A Bungalow as Unique as You…

East meets West in a renovation that weaves artful living into the fabric of our daily lives. Owner architect, Jon Alff spent years interviewing India’s architects, native designers and craft builders. Doing so left him with a unique design sense, incorporating modern and traditional themes in a collage of color, space and form. He and his wife Amelia (who’s of Spanish origin and has a passion for cooking and gardening) have transformed a simple 1920s house into a surprisingly fresh and contemporary living environment. Read More

Magnificent Berkeley Mediterranean Home of Art Rosenfeld Comes On The Market

When Art Rosenfeld passed away in January at the age of 90, he left behind a legacy of being the “godfather” of energy efficiency and helped formulate the idea that it was better to save energy than it was to create it. His stunning Mediterranean home in Berkeley on Southampton Avenue, which he and his wife purchased in 1960, is a testament to the man who encouraged millions of Californians to turn off the lights and use energy efficient appliances. Read More

The Bosco Verticale: A solution to urban sprawl?

About a month ago I was talking to my gal pal who is a frequent flyer of all airplanes. She was telling me how much she enjoyed reading Hemispheres Magazine published by United Airlines. You know the one that shares a space in the back seat pocket next to Sky Mall. I always find some sort of entertainment from Sky Mall with all their whacky knick-knacks and miracle cures but Hemispheres has always bored me and I often thumb through it faster than the flight attendants finish their safety demonstration. However, on my last trip to Houston based on my trusted friend’s recommendation, I decided to give a whirl. And to my surprise, I found many articles of interest including one titled Plan G – cutting edge fixes for the world’s trickiest environmental problems. Here is my favorite of the fixes: Bosco Verticale, a two story building apartment complex that will double as the world’s first vertical forest. Built in Milan, every unit will have a concrete balcony planted with humidity-creating and CO2-filtering trees, shrubs and flowers that will get their nourishment from recycled gray water. The buildings themselves will rely on the sun for much of their power. And guess what, this solution comes cheap! Apparently, construction costs will only increase by 5%! Way to go Milan. written by Gina Odom, Realtor Read More

Absobloominglutely! Spring Flowers and Gardens in the Bay Area and Beyond

Plant life is a big part of life in the San Francisco Bay Area this spring. From backyard labors-of-love casually tossing their scents and shadows onto neighborhood sidewalks to professionally cultivated affairs that are worth every penny spent to see them—there’s some sprouting satisfaction for you whether you are a casual bloom-gawker or a serious gardener. Here are a few places in the Bay Area and beyond where you can find lush greens to celebrate the new spring season: San Francisco Flower and Garden Show San Mateo, CA If you have a great yard space and are looking for garden inspiration, this is the event for you. The show offers how-to sessions, innovative products, and all things green-themed for the green-thumbed. Wednesday, March 21, through Sunday, March 25. Click the link above for tickets and directions. Daffodil Hill Volcano, CA If you are lucky, one of the resident peacocks might fan by for a cameo appearance while you are sharpening your shutterbug talents among the over 300,000(!) blooms of Daffodil Hill. Patience, flower lover—as of this writing, Daffodil Hill is under snow. All signs point to a big bloom soon, though. The local Chamber of Commerce’s best guess for the bloom is the end of the first week in April. No entrance fee. Free parking. Before you buckle up the whole crew, call (209) 296-7048 to confirm that the park is open when you plan to visit. You’ll be rewarded with the cheeriest snapshots in your album and the kind of memories that come from beautiful afternoons with people you love. Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Santa Rosa, CA To protect the new fruits, vegetables, and flowers he cultivated, Luther Burbank locked his plant seeds in a safe, searched the pockets of his workers, and discouraged visitors. Now, the doors to his house, gardens, and a greenhouse are thrown open for the inquiring public during tour season, beginning this year on April 1. Take the docent-led tour to get the most out of your visit. Pick-Your-Own Farms, Various Locations Until your own backyard garden springs to life, you can collect fruits and vegetables at pick-your-own farms across Northern California. Micke Grove Regional Park Japanese Garden Lodi, CA Bridges over sun-dappled creeks, adequately spooky trees, and stepping stones create a quiet, lovely place to reflect and be inspired if you are on your own or walking hand-in-hand with your partner. If, with the other hand, you are holding the sticky little paw of someone significantly smaller and decidedly less mellow, you also happen to be steps away from a child-friendly zoo and amusement park. For a small parking and entrance fee, the world is yours. Some Bay Area plant-destinations are so well-known that locals only need to be reminded, usually by out-of-town guests, to make the annual effort to see and support them–Berkeley Rose Garden and San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers are two of the most-loved and most-visited. Whether you find the perfect plant in your own backyard, across one bridge, or a day-trip away, have fun taking in the beauty of our Northern California plants and flowers. *For a list of Bay Area public gardens visit Read More

