Classic Sash & Door Makes An Entrance. Better.
For more than 25 years, co-owners Mark and Liza Bell have specialized in providing window and door solutions that enhance or restore a home’s architectural character, energy efficiency, and charm. Rejuvenation shares the philosophy that when it comes to adding real value to your home, the difference is indeed in the details. We also shared a building, until about six months ago, when Classic Sash & Door set up shop right behind our Portland store.
To stake their claim in a big way, they chose to feature their name and location in a classic industrial sans serif type, and place a high-impact Carson Warehouse fixture with a black shade above the entrance.
We have an inside joke here at Rejuvenation about Mark and Liza Bell being “Portland’s most beautiful couple,” as our graphic designer calls them.
“Seriously,” our staff photographer chimes in, “Why don’t they age like the rest of us?”
Recently we sat down with Mark to find out more about the company’s work.
How did you get involved in the historically accurate window and door business?
Actually, my father owned an aluminum storm-window manufacturing business in Longview, Washington, so really I’ve always been in this business. I started with him when I was 15—cleaning, vacuuming, that kind of thing. Then I started building and installing windows. I worked with my dad until I was 24, and then opened my own shop.
How did you end up making the leap?
Well, that’s a funny story. In 1987, I met a fellow named Jim Kelly [Rejuvenation’s founder]. He walked me through this old dilapidated warehouse—it used to be a flower market [now Rejuvenation's Portland store]. He told me his plan to clean it up and turn it into a one-stop shop for people doing home renovation.
Then he pointed to a corner and said, “I could probably put you over there.”
Say I need to replace my windows and doors. How do I know if I need the kind of special treatment you provide?
We do work for two kinds of situations.
The first one is this: You bought a turn-of-the-century home, or really any home up through the 1960s, that’s never been updated and is desperately in need of new windows or doors. If you have a home with original wood windows that are drafty and falling apart, and are in such a deteriorated condition that they cannot be fixed, you’ll know.
We’ll come in and replace them all with better contemporary windows that have everything one wants—insulated glass and better weather stripping, for example—while maintaining the architectural integrity of the house.
The second situation is this: You bought a home from the early 1900s. Somewhere along the way—probably in the 1960s, ‘70s, or ‘80s—was remuddled instead of remodeled. Someone put in aluminum windows or vinyl siding, or a front door that didn’t match the house.
Okay, let’s stop there for a minute. Why, do you think, did anyone ever think that would be a good idea—drop ceilings and the whole bit?
Well, up to 20 years ago there was a flight to the suburbs. So during the 1970s, the big old beautiful houses that were in the city were either abandoned or remodeled to try to make the city homes look more like the newer suburban homes. We’re really lucky to work closely with Bo Sullivan and Arcalus to unearth the secret histories of remuddled houses. [Bo worked for many years as Rejuvenation’s historian].
So how do you help?
We’ll come to you and—based on our research and knowledge of other houses from the same time period and location—show designs or drawings of what was most likely there in the first place. We consult, design, build, and install. In other words, you don’t have to bring a contractor to us; we are the contractor.
Do you actually build the windows?
They’re built by Marvin, a family-owned window and door company founded in 1912 in Warroad, Minnesota, six miles south of the Canadian border. They build each window and door one at a time, made to order, with no shortcuts. Then they ship them to us to install.
What would you say to someone who asks: Why go to the extra trouble it takes to do this?
To that question I’d probably answer, Yes, you’re right—you don’t have to! It’s absolutely fine to put in contemporary windows and doors that don’t exactly match the house.
But chances are good that if you live in an older home in the city, which is where most of our customers live, you’re there because you really love it. You’re there because your home and your neighborhood have a lot of character.
We don’t overplay the preservation card. But when it comes to millwork, too often the new stuff either doesn’t fit or is ugly. There was a lot of design and cool factor that you just don’t find today. Luckily, the tide has turned and lots of people are interested in getting back to the beauty found in the originals.
So, speaking of beauty, we have this thing we say at Rejuvenation—we call you Portland’s Most Beautiful Couple. Are you okay with us sharing that?
Ha! No, not really, because it’s not true. Well, half of it is. I’m not the most beautiful anything—but I do have the most beautiful wife.