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Avalon House

The owners of this home had lived for decades on a narrow, circuitous street high in the Berkeley Hills. In 2012 they decided to make a change and move to a more active location, closer to city life in Berkeley. They had earlier stumbled on a modest, but serene and beautiful little home below the famed Claremont Hotel, and although the home was not for sale, they decided to let the owner know that if the home were ever to be sold, they would like the option of buying the home before it was put on the market. In 2016 their dream came true, and they bought the 1500 square foot little (two-story) home. The home was built in 1960 for the Lowenfeld family, and designed by a much-loved Berkeley architect of that period – John Hans Ostwald. Ostwald, born in Berlin, moved to the Bay Area before the start of the Second World War, and worked for a short time with Richard Neutra on the Kahn Residence in San Francisco. The Lowenfeld home featured dark stained post and beam construction and a sculptural masonry fireplace in the middle of the composition.

Our project included a sensitive remodel of the existing structure to make the spaces more functional for contemporary family living, and an addition that more than doubled the size of the home. The main (upper) level contains enlarged kitchen, dining and living spaces, a den, office and master suite. The lower level includes a guest room and a gym.

The key to the success of this project is the design approach that respects and preserves the beauty of the original post and beam construction – and seamlessly connects it to the new architecture – without the new structure mimicking the old. Sensitive additions, like the enlarged living room with its clerestory windows above, align perfectly with the adjacent older structure, weaving together new and old in a seamless way that is hardly noticeable. Creative and beautiful gardens were designed to surround the home on all sides. The home, with its expansive wood decks and cantilevered roofs, now appears to float above its site as it captures iconic views of Berkeley, San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay.

Facts & Figures

Location

Berkeley, California

Year Completed

2019

Category

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