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From Dark to Light – Construction Photos of a Cottage Home Remodel

Farrah Residence:  Construction progress photographs.  From left to right:  existing kitchen before remodel; earlier stages of construction showing new beam at longer span opening; new kitchen in construction with mosaic tile backsplash and fresh coat of paint on the walls.

The clients approached us after seeing their friend’s remodel plus addition project we worked on completed successfully and having witnessed the entire process from design through to completion.  The couple had a general sense of what they wanted to do with their house  but was open to ideas that we might have, which would be explored and uncovered through our unique and time tested process.  Their main request was that they wanted a home that was beautiful inside to match the charming exterior lemon yellow siding and cottage style detailing.  There was some work involved to transform the dated dark wood paneling and dark heavy beams with low ceilings that had some presence but felt overbearing.

We knew from our first site visit what not to do–that is to demolish and throw out the ceiling beams.  We were going to keep them and transform the beams entirely by making it something else.  Below is a picture of how the ceiling beams were updated along with the ceiling design being transformed into something else entirely.


Family Room Ceiling Beam Construction Progress Photographs.  From left to right:  existing ceiling beam before remodel; earlier stages of construction with existing ceiling beam; freshly painted new wrapped ceiling beam with existing T&G wood ceiling.

We were asked by some of our facebook page followers whether the wrapped ceiling beam was going to remain tan and white.  The picture below shows the ceiling beam before it was painted white.

 If you see the “On the Boards” page from our website, there’s a sketch rendering showing how this space was envisioned during design.  As you can see, the color scheme was altered but the overall strategy of opening up the kitchen into the family room and repurposing the existing beams remain.  It takes some practice, well actually years of training to be able to visualize the end result of the spaces envisioned in design.  It also takes patience and some faith to be able to sustain the initial design intent and execute those ideas into reality successfully.  All the clients go through some fear or doubt at some stage during construction, but once the finishes start coming together the excitement kicks in.  It’s the stage that makes everyone happy and anxious to finish so they can enjoy the newly created space.  The day we photographed the wrapped beams, we were told by the clients that they LOVED the beams.  We knew they would.  We just had to wait until they could see for themselves.

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Dow Residence Finishes Show Character

Our last update on this cottage home was when framing took place.  During framing, there’s much excitement but also some nervousness from the homeowner’s perspective.  It must be the difficulty in trying to visualize the finished space when you’re looking at stud wall and concrete footings.  But not these homeowners.  They were relaxed and always in a positive mindset, seemingly enjoying the design and construction process.   And their positive outlook has paid off in a big way as you can see in the following photos showing the latest stages of construction.

Exterior at EntryExterior Door

























































The choices they made for finishes and colors or even furniture pieces that are being converted to vanities are making their home a one of a kind special place.

Clients typically ask during the design process whether they should renovate in consideration for resale value or do what they want to do.  We recommend that you  highly customize the design to cater to your needs and goals.  It’s best not to worry about pleasing the future prospective buyer and you will be able to find a buyer with similar taste with yours.

The happy homeowners took this advice to heart and renovated this home by infusing both their personalities in every space and detail.


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Dow Residence Construction Update (Redondo Beach)

This charming cottage in Redondo Beach consists of a great room addition and remodel of the entire house. The original house was constructed efficiently utilizing one window size for the entire house. The addition and remodel attempts to carry on the simple construction methodology favored in post war construction and is mindful that the client spent her childhood in this house. Window openings were maintained on the street facade while the facade facing the backyard has larger openings to maximize use of daylighting.

Design elements were looked at carefully to enhance flow and emphasize Southern California lifestyle that connects the indoor spaces to the outside. The kitchen is now open to the living room and the new Great Room and has an eat-in counter. The laundry room is off of the main living spaces but enclosed and staged off from the garage. A new master suite has a spacious walk-in closet, a “hotel style” separate powder room off the vanity area, and a large luxurious shower room. Both the master bedroom and the Great room have direct access to the backyard.

Here are some photos taken earlier this week as we enter the plumbing and electrical installation stage in construction.





Renderings of Dow Residence.

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Winner of Houzz’s 2012 ‘Best of Remodeling’ Award

To our surprise, we were notified by the Houzz team minutes ago that we’ve been voted by the Houzz community as a winner of the first-ever “Best of Remodeling” award.  We’re excited and honored that our work has resonated with so many of the users on the Houzz community.

