Location: East Bay, California
About a year ago, we relocated from the Chicago area to the East Bay. Not willing to settle for anywhere-America with this big move, I set my mind on a Mid-century home with a beautiful lot. On a fluke, we happened upon a home that had been sold as a "teardown" with the recent sale having fallen through. We loved the vintage home with the stunning view. It was an oasis in the midst of the East Bay hustle and bustle. We were the only buyers willing to uncover the natural beauty of this diamond in the rough and were ready to get to work upon closing.
The 1958 house was in untouched, original condition—be still my heart. We marveled at the thoughtfully considered floor plan and the ingenious use of inexpensive and natural materials. This house was special. The floor plan is very functional; it has 2,256 square feet with five modest bedrooms and three, minimally-sized, full bathrooms. The kitchen is a galley-style (including a 1940s Wedgewood six-burner stove we had reconditioned), which allows for multiple cooks to operate with ease. There is room to seat eight comfortably in the dining area, additionally, we extended the counter to add a serving bar with three bar stools. The eating area flows easily to a covered outdoor table to enjoy morning coffee and the bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables from a variety of fruit trees and raised garden beds. We love having extra bedrooms for returning children and guests. While the bedrooms have a small dimension they allow everyone to have their own private retreat.
Douglas fir is used for the beams, trim and cabinets throughout the home. The woodwork is simple, functional and beautiful. We refinished the cabinets and polished the original brass hardware to bring back their former condition. Cork flooring runs through the majority of the house. We had them refinished to remove surface damage and protect the cork. They are comfortable under foot, add warmth and are environmentally friendly. The remaining rooms had Vinyl Composite Flooring, or VCT. The 60-year old tile had done its job and needed replacing. Following a lot of research on different options, we had new, eco-friendly VCT flooring installed. The original Formica counters were failing as well. We chose to replace with soapstone, as it seemed to fit the house's use of natural materials.
ALL the light fixtures are original except for the one over the dining table. It was literally hanging by a wire and a fire hazard. It was immediately switched out and awaits rewiring. We have cleaned, polished, repaired and added energy-efficient bulbs to all the others. That's it.
Our home has had only one prior owner. The original matriarch had the insight to buy a beautiful lot and valued good architecture. We discovered she had hired architect, George Homsey, to draw the plans for her new home—explaining the genius behind the floor plan. Additionally, we were provided the original blueprints. I contacted Mr. Homsey and he amazingly recalled the house in detail, referring to it as "modest and linear". He explained that "inexpensive materials were used in creative ways"—a philosophy that is at the heart of recycling, repurposing and living an intentional lifestyle. I told him that we loved the house and that "the house has no ego and encourages a well-lived life." It has been a pleasure to learn about this home, continue to restore it and have it serve as a reminder of what values to nurture in life.
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