Greenwood Terrace

1476 Greenwood Terrace, Berkeley Designed in 1907 by Bernard Maybeck for Francis E. Gregory, this inspiring home features all clad redwood walls, a particular design Maybeck like to incorporate, views of the Golden Gate, and great separation of space. Maybeck once said, “A house should fit into the landscape as if iit were a part of it,” he declared, and then added: “It should also be an expression of the life and spirit which is to be lived with that it. “Back of all this,” he continued, “is the simplicity, the sincerity and the naturalness of the expression.” (Keeler, 2006) The location of this home in the Berkeley Hills and the simplistic design of this Maybeck home captures the essence of this quote. The unique architecture of the surrounding houses, the beautiful redwood trees, incredible views and the incorporation of nature is what makes Greenwood Terrace a spectacular place to call home. In addition to many homes throughout the Bay, he also designed the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and The First Church of Christ in Berkeley among other public buildings. Come by and see 1476 Greenwood Terrace this Sunday from 2-4pm. written by Gina Odom, RealtorReferenceList:(2006) Bernard Maybeck: A Gothic Man- by Charles Keeler. Read More

Blue Skies and a Bloomin’ Bay Area

Today is a day for play with temperatures in the 60s, blue skies and blossoms. Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shedTheir snow-white blossoms on my head,With brightest sunshine round me spreadOf Spring’s unclouded weather, In this sequester’d nook how sweetTo sit upon my orchard-seat,And flowers and birds once more to greet,My last year’s friends together. – William Wordsworth, from “The Green Linnett” Read More

This Old “Green” House – An Environmentally Conscience, Period Sensitive Kitchen Remodel

Modern sensibilities are easily honored and reinterpreted with today’s “green building” materials and techniques. Eco-friendly materials such as recycled glass, cork and bamboo look great in a mid century or contemporary homes. But, is it possible to do a sensitive restoration on a historic home and still inject green practices? Although there is always more that could have been done, here is how we met the challenge during a recent kitchen remodel: We installed low formaldehyde insulation while the walls were open to increase the rooms energy efficiency and minimize off-gassing. We also opened up the floor plan through the mud room; with a screen door on the far end, a casement window (which cranks out to capture bay breezes) in the middle, and large opposing crank windows ( equipped with simple shades rated to block heat and UV rays) at the table end. This increases cross ventilation through the kitchen which is sufficient to cool the room sans air conditioning in the Summer. We purchased formaldehyde free solid wood cabinetry: No off-gassing and durability for a longer useful life. We Installed recycled oak floors (purchased from a demolished barn) and used low VOC water-based stains. We strove for a “forever” kitchen by choosing finishes with longevity in mind and honoring the original architecture over current trends. Appliances were the exception because they tend to have a serviceable life that is relatively short, and we expect they will need to be swapped out at some point. Modern appliances also help a historic kitchen appeal to a wider audience. We looked for energy star ratings on all appliances. Ranges do not appear on the list because there is no agreement on what to test. We bought a high-end range top, because its longevity will likely out serve all the other appliances in the kitchen. Also consider whether a new appliance will make you a better cook, or if the manufacturer of the appliance is just selling you the idea that it will make you a better cook. We opted not to have any fancy warming drawers or wine refrigerators that use extra energy. For the most part, we used florescent lighting for all task and overhead illumination. We cheated a bit, and used two incandescent fixtures as accents over the sink and table (but they get the least amount of use.) Our counter tops are marble with a low-VOC sealant done by Green Envirotek. This isn’t a super green surface, but we hope they will go the distance in our “forever kitchen.” The new earth friendly sealants take away most of the maintenance issues and the marble can be re-polished down the road to bring back its original luster. Marble also gets extra points for its timeless beauty. At the prep sink, we opted for a roll-out composting bin instead of a garbage disposal. The main sink accommodates both trash and recycling bins. Every project has its concessions: I started a search for recycled glass for the back splash along the range wall. I fell in love with an Ann Sacks, Glace tile, which is not made of recycled glass instead. I like how the hand made quality of the tile speaks to a home with history, and the shape feels reminiscent of old subway tiles. Later, I found a 100% recycled alternative at Bedrock Industries, BlazeStone Tile. Too late for me to mend my ways, but maybe this can benefit someone else. Recycling gave history to some of the room’s accessories. The artwork is old crate labels that we found at an antique shop and the kitchen chairs were re-purposed from an old dining room set. Useful Resource: 2007 Home Remodeling Green Building Guidelines Read More

The Rehabilitation and Restoration of the Piedmont Way Project

Today the Berkeley Association of Realtors hosted a Membership Luncheon on The Rehabilitation and Restoration of the Piedmont Way Project. A grass roots organization, the Friends of Piedmont Way, has formed a partnership with the City of Berkeley and the University of California at Berkeley to rehabilitate and preserve one of Fredrick Law Olmsted’s signature curvilinear parkways. Located along Piedmont Avenue, the parkway runs through the neighborhood originally know as the Berkeley Property Tract. The ambitious four part restoration marks a trend toward embracing landscape architecture for its important historical significance in conjunction with the existing movement to preserve land marked buildings. The Piedmont Way Project was Fredrick Law Olmsted’s first residential commission drafted in 1865. Olmsted is one of our country’s first famous landscape architects, who’s numerous accomplishments include New York City’s Central Park and the Capitol Grounds in Washington D.C. Olmsted envisioned a roadway sheltered from the sun and wind by “an over arching bowery of foliage.” Over time, the street scape has deviated from Olmsted’s original vision as a result of development, the addition of overhead power lines, road repairs and maintenance, and the removal of original flora. Through a 100% volunteer effort, Friends of Piedmont Way has come a long way toward getting the project off the ground. This fledgling needs your help to fly. Donations and volunteers are needed to see the project to its fruition. Go to for more information on how you can help recreate a historic greenbelt. Read More
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