Road trip! On the off chance that you actually needed a reason to visit this funky, design-minded city to the south, here are a few Portland...

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PORTLAND — Road trip!

On the off chance that you actually needed a reason to visit this funky, design-minded city to the south, here are a few Portland shopping destinations where you can get your home decor freak on — and score some stuff you might not be able to get here.

So fire up the van, grab a Thermos full of coffee and get ready for the endless thrill of, “That’s right! No sales tax!”

West Elm

1201 N.W. Couch St.


West Elm’s massive compound in Portland’s Pearl District is a must-shop stop on your journey. The clean-lined, Asian-inspired home-furnishings giant has yet to make its mark on Seattle in the form of a brick-and-mortar store.

For those modern-decor enthusiasts who are looking for home basics but are pooped-out on Ikea, this upscale version is worth the drive down I-5 past the creepy Uncle Sam billboard.

Versatile wall shelving is what West Elm does best. At $79, a set of two L-shaped modular wall shelves creates a variety of display surfaces that are fun to configure.

Want bargain-priced drama? For $99, the “Capiz” pendant lamp looks like a shimmering chandelier with its cascading tiers of natural shells.

Graphic print pillows are popular with the kids today. West Elm’s decorative pillow covers, $16 to $24, are an inexpensive way to get the bold screenprinted look of a deer silhouette, tree branches or flowers.


433 N.W. 10th Ave.


Also in the Pearl, Relish is a small shop with big design ideals. Since 2001, owners Trisha Guido and David Boyd have single-mindedly served a mission statement: Everyday objects should be both well-designed and affordable.

Independent artists and designers from Portland and across the globe comprise much of Relish’s collection of home products. Guido travels extensively, seeking out well-designed items to feature in the shop.

“I love emerging art and design, I love to travel and I love educating people about great design and details,” she says.

Glassware by California company Roost is at once beautiful and useful. Made of borosilicate glass, the Roost line is both delicate and virtually indestructible. Available in vibrant translucent oranges and blues, glasses sell for $6 each, bowls for $7 or a carafe for $17.

Urbana Design’s bent plywood carry tray is a gorgeous and handy piece for around the house. The tray has a sleek cast resin top and comes in an array of colors for $154. Also from San Francisco’s Urbana Design, a stylish bent ply teardrop vase is $69.

Relish’s hand-picked selection of bedding includes mod all-stars Amenity, Dwell and Fold. Finnish fabric innovator Marimekko, known for its bold patterns from the 1950s, is a store favorite. An eye-popping Marimekko duvet runs $165 to $185.

Hive Modern

820 N.W. Glisan St.


Around the corner, still in the Pearl District, Hive Modern’s high-ceilinged, light-flooded space is a design geek’s religious experience. The stark display of modern furnishings and lighting may inspire prayer to design deities Eames and Nelson. All of the usual high-priced, modern masters are represented here, including items from Cassina, Knoll and Kartell.

One piece of attainable modern is the “Prince AHA” stool designed by Philippe Starck. At $87, this hourglass-shaped polypropylene structure functions as a sidetable or stool. Take off its lid and use it for storage, or even an ice bucket.

Adding a modern chair to your decor will up your sophistication level as well as seating options. A $100 polypropylene “Bellini” chair from Heller or a $239 fiberglass Modernica-made sidechair definitely aren’t bank-account busters. An unusual honeycombed-back chair designed by Konstantin Grcic is a show-stopper at $294.

Hive’s selection of housewares includes Alessi’s line of lust-worthy condiment sets, corkscrews and peppermills. Those who can’t afford the $395 Frank Gehry-designed tea kettle can console themselves with a comical Philippe Starck-designed fly swatter for $15.


2204 N.E. Alberta St.


Can’t bear the thought of outfitting your home office to the tune of the Phil Collins soundtrack that Staples rocks? Well then, high-tail it to Office.

Located in the booming Alberta Street neighborhood, Office contains a lively mix of vintage and contemporary products for the modern worker. Design junkies Kelly Coller and Tony Secolo have been targeting “cultural creatives” since they opened last year with their expertly edited collection of work accessories.

The cleverly designed desk organizers from Blu Dot are an Office highlight. Blu Dot’s 2d:3d metal desk accessories feature a CD holder for $12, a catch-all stacking tray for $19 and an in/out tray for $29.

The “Bendant” light fixture from Philadelphia’s Mio Culture was named one of GQ’s 2005 products of the year. Made from a single sheet of die-cut aluminum, this $149 light fixture can be shaped into endless configurations.

As a showroom for the latest Herman Miller office chairs, Office lets customers test-sit the fully adjustable, ergonomic “Mirra” chair. With a back that pops off for customizable color options, it’s a home-office tax write-off at $739.

Office’s selection of vintage metal desks is cleared out in semi-annual sales in January and June. During these sales, you can score a well-priced Boeing-inspired tank desk along with functional vintage typewriters and telephones.

City Liquidators

823 S.E. Third Ave.


City Liquidators has been a Portland institution for 29 years. Its sprawling warehouse space features four floors and 167,000 square feet of deeply discounted, new-from-the-factory items. Located in the city’s Southeast District, the store is a shopping adventure for those spending $5 or $5,000.

Store owners Pamela and Walt Pelett are fond of saying, “Cheap isn’t a four-letter word.”

The first-floor odds-and-ends area is an obstacle course of inexpensive housewares, including serving platters for $9, vases for $5 and photo frames for $3. Massive terra-cotta pots from $69 are a great deal if you’re outfitting a patio.

Make your way to the second and third floors, where furniture literally is stuffed to the rafters. Score a full-size microfiber couch from the company Ashley for $379. Looking for the ultimate kitsch piece for your home? City Liquidators is packed with the unique and unusual, including a five-foot-tall ceramic ice cream sundae for $399, and massive sarcophagus storage cabinets for $899.