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.
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.
Tiny windows and a galley layout made the space dark and bulky.
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 (modwalls.com).
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.
The small children's room's former window would become the new front door.
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.
With no hallway, the old front door opened right into the living room.
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).
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.
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 (plainair.com), 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."
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 (heavenlygreens.com). Maxi replaced the driveway with recycled rubber surfacing (playgroundsunlimited.com); it's slightly bouncy but still firm enough to dribble a basketball on.