Launch Slideshow

Canadian cedar, granite pavers, and sandblasted glass doors greet visitors on approach.

ranch revival

East Bay residence gets energy-efficient upgrade and new solar roof.

ranch revival

East Bay residence gets energy-efficient upgrade and new solar roof.

  • Canadian cedar, granite pavers, and sandblasted glass doors greet visitors on approach.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5618%2Etmp_tcm48-373618.jpg

    true

    Canadian cedar, granite pavers, and sandblasted glass doors greet visitors on approach.

    600

    John Sutton

    Canadian cedar, granite pavers, and sandblasted glass doors greet visitors on approach.

  • Sliding Douglas fir doors with rice paper sandwiched between the glass provide dining privacy when the need arises.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5615%2Etmp_tcm48-373591.jpg

    true

    Sliding Douglas fir doors with rice paper sandwiched between the glass provide dining privacy when the need arises.

    600

    John Sutton

    Sliding Douglas fir doors with rice paper sandwiched between the glass provide dining privacy when the need arises.

  • Ohashi Design improved the home's energy efficiency with new insulation, in-floor radiant heating, tankless water heaters, and an entirely new mechanical system.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5614%2Etmp_tcm48-373582.jpg

    true

    Ohashi Design improved the home's energy efficiency with new insulation, in-floor radiant heating, tankless water heaters, and an entirely new mechanical system.

    600

    John Sutton

    Ohashi Design improved the home's energy efficiency with new insulation, in-floor radiant heating, tankless water heaters, and an entirely new mechanical system.

  • Walnut millwork, a border of black river rocks, and a band of spotted gum flooring create an eclectic mix inside. The clients are fond of the tactile quality of materials.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5617%2Etmp_tcm48-373609.jpg

    true

    Walnut millwork, a border of black river rocks, and a band of spotted gum flooring create an eclectic mix inside. The clients are fond of the tactile quality of materials.

    600

    John Sutton

    Walnut millwork, a border of black river rocks, and a band of spotted gum flooring create an eclectic mix inside. The clients are fond of the tactile quality of materials.

  • A1 site plan site plan (1)

    The floor plan after the renovation.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp561D%2Etmp_tcm48-373663.jpg

    true

    The floor plan after the renovation.

    600

    Courtesy Ohashi Design Studio

    The floor plan after the renovation.

  • The existing house lacked curb appeal and largely ignored the street. Strangely enough, it also failed to address the water views from the rear.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp561C%2Etmp_tcm48-373654.jpg

    true

    The existing house lacked curb appeal and largely ignored the street. Strangely enough, it also failed to address the water views from the rear.

    600

    Courtesy Ohashi Design Studio

    The existing house lacked curb appeal and largely ignored the street. Strangely enough, it also failed to address the water views from the rear.

  • The revamped entry sequence and street elevation offer a much more pleasing scene. Thin-film photovoltaic panels applied to the standing-seam metal roof create a 3-kilowatt system that's largely hidden in plain sight.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5619%2Etmp_tcm48-373627.jpg

    true

    The revamped entry sequence and street elevation offer a much more pleasing scene. Thin-film photovoltaic panels applied to the standing-seam metal roof create a 3-kilowatt system that's largely hidden in plain sight.

    600

    John Sutton

    The revamped entry sequence and street elevation offer a much more pleasing scene. Thin-film photovoltaic panels applied to the standing-seam metal roof create a 3-kilowatt system that's largely hidden in plain sight.

  • The kitchen is a warm but modern blend of walnut cabinets, quartz counters, and stainless steel appliances.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp5616%2Etmp_tcm48-373600.jpg

    true

    The kitchen is a warm but modern blend of walnut cabinets, quartz counters, and stainless steel appliances.

    600

    John Sutton

    The kitchen is a warm but modern blend of walnut cabinets, quartz counters, and stainless steel appliances.

  • Correcting a previous mistake, Ohashi Design Studio opened up this '60s ranch to water views with a wall of aluminum and glass facing San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp561A%2Etmp_tcm48-373636.jpg

    true

    Correcting a previous mistake, Ohashi Design Studio opened up this '60s ranch to water views with a wall of aluminum and glass facing San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    600

    John Sutton

    Correcting a previous mistake, Ohashi Design Studio opened up this '60s ranch to water views with a wall of aluminum and glass facing San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Whether it’s a faux Mediterranean McMansion in Florida or a ranch in California, a tract home typically doesn’t conjure up design excellence. There’s just something about historical pastiche and cookie-cutter repetition that feels soulless. So when a pair of design-savvy house hunters found and purchased this tract home in El Cerrito, Calif., they called on Emeryville, Calif.–based Ohashi Design Studio to tap its unrealized potential.

Built sometime in the 1960s, the ranch was nothing special. It had an uninspired entrance, an unfortunate sunroom addition, and a convoluted floor plan with a tangle of dark rooms. In addition to a more streamlined design and light-filled interiors, “the clients wanted a house that was better suited for entertaining,” says principal Alan Ohashi, AIA. They also wanted to rectify the ranch’s most egregious flaw—its failure to exploit the view to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Energy efficiency was a major programmatic requirement, but the couple insisted it be seamlessly integrated. “They wanted to take advantage of any new energy efficiency technology available, but they wanted a beautiful house more than anything else, so the technologies had to work with the design,” Ohashi explains.

To preserve the context of the neighborhood, Ohashi and his wife and design principal, Joy, retained the house’s front portion containing the bedrooms, garage, and breakfast area and razed the rest. They organized the rebuilt structure in a large, open plan, with delineations for the main spaces and floor-to ceiling glass to promote views and light. They improved the building envelope with new insulation and topped it with a standing seam metal roof integrated with thin-film solar panels to supplement grid dependence. Radiant tubes embedded in the custom-colored concrete floor provide heating, and on-demand water heaters fitted with recirculating pumps further promote efficiency. The firm also added obligatory Energy Star appliances and dual-flush toilets.

Ohashi says the clients’ fondness for materiality—most notably their “love of unfinished wood with character” and other tactile characteristics—drove many of the firm’s design decisions. Showcased materials include white cedar at the entrance and rear, red cedar interior paneling, luminescent tile encasing the fireplace, and striated ceramic in the baths.

The completed project not only gave the clients the view-embracing, energy-efficient house they had craved, it also proved a bellwether for the firm. “This project is one of our earliest experiences with using sustainable design principles, and we’re happy with the way we were able to integrate them into the design,” the architect says. “Every project we do now employs as many sustainable strategies as possible.”


Mid-Century Makeovers

project: East Bay Hills Residence, El Cerrito, Calif.
architect: Ohashi Design Studio, Emeryville, Calif.
general contractor: Creative Spaces, Oakland, Calif.
project size: 2,230 square feet (before); 2,435 square feet (after)
site size: Approximately 0.2 acre
construction cost: $400 per square foot
photography: John Sutton

performance upgrades

• Newly insulated building envelope
• Galvanized standing seam metal roof with an integrated 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system
• Double-glazed Energy Star–rated windows
• Radiant heating embedded in concrete floors
• Tankless water heaters
• Recirculating hot water
• Dual-flush toilets
• Low-flow faucets and showerheads
• Energy Star–rated appliances
• Certified renewable Canadian cedar