Pristine Modernist Treehouse in The Berkeley Hills, $1.8M


Where: 771 San Diego Road, Thousand Oaks/Berkeley Hills
Open House: Sunday, October 29 from 2:00pm-4:30pm
Asking: $1,795,000
What: A 3-bed, 2.5 bath Modernist pavilion set into a wooded hillside in one of Berkeley’s loveliest neighborhoods, the Olsen House was built by architect Donald Olsen and his wife Helen in 1954. It’s rare that 63-year-old houses are continuously (and beautifully) well-maintained, but this one has, and as such, it’s both on the National Register of Historic Places and a Berkeley Historic Landmark. It’s also something of an outlier– Donald Olsen was a student of Walter Gropius at Harvard and worked a very specific kind of International Style that most Bay Area architects eschewed in favor of the woodsy elegance of of Maybeck and Wurster.

Below, subtle and impeccable masonry and ironwork in a graceful stairway from the street, giving a hint of what’s to come.

Below, the interior stair features a 2-story mural by Clare Falkestein. The irreplaceable open ironwork railings– both inside and out- would never get by a building inspector today, but they’re an integral part of the design.

The open kitchen can be concealed by sliding panels.

What We Love: This is Mid-Century modernism at its original, intelligent, best.

More: Offered by Bebe Macrae at the Grubb Company. Have a look at the listing here, and more about Olsen in Berkeleyside, plus this appreciation by San Francisco architectural historian Dan Weinstein.