shout when you do this next time!! Mark Aalto
        • claire paris on

          You got it Mark!

          Janikka Byman is joining our team at Paris Group!

          Janikka Byman is joining our team at Paris Group! To help welcome her, we wanted to feature her in this week's 5 on Friday. Here goes!

          1. Why do you enjoy being a Realtor?

          I feel honored to be able to help people at such a pivotal time in their life. I love showing people this city, and finding new neighborhoods to explore.  There is so much creativity and budding culture here. I've been in Portland and the surrounding area most of my life, and to show newcomers all the beauty and excitement here is always a treat. But - nothing is more rewarding than handing a new homeowner their keys.

          2. When you're not showing houses, what do you like to do?

          I exercise, I explore. I love live music, spending time with my friends and family, getting out and discovering new things and places, and nurturing my indoor plants.

          3. If you were to pick one spot, where would you go out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

          Breakfast - Broder Nord

          Lunch - Luce on E Burnside

          Dinner - Tanuki

          4. Our city is changing, but what part of Portland do you hope remains unchanged?

          Some things I know won't change, but I would never want to see Forest Park, or our bridges change. Other parts of old Portland that I hold in my heart and would never want to change are Gino's in Sellwood, My Father's Place, the Delta Café.

          5. It's going to be 88 on Monday. If you aren't showing houses, where would you like to be?

          My life has a lot to do with food and drink, it always has.  I recently discovered the Skunk Brothers Spirits Distillery in the Gorge, in tiny Stevenson, WA.  There's a great spot next to their parking lot to sit and look out at the river. I imagine that a warm and sunny (non-working) day might include a drive up there, with a driftwood log sit and a tasty beverage.


          5 Quesions on Friday with Zach Bay

          This week, we were so happy to be able to chat with Zach Bay from WFG Title.

          Question 1. What do title companies do?

          A title company makes sure that the title to a piece of real estate is legitimate and then issues title insurance for that property. Title insurance protects the lender and/or owner against lawsuits or claims against the property that result from disputes over the title.

          Title companies also often maintain escrow accounts -- these contain the funds needed to close on the home -- to ensure that this money is used only for settlement and closing costs, and may conduct the formal closing on the home. At the closing, a settlement agent from the title company will bring all the necessary documentation, explain it to the parties, collect closing costs and distribute monies. Finally, the title company will ensure that the new titles, deeds and other documents are filed with the appropriate entities.

          Question 2. People often use the words Title and Escrow interchangeably; is there a difference?  

          Title Insurance protects an owner's or a lender's financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters.

          Escrow is an agreement in which a neutral third party assembles and manages many components of the Real Estate Transaction. The Escrow Agent acts on behalf of the buyer and seller under the Escrow law as set forth by the State of Oregon Real Estate Agency. Escrow carries out written instructions relating to the transaction and insures mutual agreement of the written terms.

          Question 3. When does title transfer to a new home owner?  

          Title Transfers to a new home owner when escrow has all the funds needed to record the deed in the county recorder's office. Once the recorder has recorded the conveyance document to the new owner title is official transferred.

           Question 4. Does it matter which title company you use?  

          A title company plays a very important role during a real estate transaction. It conducts the title search and ensures the title is clear and the sale is legal. But your title company assists with paperwork and communication between the parties, facilitates document filing and recording, and may even serve as an escrow agent.

          Choosing an incompetent, slow or irresponsible title company could jeopardize your real estate transaction. And there is often more than one side that wants to do the choosing--from a real estate agent, to the lender and seller's attorney or broker, everyone has their own agenda. Besides the obvious financial aspect, there are also other things to take into consideration when negotiating who pays for each part of the title insurance. The person who pays for both policies is typically the one who gets to choose the title company that issues the insurance. If the policies are split, the person covering the Owner's Policy is someone who has the biggest say in the matter.

          Both buyers and sellers (or their representatives), and often even lenders, want their trusted title company to perform the closing. Sometimes, real estate brokers may specify the company they want to use in the property listing or a real estate agent will work their favorite title company into the purchase offer. It often makes sense for the buyer or buyer's agent to make the choice because, after all, they are the ones benefiting from title insurance. Moreover, according to the Section 9 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the seller is prohibited from requiring the buyer to use a specific title company as a condition of the sale. The seller may still request their chosen company to be used, but it can't be a "take it or leave it" scenario, where buyer's refusal would terminate the deal.

