Sheltered by Redwood and Live Oak trees and lulled by the gentle creek, this home embraces the beauty of its surroundings and softens the bustle of your Bay Area lifestyle. With five sets of doors to the decks, nature doesn’t just beckon you outside but manages to seep right in to the fabric of your daily life. This easy indoor/outdoor access is also perfect for entertaining.
If you are new to Berkeley, one of our favorite things about living here is the dynamism of the people and their wonderfully varied interests. You’ll fit right in, as the floor plan here is well adapted to suit your hobbies and passions. In addition to three bedrooms, a lovely office overlooks the backyard and is apt to inspire prose from the most novice writer. In the front of the house, a light-filled sunroom can be a family room, studio or play space. And, if all the restaurants on Solano Avenue inspire your culinary taste buds, the remodeled kitchen is equipped to indulge your inner chef.
The master bedroom is truly its own sanctuary with a vaulted ceiling, many windows to the creek side and French doors out to the verdant yard. There is a special element of peace held in these walls. Most of the rooms of the house benefit from great outlooks and many rooms let you see the sky.
I believe that houses have souls, that they absorb the stories of former owners in the wood and paint. This house has a good soul, and our family’s 13 years here have been memorable. Listen closely enough and you will hear the joy of our daughters’ births, first steps, midnight visits from the tooth faeries, nightly improvised good night stories told of a fictional girl, Solana, as the kids drift to sleep, spontaneous dance parties, raucous Thanksgivings, lemonade stands, fiddle concerts put on by the kids to collect money for refugees, and many a rainbow chalk hopscotch drawn from one end of the block to the other.
We will miss working in the back office, gazing into a wall of coastal oaks and a redwood that was planted years ago by a previous owner. The morning sun streams through the front windows of the house and the skylights, and lying on the master bed, every morning treated to the sight of squirrels frolicking among the branches. On hot days, three sets of French Doors open from the dining room and both plus rooms, and the side deck transformed into a playground sanctuary for the kids. We strung up lights on the Pittosporum on the side deck, which lit up like fireflies during dinner parties. We love the backyard, particularly on starry nights, when everyone sits around a fire under the oak, making s’mores. I always felt it was a portal to the Sierra, because it felt like we were transported.
The kids relished the deluge of water from their bathroom shower, and the deep tub, which when they were little, accommodated both kids and one adult. There is so much to love in this house! The vaulted wooden ceilings in the spacious master bedroom, and plus rooms, which were designed by an architect who once lived here, the accessibility into the house, convenience of the layout, hardwood floors, skylights, decks, and the proximity to Solano Ave, which hosts the yearly Solano Stroll. The Stroll is one of the largest East Bay food, music and art festivals, and home to countless Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and Thai restaurants that dot the street like sprinkles on an Iscream ice cream cone (the kids favorite). But what makes this house so very, very special to us is what one cannot easily see.
You cannot see the strong sense of community that exists here, which we witnessed from the first day when our neighbors across the creek, who arrived with wine and bread in hand and smiles on their faces, graciously welcomed us; or the yearly surprise packages left for the kids at the front door by the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus (a.k.a. our lovely neighbor just to the west), or know that many a late night, I would be lying in bed, only to receive a late text photo from another neighbor of his backyard fire, inviting me to come over with my guitar, and a drink or two, after the kids were asleep, and join him and several other neighbors in a spontaneous jam by the fire (many of the people on the block are amazing musicians). Every Wednesday night was designated “Sushi Night” in our house, and the kids would delight in knocking on various neighbors’ doors to distribute a portion. The spontaneous giving of food is invariably reciprocated. You cannot see the murals (a labor of love) that my 80 year-old mother, the artist extraordinaire, painted across the walls of our first child’s room when she was an infant.
The yearly block party is hands down the best in Berkeley, as we have a master smoker of meats, who takes it as a personal challenge to surprise the block with his latest BBQ masterpiece, the music runs late, everyone pitches in to rent a jumpy house for the littles, and the block elders, provide all of us an oral history of the block. Halloweens are magical, thanks in part, perhaps in whole, to our neighbors who construct haunted houses, complete with strobe lights, plastic body parts emerging from the soil, fog, and eerie music…and an outdoor bar offering juice to the young, and other kinds of spirits to the old. Many of the houses throw open their doors to serve food, and we stopped counting the hundreds of pieces of candy we distribute to the throngs, which have only increased over the years. With many of our neighbors we celebrate all the special occasions—graduations, birthdays, new jobs, an Oscar nomination (true story)—as well as are there for each other in more challenging times. On full moons, our kids in their pajamas gather a few of their block friends for what we call “Full Moon Walks,” around the block before bedtime, and they delight in playing hide-n-seek by the moonlight. The Capistrano Creek that runs in back of the house all the way up and down the block serves as a natural playground; and Old Stoneface Park and Indian Rock, which is the community’s choice for viewing sunsets, all provide a sacred place for the kids to connect with nature. Yes, this house has a good soul, it is so very special to us and so is this community that you may soon join. We hope that a new owner will fall in love with this house and neighborhood as much as we have over the years.