n Couple bring urban contemporary style to their design/build business

by: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Kricken and James Yaker, owners of Vanillawood, relax in the build/design space, which also houses a retail center. The business is located at 16354 Boones Ferry Road in Lake Grove.

Those wishing to give their homes an upbeat, contemporary facelift now have a local resource in Vanillawood. Whether you are looking to design and remodel the complete house, renovate a single room or simply update furniture or accessories Vanillawood can provide the expertise to make the transformation happen.

Located at 16354 Boones Ferry Road in Lake Grove, the business is owned by the husband and wife team of James and Kricken Yaker. Kricken grew up in Lake Oswego and James in New York. They met in college and both had successful careers before going into the design/build industry.

While undertaking their own home renovation project in Venice Beach, Calif., the Yakers discovered they had a talent and passion for renovation.

“We fell in love with the process,” Kricken said. “You know that saying that if you do what you love it never feels like work? That was our ‘ah-ha’ moment.”

The couple had been wanting to “get off the hamster wheel” of Los Angeles for their children’s sake. When Kricken’s sisters moved back to Lake Oswego with their families, they decided to move back also, so that their children could grow up with their cousins.

Vanillawood offers unique home accessories and furniture, plus flooring, lighting, fabrics, wallpapers and paints. Items previously available only to the trade are available through Vanillawood to the general public.

That move happened about eight years ago and at the same time the Yakers launched their design build firm Vanillawood. From their home, James led the construction focus of the business while Kricken headed the interior design portion. They developed an online presence to promote their services and sell products, but it soon became apparent that a storefront would be beneficial to sell furniture and accessories and to meet with clients, so a small space was secured in the Pearl District.

“People like to touch and feel,” Kricken said.

When the lease on that space was expiring they looked for space closer to their Lake Oswego home. The space they found has all the dreamed-for elements: a light and bright space with garage doors that open to complement Vanillawood’s signature organic contemporary style, ample parking and a supportive community.

“Response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kricken said.

The couple say that working together has been beneficial in a number of ways. They are not afraid to disagree and challenge each other to be better.

“At the end of the day we know we are working toward the same thing — our family’s future,” Kricken said.

“We can take bigger risks,” James said. “We believe in ourselves, and we are taking the risks together, so at the end of the day we all know we did our best and gave it our all.”

Vanillawood intentionally limits the number of projects they work on simultaneously so they can oversee every detail. Vanillawood offers to the public a complete line of materials and accessories, which previously have been available only to the trade.

The couple is looking forward to getting involved in the community and welcome all to attend a grand opening event from 4 to 7 p.m. July 23.

Retail store and design showroom hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours are by appointment. Call 503-305-8350.

To view product lines and accessories, visit also offers unique gift items.

The Yakers pose in the design studio kitchen.This giant moss plaque makes an impressive statement on a wall.

Contract Publishing

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