A Berkeley home swimming in light and texture

Posted by Lauran

One of the first questions we ask new design clients is “what are you inspired by?” Sometimes the answer is a color, or a fabric, or a piece of artwork. Usually this inspiration serves as a jumping off point—a source of direction that is interpreted loosely as we build the design.

But in the case of this gorgeous Berkeley home that was just remodeled, our client’s love of swimming and the water was more than just inspiration—it was the overall design mandate. “I wanted my home to radiate a sense of calm, not unlike the feeling you get when walking along a tranquil beach, or when you hear the rushing sounds of waves at the ocean,” she explains.

Our client swims daily, logging almost 700 miles total in 2016. Furthermore, she happens to be a three-time cancer survivor, and is deeply connected to a national non-profit called Swim Across America, or SAA. SAA raises money for cancer research by hosting open water and pool swims throughout the United States. Therefore, her passion for the water—and what it represents—runs deep.

She also loves to entertain and wanted a kitchen that was full of light and room for guests to gather around a large island. Combining her style, desires and her passion for water into the new design required deliberate and thoughtful decisions by the overall design team (the homeowner, Jill and Lauren from our Berkeley-based Visual Jill team, and designer/builder Gary Johnson).

For example, Jill and Lauren carefully selected a beach-inspired color palette of pale gray, bright white, and watery blues—with just a pop of yellow. The walls are all painted Gray Owl or Coventry Gray, with all trim work in White Dove (all Benjamin Moore paint colors). And when it came to textiles, the fabrics on the chairs, sofas, pillows and rugs were chosen to represent the beach.

In the living room, Lauren and Jill advised our client to keep her chairs, console, and coffee table, and then chose a new modern sofa from Room & Board to give the existing items a fresh new perspective.  “We went with a lighter sofa fabric in a durable performance velvet fabric so that it will be easy to clean but will keep the airy feeling of the room,” explains Jill.

In the sitting room right off the kitchen, “we transformed our client’s older loveseat with a lovely Serena & Lily fabric,” explains designer Lauren. “We paired it with some pillows and a large striped rug, and now it makes for a great little seating area when our client is entertaining a large group of guests.”

The striped rug, loveseat and pillows bring to mind the stripes you might see on a pool house awning, or on a beach umbrella.

For the additional eating/working area next to the sitting room, Lauren and Jill found chairs from Pottery Barn, while Gary’s team stained a small dining table found on Overstock.  The lighting fixture above the table was custom-made by Berkeley-based Metro Lighting, using handblown colored glassware. “This luminous fixture looks like hanging sea glass,” says Lauren.

“Gary was such a visionary in creating the trim work for this gorgeous kitchen, sitting room, and the ceilings,” says Jill.  To complement the beautiful bones Gary created, Jill and Lauren picked the stunning Dual Glaze backsplash tiles from Heath to add texture and depth to the all-white kitchen.  The tiles catch the light like a white-sanded beach sparkling with sea glass. (This same tile was applied to the living room fireplace and paired with a square tile also from Heath.)

The texture continues in the marble used on the countertops, with pattern reminiscent of lapping waves.

The sea-inspired décor can also be found on the deck that is right off the kitchen, where deep blue cushions and nautical striped pillows welcome guests to relax and stay a while.

But nowhere does our client’s love of the ocean show more than in her artwork. She has long been a collector of swimming-related art that is displayed around her home . . .

. . . and even in her laundry room!

Last year, she found her art collection growing tremendously when she met a photographer named Eugene Tan while traveling in Sydney, Australia. Eugene owns a gallery called Aquabumps in Bondi Beach, and our client and her husband visited the gallery daily on their trip, combing through the thousands of images to select just the right ones for their home that they just happened to be in the midst of remodeling. “It was the perfect gallery for me—every piece had to do with water, beaches or swimming.” Eugene’s photos are now displayed throughout the home, in the downstairs living room/sitting room as well as the upstairs hallway.

Our client is proud that during the past 30 years, SAA has raised over $60 million nationally, and in the SF Bay Area her own efforts have helped to raise over $3 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and SF. Her battles with her own health inspired her to become a wellness coach as well, operating from an office on the second floor of her gorgeous home.

