Joanne Koch knew it was a tall order: she wanted a mid-century modern home in Berkeley within walking distance of a Peet’s. Even her realtor told her she might have to revise her thinking. Most homes built in that period are perched in the hills to take advantage of their inherent indoor-outdoor design and to offer the best views of the bay.
But the Berkeley architect struck lucky. In 1999, a level-in home designed in 1952 by the well-regarded Bay Area architect Roger Lee came on the market. The 1,125 sq ft home needed attention, but this was not a deterrent for Koch who had the remodeling chops, as well as a passion for mid-century homes. She and her husband snapped it up for $365,000 and moved in with their young daughter. The icing on the cake? The house is three block’s from the original Peet’s on Vine Street.
Koch’s Oxford Street home, which she has sensitively rehabilitated and extended, will be one of five homes on the East Bay Modern Home Tour on Saturday Oct. 20.
Koch’s home was built by the owners of the tall brown-shingled house next door who commissioned Lee to design the then one-story house, and it stayed in the same family until its sale 13 years ago. Koch says it’s everything she believes a home should be: petite but deceptively expansive, open to the outdoors and very habitable. Despite it being 60 years old, she says the home’s design should be what all future homes are modeled on.
Work included restoring the original slanted support beams, putting in a new patio, excavating under the house to create an extra bedroom, and creating an airy studio for Koch’s husband — an exhibit developer at the Exploratorium — from the old carport. The original bathroom is in situ, but Koch recently installed a new kitchen. However, it is so authentic-looking, down to the stainless-steel cabinet doors and the original faux wood grain laminate countertops — that one might mistake it for the one that came with the house.
Other featured homes on the self-guided East Bay Modern Home Tour on Oct. 20 include a four-bedroom contemporary on Broadway Terrace in Oakland, designed by Robert Nebolon Architects, and a Swatt Miers designed home in Lafayette.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit East Bay Modern Home Tour.
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