Light on a Stair

The repurpose and Upcycle trends in architecture and design have led to a renewed curiosity in the past histories and potential future uses of the objects we come in contact with on a daily basis.  That a table, door, or accessory we’ve incorporated into our everyday lives could’ve once held a completely different form or use is an inspiring notion.  A recent Jarvis remodel project upholds this spirit by re-imagining the ways to light a stairway.

Light on a Stair

This Berkeley home, recently remodeled under the direction of Jarvis Architects Robin Pennell and Cindy Chan, features a skylight with a unique back story.

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Above: detail of art glass panelling on skylight


The skylight began as a standard french door unit, one of a pair of doors fitted with art glass panels.  The door was then trimmed down to window frame size and installed in a new ceiling opening above the stairway.  Since the house has two stories, the architects designed a skylight well, situated in the attic above the new skylight, to bring bright, ambient light to an otherwise shadowy stairway.  Outfitted with gloss white sheetrock, the skylight fixture creatively and resourcefully reproduces the look of reflected daylight.  The new door-turned-skylight acts a portal for spaciousness and light in the home.

Spotlight on Sidelights

Second floor terrace with custom sidelight window fixtures provides backyard breeze and enjoyment from above



The owners of this Rockridge home, built on a steep downslope, wanted to bring more light, ventilation and views of outside scenery into their dining room.  Jarvis Architects worked with them to design a ‘terrace’, increasing continuity between interior and landscape and imparting access to the outdoors despite the steep incline of the terrain.

The original design called for a set of sliding French doors with flanking sidelights, stationary door-height windows that would extend the thrust of the doorway and allow for maximum scope of view.  However, the owners wanted a design that would provide ventilation even while the doors were closed. Working together with Greenfield Building and ASAP Window and Door, they came up with an ingenious awning/door combo, in which an awning window is set atop each sidelight, enabling fresh airflow in a child- and puppy-proofed environment.


Above: Sidelight, with awning window detail


This project epitomizes the collaborative nature of designing and building a home.  It is a process that begins with a wish list and does not end until the last truck drives away. The most successful projects are the ones where everyone plays an active, contributing role.


Adding Flair With Flare

Oakland home gets an update with flare from added shingling


Located on Parkside Drive in Berkeley, this house originally had shingles exclusively on the upper level, and stucco on the lower and main level exterior.  The decision to shingle down to the lower level provided a challenge: how to design a transition to the main level stucco, while incorporating a bay window-level water table, without appearing disjointed?  The answer was the addition of a delicate flare detail, which was extended out to the depth of the water table.  The graceful curve of the shingled surface functions both practically and aesthetically by smoothing the transition between surfaces, and integrating the water table as a design element.


Above: water table and flare detail


The plan was to paint the shingles according to the design of the original house.  However, when the natural shingles were installed they were just too beautiful to paint, so the decision was made to stain them instead.  Keeping the shingles natural was a fantastic decision on the part of the homeowners.

Addition and Remodel

1910 Bungalow Hallway Gets a Second Chance

Final-15 Final-5 Final-6Through a string of continuous room additions, this 1910 Bungalow had become a hallway to nowhere with virtually no connection to the large backyard.  Whereas before the long angled hall had seemed a confused byproduct, with the help of Jarvis Architects it became a dynamic and multi-dimensional space, connecting the living spaces to each other and to the outdoors, and giving the home a big heart.

(re)Imagining an Original

Kellerman Kitchen Kellerman Bathroom


Originally designed by John Hudson Thomas in the 1920’s, this Berkeley house had been subsequently remodeled in a style unbefitting of the original structure’s robust quality.  Jarvis was enlisted to update its interior structure.

With the original blueprints as a reference, our architects re-articulated key borders and transitions between spaces, fostering open mobility throughout the house.  Mindful of the building’s heritage and with minimum changes to the exterior, they expanded the kitchen into an adjoining rear hall and room, opened up the dining room, turned a small bath into a pantry, and expanded the master bath to incorporate a former attic room. The kitchen renovation utilized details based on the original house design, while incorporating modern appliances, lighting and plumbing.  This remodel imagines what the original designer might have done were he alive today.

A new window over the tub in the master bath replicates the design of an adjacent original window, upholding seamless continuity between new and existing structures.

Good, Better, Best!

How a simple Stucco bungalow is transformed into a Mission Style home with a new front porch and attached garage


Existing front elevation




Approved with a Front yard variance by the Piedmont Planning Commission

Using a photo as background, we produce a color perspective drawing that conveys the feel and true appearance of the design.

color sketch



Substantially Complete!

Rustic wood porch ceiling, wrought iron light sconces, and painted tile risers complement the heavy stucco buttresses, pillars, and arches.





arleta photo


Subcompact Bathroom

Certifiably the smallest permitted bathroom in Oakland!  Tiled shower pan is recessed in the floor, under flush teak boards.  Elite wall hung sink and vanity. Grohe faucet and shower fittings. Import Tile. Bathroom Machineries hoop shower curtain ring. Restoration Hardware glass shelf.
Don’t try this at home.

In Your Neighborhood- Best Second Story Subtraction

If it’s not an award category, it should be. Working closely with the City Planner, we restored the original Shingle style features to this central Piedmont home, which had been remuddled in the 1950s.
The master bedroom gained a dormer window with a bay view, the newly attached two car garage connects with the new basement level, and excavated soil was used to level the backyard.
In addition, there are glassy smooth gunite retaining walls in the basement, the wildly slopey upper floors are level, so this was not by any means just a pretty facelift!
Less is More!
Before & After

In Your Neighborhood – Not your Father’s Hallway

Every home needs a heart. This 1915 Berkeley Craftsman Bungalow needed simplification, a connection to the backyard and something fun to to pull it all together. The bedrooms were stacked behind the living spaces and did not leave enough room for a double loaded corridor through the house. In spite of the design trend for gratuitous angles, every now and then you really can use one. The tall angled hallway cuts through the home for the direct connection to the backyard and creates a light filled center to the home. The ceiling playfully rolls from one roof slope to the other and literally becomes the centerpiece of the home. Diana and Josh should see completion in the spring.


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In Your Neighborhood – Almost! New Montana Ranch Home

The new main house at the Triple Creek Ranch in Sheridan, Montana continues construction through the cold winter months. Close-in and insulation will be very soon, which means heat for the last stretch of building! The roof is a special corrugated Cor-ten steel that creates its own natural protective coating of rust, giving the home a wonderful patina and sense of history and style. Most of the stone comes from the ranch, which is surrounded by the Rockie Mountains just west of Yellowstone Park. Tough place to get to, but a hard place to leave!!!

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