Before & After: Modern bungalow transformation

A 100-year-old home enters its next century with a thoughtful but playful remodel

Before: drab bungalow

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Before: Drab bungalow

Maxi Lilley and Eric Faurot's house appears to be just another bungalow on a street full of bungalows in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. But once you're inside, the genius of its recent redesign becomes clear. Built in 1910, the house was small but in a great location: near a shopping street and public transit.

After: Cheerful and spacious

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

After: Cheerful and spacious

The overhaul resulted in a spacious family-friendly ground floor, complete with a large entry that's anything but formal, plus a scene-stealing kitchen and an entirely new second floor. And the couple's love of midcentury modern design lends a touch of lightness it previously lacked.

Before: awkward kitchen

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Before: Awkward kitchen

Tiny windows and a galley layout made the space dark and bulky.

After: clean and functional

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

After: Clean and functional

The family worked with Todd Jersey Architecture to remodel their cramped bungalow. The only remnant of the old kitchen, the 1957 O'Keefe & Merritt gas stove, sets the tone for the room. Maxi chose easy-to-clean concrete counters and, as the backsplash, ModDotz Marshmallow penny round tile (

Plus: added breakfast nook

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Plus: Added breakfast nook

Built-in bench seats disguise storage; a walnut-and-laminate wall unit provides cabinets and a wine rack on one side and an entertainment center on the other. The chairs are, of course, a classic Eames design from 1946.

Before: cramped children's room

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Before: Cramped children's room

The small children's room's former window would become the new front door.

After: fresh entryway

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

After: Fresh entryway

The new front door opens to an entry with plenty of built-ins for coats, boots, and toys. A central hall acts as a breezeway when temps rise. Maxi designed the plywood tree sculpture and plywood umbrella caddy.

Before: lacking living room

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Before: Lacking living room

With no hallway, the old front door opened right into the living room.

After: rejuvenated space

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

After: Rejuvenated space

The main living spaces kept their original paneling, box beam ceilings, and built-in bookcases, but got a face-lift courtesy of Danish modern furniture and fresh paint colors (the yellow is Benjamin Moore's Freedom Trail, #277).

Before: uncomfortable backyard

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Before: Uncomfortable backyard

At first, the yard was accessible only through the laundry room off the back of the house. But the family needed a comfortable place to hang out as well as entertain. The yard was paved with brick sloping downward: good for drainage, bad for entertaining.

After: entertainment friendly

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

After: Entertainment friendly

Maxi designed both an open-air living room and an alfresco dining room. Solid furniture made of poured concrete and TimberTech decking, portable pieces from L.A.'s Plain Air (, and a built-in firepit create a natural gathering place. "In small gardens," Maxi says, "I like a sense of formality and structure against the naturalistic forms."

After: lush greens and hardscape

Photo by: Thomas J. Story

Plus: Lush greens and hardscape

The back of the house gets a lot less sun than the front, so Maxi planted it with ferns, Mexican weeping bamboo, and dwarf boxwood. "I love that I can have palm trees in the front yard, and an orange in the back," she says. Flagstones are interrupted by squares of synthetic turf ( Maxi replaced the driveway with recycled rubber surfacing (; it's slightly bouncy but still firm enough to dribble a basketball on.

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