Thursday, December 18, 2008

House Voyeur: Bright and Bold in Berkeley

So many of the emails I get from readers whose homes wind up being featured here as part of my "House Voyeur" series start the same way: "I don't know if my place is 'blog-worthy' ... " followed by a few sample snapshots that sometimes literally take my breath away.

I think it's safe to say that many of you have fantastic homes – really! And also that we all deserve to take more pride in our accomplishments on the home front. It's pointless to hold our houses and apartments up against the places we see in glossy magazines or on interior designers' sites (although I would argue that many of your digs are just as good-looking and creative). We need to remind ourselves that those homes are typically put together with truckloads of cash and an army of highly paid professionals – architects, builders, and designers all work their magic, and then stylists run around fluffing pillows and arranging flowers before an expert photographer starts snapping away.

Our homes, on the other hand, exist in the real world – where cash is usually tight, where we make occasional missteps with paint colors, where children create messes, where furniture hangs around long after its prime, and where happy clutter often sneaks in when we're not looking. In short, our homes exist in a realm where actual living takes place. And that, dear readers, is beautiful.

Anyway, the first email I got from today's "House Voyeur" subject, Jackie Kersh, started like so many others – with an expression of doubt about whether her home would pass muster. Personally, I think that Jackie's abode is totally blog-worthy, and quite possibly even magazine-worthy. I'm delighted by her bold use of color and sense of playfulness, by her wonderful art collection, by the surprising little touches throughout, by her amazing curbside finds, and most of all by the sense that a real, live family lives here, and that they're probably having a lot of fun doing so.

Alright, my soapbox speech is over. Let's let Jackie take us on a virtual tour of the sweet North Berkeley bungalow she shares with her husband, Gabriel, and young sons, Graham and baby Simon:

"We moved to Berkeley two years ago from a small flat in San Francisco. Our house was built in 1926 and is best described as 'Craftsman Lite' – it has some Craftsman details, mainly on the windows, but overall it’s a blank slate.

We had very little furniture and a fairly modest budget. I didn't have a master plan for the space, but was inspired by the trees that you can see from the windows in every room, by the natural light that pours into the house, and by the colors of our growing art collection. Our style is part vintage, part midcentury, part bargain basement – we love to collect affordable art and mix it up with new and vintage furniture, fresh flowers and plants, and toddler-proof knickknacks. Our goal was a family friendly yet sophisticated home.

The paint we used in our entryway is Benjamin Moore's Pale Avocado. The console table is from Pottery Barn; the framed artwork on top of it is by C. Tan and the small work above the plant is by Robert Gutierrez. The doormat is from Anthropologie, and we found the white Eames chair on the street.

These vintage wooden shoe lasts are from the flea market, and the little wood table was another street find. The wall color is Oakwood Manor by Benjamin Moore.

My favorite thing about this house is the light. It’s amazing. The green bird pillow on the sofa is from Joom.

With two small children, we’re always looking for furniture that’s comfortable, cleanable, and durable. The living room was the most intimidating space to furnish because it’s so big – practically the size of our entire flat in North Beach! Our vintage brown Knoll sofa looked dinky in the space, so we splurged on a dark gray Room & Board couch that’s long enough for Gabriel (who’s over six feet tall) to take a nap on and that fits three people comfortably. Later, we added the red chair, also from Room & Board, to round out the seating area.

Gabriel made the coffee table for my birthday. It perfectly marries form and function, and even has slots for the kids' puzzles and books. The white shag rug is from Pottery Barn. It’s always a bit of a gamble to have white in a house with small kids, but it seems to be holding up somehow. The throw pillows are from IKEA, Anthropologie, and Shelter, the lamp is from West Elm, and most of the accessories are from flea markets.

The gorgeous artwork above the chair is by my friend Amanda Hughen, and it's the most prized piece in my collection. When it comes to decorating, I'm definitely influenced by my kids, so I try to integrate playful elements like vintage toy cars, wind-up toys, and wooden blocks around the house to compliment the décor. The red car was Gabriel's when he was a boy, and the vintage books are from the flea market.

Our biggest challenge is keeping things clean, organized, and 'grown-up' while accommodating the needs of two small children (and a husband who isn’t always fond of putting his toys – I mean shoes – away). We found the metal chair at a flea market.

