As Sunset’s headquarters were relocating to Oakland in late 2015, a group of designers were a few miles away planning the magazine’s 2016 Idea House. Perched in the Claremont Hills bordering Oakland and Berkeley, the home was conceived as a tribute to the Bay Area—its architecture, its quirky character, its spirit of innovation. Facilitated by DFI Properties and Keith Kolker of Landmark Development, architect Robert Nebolon created a five-level, 3,600-square-foot cantilevered home clad in James Hardie siding. To warm up the modern shell, interior designer Lauren Geremia and her team, Emily Ord and Erin O’Brien, mixed ATGStores.com furnishings and paint with vintage items and statement-making pieces by Western artists. The result is a home that feels like a retreat—and offers design ideas around every corner.
The design team turned an easy-to-overlook part of the living room into a reading nook. To do the same at home, pair a small table with a piece of furniture that can hold its own. This vintage chair has a strong shape, but is comfortable enough for long reads. deangelis.1stdibs.com for Midcentury Danish wingback chair.
“We wanted to take risks with the wall treatments in this house,” says Geremia. In the kitchen, for instance, she applied an Arts and Crafts wallpaper in place of tile to the wall, adding an unexpected burst of pattern. The wallpaper was treated with a Scotchguard-like coating and is covered with tempered glass to protect against water damage. The marble countertop extends to form a backsplash. shearsandwindow.com for Bird & Pomegranate wallpaper by William Morris, $199/roll. atgstores.com for Ventura dining table, $1,180; pair of ladder-back dining chairs, $119.
The inset oak cabinetry is a nod to the area’s early 20th-century Craftsman homes; the organically shaped brass hardware supplies the oomph. J. Lohr wine. Torani syrups. rockymountainhardware.com for Potato cabinet knobs, from $36.
A long narrow bathroom is outfitted with back-to-back vanities that give its users distinct spaces. The trick to getting this right, says Nebolon, is offsetting the sinks. heathceramics.com for Classic Field tile in Natural White, 1x3 and 3x9 from $22. lampsplus.com for Mila wall sconces, $205. marblecompany.com for Limestone countertops. dxv.com for Pop Grande square under-counter bathroom sink, $325. rockymountainhardware.com for Potato cabinet pulls, from $36 each.
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Let art take the lead
Art played a vital role in every room, adding warmth and offbeat character. The designers chose a mix of nature-based photography, warm pencil sketches, and oversize pieces from Western artists including Berkeley-based Vintage European Posters, Meagan Donegan, Jessica Niello-White, Tammy Rae Carland, Lena Wolff, and John Chiara.
A guest room should feel like a getaway for visitors. Geremia gave this one a vacation vibe by layering an island-style bed frame with a mostly quiet mixture of patterns and textures. Western Window Systems. osborneandlittle.com for Santorini Tinos linen drapery. thefutureperfect.com for Workstead’s Orbit Table Lamp One, $1,350. tonykitzgallery.com for Oushak overlay rug. lampsplus.com for Downbridge lamp, $129. atgstores.com for: Tommy Bahama Island Estate West Indies bed in Bamboo, $3,949; Coyuchi linens from $38; Interlude Norha side table, $882; Surya jute natural living area rug, $575; Antique White Linen occasional chair, $1,074.
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Fool the eye
By simply applying the tiles vertically in this small bathroom, the designers created the illusion of height. heathceramics.com for Classic Field tile in Paprika in 1x3 and 3x9, from $30/sq. ft.
Lamps can sometimes fade into the background, but in this house, Geremia chose a mix of contemporary and salvaged pieces that command attention. The hanging fixture and gold-splattered wallpaper make this powder room feel like a glam galaxy. Omega Lighting & Design. sarkos.nyc/cosmos for Cosmos wallpaper in Elikonas, $45/sq. ft. dxv.com for Lyndon single-handle faucet, $565.
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Soften the landing
Layering rugs sets a casual, slightly bohemian tone and provides extra padding underfoot. To master the look, O’Brien recommends overlaying rugs with a similar shag and pattern, or placing a small, patterned rug over a larger one made of a natural material, such as sisal or jute. tonykitzgallery.com for Vintage rugs pictured here.
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The designers made this media room kid- and red wine–friendly by embracing indoor-outdoor fabric—using it on the cushions, sofa, curtains, even the wall. mellonwinslowdb.com for custom sofa. michaelfelix.com for custom floor cushions. Sunbrella fabric in Heritage Moss and Connect Dune, $40/yard.
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Nebolon wrapped the six decks in glass, allowing light to “pass into the interiors as much as possible,” he says. The AZEK deck, which looks similar to hardwood, reinforces the indoor-outdoor connection, while large-scale potted plants bring additional greenery into view. sunsetwesterngardencollection.com for plant retailers. AZEK Vintage Collection deck in Dark Hickory.
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Tier it up
Drawing inspiration from an M.C. Escher sketch, landscape designers Michelle Derviss and David Feix planted a geometric garden into the hillside, filling steel planters with succulents, low-water perennials, and palms.