Architectural masterpiece in Berkeley Hills

Posted by Lauran

Once in a while we get to stage a house that is truly unique—that really challenges us to make the most of the one-of-a-kind details and unusual layout. This Berkeley Hills home, designed by renowned architect J.H. Ostwald, is such a place.


The most stunning features of this home can be summed up in two words: wood and windows.



The wood paneling, floors and ceilings bring a warmth to the modern design and complement the fantastic views of nature surrounding the home.




Look at that amazing detail on the front door, below.




This main floor room (staged as an office/guest room) gets incredible light through the french doors that lead out to a charming patio.



This room (staged as the kid’s room) is an unusual combination of paneled and sheet rocked walls. We brought in bright colors to make it playful.


The wood ceilings, beams and floors add so much character to this white bedroom.



This bedroom is a bit different—the only wood feature here is the ceiling beam. We chose to paint the feature wall a soft blue to match the sky.


The outdoor spaces are also spectacular—a combination of decks and patios with plenty of little nooks for seating, dining and relaxing.






This home is open this weekend—stop by if you’re in the East Bay!

Our staging features original artwork by amiguelHarry Gruenert and Mark Petersen, and ceramics by Deborah Carlin (

Photography by Open Homes Photography

Making a traditional house modern

Posted by Lauran; fabulous photography by Peter Lyons

Recently we staged two more traditional homes in Berkeley, both with original (unpainted) wood trim. The “to paint or not to paint wood trim” question pops up often in the design world. While white painted trim really brightens up a space, we understand why some people prefer to leave the wood unpainted, especially when it’s in great condition.

The trade-off for the beautiful wood is that it often makes the house feel darker and more traditional. We were brought in specifically to make these homes more modern, lighter and brighter—to show buyers that a home with a lot of traditional wood trim and paneling can still be decorated in a more current way.

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We rely on two primary techniques to “modernize” traditional homes: color and clean lined furniture. In the photo above from the house on Colusa street, you can see how the colorful striped entry rug brings a playful, happy sense to the space as soon as you walk in the door.

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Throughout the lower floor of the home, the bright colors from the entry rug continue in the artwork, pillows, accessories and especially the chartreuse dining room chairs. These carefully placed colors combine with the white painted walls around the trim to lighten the home.

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In addition to the colors, we used iconic mid-century pieces, such as the Egg Chair (above) and the Eames Shell dining chairs, to provide a modern contrast to the wood trim and leaded glass windows.

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Note the simple, clean-lined dining room table we paired with the Eames chairs, as well as the ultra-modern bar stools we used for the kitchen nook.

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In the little sitting room that leads out to the deck we placed a love seat, which features the color and the clean lines, as well as a pair of modern global basket tables. This is a combination you wouldn’t expect to find in this type of home.

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The master and guest rooms had the trim painted white already. We added area rugs to freshen up the wall-to-wall carpeting.

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We also chose modern outdoor furniture to add a hipper vibe to the front porch.

The second traditional home we staged was on 66th street.

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Again, the white painted walls in the entryway helped to set a brighter tone against the wood trim, as did the gold rug, colorful artwork, and pillows.

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A very modern butterfly chair, the iconic Noguchi table and a new CB2 rug bring a fresh perspective to the living room.

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This particular dining room had floor-to-ceiling wood paneling on two walls, so we chose very simple and clean dining room table and chairs to tone down the formality.

These two homes show that modern furniture and accessories can breathe new life into a more traditional space.

Original local art highlights a mid-century masterpiece

Posted by Lauran

Perched way up in the Berkeley Hills, 10 Atlas Place is a spectacular mid-century home designed in the 1960s by J.H. Ostwald, featuring his hallmark combination of woodsy and modern elements. We were delighted to stage this spacious home last week, which gave us the opportunity to feature a few local artists on walls and shelves throughout. Allow us to show you around!


You enter the home through this stunning foyer, complete with a huge skylight, wooden mid-century sculpture, and pebbled floor. We hung this painting by Harry Gruenert as a perfect complement to the space.



