Client Testimonial: Curtis and Sharon Sakai

Apr 26, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

We recently completed our design and construction administration services on a major remodel and addition in Berkeley, California.  We thoroughly enjoyed working with the owners, Curtis and Sharon Sakai, who really embraced the idea of a modern addition that contrasts with their existing Craftsman home.  The project entailed a two-story rear addition and detached studio. 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: 'Our experience working with Ogawa Fisher Architects was the complete package. Both partners, Lynn and Hiromi, took the time to listen to our priorities and present us with concepts and options which were on track and easy to
work from. We started with a vision of adding a modern addition to a typical older craftsman but knew it might be tricky to come up with a graceful integration of the old with the new.   Through productive meetings and suggestions both practical and creative, we worked out a formidable "wish list", specific requirements and in the end the final drawing was a distilled version of what would be our dream home. We can't speak enough of what a pleasure it was working with both of them. The process, particularly when you're building in the Berkeley Hills, is extremely grueling and their professionalism and good humor to help support and push through the red tape was a blessed relief. They were also a very big and integral part of the build out. [They were] very helpful in sorting out many contractor errors, revising drawings and acting on the best interest of the homeowner on various occasions. The end product has been more than we anticipated as a family. One of the key features of our architectural design was to have an openness and flow to our large under-utilized backyard. We opened up our floor plan to integrate a larger kitchen with adjacent breakfast nook and family room.  Large windows surrounding the view [of] the bay directs you to our decking and large back yard which we are now in the process of completing.  We have already spent wonderful times cooking to our heart's delight and entertaining in the Kitchen/Family room, as a family and with guests. In the years to come we anticipate enjoyment of this space and the backyard area providing us with great indoor-outdoor living. Another key feature of our new home is the master suite which we built upstairs. The thought and care put into this space has created a haven for both of us. We wake up to a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco cityscape .  The openness and finishes in the suite including the bath are light and tranquil. We thought we were at a resort for the first month of living there.  We pinch each other daily and are grateful beyond words. There are so many other features in our home which we could point out which were created with a lot of care, attention to detail and listening to the homeowner. I would recommend the Ogawa Fisher team to anyone with a project to enhance their living space.

[They are] good professionals, who we now consider good friends.' Thank you, Curtis and Sharon!  We also thoroughly enjoyed working with both of you.  We are so grateful that you had faith in our abilities.  You deserve the credit for pursuing good design, even through multiple hurdles.  We'd love to work with you again soon.

Topics: Projects

Fresh Press - Modern Geometry in North Portland

Jan 20, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Happy New Year everybody!  Sorry about the extended silence over the holidays.  Let's start the new year off with some press on one of our recent projects.

photo by Randy Rasmussen
Topics: Press, Projects

Colors, Textures, and Light

Nov 17, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

We are very happy with the photos Joe Fletcher took of our recent project in Albany, California.  He really captures the concepts that we considered during the design process: colors, textures, and light.

The stair well to the new second floor features a tall window, almost floor to ceiling, with operable awning windows for natural ventilation.  You can see the sun beaming through and illuminating the first floor.

Clean edges and asymmetry give a modern look, while wood keeps it feeling grounded and timeless.

We made sure that the differing wood species on the custom kitchen cabinets didn't clash with the details of the open dining room.

Black and red were used to articulate the kitchen.  The black toekick, a pretty standard detail in our projects, is effective in making the cabinets look less heavy, particularly when the cabinet and the floor are similar finishes.  Windows between the counter and upper cabinets provide a sliced and framed view of the yard.

A floor-to-ceiling window in the kitchen lets in a lot of light and separates the full height pantry wall from the counter space.  A lowered marble top is used for baking.

The upstairs bathroom has two high awnings and a skylight, all providing lots of natural light while maintaining privacy.  White cabinets and walls keep the room bright, and allows room for bold and darker colors to be used playfully in an otherwise compact room.

You can also view these photos and other projects on our Facebook page.

Topics: Projects

New album of old photos on our Facebook page

Oct 7, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Check out photos of a Berkeley Remodel and Addition we designed back in 2006.  Photos by Joe Fletcher Photography.

Here are some of the services we provided:

  • designed the new layout for their home, including the exterior aesthetic, interior flow, window placement, appropriate room sizes, and overall update on the house based on a more modern lifestyle
  • drew plans and elevations to help the owners understand the new look and feel of the house; designed custom cabinets for the kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathrooms to fit all their storage and use needs
  • helped the owners select exterior colors, interior colors, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, furniture, window coverings, and other design-related pieces
  • drew details and compiled schedules to obtain a building permit
  • helped the owners interview contractors, and negotiated the final bid
  • acted as owner's representative by overseeing construction, assisting the owner with last minute changes, and reviewing the contractor's invoices

And this is just a partial list.  We take care of each project as if it were our babies.  We love every home as if it were our own.  We treasure our projects and our clients.  And we are proud of that.

Topics: Projects

House Addition featured in Portland Architecture blog

Sep 21, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Brian Libby at Portland Architecture interviewed Hiromi about our recently completed project in North Portland, as well as our company's general approach to projects.  You can read more about it here.

Topics: Press, Projects

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.

And so it begins....

May 20, 2010 by Lynn Fisher

The start of construction is always exhilarating for us -- it's thrilling to see a project which we know so well through drawings start to become a real, built object.  For our clients, however, I think it's both exhilarating AND terrifying.  It's thrilling to finally begin construction, but once demo starts, someone with whom they have a new relationship (the contractor) has just torn off the back of their home.  There's no going back.

This project in Berkeley broke ground last week.  In the fall, they should be hosting Thanksgiving in their newly expanded home, with a new first floor rear addition containing a kitchen, eating area, and family room, and a new second story master suite.

Topics: Projects

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.

Go Kitchen Go!

May 4, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our lovely clients, Andrew and Peg, recently entered the Rejuvenation "Make your Home Your Own" Contest with photos of the kitchen we designed for them. Check them out!

If you like what you see, vote for their project and help them win the People's Choice award!

Topics: Projects

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.