Diablo Magazine April 2014 : Page 46
stylish & practical FAMILY HOMES REIMAGINED 26 CSL TOUR TH
Stylish & Practical Family Homes Reimagined
Charm, Whimsy, and Bliss: Early and Mid-Century Homes Dressed Up
Charm, whimsy, and blissful comforts percolate through the five homes in the Heart of the Home tour from the Children’s Support League of the East Bay (CSL). The nonprofit, all-volunteer CSL traditionally selects remarkable and winsome properties, and this year is no exception. This springtime event held on April 25 and 26 marks its 26th consecutive tour.
Diversity in style, architecture, furnishings, and lifestyle are the tour’s hallmark. Located in Piedmont and the adjacent Oakland hills, with homes built in the early and mid-decades of the 20th century, the tour presents a plethora of new fashionable decor and decorator solutions.
Each home has its own set of intrigues. One, seemingly modest on the approach, opens to walls of nonstop westerly views cleverly captured from practically every room. More traditional homes are transformed: one seamlessly redesigned to look like an entirely different house, and another with its outside shell retained despite a complete interior makeover.
Inside several featured homes, worldwide art reflects the joy of foreign travel, with beautiful collectibles that have grown into family legacy. A Tudor, gorgeous and stately, is chock-full of antiquities and artifacts, ranging from significant to fanciful. Another, a beautifully preserved brown shingle, propels the visitor along a collectibles path, shining a light on the family’s life trajectory in their world travel business.
ART FOR ART’S SAKE
This year’s event is defined by art and artful choices: Decor and designer boldness excite the mind and ignite the spirit with visual spaces that really pop. The Heart of the Home Tour endures and grows in popularity because: Who doesn’t like loading up on new ideas to get better organized and to make home sweet home an even more endearing place? Strolling through other people’s houses (let’s face it) is simply fascinating. Each home’s backstory opens the book on how to refresh or remodel.
CSL extends gratitude to the generous families who graciously open their homes to make possible the tour event, which raises funds to help at-risk children in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. To date, CSL has awarded $3.1 million in grants to nonprofit agencies.
A popular two-day boutique opens at the Piedmont Community Center, and it’s abuzz with plenty of trendy vendors selling fashion accessories, jewelry, home goods, and gifts. Timing is ideal to shop for a Mother’s Day present or for favorite teachers as end-of-school-year mementos.
VIP: A VERY IMPORTANT PATRON
The VIP tour package includes not just the tour of the fabulous five but a fun, fresh lunch; an invite to the kickoff party the night before the tour (Thursday, April 24); continental breakfast with a keynote speaker prior to the tour open on Friday, April 25, and early admission to the hosting Tudor estate. Each VIP ticket holder is automatically entered into a top-prize raffle drawing.
FRESHLY MADE LUNCHES
Crowd pleasers El Sur, serving house-made empanadas, and Mayo & Mustard, with deli-style sandwiches, park their trucks at the Piedmont Community Center on tour days. The lunch option is an add-on to the tour ticket price. Dessert is on sale from The Lemon Girl's pastry chef Cheri Robertson, back by popular demand with gourmand treats.
A Tranquil Scandinavian
A substantially changed interior showcases the makeover of a Piedmont mid-century colonial built in 1941. While the painted front door pops in a pool-blue shade, the hillside home’s exterior is otherwise original with its simple columns and pretty cutwork trim on doorways and windows. Inside however, is decidedly a thoroughly modern Scandinavian. “The home was a massive fixerupper,” said Helene Linder who teamed with her husband Jef Bekes, both design professionals, and architectbuilder Steven Shirley to rip to the studs the outdated, the worn, and the dark. From a crowded warren of rooms the spaces are transfixed by light and openness on two levels. Light-hued built-ins contrast with deep espresso stained hardwood floors, and French doors open to an ipe wood deck. Helene’s downstairs studio for her interior design and glass artwork was carved from the tall ceilinged lower level and is a space anchored by stylish mid-century display cases similar to the display wall upstairs. Each room, even the laundry, is thoughtfully conceived for not just craft and beauty but to fully maximize the square footage, a significant guiding principle in Scandinavian design.
A LOVINGLY PRESERVED BROWN SHINGLE
A family home that’s stood the test of time for more than 100 years, this two-story 1910 Piedmont brown shingle was enlarged to add a breakfast room and den on the first floor and a bath and study on the second level. Form, color, and texture create a subtle theme of curves on the ceiling wallpaper, carpet, and fabrics complementary to the sitting area furniture’s curvy profiles. The tucked away powder room beneath the stairs is distinctive for its big bold patterned walls in a small space. New lighting fixtures are organic and airy in the dining and breakfast rooms, and the kitchen’s graced with a trio of handblown glass pendants. The view through the dining and living rooms to a sunny enclosed porch overlooks the garage roof decked out in upholstered wicker, making a perfect perch above the quiet shady street. Every nook and corner holds collectibles from exotic and far-off places, according to homeowner Amie O’Shaughnessy who is founder and managing editor of family travel company Ciao Bambino.
