Photo above: Rick Slagter

By Jack Rubinger

Rick Slagter is happy to be home again.

The 63-year-old furniture store owner and his wife Tammy returned to their Montavilla neighborhood to re-open Natural Furniture on September 1, which had been located in the NE Broadway area for 40 years.

One historic moment? Slagter remembers when Bill Walton came to check out the store back when he was with the Blazers in 1977.

“Our landlord decided to close the building,” he said. “He gave us a year to find a new location and we lucked out with this new space which is just a few blocks from our house.”

The new store features the same type of solid wood unfinished furniture that’s been popular for decades with a few new added accessories like baskets and lamps. Almost everything can be painted or finished in many different colors and finishings.

This do-it-yourself approach has proven be “recession-proof,” according to Slagter.

Tammy was delighted to convert the raw space into a warm, hospitable store and choose all new furnishings, counter tops and a sweet kids area.

Standing somewhere between Ikea and Pottery Barn on the quality/price spectrum, Natural Furniture offers chairs, chests of drawers and bookcases and other items that range from about $80 to $200 or more depending on size.

Bookcases are a perennial best-seller, perhaps due to Portland’s love of reading.

While most of the sturdy furniture fits into the alder, pine and maple categories, there has been a surge in popularity with furniture made from rubber trees which have beautiful grain and a quality look.

One of the most unusual and practical items is a lift top coffeetable which saves space and is perfect for writing, eating and playing computer games.

All the furniture comes from local craftsmen as well as trusted national companies. Combining timeless, real wood furniture with attentive customer service, Natural Furniture seems right for SE Portland’s mix of cozy bungalows and contemporary building styles.

Natural Furniture is now located at 7960 SE Stark St. Open Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm.