A Woodsy MCM California “Tear Down” Gets a Second Chance

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Woodsy MCM California “Tear Down” Gets a Second Chance

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Susan and David
Location: East Bay, California
Size: 2,250 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned

Susan and David’s East Bay home comes with intact natural features, Douglas fir beams and cabinets, and a functional floor plan. Why anybody would list this mid-century home as a “tear down” on the market is a mystery. Luckily, Susan and David stumbled upon the listing when a sale fell through. The 1958 house was in untouched, original condition — a true delight for the couple who were relocating from Chicago. “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,” Susan says. Upon move in, they immediately fell in love with the home’s charm and functionality, but they say the true joy has been learning new things about its history.

Susan discovered that the previous owner had hired renowned Bay Area architect George Homsey to create the home’s floor plan. Suddenly, the attention to detail made sense. When Susan finally contacted Homsey, she learned that he was going for a “modest and linear” plan and made it a goal to use inexpensive, natural materials. “I told him that we loved the house and that ‘the house has no ego and encourages a well-lived life,'” Susan says. “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.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic. We like combining treasures from travel, friends, family and nature, adding lots of textiles and blending in finds from artists, garage sales, etc.

Inspiration: The home’s modest and linear design influences most of our decisions — geometric shapes and natural elements look great here. We love the colors outside our window, too. We can’t get enough of the orange-red color of a fully-ripe persimmon and the blue-grays of the mountain.

Favorite Element: We really like the solid Douglas fir used throughout the house in the beams, supports, and railing. The well-designed floor plan is awesome too. The house feels comfortable with 2 or 10 people.

Biggest Challenge: The editing process. Our prior house was a very different style. Some of our things we were able to make work here, some were re-invented and some were donated.

What Friends Say: “Homey,” “cozy” and “a house with beautiful wood and a mountain too!” My possible favorite comment is from my niece who asked, “Would you help me decorate my dorm room?”

Biggest Embarrassment: We hope we fixed all of the embarrassing stuff. If not, it’s probably on the to-do list. We don’t care for the vertical blinds in the family room, however. They are very neutral and functional so they get a reprieve for now.

Proudest DIY: Our window shades. I sewed them out of washed paint tarps, hung them on tension rods through channels on the tops with wooden dowels through channels on the bottoms. The tie-ups were made from the left-over dowel pieces that I cut and drilled to create “barrel buttons” and then laced the jute through the holes to make a loop. The shades don’t detract from the view and help regulate the temperature on really hot days. Total cost was less than $20 per window!

Biggest Indulgence: Heath Pottery dishes. We bought them at the factory sale and they make everything we put on them look a little bit special.

Best Advice: Life is not static and we think a home is most interesting when it reflects life’s changes. Also, just moving the same things to a different position allows your eye to enjoy them anew.

Dream Sources: Anthropologie and HomeGoods quite often have what we are on the hunt for, although some of our best inspiration and finds come from unexpected places when we are not looking at all.


Daybed — Encoded
Side table — Naver
Pillows — HomeGoods and Coyuchi
Ball hooks — Normann Copenhagen
Teapot — Heath Ceramics
Rug — Tribal

Vintage chairs — Ficks Reed, found at garage sale
Lamps — HomeGoods and Good Flock
Vintage coffee and end table — Lane Acclaim, found at garage sale and Craigslist
Pillows — HomeGoods and Anthropologie
Curly sheepskin — From trip to Sweden
Vintage TV stand — ReStore

Wedgewood stove — Original to the house, cleaned and refurbished
Vintage kitchen tools — Flint Ekco, found at garage sales
Rug — Peace Industry
Vintage side chairs — Thonet, garage sale, refinished and recovered
Captain’s chair — Herman Miller outlet in Michigan
Light — TokenNYC
Vintage stools — Umanoff-style, found at estate sale
Plates and bud vase — Heath Ceramics Factory Store
Vintage bullet planter — Gift from Susan’s mom

Linens — Coyuchi and Anthropologie
Sweetgrass baskets — Made in Charleston from indigenous bulrush grass
Lamps — Anthropologie and HomeGoods

Daybed — Encoded
Pillows — HomeGoods and Anthropologie
Vintage steel desk — Garage sale, powder-coated
Stool — Lovewood
Tables — Dam
Card tower — House of Cards, Charles Eames (childhood toy)

Weavings — From trip to Mexico, titled Town, Desert at Day, and Farm

Vintage metal beds — Garage sale, spray painted
Linens — Coyuchi, Anthropologie, vintage Hudson Bay Point blankets
Open closets — Original to the home, made of plywood
Bedside lights — Good Flock

Vintage couch and chairs — Ficks Reed, found at garage sale
Coffee table — Naver
Cork side table — Dam
Vintage floor lamps — Photography studio lights
Cowhide rug — Loloi

Linens — Coyuchi, Anthropologie and Homegoods
Vintage lamp — Garage sale
Weaving — Made by Susan’s Mom
Antique Currier and Ives lithograph — From Grandmother’s house
Vintage suitcase side table — Susan’s mom’s “off-to-college” suitcases

Patio set — Garage sale.
Silicone placemats — Modern Twist
Recycled wood turntable — Williams-Sonoma
Vintage airplane — Childhood ride-on toy

Thanks, Susan and David!

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