About Houzz

Houzz ( is the leading online platform for home remodeling, providing inspiration, information, advice and support for homeowners and home improvement professionals through its website and mobile applications. Houzz features the largest residential design database in the world, articles written by design experts, product recommendations, a vibrant community powered by social tools, and information on more than 1.2 million remodeling and design professionals worldwide who can help turn ideas into reality.


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Makino Restaurant Construction Update

As construction is nearing completion, the staff at Makino Restaurant are busy preparing for the opening day.  The purpose of this site visit was to experience and identify the difference in ambiance and lighting from day and night.  As the design team envisioned, the day time ambiance is cheeful and bright while at night the rich red and pumpkin orange accent walls transform to a deep and almost smokey hue.  The color scheme seems to reiterate the client’s goals.  They wished to have an ambiance that appeals to a wide range of clientele–families, couples, quick lunch with work buddies, company parties, and so on.  The pendant lighting sprinkled throughout the dining rooms bring out the shimmering gold pendant housing and adds additional interest to the dining rooms.

Makino BuffetMakino Dining Room Orange Wall






















Site elements are being constructed and this progress update unfortunately doesn’t allow you to see the entry in its immediate context.  Site is always important for every project and certainly for a Japanese restaurant.  No matter how tight space is in Tokyo, Japanese restaurants have some type of sequence of approach, sort of an interstitial space between public and private areas.  With more space available here, emphasis is placed on perspective view from the driver and pedestrian level.  Here are some views of the exterior still undergoing construction.  



































Some more updates to come as we near completion.

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Via La Brea Residence

We have been sharing with you construction progress of this estate in the Montemalaga area of Palos Verdes Estates on our Facebook page (  Each week during our site visit, we are astonished and continue to be surprised by the immaculate view.  As the house gradually takes shape and form, we are reminded and have been able to confirm our belief that the architecture must work with its surroundings and context.  While we certainly increased mass and substantially gained area in living space, we were very cautious to minimize impact to the natural topography and repeatedly reworked our site and grading plans to create a residence in harmony to its site.

This house has high ceilings and spacious common areas, yet the rooms were designed efficiently in comparison to comparable residences in the area.  As you walk through the house, you get a sense that the house was designed to offer the greatest views to the common areas rather than restrict the site’s amenity to private rooms.  This type of house encourages interaction and offers flexibility when entertaining guests.

Here are some pictures that start to tell this story.

Via La BreaThis picture was shot in the morning but you can still see the ocean and city view beyond the arches.







Via La Brea Exterior View from Garden

The view from the backyard looking at the balcony and loggia.








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Newton Residence Featured on Houzz

One of our favorite projects, Newton Residence is featured in Houzz.  To date, this photo is in 1174 ideabooks.  Perhaps the reason why this bathroom appeals to so many is a trick we use on our projects with restricted budgets.  We use an interesting material, say tile for this room, and mix it up with an inexpensive off the shelf double sink.  Combined, the room still feels modern, simple, and elegant but in a very relaxed, Southern Californian style.

For more on this bathroom and to read the Houzz article featuring the Newton Residence, click on the image below:

Newton Residence Bathroom


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Dow Residence Begins Construction

Very soon, we start construction on this charming house in Redondo Beach.  Most of the work occurs in the back part of the house facing the rear yard so when you drive by you may even miss the house under construction.  The fencing and sandbags around the property will tell you which one it is.

After construction, the owners will be enjoying a new open kitchen with lots of natural light, a new master bathroom suite with custom vanities and sink, a new great room, and many more improvements.  For construction updates, go to our facebook page at

View of Kitchen from Great Room



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Makino Restaurant Begins Construction

Restaurant Makino is under construction.  Nearly 6,000sf is being revamped to create a Japanese seafood buffet within the Executive Park properties owned by the Irvine Company.  The property is minutes away from the 405 freeway and the John Wayne Airport.  During our recent site visits, the construction crew was busy finishing the new buffet counter and walls for the support spaces.

Below is the rendered elevations showing the new entrance aiming to integrate a large part of the existing facade while transforming the feel to a new Japanese style restaurant.

Makino Restaurant Entrance and Interior Rendering


A look at the construction progress

Makino Restaurant Picture of Construction Progress

 Makino Restaurant Picture of Construction Progress

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Vista Real Residence featured in Houzz

One of our favorite features in this residence is featured in Houzz for the second time.

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