It’s clear that our client’s passion for swimming, water and wellness has truly become her life’s work. Now her home surrounds her in serenity that matches her peace of mind. “I feel as comfortable in my home as I do in the water,” she tells us. “And that’s saying a lot.”

 

Photography by Lauren Hosmer and Justin Lopez

A sweet Oakland bungalow

This week we staged a sweet bungalow in the Mills College area of Oakland. We used a palette of soft blues, greens and grays to bring out the best in the home.

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The entryway is painted Yarmouth Blue, which shows off the charming white trim and hall closets.

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The living room features bold artwork and bright pillows.

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In the photo above you can see into the dining room, painted Coventry Gray, which picks up the grays in the living room’s furniture, artwork and rug.

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The dining room flows into the cottage kitchen.

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We staged the breakfast nook as an office, painted a fresh green (Nob Hill Sage) to blend in with the existing floor.

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The office looks out to the charming backyard.

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The master bedroom is also Yarmouth Blue—a restful, peaceful color.

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The second bedroom is staged as a kid’s room. We added colorful accents to contrast against the gray and white walls.

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Although the home is small, it is loaded with charm and character. We predict it will sell right away! For information, contact Lesly Flynn.

Photography by Christian Klugmann.

New living room—and fireplace—for SF couple

Rosemary and David are a fun-loving, interesting San Francisco couple who have traveled the world. They called us last Fall when they decided that their home, which had not been updated in many years, no longer reflected their tastes and style. Oh, and they recently added a family member—Mojo the poodle—who needed to be included in the design plan.

The biggest changes were in their living room—here is how it turned out, complete with new fireplace and furniture.

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And here’s how the living room looked when Jill and Lauren first saw it. The colors and style definitely needed to be freshened up.

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Luckily, Rosemary and David had a few key pieces to work with (a mid-century bench and credenza from David’s parents, side tables, a cool dining room pendant light, media cabinet and lamps). We took our color inspiration from their amazing artwork that they collected during their travels, bringing out the rich blues and oranges mixed with neutrals.

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We love how the new American Leather sectional from Ironhorse Design Center emphasizes the home’s gorgeous corner window. Check out that view! The new gray leather Eames-inspired lounge chair and Noguchi reproduction coffee table are from RoveConcepts. We chose leather for both pieces because it wears well and cleans easily—very important with Mojo in the mix.

In the dining room, it was time to “get the red out” and bring in a more soothing palette. Here’s the “before”:

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And the “after.” We again emphasized the cobalt blue in the existing pendant through the blue zebra striped West Elm rug. We also helped Rosemary and David choose new fabric covers for their existing chairs—a great way to “neutralize” what they already had.

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Now let’s talk about the fireplace. Using some of our favorite Heath tiles (Crease In/Crease Out), Lauren designed a simple, modern fireplace surround, hearth and custom wood mantle.

Here’s her original drawing and rendering:

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And the final outcome!

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The couple were thrilled that they got exactly what they expected!

Lauren and Jill had fun styling the mid-century credenza and West Elm bar cart and shelf. They took special care in hanging and arranging Rosemary and David’s  eclectic artwork so that it is all showcased appropriately.

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Additional sources: Pillows, West Elm and All Modern; Living Room rug, Crate & Barrel.

Blues, grays and . . . orange!

We recently staged a lovely renovated home that reminds us of a Scandinavian farmhouse. From the all-white/cream exterior, to the barn wood porch, to the soft colors used inside, it feels like it could be located on a rural farm in Sweden—instead of on an urban street in Oakland!

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The walls in the living room and dining room are painted a soft gray called Moonshine (I love that name!). We stuck to blues, whites and grays in our decor for these rooms. The master bedroom, office and guest rooms also feature light blues, from aqua to more of a periwinkle blue.

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But when we moved into the family room, we had a little fun by adding something unexpected—orange!

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We carried the orange accent color into the stairway and the finished attic, which we dubbed “the playroom.”

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It’s always a good idea to inject one bold color into your home’s palette. Orange is the perfect complement to blue (they are opposites on the color wheel), and is especially relevant during autumn months. What’s your favorite bold accent color? Let us know in the comments below.

All photography courtesy of John Hayes

What is “comfortable modern”?

Here at Visual Jill, we call our decorating style “comfortable modern”. We thought we’d elaborate on the elements that we believe are important in creating a “comfortable modern” room.

