Powder Room Punch

Nov 30, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

We are in the final stages of construction on the Knott Street Residence, where we divided a bedroom into three parts:  a master bath and walk-in closet for the adjacent Master Bedroom, and a Powder Room that is accessed from the main hall.  We were elated when the owners expressed interest in having wallpaper on the Powder Room walls, and after an extensive search for the perfect pattern, we found the perfect scale and color, designed by Astek. It's a tiny room, and one would think the wallpaper would make it feel even smaller, but the dark shades and repetitive pattern actually create the reverse effect .  By pairing the formal pattern with bright trim and modern plumbing fixtures (we used a Duravit wall-hung sink, which is minimalist in design and also a space saver), it's a Powder Room where guests can feel like they are getting a proper welcome.  In the photo below, you see butcher paper on the sink and floor, to protect the surfaces while painting and cleaning was completed. The owners found a beautifully distressed wall-hung mirror from Rejuvenation, which balances the modern/traditional aesthetic.  We will have more (and better!) photos once the project is complete, but in the mean time, we couldn't wait to share our love for wallpaper.

Topics: Projects

Guggenheim paint colors

Nov 14, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Fine Paints of Europe now offers Guggenheim paint colors, which are inspired by their art collection and used throughout the museum.  Highly curated paint selections like this, along with other brands like Benjamin Moore's Affinity line (where all 144 colors are compatible with each other in any combination) take some of the guess work out of choosing the right color for your space.  We at OFA are constantly studying and incorporating more options, particularly when they are inspired by spaces we admire, like the Guggenheim in New York, which houses an impressive collection of modern art in a beautiful building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Do you have a favorite brand or collection of paint colors? Or are there spaces, private or public, where you feel they got the color just right?

Topics: Materials

Serene, modern, soft, timeless

Oct 20, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Thank you, Mt. Angel Abbey, for hiring Aalvar Aalto back in 1966.

Topics: Architecture

When a mixer at Target cheers you on

Oct 18, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Topics: Food, Life, Materials

Client Testimonial: Andrew Recinos and Peg Cooper

Oct 13, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our recent flurry of kitchen features has prompted us to look back at our past kitchen projects, and see the variety of different styles and needs we have encountered.  Each one is unique, which is what makes kitchens so interesting. It's one the most intricate rooms to design in a house. The Recinos/Cooper Residence kitchen is a study in efficiency.  Peg Cooper is a pastry chef, and wanted the flexibility to conduct classes in her kitchen.  Even through the confines of the house limited the size of the kitchen, both Peg and Andrew wanted it to operate like a commercial kitchen: with separate and efficient areas for prepping, cooking, and cleaning.  In addition, they wanted the style of the kitchen to stay true to the era of their Craftsman House. As always, we started by looking at the house as a whole, and evaluating essential design issues like natural lighting, traffic flow, and utility.  By relocating the rear entrance and studying the movements between the three workstations, we worked with the owners to create a spacious kitchen with distinct work areas and lots of storage. We recently asked the owners to share how they felt about the experience of working with us, from initial concept to project completion.  Here is what they said: "It is hard to believe that a kitchen remodel could change your life, but in many ways this is the case with the remodel designed and managed by Ogawa Fisher Architects.  Prior to the remodel, the kitchen was already the focal point of the house (so often the case, and more so with a toddler), which just exacerbated its deficiency.  Poorly laid out, dark, and cut off from the rest of the house, the kitchen was a constant source of frustration.  The Ogawa Fisher team imagined a new kitchen in the same space, which was well lit, well designed and integrated into the flow of the house – a focal point we actually want to spend time in.  The first time friends entered our house post-renovation, they tended to say the same thing – 'this didn’t just change your kitchen, it changed your whole house!'" Thank you, Andrew and Peg!  It's so rewarding to know that changes in one room can transform the feel of the whole house.  We really enjoyed working with you and hope we have the opportunity to collaborate with you again soon. Special thanks to Scorpion Construction for their hard work and craftsmanship; and to Kristin Beadle for the beautiful photography. For more images of this kitchen, feel free to browse the project album on our facebook page.

