Who says you'd have to travel to L.A. to visit an elegant 1930s home with a Hollywood Regency interior?
A gracious 1931 French Normandy residence, designed by Bay Area architect William Schirmer, will be open to the public as part of Oakland's Heart of the Home Tour, coming April 26-27. This Crocker Highlands home has been embellished in recent years with some graceful, sophisticated Hollywood Regency touches, while retaining its fine lineage.
For example, when you step into the low-ceilinged entry, you notice its oak parquet flooring, hard-carved stairway newel posts and a burnt-orange wall that draws attention to a Moorish arch.
Immediately, light pouring through tall French doors draws your gaze to a
The living room also features ceilings with carved beams and the kind of custom-iron grillwork, cast-bronze hardware and arched doorways used throughout the home. An antique game table, upright piano and wide-screen television indicate that this room is a comfortable family hangout and entertainment hub, too.
At one end of the room, two tall, gold-framed mirrors are positioned to reflect a pair of life-size, gold-flecked torsos. "The mirrors behind each of the torsos provide drama, glamour and surprise," says Laura Paladini of Amore Vero Design in Martinez, a friend of the current owners as well as the designer with whom they have worked since moving into the home in December of 2000.
In the dining room, an heirloom table has been enlarged to accommodate 12 people by adding an enormous piece of clear, beveled glass over the original top. Through it, visitors can see the entire heirloom, as well as the vintage dining chairs with their updated leopard-print upholstered seats. The Regency motif carries through in sea-foam green silk draperies and a mirror-front console that add shimmer. So does the polished Venetian plaster on one wall.
Walls as art
"Instead of hanging a piece of art (on it), we made the entire wall a piece of art by attaching turquoise-green glass brooches. ... It's fun, and it sparks conversation," Paladini says.
The glamorous second-floor master bedroom suite is equipped with floor-length drapes, a white padded headboard and white linens, and a faux fireplace. The newly remodeled master bath has a shower, oversize porcelain tub and a television.
A Jack-and-Jill bathroom between the bedrooms of the owners' two daughters also incorporates a "glam" factor, with ornate vanity mirrors and dual crystal-pendant chandelier sconces.
The home's interior space is doubled by a three-tiered back garden, with low concrete walls that define roomlike spaces. Rattan recliners furnish a secluded patio, within earshot of a gurgling fountain. An eight-seat dining area boasts a raised fire pit that radiates warmth and sparkle on many an evening. A lounge area with a contemporary fire feature is surrounded by a green lawn and beautiful native-plant landscaping.
"The owners love that the house respects the past but is outfitted for modern living," Paladini says. "They've maintained the architecture, fixtures and wood while adding all the creature comforts. ... It's allowed them to express their imagination, build on it and use the stylistic elements that represent what they like."
The owners, who have asked that their names not be printed to protect the family's privacy, sought out a home in Oakland because they love the city's location, nearby restaurants and easy-living climate. The young couple decided this was the place for them right after walking through the front door when it was last on the market. It was well-built, solid as a rock and a great place to raise a family, they've said.
Twelve-plus years and two daughters later, the home's spacious entertaining areas inside and out accommodate not only dinner parties, but the many friends of the couple's daughters. The home remains perfectly suited to the family lifestyle.
Working with Paladini, the owners have added the touches of Hollywood glitz that make the place as individualistic as it is classy. That look was inspired, in part, by a grandmother who worked as a wardrobe woman in Hollywood during its golden age. Her autographed portraits from iconic stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis were the starting point for the other understated Hollywood Regency items that reflect the couple's fun-loving, "surprise-me" attitude.
The bones of the residence are typical of the 1930s work of San Francisco-born architect Schirmer, who launched his career about 1916; it ended when he and his wife died in a 1957 car crash. From the outside, the stuccoed home has a steeply pitched roof with a parapet dormer and a tiny conical turret, mostly hidden from view.
A vintage project
When the current owners purchased the 2,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house, it had wallpaper and a dated kitchen with five doors, 1980s linoleum, faux brick and a lot of pink.
They removed the wallpaper themselves and eliminated some doors and walls to open up the kitchen space. These changes set them apart from some owners of Schirmer homes, who prefer not to remove any of the original elements. A series of remodels has made the kitchen family-friendly, with a nature-inspired breakfast nook and French doors that open to the back garden.
Paladini has helped bring in features that meld beautifully with the Schirmer design. "The grandmother's Hollywood photographs gave me the idea to make the house glamorous," she recalls. They now adorn the walls of a home office, to which she has added dark hues on the walls, shiny silver paint on the ceiling, brocade fabrics and a leopard-print carpet.
Today, the place would make a great backdrop for Gregory Peck or Clark Gable.
the home tour
Benefits the Children's Support League, Oakland
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 26-27
Where: Featuring five homes, dating from 1915 to 1963, in Piedmont and Crocker Highlands
Advance tickets: Tour $45; tour plus lunch, $55. 510-338-4521, http://wehelpkids.org
Tour-day tickets: Tour, $50; tour plus lunch, $62. Available at Piedmont Community Center, 711 Highland Ave.
Also: Group-rate advance tickets available. VIP package (including invitation to Children's Support League Anniversary Party, 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 25; and VIP tour with continental breakfast, guest speaker and more, 8:30-10 a.m. April 26) $125; 510-338-4521, http://wehelpkids.org