Ann Sacks ceramic 8-inch-by-8-inch tiles create a stunning surround for the new fireplace, topped by a mantel made out of a beam from an old Wyoming barn, from a company called Reclaim. The moss-green sectional sofa and leather chair and ottoman, all from Century, surround an Arhaus coffee table; all sit on a hand-tufted Surya rug. The unique table in the foreground is by Four Hands. Photography by Emily Minton Redfield.In a city where we’re used to seeing beautiful old homes scraped and replaced with modern boxes, Sara Avery and Jason Schroeder decided to do something different.
They loved the charm of their 1922 Craftsman bungalow in the Highland-Berkeley neighborhood, but needed more room and more function. So they moved out for a year and did a top-to-bottom remodel, removing walls, bumping out the back of the home to create both a main-level home office and a new master bedroom and bath upstairs, and digging out the basement to make room for a usable guest space downstairs.
“The difference between what was then and what is now—it’s amazing,” says Avery, a cyber-security solutions expert at LogRhythm who bought the home (originally 1,900 square feet) 17 years ago. (Schroeder, a realtor for Sotheby’s International Realty, moved in in 2011.)
The remodeled home, now 3,660 square feet, was a happy collaboration between the couple and architect Kevin Anderson of ArcWest Architects; builders Tim Saul, president of Saul Construction, and his master carpenter, Chris Welch; and interior designer Katie Schroder of Atelier Interior Design. “We loved the energy of the whole group,” Avery says.
“It’s quite a daunting task to do a big remodel like this,” the designer Schroder says, “and it really starts with the architects. They began by revising the layouts, knowing that Sara and Jason wanted really great, common-use spaces that were highly functional and not too stiff, so guests would immediately sit down and enjoy themselves. Also, because both of them work from home a lot, they wanted a great office space in back with two desks.”
“They also wanted to pay homage to the home,” she continues. “They wanted to make it feel like it still had some quaint elements, so we kept some of the original light fixtures and doors, and nothing new that we chose looked too sleek or modern; everything has a hand-hewn, handcrafted workmanship. So it really kept the feeling of the original home alive. I think all those little elements helped the home look true to the area, to the architecture and to Sara and Jason themselves.”
For Avery, the refresh was a logical next step in the home’s history. “I bought the house in 2000, and the rooms were very boxy and very segmented from one another. Jason and I wanted something with more of a modern, open floor plan. I bought it in my 30s, and wanted to update it so it was comfortable and elegant, yet homey, and also practical for what we like to do in our 40s. We didn’t want it to be trendy. We wanted to keep the feel of the home and keep it warm.”
For the kitchen redo, the couple, who love to cook, were inspired by an original exposed-brick wall that abuts the kitchen and runs along the length of the adjoining dining room. “It was covered with plaster, so we didn’t know what we’d find when we took that off,” says Schroeder, but it turned out beautifully. After being acid-washed, it inspired the warmth of the kitchen remodel. (“We’re warm-color people,” Avery says.) They also like to entertain, and the newly open main floor, with Sonos Surround Sound, a clever hidden wine rack under the central stairway and seating in every room, makes that possible.
The house facelift has thrilled the homeowners. “We love being here; we love every bit of it,” Avery says. “Everyone who walks in feels at home—they say it’s beautiful and whimsical while still being inviting.”
Beyond that, the home won a 2016 Mayor’s Design Award, which recognized the team for “bringing back to life” a home that “is a perfect mix of old and new while keeping the integrity of the original structure and the feel of the neighborhood.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.