Topics: Projects

Two of our projects featured in another Houzz article

Oct 5, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Two of our projects (the Samaras/Sorensen Residence dining room and Novak Residence kitchen) were chosen for a featured Ideabook on Houzz's home page.  Woot!

For more photos of both projects, feel free to peruse the albums on our Facebook page.

Topics: Press, Projects

We are Kitchen of the Week on Houzz!

Oct 3, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

The Novak Residence project was featured as Kitchen of the Week on  Check it out!

Topics: Press, Projects

Selecting marble slabs

Sep 30, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

It is always exciting to go to the stone yard and select marble slabs for a project.  The large warehouses are filled with row after row of beautiful stone and granite, cut into approximately 5' x 8' slabs.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of looking through Carrara marble slabs for the Knott Street Residence project, where we are using it for bathroom vanities and thresholds.  It has been a while since we have used Carrara, but the look and feel of this particular stone is timeless.  The swirls of gray and cool white are so gorgeous it's breathtaking. It's fun to watch them move the slabs so that we can look at them one by one.  A rubber-tipped clamp hangs from a crane near the ceiling of the warehouse, and moving each piece from one side to the other is a cautious and time-consuming activity.  But it's totally fun to watch heavy things levitate. It's easy to get swept away by the beauty of these slabs, and forget what we're really there to do: select a slab that will work perfectly for the project.  Some things to remember when looking at natural stone: it's critical to pay attention to the pattern, and even bring a tape measure and some masking tape with you so you can understand where the pattern will go when the slab is cut, fabricated, and installed.  If there are large fissures, you'll probably want to avoid those slabs, as those areas are vulnerable to future cracking.  Look for any stains, rub them with your hand, and if they don't go away, you'll want to avoid that area for your project, or skip that slab all together.  If you see large mineral deposits or other imperfections in the middle of your favorite slab, one option is to configure the slab cuts such that the imperfection can fit within a sink cut-out, or place it between cuts. Lastly, stone is a precious and limited natural resource.  It's important to make sure that you are using the least number of slabs, and minimize waste.  If you can use the leftovers for floor thresholds, accent tiles, or even cheese boards, it is worth the extra effort to put it to good use.  If it's as gorgeous as this Carrara slab, you'll want it everywhere anyway.

Before and After: Novak Residence

Sep 15, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

It's not a true comparison to put our "before" photos, primarily taken for purposes of documentation and reference, to those of Lincoln Barbour's "after", which are shot by a professional and styled to showcase the design.  (And Lincoln is particularly good at making everything look fabulous - see him at work in our previous post.)  I should also add that the owners, Rachel and Mike Novak, are very clean and stylish people, and the "before" photos don't do their previous life any justice.  It just so happened that I took the photos on a Portland winter day, when things look especially dreary.  And I think the owners were clearing the cabinets to prepare for construction. (You can see another post about this project here, where we explain our project concept in more detail.)

So, the before/after photos are not intended to scrutinize the "before", but to show you the dramatic transformation between the "before" and "after".  Our hope is that you can see good architecture at work:

  • warm natural and artificial lighting
  • simple, refined lines
  • openness and good flow of spaces
  • smart use of natural materials
  • an improvement to the space, and to quality of life

Let us know what you think.

And as always, we can't do it without great clients (thanks Mike and Rachel) and a great contractor (thanks Scene Construction).  A fun project is always a collaborative process.

Rear elevation - before

Rear elevation - after

Rear elevation - before

Rear elevation - after

Rear mud room - before

Mud Room combined with Kitchen - after

What was the Mud Room - after

Looking into the Kitchen from the Dining Room - before

Looking into the Kitchen from the Dining Room - after

Topics: Projects