COMFORT, BEAUTY, AND FAMILY LIVING
Metals, mirrors, and vintage blend cohesively with new Mediterranean decor, as this family works their magic to imprint personal style on the home. They recently completed a 14-month remodel, making major upgrades to the Harbord Drive, Oakland, property. Previous owners added onto the traditional-style home built in 1924, but the current renovation surpasses that with a new master bedroom and bath extending the wing, a bigger and new kitchen and family room, and a lower-level double garage excavation. The refurbishing created space for a comely and masculine dark wood office sporting leather walls and adjoined by a 1,200-bottle wine cave. The entire home is high-tech wired for music, media, and security by remote access.
Viewed from the curb, the house dramatically metamorphosed into a broad expansive edifice perched idyllically on a small knoll and painted in a buttery creamy yellow shade, with curved ironwork adornment. When the family arrived seven years ago, the now spacious grassy rear yard was an asphalt driveway with concrete slab, and the landscape had fallen into neglect. To achieve this peaceful symmetry, a lot of jackhammers cranked up, and several mature trees were uprooted and replanted—no small feat— and survived. French doors open to the yard’s patio pavers covering the home’s entire breadth and punctuated by a custom stainless steel grill and prep kitchen, fully equipped for al fresco cooking, dining, and hosting.
IT’S THE VIEWS
In the rolling hills of upper Rockridge, a Country Club Drive home’s low profile whispers a contemporary promise within, and it delivers. The present owners pulled out all the stops with a total house transformation of this 1955 traditional built on two levels. From the moment of entry, it’s the views. Operable floor to ceiling glass walls bathe the interior in light with unobstructed views of Oakland and San Francisco. By virtue of the space’s openness the effect is astonishing (see photo on page 48). In the dining room, a massive hand honed blackwalnut slab table hails from the wife’s family Iowa farm; and the fireplace’s Serengeti marble surround feels like leather, a choice inspired by a zebra trophy hung above. The towering black lacquer and zinc credenza visually divides the dining room from the kitchen and hosts the bar. The state of the art stainless steel kitchen and matched butler’s pantry are stunning in white cabinetry; and over the Wolf cookstove proudly reigns a pewter bull’s head, a choice so perfect that a showy custom vent hood was scrapped in favor of the bull. Architectural tray ceilings with concealed lighting cleverly demark the entry gallery and areas for reclining and dining, making this rebuilt home valued for comfort and beauty, luxury, and enjoyment.
A STATELY GORGEOUS TUDOR
The Heart of the home is a French country kitchen and family room in this well admired 1925 Tudor on Crocker Avenue in Piedmont. Retaining the beautiful original architecture, the owners in their fine stewardship of the property have tastefully adapted modern comforts in an extensive kitchen/family/deck remodel. While the formal living room cheekily sports a pool table, eclectic artifacts abound with paintings, sculpture, furniture, and collectibles. Every wall has stories to tell of the marvels from a family’s worldwide travels. This is a home so beautifully crafted in each facet, it’s deserving of careful study, but the pièces de résistance are the fascinating kitchen and wine cellar. A pantry was reimagined into an artistry of finely built cabinetry, art glass and patterned oak floor. A pot rack hung with copper cookers and pans stands ready atop a La Cornue range in steel and copper with gas burners, broiler, simmer French Plat, and pot-filler faucet. So meticulous is the manufacture of the custom cookstove it’s monogrammed with the family name. An oversize island with zinc counter provides ample prep space, and twin dishwashers are cleverly concealed in the furniture style cabinetry painted in harmonizing shades of blue-gray. Hi-tech appliances sit comfortably next to antiquities. A winding staircase that’s a craftsman’s delight leads from the kitchen to the wine cellar, its stellar design fitted with cubbies from ceiling to floor and replete with hidden shelves secreting even more precious vintages.
Friday, April 25
Saturday, April 26
Home Tour Hours:
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
$45 Tour Only
Tour + Lunch $55
On tour days:
$50 Tour Only
Tour + Lunch $62
VIP TOUR PACKAGE
VIP Package $125 includes
Tour + Lunch, Kickoff Party,
Breakfast Buffet and Speaker,
First Admission to Tudor home
BOUTIQUE & RAFFLE
Open to public at
Piedmont Community Center
711 Highland Avenue
Friday, April 25
10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
CSL is a voluntary 501(c)
nonprofit whose purpose is
CSL invites new members and tour day docents.
Tel. 510.338.4521 or email