Mid-Century Makeover

Remodel of a mid-century home


Mid-Century Makeover
Built: 1957
Renovation: 2014
Architect: Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects
Photographer: Treve Johnson Photography


Tucked into the Berkeley Hills, this Ratcliff-designed home from the 1950’s has been masterfully restored and evolved for 21st century living by Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects. They worked closely with the owners to fit contemporary elements appropriately into the framework of the mid-century modern design.

The owners, a pair of anthropologists whose children are nearly grown, developed an appreciation for the style and history of the house throughout the process. When they discovered it had originally been built for another pair of anthropologists, they felt a deep affinity for the spirit of the place and worked to rekindle its original spark.

In the new open kitchen, the range hood became a visual anchor with a modern, custom-made hood created in the same architectural vocabulary as the adjacent existing indoor BBQ/fireplace. As a result, the various kitchen components are seamlessly connected into a continuous, flowing design. At the front patio, a new barbeque was inserted discreetly into a special cabinet next to the outdoor fireplace so that the visual lines of the existing fireplace could be retained and reinforced. The cabinet includes a remote-operated hydraulic lift that raises the barbeque when in use.

New living space was excavated under the upper floor patio to create a new bathroom, completing the master suite. Meanwhile, the lowest floor’s exterior space was developed into a family garden with a spiral stair accessing it from the bedrooms, to maximize indoor-outdoor flow. The architect and homeowners also worked together closely to find ways to showcase a collection of masks and artifacts. They created niches within the home, highlighted by vivid color accents, which weave together the art and the architecture. They even built a custom habitat for the family pet.

The clever transformation of this iconic home allows a piece of Northern California modernism to reconnect with its roots and continue to provide an architectural foundation for future generations to enjoy.