Fresno Avenue, Berkeley



Kitchen (construction photo) photo: Sarrita Min

[NOTE: project is under construction at this posting]

When first entering this 1917 Northbrae house, it was hard to imagine why we were there until we saw the kitchen and its adjacent utility areas. It wasn’t a particularly bad kitchen, nor were the utility spaces, but they didn’t live up to the beautiful Craftsman-inspired interiors elsewhere in the house. That said, the general aesthetic wasn’t the only issue here. A parallel issue was that the kitchen, laundry, and powder rooms colluded to conceal the rear deck from the rest of the house. Considering the California climate, a relationship between indoors and out isn’t one to ignore.

Working our way to the deck, another strange phenomenon arose: there was no way to get from deck to yard, short of jumping. We had now observed two layers of obstruction between indoors and out. We had wiggled our way through utility space to a tiny door- through which we passed- onto a deck that isolated us from the yard. Interesting stuff: a trap.



Existing Plan- paths bottleneck through utility space, and lead to a deck with no exit


Our major objective at that point was clear; eliminate obstructions between interior space and exterior space. This objective would be met and elaborated on by redesigning the kitchen to encourage movement between the kitchen and deck, and by providing a stair from deck to yard.The kitchen was redesigned around a large island that leads to large French doors onto the deck. The island is flanked on one side by a super-efficient laundry room and a pleasantly minimal powder room; the other side of the island is kitchen space. An interior path to the deck has opened up, and a stair now connects the deck with the yard.




The new design work allows for more pleasant, lively access to the deck, and access to the yard from the deck


A garage was designed for future construction to house a car and to work as a covered area for social gatherings when needed. The slide-away garage wall faces the new deck stair, allowing for casual, but directed meandering.


Master Suite Entry (construction photo)

Upstairs, an existing bedroom and adjacent sunroom were rebuilt as a master suite. The bedroom was transformed into a master bath and walk-through closet. The walk-through closet also serves as a vertically spacious, light-filled entry to the bedroom (former sunroom). The sunroom was made more bedroom-like by replacing the rickety aluminum windows with operable wood-frame, insulated glass windows. To provide additional comfort, the new bedroom captured space from the adjacent, oddly-shaped existing upstairs bathroom. Consequently, the kids’/guest bathroom became neater and more efficient.


Master Bathroom shower tiling (construction photo)


Master Bathroom (construction photo) photo: Sarrita Min

Project Engineer: Joe Igber, SEDR Consulting
General Contractor: Nick Silberman/Bill Meredith, Carlen Construction


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