50 Linda Vista, Orinda

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Suzi O’Brien, Coldwell Banker

This intriguing mid-century residence was designed by Southern California design-builder Les Guthrie for his own family during a brief period when he lived in the Bay Area. Guthrie homes often featured a living room with curved laminated beams, but here he has used them throughout the entire house. The roof undulates like waves over the top of the spaces, dipping down to pour water into the pond between the back decks when it rains. The home is full of interesting and often experimental details like this that make it clear that Guthrie was designing for himself. Some have fared better than other over the years but above all else the home remains a wonderfully inventive and individual expression.

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2333 Rose, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Tania Seabock, Real Estate Ebroker

This staggering storybook Norman revival was designed and built by William Needham who was a local Berkeley real estate magnate and, it would seem, a particularly creative residential designer as well. There are numerous structures around Berkeley that at one time bore the Needham name, but this one may be the most interesting. The exterior is amazingly varied and intriguing from every angle with its two massive turrets and multiple patterns and textures. Inside, the embellishment is less over the top, but there are still plenty of little surprises and innumerable interesting spaces created by the unusual exterior massing.

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50 Sunset, Kensington

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Ruth Frassetto, Grubb

Clifford Conly Jr. is probably best known today for the property on Tomales Bay that he donated to the Audubon Canyon Ranch for use in their conservation research efforts, but for many years prior he had a very successful architectural practice based out of San Francisco. We don’t see too many of his reserved mid-century homes here in the East Bay, but this well-appointed Kensington residence is a nice example. Its flat formal geometry and strikingly unadorned interiors appear quite prescient for a home built in 1951.

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1 Orchard, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtest of Saraya Motley, Pacific UNion

This unusual cluster of homes at the foot of Panoramic Hill was designed by Walter Steilberg for his family shortly after he opened his own architectural practice in Berkeley. Steilberg was a longtime associate of Julia Morgan, working as both draftsman and engineer on many of her best known projects. Once on his own, Panoramic Hill would become the focal point for his solo practice, with a great many his thoughtful homes lining the winding roads there. The homes we feature today are extremely personal and in some ways experimental examples of his work, but they still demonstrate his characteristic preference for combining stucco and shingles at the exterior and for incorporating sometimes surprising Asian details throughout.

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185 Hill, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Andrea Gordon, Red Oak

This lovely Berkeley Hills mid-century was built by long time Cal professor Joe Neilands and his wife Juanita shortly after their marriage and they would make it their home for the half century that followed. It is a fairly simple square form with a slightly butterflied roof, but in its simplicity is great charm. With a roof that tips up to open the public spaces to loads of natural light and long views across the bay it is a compelling lesser known example of local Bay Region modernism.

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260 Southampton, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Bebe McRae, Grubb

Our featured home today is a lavish Mediterranean revival designed by the short-lived San Francisco firm Norberg & Hayne. John Norberg and Benjamin Hayne were both still in their twenties when the home was built but it already demonstrates a mature understanding of scale and massing as well as the intricacies of period revival detailing. The home would end up being the only design built in Berkeley by the pair and one of only a handful extant in the Bay Area, making it an exceedingly rare opportunity.

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2687 Las Aromas

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Mavis Delacroix, Grubb

This unusual residence began its life as a rather unassuming shingle style bungalow but it has more recently been the longtime home of highly regarded local architect Beverley David Thorne. Thorne is best known for the innovative steel framed modernist structures he built starting in the 1950s so it may be a bit surprising that he chose to live in an older home designed by someone else, but he left his mark on it nonetheless. He built a towering steel and glass box on the back of the home that may be one of the most impressive spaces in any of his many beautiful homes.

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