Home makeover: An East Coast artist moves her family West and makes space to play
When photographer Ericka McConnell returned to her native California from New York two years ago, she missed the openness
of her family’s former loft back East.
The ground floor of the once single-story house—where she and her husband live with their daughter, Flora—is now essentially one combined kitchen, dining area, living space, and home office, with bedrooms in an upstairs addition.
Next, see the dining room before the remodel.
Design: Lillian Mitchell, Harp Ostroy Mitchell Structures, Berkeley (510/705-1061)
McConnel boldly banished many interior walls of her 1900s Oakland Craftsman. Now this dining room space is part of a combined
kitchen, dining area, living space, and home office (previous page).
“I love that we can entertain with kids in the breakfast nook, and grown-ups in the dining area or living room,” says McConnell. “It works for everybody. It’s not just a grown-up house.”
The family decided to build a second story to the home while maintaining the architectural style of the neighborhood. “We didn’t want to be a crazy modern house in a traditional-looking area,” she says.
With the addition of a story, the home now has space for two bedrooms, a bath, and a playroom upstairs.
The Douglas fir subflooring was uncovered during the remodel and refinished. “I love its character and sense of history,” says McConnell. “The idea of new flooring felt too uniform.” The steel staircase is new, of course, but it has a weathered, industrial look.
Despite a lot of tight spaces in the original home, the family saw potential. “It was really important to me to find a home with good natural light,” says McConnell. “And the weather here can’t be beat.”
Filmy white shades diffuse sunlight through the sitting area—helped by pale fabrics and rugs.
In addition to the second floor’s two bedrooms, a third area serves as Flora’s playroom. “I’ve never had an extra room. It feels so luxurious,” says McConnell, who imagines turning it into a library or painting studio someday.
A small guesthouse, complete with a mini loft, sits in the backyard. “We left behind a big community in New York,” says McConnell. “But here we can host people, something that wasn’t as easy to do in an urban East Coast home without any bonus rooms—or outdoor space.”
Prior to the remodel, the home was just a single story with a footprint of about 1,200 square feet. The space was broken up into small, walled-in rooms.