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Integrating Traditional and Contemporary Design
2528 PIEDMONT AVE BERKELEY
Berkeley’s Elmwood/Claremont neighborhood is rich in history. This home, designed by architect F. E. Armstrong in 1896, beautifully holds its history while incorporating an exciting, exquisitely executed modernization of its stunning bones.
As you approach the home and walk under the majestic Redwood tree and through the lushly landscaped front garden, you step onto the wide front porch with its wooden swing inviting you to pause and feel instantly welcomed to this special place. The foyer is wide, the ceilings are high and there is already a hint of more beauty to come, with the straight view through the house to the garden.
The living room is light-filled and grand. The first owner of this home, Alice Clark, was a music teacher, and one can appreciate the ease of entertaining family, friends and recital audiences in this splendid room. The current owners have updated and re-designed this space while spending enormous amounts of care to preserve and restore the tall diamond multi-light original windows, all now functional. An elegant gas-insert fireplace with a stunning stone installation is a centerpiece to this room which also features a multitude of areas, both grand and intimate. The owners worked with local artisans and architects to add several custom built-ins: floating shelves surround the walls beneath the front and side windows, a cozy built-in walnut lounge area overlooks the lush side yard. A live-edge walnut shelf adds additional drama and beauty.
Through the double-wide pocket doorway, the living room flows easily into the next enticing space. Here, you’re greeted by an open concept architect-designed (Jarvis Architects, Robert Pennell) space, combining a large dining room, a kitchen and the media/family room. Anchored by a dramatic 11-foot concrete island/dining bar, custom cherry cabinets (Kirby Cabinetry), recessed dimmer-controlled lighting plus artisan glass-blown pendant fixtures also grace this room. The simple elegance of this space belies the attention to functional storage, artful design and details like the custom bronze pulls and knobs and beautiful tile work. The full bank of Marvin windows at the back of the house was designed to pull the full view and light from the garden right into these rooms. The kitchen storage is unparalleled and is further supplemented with a nearby laundry room/half bath and another full wall of pantry and display shelving. Adjacent to the kitchen the media room is wired for the flat screen and features custom-designed iron bookcases and shelves.
Going up to the 2nd level is no ordinary journey. A Velux remote-controlled skylight immediately brightens the space, and a custom-designed Claro walnut and plexiglass handrail prepares you for more exciting design to come. The central hallway has a built-in reading bench with a plexi and Claro walnut bookcase/display case (featured on Kirby Cabinetry website). The primary en-suite bedroom is a peaceful, private, expertly designed retreat. Combining two bedrooms in the re-design of this space, it now encompasses a walk-in closet with built-in drawers and cabinets, a built-in window seat in the bay window (with storage), an office alcove and a luxurious bathroom. This stunning bathroom features a blue marble Ann Sacks tiled walk-in shower with a built-in bench, radiant-heated marble floors, double sinks with marble top and Claro walnut details, vanity mirrors and medicine cabinets, linen storage and Toto toilet. From here, as well as from the office alcove, are French doors leading to a private west-facing deck with room to sit and read or watch the birds.
Two other bedrooms and a hall bath with a clawfoot tub and skylight complete this level. A pull-down ladder in the hallway gives easy access to a full attic with the original diamond multi-light windows on four sides – great for storage or possible development.
Below the back deck is stand-up access to a garden storage room, as well as the large basement area –plenty of room for bikes, canoes, wine, and more! Although there is no garage, there is plentiful off-street parking in front of the garden gate and additional room for parking behind the gate, should someone choose to do so.
Garden and Deck
Just off the kitchen area is the French door to the spacious, two-level Ipe deck with steel railings. A built-in seating area with custom-designed table overlooks the beautiful garden. Landscape Architect, John Leupold, has created an exquisite, unified look from front to back integrating all of the garden elements with variety and color, pathways and patio. A stone bench welcomes you to one corner of the level, lush, fully irrigated garden. You’ll find citrus fruit to pick from the garden, or –better yet – reach out one of the living room windows for a Meyer lemon or a lime, or reach over the primary suite deck for the oranges!
The Elmwood/Claremont area has long been a popular place to live and a destination to visit with its beautiful homes and convenient shopping and restaurant district, complete with its own cinema, too! The Claremont Resort is close by as is easy access to nearby nature trails. Equally convenient to the U.C. Berkeley campus, this spot also allows ready access to public transportation and freeways. Here you find students, professors, and long-time homeowners residing in some of the most stately and historic residences of Berkeley.
The much sought-after neighborhood of Elmwood has a rich architectural history. Early 20th-century houses, estates, and some of the more notable homes designed by prominent turn-of-the-century Bay Area architect Julia Morgan can be found in this neighborhood.
The local shopping district centered on the intersection of College and Ashby avenues is a bustling hive of activity, featuring an array of gourmet eateries, boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. Residents of Elmwood also enjoy an easy walk to public transportation, a library, and parks. For an only-in-Elmwood, experience, visit Mrs. Dalloway's, a shop that combines a bookstore and garden supplies, or Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, a Berkeley city landmark that houses a three-screen cinema.
In terms of hyperlocal culture, Julia Morgan Theatre offers camps and classes as well as performances of music, dance, and theater throughout the year.