As you walk through the foyer, you come to the living room, featuring gorgeous wood beams, a brick fireplace and windows looking out onto views of the bay and two bridges! On the shelves on either side of the fireplace we chose soothing abstracts from Audrey Kral, while two more of Harry’s paintings face each other on the living room walls.

We filled the bookshelves with books (of course) and many original ceramic pieces by Deborah Carlin ( We love the organic nature and colors in her work.


The dining room also showcases the million-dollar views!


Next to the dining room is the kitchen, which was updated with new gray porcelain tile flooring and white quartz countertops. We love the original cabinets and built-in shelves and desk area.



From the kitchen you enter a playroom/lounge area, where we showcased more paintings from Audrey.


To the left of this room are a bathroom and two more rooms, staged as a kid’s room and an office.


The playful prints above the kid’s bed are from artist Mati Rose McDonough.


The light green abstract above the desk is by artist Diane McGauley.

Also on the main floor is the master suite, tucked away for privacy and separation from the rest of the home.


That’s an original piece by artist AMiguel hanging over the master bed. And check out the built-in library shelves!


Directly outside of the master suite is one of several decks that overlook the hills and the bay.


Back in the dining room, you go down a very cool circular staircase to the lower floor of the home, where a huge family room, guest suite, and wine cellar await you.


In the guest suite, we hung two more colorful paintings by AMiguel.



Next to the guest suite, the family room features a groovy built-in bar area that leads out to the lower decks.


Don’t you love the super-mod built-in sofa in the family room? Two more abstract paintings from Harry were just the right match for the vibe and the colors in the room.



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This wouldn’t be a complete tour if we didn’t show you the outside of the home too. It includes several levels for lounging, a fire pit, and a pool!



We had fun staging the cabana as a boho-lounge.

If you want to see this one-of-a-kind home in person (and who wouldn’t?), it’s open this weekend (4/9 & 4/10). For more information check out the video or contact agent Linnette Edwards!

Spectacular photography by Peter Lyons

Mid-century living in the Berkeley Hills

We recently had the opportunity to stage a special home in the Berkeley Hills. It is a true mid-century gem, and we furnished and styled it accordingly.






Note the wood panel walls, ceiling beams, and brick fireplace—details indicative of a home from this era.


The family room (shown above) also features grasscloth wallpaper—which is back in style!



This home has spectacular views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from the living room and front bedroom, which we staged as an office.



A sweet outdoor patio is great for entertaining, and a raised grass area is a nice place to take in the view.


Click here for more information on this house.

Photography by Open Homes Photography

Mid-century modern mania in Palm Springs

Posted by Lauran

This week I’ve been in Palm Springs for Spring Break, staying with some friends who rented a house. I’ve always heard about this place being the mecca for mid-century modern design, and now I know why.


We’re staying in a neighborhood called DeepWell, and many of its homes show original mid-century architecture. There is also evidence of updates, some that stay within the genre and others that decidedly don’t!


I especially love all the pops of color on doors and mailboxes.




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With the mountains in the background and the palms in the front, it’s a pretty majestic site.IMG_5075


These homeowners have a plethora of new and vintage mid-century stores to choose from when furnishing their homes–all found in the Uptown Design District, along North Palm Canyon Drive.

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One of my favorites is Just Modern, which showcases a great selection of original and replica art representing the 1950s-1970s.

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just modern 1It also features colorful pillows and fun small furnishings, like the lamp below.

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Another fun stop is SHAG, the first retail store and gallery dedicated exclusively to the artist SHAG.

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SHAG’s art depicts groovy scenes from the era.

I was happy to see Pelago here too.

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The owners also have a much smaller store in Oakland right by my house, so it was fun to see their larger assortment here in Palm Springs.

If you’re interested in a stay here, check out Mod Mansions for rental information.

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!


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.

Lighten up! (Your home, that is)

We recently worked with a couple who were putting their house on the market. Following advice from their wise real estate agent and their own good design instincts, they made several key changes that transformed the house from “dark 1960s”  to “bright mid-century”.

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Hard to believe this light and bright living room once looked like this:

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The key differences here?

