These Oakland Homeowners ‘Fell in Love’ With a Craftsman Bungalow. Eight Years Later, It Was Time for a Change.

Nathan Law

When Madison Mount and his wife, Charmaine Ehrhart, bought a tiny, 1912 craftsman bungalow in Oakland, Calif., for $925,000 in 2008, they thought it was perfect. “The first time we saw it we fell in love with it,” says Mr. Mount, 45, a partner in design firm IDEO. They also […]

When Madison Mount and his wife, Charmaine Ehrhart, bought a tiny, 1912 craftsman bungalow in Oakland, Calif., for $925,000 in 2008, they thought it was perfect.

“The first time we saw it we fell in love with it,” says Mr. Mount, 45, a partner in design firm IDEO. They also loved where it was located—within walking distance of stores and restaurants. “It gave us what we loved about living in the city,” says Dr. Ehrhart, 49, a psychologist.

At first, the 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bathroom house with a galley kitchen and a minuscule powder room sufficed for the couple and their two children. They tolerated the pink and blue bathroom tiles, which they describe as “Miami Vice,” and the distorted layout, which reduced the flow between the living room and the kitchen.

After living there for about eight years, the family wanted more space. Mr. Mount and Dr. Ehrhart wanted a main bedroom that overlooked the backyard instead of the street to get away from the noise from busses and garbage trucks. Their children, now 12 and 14, wanted equal-size bedrooms and a bathroom separate from their parents. Everyone wanted a nicer kitchen.

The $700,000 renovation increased the square footage to about 2,200, added a main bedroom and bathroom, and included a new two-story, modern, dark-stained cedar, cubed structure that contains the main bedroom and bathroom on top and, below, a kitchen with sliding glass doors that open to a back deck and yard. The dining room also opens out to the back.

“The goal was to leave the original bones as much as possible while melding the old and the new together,” says Gretchen Krebs, co-founder of architecture firm Medium Plenty who designed the renovation. “That was a challenge.”

The Budget

  • Windows / doors: $40,000
  • Stone and tile finishes in kitchen and bathrooms: $35,000
  • Wood flooring: $23,000
  • Built-in leather corner banquette: $5,000
  • Corner fireplace unit with custom metal surround: $10,000
  • Plumbing and lighting fixtures: $50,000
  • Cabinetry and casework: $20,000

What the architects left was the gumwood trim on the interior and much of the wood flooring. New details included a caramel-color leather banquette, a copper-lined appliance cocktail bar and custom light fixtures. Ms. Krebs describes the aesthetic as “Euromodern,” or high-end bespoke. The modern, sleek back of the house now looks completely different from the traditional Craftsman front of the house.

Mr. Mount says that designing systems for clients means he is constantly thinking about improving the way things work. That was true for his house as well. “Sometimes it was radical stuff, and sometimes small stuff,” he says. Particularly important to him was getting the sound system and lighting flexible, so they could be adjusted according to the family’s moods, he says. They like bright lights while they are cooking and dimmer lights during dinner, for example.

The renovation added a cubed, two-story, modern, dark-stained cedar structure. Sliding glass doors open from the kitchen to a back deck and yard.



Photo:

Melissa Kaseman

The goal of the renovation was to leave as much of the original bones of the house as possible. The front looks almost the same as when the couple bought it.



Photo:

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

The next step is a new guesthouse in the backyard, which can double as an office and a workout space, something Mr. Mount and Dr. Ehrhart estimate will cost about $300,000. They want to improve the landscaping and add a hot tub. They expect to start construction soon.

Write to Nancy Keates at [email protected]

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