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.

What a difference color makes

Feb 22, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

We are currently observing construction of a second-story addition to a house in Albany, California.

Residence in Albany - BEFORE color change (but AFTER second story addition)

We'll post more photos once the project is complete, but I wanted to share before and after photos of the exterior colors, which I think makes a world of a difference, not only to the feel of the existing facade, but also to the new volume as a whole.

Residence in Albany - AFTER color change

The white trim accentuates the window openings, and the house looks brighter.

Here's another project, this one in Portland, Oregon, where the exterior color also transformed the house:

Residence in Portland - BEFORE

Residence in Portland - AFTER front porch addition and color change

If you'd like to see more before and after photos, feel free to check out our facebook albums here:

North Portland residence breaking ground

Feb 20, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Corner of existing garage, and form work for new foundation

We have started construction on one of our projects in North Portland: a modern two-bedroom two-bath addition to a traditional home. The form work for the foundations are in, and you can get a sense of how the addition will make a courtyard-like space that is accessible from both bedrooms and the original house. We're excited to see things take shape!

The owners (a fun and active family of three) are living in the home during construction, and the connection between the main house and addition will be made at the very end.  Special thanks to Lorence Brothers Construction for all their hard work so far.

Topics: Projects

Project photos on Facebook

Jan 25, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

We've started posting project albums on Facebook, so that our clients can share their before and after photos with their friends and family. Our clients have been nice enough to share their albums with you, too. Just click on the badge below and you'll be redirected to our Facebook page. While you're there, become a fan to get updates on new albums and projects!

Topics: Projects

If the question is “when”…

Nov 17, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa

working hard

Back in September my family and I were visiting relatives in California.  My sweet mother-in-law has a wonderful selection of magazines in her house, and while my son was doing laps in their yard with a bubble-blowing miniature lawn mower, I sat down and read through an issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

I find that as I get older, things no longer seem coincidental.  I don't know if that's because I know more and things have a better chance of connecting in some way, or if I've acquired a karmic connection with everything in the world.  Both reasons are equally questionable but on that sunny September day in California, I was amazed by how pertinent this issue of Better Homes and Garden was for me.

In particular, I want to share an article about "The Case for Remodeling Now", which takes you through the thought process of doing your house project now rather than later. (Sadly, the article is not available online; if you know anyone who has the September issue, it's definitely worth checking out).  It lists 7 reasons to consider the approach and timing of a remodel:

1.  You can get the job done quickly with a top pro.

2.  Renovation is on sale.

3.  Financing is cheap.

4.  You can save money for years to come with energy updates.

5.  You can be set when the market changes.

6.  Prices may be down - but they won't stay down.

7.  Renovate now - and enjoy it for years to come.

the makings of a master suite

I think this article is interesting because it could be written at any time and it would still be true.  Yes, the recession has put a damper on people's willingness to invest money into home improvements, but most of the 7 reasons above would be true in a better economy.  In the end, remodeling is good at any time if the advantages of having a new and improved environment for you and your family outweigh the temporary disadvantages of financing and construction dust.

Topics: Projects

One Room at a Time

Aug 7, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa

We've been looking forward to telling you about our new service, One Room at a Time, but it's been a super busy summer (which is a good thing!) and so, here's a summary of what we want you to know.

One Room at a Time is a turn-key, fast-track, design-build service where we transform a room (or two) for instant gratification.  We have teamed up with a great builder to provide a one stop shop for you to get your project done quickly and easily.  The response has been great, especially since we establish a hard cap on the budget, and then work backwards from there; we're only doing as much as you can afford, not a penny more.

kitchen - before

kitchen - before

You know what I'm talking about - that bonus room you've wanted, the kitchen that needs a facelift, an unfinished basement or attic with so much potential.  And you keep hoping that you'll have time next weekend to work on it, right?  Maybe you think the project is too small or the budget too tight for a builder, much less an architect?

kitchen - after

kitchen - after

Well, let me tell you a little bit about our approach.  My lifelong motto for practicing architecture has been to make the world a beautiful place, one room at a time.  I feel it is my responsibility as an architect to ensure that everyone has access to good design expertise.  Small decisions (what paint color?  Which window manufacturer?  Where to go to buy a light fixture?) add up to define the quality of your space.  We've been shopping around, accumulating a resource library, drawing details, refining room layouts for our entire design career, so that we can help you with those decisions.  In order to make our services more user-friendly, and make the whole process easier to approach, we decided to package our services with a dedicated contractor.  You establish the budget, and we help you streamline design and construction, every step of the way.  The projects are small enough that we can go from our first design meeting to move-in ready in a few weeks.  We meet, we draw, we build, and PRESTO!  You are done!

bathroom - before

bathroom - before

The recession may have put your bigger dreams on hold, but that just means you need a little sanctuary in your house - a room you love - now more than ever, to escape the gloomy economy, and the colder months ahead.  Your quality of life could greatly improve by having one beautiful room in your house for you and your family, a place where you can (finally!) entertain your friends and be yourself.

bathroom - after

bathroom - after

It only sounds like a sales pitch because I am not very eloquent at telling you how much I believe in spreading good design.  Good architecture is for everyone.  And we want you to have it, one room at a time.

Topics: Projects

Top 7 list for designing your perfect home

Oct 29, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

This is an outline to a talk I have given in the past.  I think it's important for everyone to be well-informed, so I hope you find this list to be useful when approaching your next wonderfully dreamy idea.

Living the Dream: an insider’s guide to designing and building your perfect home.

1.    Philosophy.  Most importantly, you’re trying to make your surroundings into a reflection of who you are.  Consider forming a “mission statement” of sorts, aside from the wish list, which explains who you are, what you enjoy, and how you want that to be reflected in your environment.

2.    Wishlist.  Here’s where you list everything you’ve ever wanted to do, even if you don’t think it applies to design or to your immediate future.  The more comprehensive the list, the better the design.

  • a.     Scope of work – divide the list between needs and wants
  • b.    Budget – include a 15% buffer for contingency
  • c.    Schedule – when do you want to start or finish construction?

3.    Your team.  Mainly, you need an architect and a contractor.  If you have a particular architect or contractor in mind, have them help you find the other.  You want to make sure that everyone on your team works well together.

4.    Logistics – your architect can help you determine the parameters for your project.

  • a.    Property information
  • b.    Planning code
  • c.    Building code

5.    Design.  This is the fun part.  It’s also very intense.  Your architect will help you navigate through each phase of design, while keeping everything on schedule and on budget.  The goal is to get exactly what you want!

6.    Execution.  Your architect and contractor will be working with you through all phases.

  • a.    Design
  • b.    Building permit(s)
  • c.    Bidding/negotiation
  • d.    Construction

7.    Maintenance.  With a new environment comes a commitment to a new lifestyle.
It’s a long process of design and construction, so make sure you have fun during the process.  With the right support (this includes your architect, contractor, colleagues, and family members) it will be smooth and enjoyable.

old shadows

Sep 17, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

I love demolition.  You see layers of the past right before your eyes.

Demolition has started in a kitchen in Portland, OR and the space, devoid of cabinets and color, is just gorgeous.

p91712331Here's an old built-in ironing board nook (which was buried beneath sheet rock and layers of wall paper and paint), and you can even see where the ironing board used to be.

And the back side of old lath and plaster looks like icing layers on a cake.


New photos from our favorite photographer

Mar 27, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

It's always a pure joy to work with Joe Fletcher.

Here is one of the photos he took for two houses we designed in California.


Topics: Projects