Name: Alexis Tjian, Robert Madison, Stella, Virgil & Zito
Location: El Cerrito, California
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 5 — owned
As the Associate Photo Editor of Dwell Magazine, Alexis is no stranger to good design. Her husband Rob, a general contractor, is no stranger to making design a reality. This enviable combination is harmoniously displayed in their El Cerrito home, where authentic mid-century charm is enhanced by modern colors and textures.
Tucked up in the hills of the East Bay, El Cerrito sits northwest of Berkeley, California. Conveniently located on the BART line, and easily accessible to both Oakland and San Francisco, it has become an increasingly popular destination for young families.
Alexis and Rob purchased their home in 2005. They were particularly attracted to its affordability, amazing views, and genuine mid-century character that the previous two owners had maintained (the kitchen light fixture is original to the home!). The neighborhood offers protected trails, perfect for family strolls with their darling daughter Stella and pooches Virgil and Zito. The neighborhood is casual and friendly with neighbors who are known to gather for barbecues.
While many homes today are quickly gutted to create a uniform look known as “updated,” Alexis and Rob have elected to make only minor updates such as painting rooms and replacing the wall-to-wall carpeting in the living/dining room area with hardwood floors to match the rest of the upstairs. Leaving many elements untouched has created a rare vintage canvas, which Alexis has warmly adapted to display their personal tastes and style. She finds cohesion in contrasting elements, balancing rich colors with subtle hues and clean-lined furniture with thick, textured rugs. I particularly loved her use of old family photographs and uniquely grouped objects on display, contributing to a style that feels unconstrained, yet thoughtfully considered. The result is a fittingly warm and welcoming home, accurately portraying their desire to be around the things and people they love.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Mid-century modern with a mix of color and bohemian pop. I love mixing old and new things, homemade/flea market finds and classic design pieces. It is important to me to fill our house with things that have meaning to us, so family pieces, art made by friends and weird stuff from our lives that we should have probably gotten rid of along the way, but for some reason we like it and can’t let it go!
Inspiration: I am constantly inspired by my work, since I look at wonderful design and architecture all day while photo editing for Dwell. But even before I came to Dwell, I think I was inspired by light, color and a simple modern aesthetic that may have been an influence from my parents and definitely was solidified after I went to art school. These days there are so many ways to be inspired by art, design and architecture because of blogs and the internet and I do find myself keeping up with trends and ideas that way.
Favorite Element: One of my most favorite things in the house is the mid-century light fixture in the kitchen. It makes me happy every time I see it and I love taking pictures of it, as it has a playful whimsy…Stella likes it too. It is one of those classic pieces that I think will stay relevant through time.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping our house clean with two dogs!
What Friends Say: “Nice View!” — you can see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from our living room.
Biggest Embarrassment: White chairs are from JCPenney!
Proudest DIY:The canvas light piece in Stella’s room that I made after I saw one on Apartment Therapy.
Biggest Indulgence: Felt Pixel Rug in living room from Anthropologie — but I love it and it makes for the best background for pictures of Stella.
Best Advice: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your house beautiful and feel comfortable, like a place you would want to spend time. Be creative and look for inspiration in the simple things. It is never going to be perfect but that’s what makes it great, it’s forever a work in progress, just like life!
Dream Sources:: Monument in San Francisco, Alameda Antique market (I love love love.), Flora Grubb (I am plant crazy.) Currently on my wish list is an Eames rocker, in the new color Agua, for Stella’s room!
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Oxford White; Benjamin Moore (living room)
• Plant on wood board: Flowerland in Berkeley
• Mirror: Casa Oaxaca in Albany
• Couch: Zinc Details
• Eames lounge chair with ottoman: passed down from my dad!
• Coffee table: Target
• Rug: Anthropologie
• Keep Calm Carry On Poster: Reform School in LA
• San Francisco Poster: Ork posters
• Dog bed: Crypton
• White frames: IKEA
• Terrarium: Cactus Jungle in Berkeley (but I believe the glass part is Roost)
• Small terrariums: Flora Grubb in San Francisco
• White chairs: JC Penney
• Calendar: Tail of the Yak in Berkeley
• Tea kettle: Le Creuset
• Little jars on back of oven: IKEA
• High chair: Stokke
• White credenza: IKEA
• Duvet cover: IKEA
• Curtains: Urban Outfitters
• Painting: Justin Page
• Hanging pot: Perch Design
• Pillows (with dog portraits): Urban Outfitters
• Credenza: Klassik Living in Berkeley
• Chair: Alameda flea market
• Crib: Stokke
• Dresser: IKEA
• Alphabet picture: Paper Source (just one sheet of wrapping paper framed!)
Thanks, Alexis, Rob & Stella!
Images: Alexis Tjian
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