1. Covering the outdated flagstone fireplace and hearth with plaster and concrete.

2. Lots of white paint.

3. Replacing wall-to-wall carpets with gleaming light hardwood floors.

These investments in the home completely altered this room. The owners also painted the ceiling beams white, calling attention to the beautiful pitched roofline.

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The Dining Room also benefitted from a fresh coat of pale gray paint and the same hardwood floors — plus a new classic Nelson bubble pendant!

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The house already had a gourmet kitchen, but a few touches (refinishing the floor and the butcher block counters) made a big difference.

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Light and bright paint colors freshened up the bedrooms too. We chose Breath of Fresh Air (Benjamin Moore’s 2014 color of the year) for the kid’s room . . .

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… and Pale Sea Mist for the office.

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In the master bedroom, the couple had struggled to find the right paint color, as evidenced by the paint patches in this “before” photo.

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We chose Van Alen Green for the accent wall, White Dove for the other walls, and removed the heavy window coverings to shed more light into this spacious room.

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The homeowners had recently landscaped the multi-tiered backyard to create different zones for dining, play and relaxing. A good power wash, new plants and mulch, and bright pillows were the finishing touches it needed to really shine.

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Needless to say, this house (which is now on the market) has received a ton of interest and the owners are expecting multiple offers.

Love how this house looks? You don’t have to wait until selling to lighten up your space! The changes the owners made—painting walls in white and other light colors, adding/refinishing wood floors in a lighter finish—have lasting value. Why not enjoy them while you live in your home?

Photography by Peter Lyons

Interested in this home? Contact Deidre Joyner.

A gem in Rockridge

This week we staged a charming home in Rockridge (for those of you not in the East Bay, Rockridge is a highly desirable area of Oakland filled with cute bungalows, great shopping and a wide variety of restaurants).

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The owners of the home are artists and restaurant designers, and their good taste shows in the renovations they made throughout the house. For example, the exterior paint colors they chose are beautiful (and just happen to be very close to the colors we often spec!).

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When you enter the home, a good size “plus room” sits on the left. We staged it as the perfect home office, which can also disappear behind original sliding wooden doors when guests arrive.

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The living room features quintessential bungalow details such as a fireplace and built-in bookshelves on either side. Taking our cue from the owners’ Nelson pendant, we used mid-century pieces throughout the home mixed with rustic natural details.

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In the above photo, you can see how the sight line is open from the living room on. When the owners remodeled their kitchen, they also cut a window through the wall dividing it from the dining room. This brilliant move allows the abundant natural light to stream throughout the first floor. And speaking of the kitchen . . .

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Featuring marble countertops, custom teak cabinets, lots of windows and a built-in breakfast nook, this kitchen has it all. Yet it retains a simple, open feel that makes you want to whip up a meal. Cooking will always be pleasure and never a chore in a kitchen like this!

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Through the kitchen door you walk onto a charming back deck that overlooks a good size backyard—complete with a playhouse!

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The main floor also features two bedrooms and a full bathroom. This is staged as the master, looking out over the backyard.

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The “kid’s room” has dreamy blue walls and pops of bright colors.

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The attic has been cleverly converted into living space. As you come up the stairs, you arrive at a generous landing space which is perfect for a small TV room.

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Past the TV room is another bedroom with new windows and lots of light.

It goes without saying that this home is beautiful, comfortable and inviting. But I think there are 5 reasons it stands above other cute bungalows in the area:

1. Natural light. This home is bright and sunny during all times of the day.

2. Soothing paint palette. Light grays, creams, sea-inspired blues, and white trim are used to create a good flow throughout the home.

3. Flexible plus spaces. The entryway office and upstairs space can be used so many different ways (artist’s studio, playroom, music room, etc.), so the home feels bigger than it is.

4. Beautiful and functional kitchen. It is a kitchen for serious cooks and for entertaining.

5. Multi-purpose backyard. The backyard features a deck for relaxing, a lawn area and playhouse for the kids, a dining space, and a detached garage that has the potential to be an office, studio, or outdoor lounge.

These are 5 features that will raise the value of any home, and will make this charming bungalow sell quickly.

Thanks to Peter Lyons for the beautiful photographs!