When a newly relocated couple reached out to Heidi Caillier to help with the design of their 1910 Craftsman, it didn’t take long for the Seattle-based interior designer to fly down to Berkeley to see the house herself. “[The owners] wanted to keep the spirit of the house as it was and add to it in a way that felt appropriate,” Caillier shares. “They view themselves as caretakers of the property and they wanted to respect what’s been done to the home instead of undertaking a massive remodel.”
With a sweeping view of the Bay and a lush yard that makes it feel like a treehouse, the more-than-a-century-old home was an easy sell for everyone involved. “We just fell in love with the character and the history,” says one of the homeowners. “We felt very enchanted by the house. It was an emotional reaction—I feel like that’s a very good way to describe it.” The home, they add, “has a kind of warmth.”
The owners, who had met in New York—he’s an East Coaster while she’s a Berkeley native—always knew they would return to her Bay Area hometown. “We wanted to move for all the technical reasons, like getting a dog and starting a family,” one of the clients explains. “We also always dreamt of living in a Craftsman, since they just feel so quintessentially Berkeley.”
Caillier and the owners connected right away, often finishing each other’s sentences as they took their first walkthrough of the house. “We seemed to be right on the same page from the start,” the designer explains. “I feel like half of my Pinterest was [images from] House & Garden UK,” adds one of the homeowners, who mentions Rita Konig and Beata Heuman as designers who inspired her. “It was very much a mix of European sensibilities,” adds Caillier. “Very Berkeley, very old-world, and a mix of younger British influences. [The owners] are both very well-versed in design and often took trips to the San Francisco Design Center to feel fabric samples and immerse themselves in interior design inspiration. They wanted to be very involved in the process. Every detail was so considered.”
The couple also wanted the home to feel casual and livable, not austere. They also wanted to incorporate more rustic kinds of organic materials like cane and wicker, and fill the space with vintage pieces and family heirlooms. “Heidi totally got that, translated it, and applied it in a very impressive way,” says one of the homeowners.
Since there wouldn’t be any changes to the layout—no walls to move or heavy construction—the focus, and often the biggest challenge, was in trying to figure out the balance of working with the dark woodwork and still creating something that felt lively and bright. “The house wants to be bright,” Caillier says. “As soon as you walk outside, the place is drenched in sun, but this dark millwork fights it. So it was really about creating balance.” Rather than choosing jewel tones and rich colors, the design scheme went toward colors like sage green, soft pink, and light blue, plus large and small scale floral patterns and just the right hint of quirkiness.
“Luckily the previous owners had done a lot of the hard work and had opened up the layout on the ground floor, so it was more of a big open plan,” says one of the homeowners. “We got to focus on the fun stuff like furnishings and wallpaper.” The owners like to think that they came in with a very thoughtful sprucing up of the home, embracing the patina of the wood and how it gives everything a vintage look. “It is showing its age, but we like that,” one of them adds.
“Every last ruffle and trim size was so considered,” Caillier says. “The way [the homeowners] live is very thoughtful, and the house really reflects that.”