Brooklyn Avenue, Oakland, California

This 2-bedroom, 1-bath, 1920s Craftsman bungalow needed major work in order to accommodate the needs of the owner’s growing family. Expansive south-facing views and a sloping rear yard invited a lower-level addition below the main living area — doubling the size of the home while maintaining a fairly “untouched” front façade. The lower area includes a large family room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and new laundry and storage. On the main floor, changes include a complete kitchen and deck remodel; front entry, living room, and dining room updates; and a new master suite above the lower floor build-out.

Secret Compartment

A creative solution to reducing the prominence of a coat closet in the entry: hide it behind a custom painting. An attractive bench provides an aesthetic and functional solution to locating the cold air return.

Small Changes, Big Effects

Minimally impacted by the renovation, the living room receives detail and finish upgrades including a new concrete facade over the old tile around the fireplace and a layer of Venetian plaster to rejuvenate unattractive and cracking, textured walls; custom window treatments with subtle modern details blend harmoniously with the owner’s modern furniture, completing the aesthetic transformation.

Continuous Flow

Light flows from the living room through to the dining room; incorporating the same natural clay artisan plaster wall finish in both rooms creates a sense of connection between the spaces. Elements of shape and hue are echoed in the furnishings of both rooms and in the paint color in the entryway.

The Heart of the Home

Removing the narrow laundry room and cramped eating nook allowed a much larger kitchen and breakfast area. Upper cabinet doors in brushed metal and frosted glass provide a subtle point of visual harmony and a lighter feel to the space. The kitchen is the “heart of the home,” a feeling represented by the red laminate island.

Eco-Smart Details

The bold, red, laminate material is adhered to the island with eco-friendly, low-VOC soy based glue. Urea-free, formaldehyde-free, FSC certified bamboo cabinetry from Eco Home Improvement completes the updated, earth-friendly design.

Recycled-Glass Accent

Red mosaic glass tiles made from recycled traffic lights create a dramatic focal point above the cooktop. Showcasing this expensive material by using minimal amounts in highlighted areas kept costs low while maximizing its effects.

Unique Boundary

The kitchen opens up to the new staircase, leading to the lower-level addition. A custom steel-and-panel railing, designed to utilize remnants of high-quality plastic, creates a unique, colorful, and durable boundary. Clear glass doors connect to the outdoor entertaining area.

Master Suite

Expanding the former rear bedroom on two sides and adding a new, spacious bath creates a luxurious master suite. Locating the closet behind a chocolate brown accent wall maintains the integrity of the vaulted ceiling above and enhances the spacious, open feel of the room.

Master Bathroom

Soothing shades of neutral colors and bamboo flooring create a comforting spa environment in the master bathroom. The large walk-in shower and adjacent soaking tub balance the generous countertop, providing a feeling of grand openness while achieving an efficient use of space.

Kid-Focused Family Space

The bright colors of the railing, continuous with the design of the kitchen above, provide a lively accent to the spacious playroom. The design intention for the lower area is playful and kid-focused. Two children’s bedrooms and a bathroom open off the main space, with storage and laundry beyond.

Fish Tank Toilet

The fish tank toilet is both a creative use of space and a very fun feature in this colorful and playful kids’ bathroom. Remnant tiles from Heath Ceramics in Sausalito are arranged into a repeating pattern to for a unique custom accent band in the shower.

Indoor-Outdoor Connection

The playroom opens out to the newly landscaped rear yard, providing a wonderfully cohesive indoor-outdoor connection. Concrete floors with radiant heat throughout the ground level reinforce visual flow while offering durability and warmth. Green building tactic: Mixing fly ash, a byproduct of coal production, into the concrete both strengthens the material and utilizes a manufacturing byproduct that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Green Building

Creating more usable space while respecting the integrity of the original home, optimizing flow, and utilizing green and sustainable building practices resulted in a spacious, modern healthy environment. Green improvements included: a 2.4 Kw solar system on the South facing roof at the back; a radiant heat system below stained concrete floors; recycled newspaper and denim insulation throughout; impervious landscaping (pavers) to prevent water run-off; use of extremely-low- and zero-VOC paints, adhesives, and finishes, and recycled, remnant, and natural materials.

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