Friday, August 3, 2007

House Voyeur: Airy Art Deco in Oakland

When it comes to their home, my neighbors Bernadette and Steve Finch are decidedly old-school: You’d be hard-pressed to find much in their picturesque Oakland cottage that was made long after the late-1920s vintage of the home. Yet the space is far from dowdy -- in fact, it feels fresh, light, and undeniably pretty.

Outfitting the house has clearly been a labor of love for the young, vintage-loving couple. Here, Bernadette gives us a tour of their home and shares her favorite design finds:

“Our style is a mix of English Art Deco and ‘cottage chic.’ There’s an emphasis on floral Deco motifs (as opposed to Deco’s more skyscraper, linear-style details), which appeals to us because it creates an informal yet stylized look. We appreciate the clean lines as well as the strong design elements of the Art Deco period.

Most of our Deco furniture is from eBay. Some of it was local, and some came from England. The vintage stained-glass pieces throughout the house came from the San Rafael Auction Gallery and the Alameda Point Antiques & Collectibles Faire, which is held the first Sunday of every month. New area rugs are from American Carpet Wholesalers, and our vintage Deco-style rugs are from Antique Oriental Rugs. The custom curtains (below) are by Electra Skilandat, who specializes in retro fabrics; and the 1930s swing-out curtain rods are from eBay.

We also love to go to the Art Deco & Modernism Sale, held every June and December at San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center. The dealers there have museum-quality pieces as well as affordable items. We usually only buy a couple of small things, but really enjoy seeing the ‘best of the best’ in person.

The architecture of our house is modeled on an English Cotswold cottage. Built in the 1920s, it has many original design elements, including a high-pitched roof, beamed and cathedral ceilings, and interior archways. With two growing kids, we needed more room, so we recently added on about 900 square feet to the house’s original 1,200. Creating an addition that was in keeping with the style of the house was our first priority. All the hardware, doors, light fixtures, and bathroom fixtures we used for the addition are originals from salvage resources.

Many of the period doorknobs are from Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley and from eBay. We got period-style black hammered metal hardware for our garage doors and small garage windows from Acorn. It really enhances the English cottage style of the house.

When people visit our home for the first time, they often say that it feels like a bed and breakfast. They notice the details, like our collections of etched mirrors, hammered aluminum, and vintage embroidery.

The wall color in this room and the other bedrooms is Kelly Moore’s 'Grey Green' (N37-1), which is actually the most wonderful gray-blue. (We used a half-formula of this color in the bathrooms.) The color in the communal rooms is Benjamin Moore’s 'Buttery' (1359). The trim throughout the house is Benjamin Moore’s 'Medicci Ivory' (1634).

Our favorite thing about our home would have to be the Deco period lighting throughout. Some of the fixtures were here when we moved in, and they definitely drew us to the house. We think of light fixtures as 'jewelry for a room' -- they finish off the space with beautiful detail. Over time, we’ve added original Deco sconces that we found on eBay (hint: search under 'slip shade' to find similar fixtures) to the bathrooms and bedrooms. Ruiz Antique Lighting in Alameda is the best place to have vintage finds rewired or repaired.

The biggest challenge with this house has been using reclaimed items while still trying to provide the most function. For instance, salvaged sinks and toilets generally don’t have the best water usage -- but salvaging those items offsets some of that cost.

We found all of our original 1920s and ’30s sinks, toilets, and bath fixtures at the Sink Factory in Berkeley. The sinks were in great shape. We had one set of fixtures re-chromed, but the rest were fine -- we don’t mind a little pitting on the metal, since we think it provides character. For the toilets, we had a plumber install new fittings so they function well. The few new things in the bathrooms are from Kohler.

The marble basket-weave floor was a major indulgence. It was way out of our budget. But after searching endlessly for the perfect flooring, we had no choice -- it fits the period of the house perfectly and truly enhances the room. We used tile from Art Tile in Oakland for the upstairs bathroom (above), and Ann Sacks tile in the yellow ground-floor bathroom (below).


Of everything we’ve done here, I’m probably proudest of the garden. The woman we bought the house from had gardened here for 23 years. So needless to say, we bought into a mature landscape. For the first year or two, I just maintained it. But since then, I’ve replanted almost everything except the larger trees. Every inch of our property is planted, and it creates the most peaceful and beautiful surroundings for our family to enjoy. I do all the landscaping myself and gardening has become my main hobby. I love it so much that I'm studying to become a landscape designer.”

To see the entire slideshow of the house and garden, click here.

Thanks so much for letting us all take a peek at your beautiful home, Bernadette and Steve!

Want to share your own home -- or simply show off a room or project you're proud of? Please let me know!

3 comments:

linda weber said...

Even though art deco is not my favorite style, I loved seeing what Bernadette and Steve did to their house. Can you tell us where they got the turquoise-glazed ceramic urn in their yard? It's fantastic.

Reichel said...

Wow! I have the matching vanity and tall dresser to the one you pictured. It must be from the same set! I live in Oakland too...lol.

Bernadette said...

The ceramic urn was purchased here in Oakland at Pacific Home and Garden (pacifichg.com). Not sure if they sell to the public but it's worth a try as they have beautiful things.

 

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