Neutral backgrounds: White and/or Light Gray

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We like to use white or a pale gray walls as the backdrop to the room. To keep the space from feeling cold, we add colors and textures that make it feel more cozy and approachable.

Wood for warmth

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Bringing some wood into your room will immediately make it feel more warm and less sterile. You can do it via a piece of furniture, like this dining room table, through architectural details such as beams or trim, or even just through accessories and artifacts. A few wooden bowls, a vase of branches, or a mirror with a raw wood frame will all work to bring “wood warmth” to your room.

Bright-colored accents

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As you can see in these photos, you can bring in a bold color with an accent wall or upholstered chairs. If you’d rather keep the walls and furniture more neutral, try a fun patterned rug, great pop pillows, artwork, and throws to add the color that makes the room feel fresh, instead of sterile.

Modern in-the-mix

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We believe that exclusively modern rooms, from the walls to the furniture to the accessories, run the risk of feeling stark and unwelcoming. We play with mixing different types of furniture within a room, and/or bringing modern into traditional older homes, to make the space interesting and friendly. In the photos above, we mixed current modern pieces and mid-century modern classics within a century-old home filled with traditional woodwork. Try placing  an overstuffed upholstered chair or a rustic wood coffee table next to a sleek modern sofa to make your room feel fresh and comfortable.

Bold artwork

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 Artwork by AMiguel

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Bright colorful paintings or photos can be a focal point for a room, or placed strategically to give a room an extra kick. Remember to mix in other textures and colors to keep your room from looking like an art gallery! Unless, of course, that is the look you’re going for.

We love CB2’s lookbook

Have you visited CB2 lately? We think they got it just right this season — great colors, shapes and textures. Their latest catalog is full of inspiration — here are some of our favorite spreads.

This photo shows how you can use bold and modern items in an older home with wood trim and details. The juxtaposition of old and new is exciting and fresh.

We admire how they’ve mixed colors here — cool and warm tones against a neutral gray wall. The artwork ties everything together.

On an opposite note, these white walls and other neutrals get just a pop of color from the fabulous new green sofa. The expert mixing here comes in the form of texture — sleek plexiglass, rich leather, painted wood and smooth fabric.

And if you need some pillows to inject a new feel to your bedroom or living room, look no further. CB2 has a terrific assortment (we’ve already picked up a few ourselves).

Neutrals + Bright Color = A Fresh Look for an Older Home

Last week we staged a home for sale in Oakland’s hot NOBE (North Oakland Berkeley Emeryville) neighborhood. It’s a big old house that’s been skillfully renovated, leaving many of the original details in tact. When choosing the color palette for this house, we focused on soothing neutrals — especially grays — complemented with pops of bold, cool colors.

The entrance hallway is painted an inviting blue.

All the trim in the living room and dining room are a medium-gray semi-gloss. We carefully chose the right accessories — a teal tray, citron pillows, a fuchsia orchid — to provide bright spots throughout.

The office nook features a dark gray chalkboard wall — a great backdrop for the bold accessories.

In the master bedroom, paler gray walls are an unexpected partner to a lavender accent wall and orange rug.

A tranquil blue-green color balances the white trim and dark floors in the guest room.

And finally, in the nursery we chose a (perhaps unlikely) bright green rug and bold blue pouf to contrast the otherwise neutral room.

Gray — the fashionable neutral

Tired of beige walls? Want a new alternative to your stand-by black pants? It’s time to check out gray — the freshest neutral in both fashion and home design.

We’ve built a Pinterest board showcasing some of the best gray:

Here’s a closer look at a few of our favorites:

via Pinterest, via Satsuki Shibuya
 
via Pinterest, via Jaime Derringer
 
via Pinterest, via Afro Chic, from design*sponge
 
This week’s email from West Elm also features gray (or “graphite”, a more glamorous name):
We just used two soft grays in a living room, and we love the results!
photo by Lisa Ratner
The darker gray on the left is Coventry Gray, and the lighter on the other two walls is Horizon (both Benjamin Moore):
A word of warning about grays: they can look really different from the color cards when painted on your walls, depending on the light. We’ve found that many can end up looking purple or lavender. And these I’ve shown here look almost green on my screen — not so in person. So always test your color selections before you buy that big gallon!