One of our son Graham's drawings as well as a snapshot of him flank work by a graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute.

We began collecting art five or six years ago, starting with these fruit paintings that Gabriel found at the Alameda flea market. I worked in the art world for about ten years, but never really had the budget to buy anything from galleries. Over the years, we’ve found a slew of smaller-scale art auctions and student art sales that feature amazing work by emerging artists at prices that are in line with our budget. Our favorites: the San Francisco Art Institute Winter Sale, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery's annual fundraiser, The Lab's annual art auction, Southern Exposure's Monster Drawing Rally, and Visual Aid's Big Deal. Along the way, I discovered Etsy, which has been an economical and fun (though highly addicting) way to round out our collection.

The dining room table is from Copenhagen and the chairs from the Alameda flea market. We got the George Nelson Saucer Lamp from Velocity Art and Design. The walls are Benjamin Moore's Amherst Gray.

Gabriel is a building contractor (his company is called One Man Working), so everything is DIY around here. One of the first projects he tackled was the kitchen. It's kind of an odd room, with all the cabinets and appliances along one wall and a lot of random floor space. To freshen it up without doing a major remodel, he replaced the super-Seventies Formica countertop with dark gray concrete, and we bought new stainless steel appliances and added new pulls and knobs from Restoration Hardware to the circa-1960 cabinets.

Our home, which is nearly 1,600 square feet, is the biggest I've ever lived in as an adult, and I was excited by the opportunity to have so much space in which to experiment with color. In the kitchen, we decided on Benjamin Moore's Rhine River, which compliments the cabinets and countertop nicely, and added a red accent wall (Benjamin Moore's Habanero Pepper) to balance out the room. The clock is from IKEA, the light fixture from Restoration Hardware, and the black-and-white photograph ('Cecco') by John Pareno.

Instead of a traditional kitchen table, we built a 'sushi-style' counter to make the kitchen feel more contemporary and to maximize the floor space. We paired it with these colorful chairs from IKEA that are easy for kids to climb into and even easier to wipe up after messy baking activities. The Svan high chair was purchased from Giggle, the vintage lamp is from the Alameda flea market, and the paintings are by Owen Takabayashi.

Graham's room was the most fun to decorate. I love the combination of brown, blue, and orange – they work so well together. The wall color is Benjamin Moore's Robin's Nest. I wanted his room to be playful and comfortable, but also to have a sense of style that ties in with the rest of the house. Gabriel built the twin bed, which I topped with polka-dot bedding from DwellStudio. The bird decals are from Elly Nelly, the orange dresser from a secondhand store, the brown window shades from JC Penney, the 'G' from the flea market, and the small green chair was found on the street.

The green Eames chair was another curbside freebie. The photograph above the chair is by Nina Zurier, the fox pillow on it is from Urban Outfitters, the orange clock from Berkeley's Ohmega Salvage, and the small suitcases on the bookshelf from the Land of Nod.

Our bedding is from Anthropologie and the window shade is from JC Penney. We found the Tansu chest at a shop in San Francisco's Japantown and the mirror on it at Ohmega Salvage. The print to the left of the dresser is "Many Mountains" by Ky Anderson, purchased via 20x200, and the vintage portrait to the right of the window is from the flea market.

The ‘map room’ is a combination office, den, and family room. The color scheme was inspired by the 1964 map wallpaper (as seen at top), which was here when we bought the house. We painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Golden Lab to tie in with the faded colors of the map. The rug is from Urban Outfitters, the couch (the cover zips off for easy washing – a big plus when you have kids) and fabric for the pillows from IKEA, the window shades from JC Penney, the lamp from Target, the desk and chair from the flea market, and the orange desk organizer from the Container Store.

The artwork in the room is black and white , since we figured the map was color enough, and includes photos of our kids, Gabriel’s prized W. Eugene Smith photograph (to the right of the couch), a vintage snapshot from the flea market, and a little piece called 'Two Skiers' by Brenda Rose (to the left of the door).

Gabriel remodeled our home's only bathroom in record time, wanting to both update the space and make it more family friendly. He nearly doubled the size of the previously tiny, wood-paneled bathroom and added beautiful traditional touches. He chose white subway tiles (from Daltile in San Francisco) for the walls and paired them with gray/white carrera marble laid in a herringbone pattern for the floors.

