Is This The Loveliest Home in Berkeley? (And It’s For Sale)


I think so. I went to see 111 Alvarado Road this weekend and I have to say that I think this is the most appealing home that I’ve seen in more than two years of visiting open houses in Berkeley.

First the facts: it’s a 3+/3, 2,766 sq ft house with a separate family room and a large terraced garden on a 7,053 sq ft lot, priced $1,700,000. There’s an extra bedroom in the attic, next to a room currently used to conduct music lessons by the look of it, both of which are reached by a rickety old pull-down ladder (part of the house’s charm or another reason to run a mile, depending on your outlook).

I loved the grace and elegance of this home. The current owners have done a wonderful job furnishing every room with pieces that are in keeping with the home’s high Craftsman style, whether it’s the Stickley chairs in the living room (above left), the copper countertops in the kitchen or the beautiful Arts & Crafts cupboards in the bedrooms. But it has definitely not been over-remodeled. Much of the original charm remains.

I loved the fact that you get views from the upstairs rooms but that it is located within walking distance of shops and restaurants. I loved the fact that it had original features (built-ins in the dining room) and modern conveniences (stylish bathrooms, smart laundry room). I loved the master bedroom with its views, fireplace, ensuite study, and space for a sitting area (above right).

I fully appreciate that many people will disagree with my verdict. The desirability of a home is an essentially subjective matter. And it’s true I have seen much swankier places in my time as a Sweet Digs blogger. But, for me, part of the joy of living in a particular place involves falling in with the vernacular architecture. Designs that make sense for the location. If I lived in Southern California I would embrace the mid-century modern aesthetic. As I live here in Berkeley that means being passionate about the Craftsman style.

With that in mind, here are two more homes for sale that might tickle your Craftsman fancy—both of them on for less than $1.7 million (although I guarantee that is not what 111 Alvarado will sell for):

2601 Derby Street: designed by Bernard Maybeck and in near original condition. A gem for Craftsman aficionados — $1,395,000.

1066 Keith Avenue: a 4/3.5 Craftsman home on an large (8,520 sq ft) lot with “park-like” gardens — $1,198,000.