65 Oak Ridge Road, Berkeley
Offered at: $3,300,000 – SOLD

Seller’s Thoughts about 65 Oak Ridge Road

In 1990, my husband and I were looking for a house for our family with a beautiful view of the bay, a level garden, and the potential for me to realize some architectural ideas I had. We hoped to say as close to the Claremont Hotel as possible so that our children could continue to walk there to swim and play tennis as they had done from our previous house on Stonewall Road on the other side of the hotel.

As soon as Faye brought us to Oak Ridge Road, we fell in love with the European nature of the street, and there was no doubt that the house offered everything we were looking for. It was a mid-century that had no upgrades since it was built in 1947 other than the elevator. The floor plan was simple and provided an open canvas for me to imagine a new kind of house. It was dark, with wood paneling throughout, and was shaded by several large trees. But it had the potential to be wonderfully sunny, and the view inspired me – I was born in Istanbul with a view of the Bosphorus, and I have loved sun with a water view ever since.

A major focus of ours was safety in case of an earthquake – the 1989 Loma Prieto earthquake was a recent memory. I hired Dr. Garnis Curtis, a noted geologist from UC Berkeley to guide us in choosing a location and he recommended this area. Once Faye found us 65 Oak Ridge, he checked it out and told us it was an excellent choice, built on rock with nothing above us.

I asked Bennett Christopherson to do the redesign, and he was an inspired and egoless guide who endorsed the many concepts I had in mind for the house, made it all work and could dash off a design with a pencil and a notepad in an instant. I am forever grateful to him.

I had been working as a photographer of houses and gardens, particularly in Santa Fe, so I incorporated some of the features of houses I loved from that area – the “banco” in the kitchen, walls that were either plaster or with the look of plaster, the canales in place of downspouts, and soft curves to key walls. I carried the theme of curved walls out to the serpentine garden wall – an idea I got from Jefferson’s serpentine wall at Monticello.

I love Mexican style, so I had all the cabinets and doors carved in Morelia, Mexico. I sent life-size patterns for the doors and cabinets with photos of the carvings I wanted to Mexico. This was probably overkill, and it was a roll of paper as big as I was, but it worked, and everything came back perfectly and ready for installation. The pillars are a traditional exterior Mexican feature.

I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for indoor outdoor flow that California living affords us, so I put French doors on almost every room on the top floor, and had the Saltillo pavers travel unbroken from indoors to out. I am drawn to the openness and birds eye view provided by balconies, so I put two balconies on the front of the house with Chilean wrought iron railings. It is important to me that every window look out onto something beautiful, so I placed the windows with that in mind, and created a garden filled with semi tropical blooming plants and trees that I envisioned as a lush refuge, a happy surprise for first-time visitors as they came up the stairs.

I grew up in Europe and I love Oak Ridge Road because it reminds me of the narrow, winding streets with poplars and cedars that I remember. It is a quiet relief from the traffic of Tunnel Road, and the intimate nature of the street encourages a close community among our neighbors. We get together regularly at each others’ houses – all beautiful, yet each unique – and we have holiday parties each year.

It is a luxury being able to walk to the Claremont Hotel for tennis and swimming and to the Berkeley Tennis Club for tennis. Our family made use of these lovely places regularly. A few minutes’ drive up Claremont Avenue is Tilden Park for hiking, merry-go-round, model trains and so forth. It is a pleasure walking down to Pet’s Coffee or Rick and Anne’s for breakfast on Domingo, or to the movies at the Elmwood Theater. The tree walking paths and stairs down to El Camino and Domingo are great shortcuts. The freeway to San Francisco and Rockridge BART are 5 minutes away. There are delicious restaurants on College Avenue – Wood Tavern and A Cote are favorites – and the rest of Berkeley offers restaurants of every variety including standouts like Chez Panisse.

Life at 65 Oak Ridge feels like resort living year round. We have never gotten over the beautiful view, especially at night, and we are grateful for the time we have spent here.

We hope you enjoy the house as much as we have.