Choosing the paint color for the bathroom was the hardest. I wanted a pumpkin color, but every shade we tried looked like bad foundation or pantyhose. We also tried green, which looked equally horrible. Finally, I decided to go bold and try a chocolate brown (Saddle Soap by Benjamin Moore). It really pops when paired with the blue bath mat and towels. The shelf, towel rack, and TP holder are from Pottery Barn, and the metal basket is from the flea market. The painting is by Brandi Strickland.

We turned a dank basement into a playroom and arts-and-crafts studio for the kids. The paint is Pear Green by Benjamin Moore. The blue circle rugs, the drawers, the rail above the desk, and the track lighting are all from IKEA. Gabriel made the desktop, and we found the chairs and the vintage blue tins at the flea market. The red bird print is by Wayne Pate, and the two small prints to the right of the wall rack are from Yellow Canoe.

This pair of bird prints is by Maria Janosko via Etsy.

Gabriel built this table, which we paired with green plastic chairs from IKEA and a canary yellow umbrella from Patio Umbrellas. My advice: Don’t be afraid of color!"

(And yes, folks, I'm pretty sure this photo was taken just last week. Apologies if you're freezing your butt off right now; that's just the way we roll here in Cali!)

Thanks so much for sharing your truly wonderful home with us, Jackie!

P.S. Want to see more? Click here for a look inside other readers' homes.

19 comments:

Modern Craft said...

What a beautiful place-- you've done an amazing job of styling everything-- great taste. I love how livable this place looks-- I have two small children myself so I understand the challenge of making a space you can live in but also one that's inspired. Terrific.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the comment above. What a cheerful, stylish and livable home. Love it.

Elizabeth said...

I am so jealous that you found two Eames chairs on the street!!!

Also, your place is beautiful!

Sarah said...

Jackie,
Greetings from the land of cold St. Louis! I love that i can finally see your home, it is so you and Gabe.
xo Sarah

Anonymous said...

I love the exterior grey and green paint color combination - would you share those color names also please - Benjamin Moore? Thanks!

Moxie said...

love love love it! so much.

MJ said...

Absolutely stunning home. I love the use of color and collectors of art are always great in my book!!

Brandi Strickland said...

Jackie's house is beautiful. Totally magazine worthy. Thanks for mentioning my artwork in this post and getting in touch.

Anonymous said...

great colors and totally family friendly---nice work :)

Alice Almighty said...

I love the marbles, the antiques with the new, the artwork, the color, the life.

Alice

robin holland said...

lovely! lots of great details - the basement room is bright and non-basementy. i am seething with jealousy re: the eames chairs you found. i like your front door colour and the street numbers! your art collection... i adore the herringbone in the bathroom. if i may, i could totally see a tile backsplash in the kitchen!

Sonya Lee said...

I, too, would like to know the paint choices for your house exterior. Is anything else painted that snazzy green? That door really makes the whole look.

Your entire house is lovely!

Mina said...

Beautiful home! Definetely my style. : )

www.bohemianvintageonline.com

Anonymous said...

I can't pinpoint exactly why, but this home really struck a chord with me. Maybe it's the kids (mine are similar ages), the handy husband (mine is similar) or the copious light--which, unfortunately, is not similar to my little house at all. I adore the bathroom (again, mine is similar minus the genius floor) and the colors. Thanks for sharing!!

jackie said...

thank you all for the positive feedback!

Christina @ Pardon my Vintage said...

What a lovely home! I was wondering if the side table in the living room (black metal & glass, next to the Knoll sofa) was vintage ... if not, would you mind sharing where it's from?

Lucinda Poel said...

Echoing what many have said, LOVE the exterior house colors! Are you willing to share the name/manufacturer? What a dynamite duo together . .. just perfect!

j & g said...

it seems like there is a lot of interest in the exterior paint colors. generally my husband only buys benjamin moore paint. however, for the exterior, the colors we liked came from two other companies that are both on the pricier side for some reason. the grey is by pratt & lambert and the green is by fine paints of europe. we unfortunately don't remember the exact paint colors...i will try to dig it up in our invoices from the paint store. hope that's helpful + happy painting!

Anonymous said...

Hi, your home looks beautiful. Love the colors! Can you please tell me where you got the world map on the first picture? Thank you!

 

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