Bernhard Ave project had a very unique scope of work. The owner, a retired teacher with a limited budget, needed to buy a house that also included a separate rental unit. Here, our design/build services started much earlier and were expanded to include consulting for purchasing a suitable property.  We began working with the client very early on and helped her find and buy the right property, which offered two independent living spaces. The property still remained within owner’s budget, even after we remodeled to the owner’s satisfaction.

The house on Bernhard Ave, bought with our help, had a large lot with access from north and south streets and included two modest size buildings at the north and south end of the lot.  The building at the north end was in fair condition so we were able to fix it for habitation first with less expense. The other building, the one on the south end, was built poorly and badly damaged due to the dry rot, foundation decay, and lack of proper exterior framing. Furthermore, we had to deal with numerous challenges during the renovation of the south end house, including the failing water-supply lines and substandard electric-supply cable, which made the plumbing and electrical system upgrades quite difficult. Additionally, the failing chimney collapsed during the demolition and rendered the fireplace useless, which in turn compromised the heating source for the living space.

To summarize, the building on the south end was dilapidated with one bedroom, one bath, a small kitchenette, and limited plumbing to support this all. The remodeling work required fixing the existing framing, plumbing, and electrical system before any other changes could be made. We took this opportunity to redesign the layout and rearrange the bedroom, closet, bathroom, and kitchen while updating these services.

We moved the kitchen to the back, where it could overlook the backyard, and connected it to a spacious deck facing the garden and hillside at the north. A short private hallway leads to the bathroom, bedroom, and front yard. The living room remained in its original location on the north side. Adding a foyer at the south entrance of the house offered a completely new experience and made the house more complete.


We faced a new challenge as we moved to the house on the south end. The owner, who was a retired teacher and a meditation/yoga instructor, wanted a living room that could also serve as a meditation studio when needed. To meet this requirement, we designed the living room with light and ventilation from three sides. We relocated the fireplace to the southwest corner of the living room and the wall facing the backyard. We also installed a large sliding glass door that connected the living room/meditation-yoga studio to the backyard patio and garden. This gave the owner the opportunity to teach yoga outdoors and enjoy nature. On the west wall, we added a window high on the wall to create space for a meditation altar below it. Our main achievement in this project was to accomplish all this within a tight budget.

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