When a mixer at Target cheers you on

Oct 18, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Topics: Food, Life, Materials

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.

Newest Love: Dry-Erase Paint

Apr 13, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Don't throw your food.  Don't kick the seat in front of you.  Don't run by the pool.

Life is full of Don'ts.  That's why I love it when we can move a Don't-Do item to the To-Do list.

So let your imagination wander.  DO draw all over ANY surface painted with IdeaPaint, a dry-erase paint that only needs one coat.

One last Don't to add to the Don't-Do list:  Don't let the edges of dry-erase boards and paper pages hamper your creativity.

Nagging energy questions, answered

Dec 15, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Porch lights are great, especially during Halloween.

Ever wondered how much it costs you to leave your computer or porch light on all night?  Here's your answer. Cliff Notes: Turn computer off when not in use, you're bleeding money even if it's in sleep mode.  Leave porch light on (it does wonders for neighborhood safety) but use a compact fluorescent (and a timer, too - then it turn off in the morning and you don't even have to think about it).

Topics: Life, Materials

Check out a Kill A Watt

Sep 28, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our local Multnomah Public Library lets patrons borrow a Kill A Watt device to use in their home.  This device measures how many watts your fixture or appliance uses.  You just plug the appliance into the device, and the device into an outlet.  You can also measure phantom energy loads, which is the amount of energy an appliance uses even when it's technically turned off.  You know that little red light that says your TV is off?  Or the digital clock on your trusty microwave?  The Kill A Watt can tell you how much energy those little things are using, too.

The best solution for saving phantom energy is to plug a cluster of appliances into a power strip, then switch off the power strip when those appliances are not in use.  This is especially helpful around the media console - TV, stereo, DVD player, etc. - where it's a pain to turn everything off one at a time.  I know those digital clocks are reset every time they are unplugged, but do you really need 13 synchronized digital clocks in your kitchen? I didn't think so.

The device has been around for a while, but what got me excited is the fact that my library lets me and everyone else check it out and use it.  Not everyone needs to own a Kill A Watt, but I bet many people want to try it out for a few weeks around their home.  Find out if your local library has this device or something similar available, and if not, it would be worth requesting it.

Choosing wood is like choosing an outfit.

May 26, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

a fine example of like-materials coming together and living in harmony... I hope you'd agree.

Just like in fashion, colors, textures, and proportions should be considered, especially when combining like-colors and like-materials.  We want to avoid the "tried but failed" look, like wearing denim on denim.

In this Portland bedroom addition (still under construction), we carefully chose a hemlock ceiling, douglas fir window, and cork floor in finishes that work well together.

The crowning touch is the custom-blended white paint color the owners chose.  Very nice.

The room is warm yet neutral, ready to serve as a backdrop for their life ahead.

When two countertops meet…

May 18, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

...they gently embrace each other.

A kitchen remodel in Portland, currently in progress.  Caesarstone quartz "Pebble" in honed finish, over a custom beech butcher block eating counter.  The eating counter will float across a floor-to-ceiling window with folding glass panels.

Almost complete – Remodel and Addition in Albany, California

Apr 19, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

The custom casework under the stair articulates the stepping profile.  It also creates an artful display on an otherwise unusable wall.

Casework by City Cabinetmakers, construction by Tom Dannenberg Company.

The windows between the upper and lower cabinets illuminate the Kitchen; the Hakatai red tile backsplash compliments the red cords of the Caravaggio pendant by Cecilie Manz.

We'll post more photos after the project is complete and we have Joe Fletcher, our lovely photographer, do his magic.

Fencing – a sense of privacy

Mar 3, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

What is privacy?  With fences, it's never true privacy, but at best, a sense of enclosure and quiet, while still providing light and visual transparency.

I visited the Portland Japanese Garden with my family last weekend and saw this fence, which delicately achieved everything.  The top half is opaque, shielding our view from where we would usually register moving objects and color; the bottom half is translucent, with some interest to keep your eyes in the foreground, while still allowing the feeling of depth to what is beyond.  Critters and leaves can move freely at the bottom, which also keeps your interest close to the ground.  To mask the traffic noise, there was a water feature in front of the fence (called a shishi-odoshi, literally translated as a deer-scarer) creating white noise and more interest. Nice!

Color and texture

Feb 26, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

At Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland