A creative update preserves the character of a great 1930s Oakland home
written by Jess Chamberlain
1 of 13Photos by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
A home with a story
When some house hunters hear about a 1930s structure that hasn’t been updated since, well, the 1930s, they think, Demo. But Jamie and Jeremy Kidson were looking for a home with a story.
To the couple, owners of the popular Bay Area stores Atomic Garden and Jeremys, it was important not only to retain the home’s history but also to tread lightly on the Earth. The Kidsons, who have two daughters, chose to do what they call “a preservation” rather than a full-on remodel.
“The patina and wear patterns are things we love about this house,” says Jeremy. And, with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom plumbing, most of the house was in good shape.
Click ahead to see what they did with it.
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Breakfast room: Before
A wall between this area and the butler’s pantry was removed to provide access to dishes and pantry goods, and open up the cramped space.
3 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Breakfast room: After
Family meals take place at this table. They serve formal meals in the separate dining room.
Seating: The Kidsons found these steel “1934” chairs in the Sundance Catalog (www.sundancecatalog.com;$245 each).
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Cooking area: Before
Here, the cabinets were replaced using the same footprint; the countertops and walls were resurfaced, appliances updated, and plumbing revamped.
To maintain the integrity of the house, the Kidsons had the walls repaired with plaster, not drywall.
5 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Cooking area: After
Island added: It increases counter space and allows for a prep sink beyond the main farmhouse sink.
Cabinet doors subtracted: “If a door’s closed,” says Jamie, “I have a tendency to forget things are there.”
6 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
The kids like to do homework on the new zinc table-top; during parties, it’s a handy spot for aperitifs.
7 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Aside from a coat of paint, the living room is as it’s been for nearly 80 years. Even the chandeliers are original―no rewiring needed.
The patina of the floors are Jeremy’s favorite detail. “Those nicks and scratches represent something,” he says. “You can’t replicate that.”
1930s-style camp chairs: UO Lux Leather Butterfly Chair from Urban Outfitters are similar ($248 each).
Textiles: Jamie found most of her old kilim and sumak rugs and Peruvian awayu shawls on eBay.
8 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
The reclaimed redwood canopy here was designed to mimic the wood rafters in the house.
The Kidsons tried to recycle everything they could (even old fence boards, which found a new purpose as walls for the chicken coop).
9 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
The original light fixtures had to be discarded, but the Kidsons installed replicas custom-made by a local blacksmith.
The dilapidated carpeting was also replaced; the room felt too cavernous without carpeting underfoot.
Bed: The custom design from Brindisiamo, in Sonoma (www.brindisiamo.com), echoes the room’s fixtures.
10 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
All the surfaces and fixtures are original. The couple had the metal rechromed and the plumbing restored piece by piece.
“Some things were really hard to get parts for,” says Jeremy. “The first few plumbers who showed up just shook their heads.”
11 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
More ideas to steal: Old-school dial
Before searching eBay, the Kidsons asked the phone company what would have been installed circa 1930.
12 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Similar antique Talavera- style tiles are available through Tierra y Fuego (tierrayfuego.com).
13 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
You can probably find similar knobs at Omega Too. Also try Rejuvenation (rejuvenation.com) in Portland and Seattle.