A Rule-Breaking Bay Area Home Proves the Best Color Inspiration Comes from Nature

published Jul 20, 2018

A Rule-Breaking Bay Area Home Proves the Best Color Inspiration Comes from Nature

published Jul 20, 2018
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Name: Nancy, Ken, and their little canine, Monty
Location: Berkeley, California
Size: 670 square feet
Years lived in: 22 years; Owned

Nancy says her home is a haven—it’s colorful, cozy, bright, and full of memories. Though the bright green walls help, it’s her collection of meaningful pieces that truly makes her Berkeley condo a home. “I love to look around and see the art and artifacts made by friends and family or collected through amazing trips to various countries,” she says.

Though it appears that a ton of coordination went into choosing the right paint colors, Nancy says she avoided all the color rules and instead took inspiration from nature’s spectacular palette. Doing so prevents her from feeling so restricted when decorating the small space.

The greenery goes beyond the paint on the walls. A few steps to the backyard reveal a lush outdoor space that’s perfect for entertaining and enjoying the sounds of birds chirping. And if Nancy’s guests listen closely, they can hear the trickle coming from a small stream connected to the property, making the home feel even more like a private oasis.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Tactile and color-driven. Furniture as a means to drape textiles!

Inspiration: Any place where riotous color abounds.

Favorite Element: The art. All of it was created by friends or family. Lucky me! That includes some of the furniture.

Biggest Challenge: The protruding wall heater. I just recently replaced it with a Vermont Castings gas fireplace. Yay!

What Friends Say: “Did you paint your walls again?” or “Did you move the furniture around again?”

Biggest Embarrassment: One of the privileges of being a senior is the sense of freedom from embarrassment—certainly as it relates to my home.

Proudest DIY: Creating the outdoor space with its plantings, pots, and seating. It’s so nice to be out there in warm weather.

Biggest Indulgence: I always have flowers around my home and office, either from the garden or any of the wonderful sources in the Bay Area like the farmer’s markets or local vendors. Trader Joe’s too!

Best Advice: Surround yourself with things that either conjure up lovely memories or make you smile. Don’t be a slave to other people’s opinions or taste. Make your own rules, or better yet, keep breaking them!


Living and Dining rooms — Pear Green by Benjamin Moore’s

Large green painting — Pia Stern
Various other paintings and works on paper — Pia Stern
Leather sofa — Slater Marinoff & Company (now closed)
Cushions — Covers made by me or from Oaxaca, Mexico, Istanbul
Blankets — Knit or crocheted by owner
Rug — Purchased in Fez, Morocco
Pie safe — Homesteader Antiques in Oakland, CA

Table and banquette — Miesner Design
Pillows — Custom made, Etsy, or purchased in various parts of mexico

Kitchen — Indian Rock Design/Build
Cabinets — Michael Wiest Cabinetry in Berkeley, CA

Pillows — Oaxacan covers sewn onto pillows and embroidered by me

Thanks, Nancy!

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