Nick & Stacy's Ping Pong Palace

Nick & Stacy's Ping Pong Palace

Brandon Roberts
Sep 30, 2010

Name: Nick, Stacy, son Mateo and dog Nemo
Location: Hawthorne district — Portland, Oregon
Size: 2,800 square feet
Years lived in: 12 years — owned

The 1943 Italian Villanette-style home owned by industrial designer Nick Thomas and his wife Stacy, a senior project manager with a public involvement firm, reflects both his sharp design-savvy ingenuity and their collective sense of delight as new parents. From the wire butterflies that adorn the ceiling of the dining room to the sleek shrine to ping pong they've built in their basement, the Thomas family has the kind of home that invites family members, friends, and neighbors— many of whom played ping pong in their basement with the house's previous owners as kids— to kick off their shoes and just hang for a while.

When Nick and Stacy Thomas moved into their first home in 1998, Nick knew they had their work cut out for them. The house had been abandoned for 15-20 years and the basement was flooded. Nick had been "stalking" the place for months, after real estate agents kept showing them houses that weren't right for them.

"I wanted an original," he demanded. When a real estate agent finally relented and showed him the house, he knew it was the house for them. "This house was way too intimidating for the average home buyer but I saw the potential."

12 years later, the house stands as a testament to the couple's hard work, Nick's exacting eye for detail, and a deeply shared sense of family history. The table in the dining room was a Danish modern piece refinished by an older family friend who'd had it when he was a young dad himself. The wire butterflies that adorn the ceiling of the dining room that once delighted their 3 1/2 year-old son Mateo when he was an infant now are a point of fascination for Stacy's 1 1/2 year-old nephew (the son of Stacy's brother, Tyson). Mateo sleeps in a cool asymmetrical bed Nick made for him. The cafe curtains in the kitchen were made by Nick's sister Holly out of napkins nabbed from a famous french restaurant to commemorate one of the best meals of their lives. Old photographs of Stacy and Tyson's father, Rollie, taken when he was a young man, were enlarged to adorn the chic basement recreation room where the couple entertain friends and family-- often challenging them to a fierce game of ping pong.

Ingenuity and fun are themes throughout the Thomas household. From converting a mod 60's console into a sink or making doors out of old oil paintings for a floating cabinet that hides ping pong supplies in the basement, or even making lamps out of air filters, Nick's unique vision is felt throughout their family home-- and Stacy, whom Nick describes as an "incredible cook"--truly brings the heart to the space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Nick's Style: Minimal and practical. I prefer to enhance what already exists as much as possible.

Inspiration: Found objects.

Favorite Element: The stereo console I built from the house's concrete form boards, found objects and in-house materials.

Biggest Challenge: Decorating.

What Friends Say: They utter my lingo: "It's dialed up!"

Biggest Embarrassment: No embarrassments, just experiments.

Proudest DIY: Installing French doors that lead out to a patio. We value our patio time here in Portland.

Biggest Indulgence: High quality finishes and surfaces.

Best Advice: Follow through on your vision or idea

Dream Sources: An old industrial factory filled with its original equipment.

Resources of Note:


    • Pratt and Lambert Rialto
    • Pratt and Lambert Puff Ball
    • One-Shot Metallic Gold Lettering Enamel


    • Railing and Canopy - custom, Nick Thomas Design
    • Light fixture - 50s fiberglass butterfly bowl (not pictured)


    • Sofa - vintage, re-finished and re-upholstered
    • Stereo console - custom, Nick Thomas Design
    • Danish modern chair - inherited
    • fireplace - custom, black anodized aluminum panels with orig tile
    • curtains - Decor Delux
    • Lamps - vintage


    • Table - gifted, re-finished
    • chairs - vintage
    • Art Deco Light - hand painted antique by mom


    • 4" x 12" tile - Pratt and Larsen "Craftsmen"
    • Counters - Ceasarstone Quartz
    • Floor - Coved Marmoleum
    • Cabinets - custom, historically correct
    • Lighting - School House Electric


    • Counter - black anodized aluminum
    • Curtains, bench, shower curtain - Decor Delux
    • Tile - original


    • Floating credenza with 60s art print doors - custom, Nick Thomas Design
    • Gobo Light Projector - custom, Nick Thomas Design
    • old family photo triptyque - Pushdot Studio
    • coffee table - vintage
    • fireplace - DIY with American Clay Porcelina "Snow Leopard"
    • Wallpaper - Cole & Sons "Malachite" by Piero Fornasetti
    • Machine Art Displays - manufactured by Nick Thomas Design
    • Vintage credenza and basin - custom, Nick Thomas Design
    • Curtains, window treatments, duvet, fabric ceiling shades - Decor Delux
    • chrome pendants - vintage
    • smoked mirror valence & bar top inlay - Coast Mirror and Glass

Thanks, Nick and Stacy!

Images: Leah Harb

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