1 Orchard, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Charity Ankrum, Red Oak

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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6 Nogales, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Will Sprietsma, Zephyr

Today we feature a lovely shingle style bungalow designed by Walter Ratcliff. The bungalow was not a form that Ratcliff favored, preferring instead creative amalgamations of period revival styles, so this home is a bit unique. It is a rare exception in Ratcliff’s substantial catalog of work and is clear indication of his great flexibility and unusual facility with a wide variety of architectural styles. Not surprisingly perhaps, the home has been enlarged somewhat in recent years from its original two bedroom form, but some attempts have been made to match the new to the old which is a challenging and undeniably admirable undertaking.

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1750 Toyon, Lafayette

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Dina Del Monica, Pacific Union

Homes based on R Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome were sold by a number of kit house companies in the 1970s and quickly became popular for difficult or remote sites due to their fairly straight forward assembly and simple foundation requirements. For this reason, there are a number of geodesic dome houses sprinkled around the Bay Area, but few of them are as intriguing as the one we feature today in Lafayette. Not only is this particular example made up of multiple discrete domes, but it also is unusual for the fact that so much of the structure is exposed inside the house – a rare treat for fans of Bucky Fuller.

Posted in Geodesic Dome, Mid-Century | 1 Comment

132 Alpine Terrace, Oakland

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

This exceptionally refined Upper Rockridge new modern residence is the work of Randy Ruiz of AAA Architects. Ruiz cut his teeth with a number of respected firms before going out on his own a little over a decade ago. Here he uses a very distinguished palette of dark tones, masonry, and glass to create spaces that are at once solid and yet very open. It is a compelling example of the type of thoughtful work being done by the most talented of our local designers in the last few years.

Posted in Architect-Designed, New Modern, Randy Ruiz | Leave a comment

29 Tappan, Orinda

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Clark Thompson, Village Associates

Our featured home today is a fairly reserved Orinda mid-century attributed to Harry Nakahara. Nakahara was fortunate to be heir to the very successful practice of John Warnecke in whose office he worked as a draftsman for many years. When he opened his own office in the early 50s, work poured in from former Warnecke clients bringing him immediate success. This particular home is less showy than some of his more strongly modernist residences, but it still features plenty of opportunity to appreciate Nakahara’s understated talent.

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1086 Spruce, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Krista Miller, Berkeley Hills

This handsome shingle style home occupies an enviable position in the middle of everything great that Berkeley has to offer. Its fairly traditional shingled exterior gives way to interiors that are remarkably refined for the period with plenty of low paneling and an oversized crown. It is an interesting alternative to the very rustic Bay Region homes for which Berkeley is best known.

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5845 Scarborough, Oakland

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Nahid Nassiri, Bay Sotheby’s

Today we feature a particularly idiosyncratic take on the familiar A-frame form. It is overflowing with custom wood carving, leaded glass, and plenty of great 60s art nouveau revival detailing. The home has been the lifelong project of Stewart Horton who is a highly respected East Bay wood carver. His great talent is evident in all of the surprising details that one encounters around every corner. It is truly a unique opportunity to own a very personal piece of art added to and improved upon over many years.

Posted in A-Frame, Mid-Century | Leave a comment