          In some situations, especially during a mortgage refinancing, the lender might ask you to use their preferred title company. They have the right to do this, and because many homeowners don't have their preferences, the lenders often get their way. However, if you have a trusted title company you've used before or have a recommendation from a relative, you can ask the lender to go with your choice.

          If you don't have your own preference, it's wise to go with your agent's choice. If, however, someone recommended you a good company, know that as a buyer you have a say in this matter. Just make sure that the company you suggest has the knowledge and expertise to handle your transaction, no matter how complex it is.

          Question 5. What is title insurance? What does it cover?

          You probably know that title insurance is typically required by the lender and is, in general, a good policy to have. But did you know that title insurance is actually two separate policies?

          • Owner's Title Insurance (OTP) is known as Owner's Policy. It is issued in the amount of the real estate purchase and is obtained at closing for a one-time fee. OTP protects the buyer from any mistakes, forgery or claims against the title.
          • Lender's Title Insurance (LTP) is known as Loan Policy. It is issued in the amount of the loan (unless it's a cash transaction) and is also obtained at closing for a single premium payment. LTP protects the lender should a problem with the title arise after closing.

          Despite the clear labeling--owner's and lender's insurance--respective title insurance is not always paid by the parties it protects. For example, your bank is unlikely to pay for the lender's policy. As a buyer, you will probably be picking up the tab. Even if the lender pays this expense initially, it may later defer the costs to you. Owner's Policy is the responsibility of the buyer, but in your contract of sale you may negotiate that the seller pays it, or maybe even the lender's portion too. Additionally, local state and county laws may have provisions for each party's responsibility when it comes to title insurance.

          5 on Friday with Trash for Peace

          Question 1: What is Trash for Peace?

          Trash for Peace is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization founded in Portland in 2012. The mission is to educate communities about sustainability through hands-on learning and functional art. We focus on all aspects of sustainability, which includes environmental, economic, and social well-being. Each year, we work directly with over 300 youth and divert over 1,000 plastic bottles, bottle caps, plastic bags, and other items from the landfill.

          Question 2: What is Trash for Peace doing in and around Portland?

          We have two main programs. The first is a Sustainability Education Program that is in partnership with low-income housing organizations and other community organizations that serve underprivileged communities. Our programming occurs on-site at properties throughout the greater Portland area, mostly NE and East County, and focuses on youth and families. It rotates between waste reduction and recycling education through functional art, gardening and renewable energy education, and nutrition education through zero waste cooking classes.   We also have a pop-up zero waste café on Thursdays that serves to teach business and job skills to older youth that participate in our programs.

          Our second program is in-schools (locally, nationally, and internationally), where we build recycle bins out of trash and do other hands-on and innovative activities in the classroom to educate about waste reduction and sustainability. We also consult with businesses to help reduce waste using creativity and innovation.

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           Question 3: How can local businesses benefit or get involved with Trash for Peace?

          There are many ways! Businesses can email us at to have us do a hands-on and engaging workshop or training with staff, our team can consult on how to reduce their waste, or they can sponsor our programming on low-income housing sites across the region. We are currently working with 5 housing properties and hoping to expand to more! Please check out our website at for more information.

          Question 4: What items should people be reducing, reusing, and recycling that they aren't now?

          Plastic waste is by far the most difficult item to recycle and never truly decomposes, often creating severe environmental problems. The best way to reduce it is to avoid buying plastic bags and water bottles and use a reusable water bottle and tap water whenever possible--you will also save money doing this!

          Recycle your food! Food waste is about 45% of most Americans' trash, and it can be turned into great compost for your garden!

          Think before you toss! Many items can be easily fixed instead of throwing them out, and be creative! You can make a beautiful coat hanger out of wood from old bed bunk or fence frames, toilet paper rolls make excellent bird feeders, and yogurt containers make great seed starters. Email us or check out our Facebook page for even more ideas, and can answer any and all recycling questions as well.

          Question 5: How can individuals get involved/ volunteer with Trash for Peace?

          We are ALWAYS looking for more volunteers to assist us with weekly programming. We love to have more ideas, perspectives, and creativity to help make our programming as enriching as possible. The best way to get involved is to email our Director, Laura, at