Open House Obsession: Like New In El Cerrito, $1.4M


Where: 1008 King Drive, El Cerrito
When: Sunday, November 4, 2:00pm-4:30pm
Asking: $1,388,000
What: A handsome Post + Beam in the hills about El Cerrito, built in 1959 by architect Michael Pease as his graduate thesis at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.  Designer Sean Gaston and his partner in serial renovation, Bee Renovated, found the house in a somewhat dismal state but nonetheless structurally sound, and gave it a complete overhaul. The results are fresh but still very much in the spirit of the architect’s original design.

Founded under the guidance of William Wurster, CED became the primary incubator for architects in the Bay Area, fostering a unique Northern California aesthetic, especially in the area of residential design. The hills around Berkeley would become a living laboratory for this particular brand of woodsy Modernism, and this house, designed under the guidance of architect and teacher Roger Lee, is a classic example of the idealism of the period. It was a time of cheap land, plentiful redwood, and an aspirational, educated middle class that loved the indoor/outdoor quality of life the Bay Area offered.

Gaston amped up the palette with his own custom-blended black and Benjamin Moore’s Simple White. in the living room, the slender cement blocks of the foundation and chimney move inside with the fireplace surround and a pebble aggregate hearth.

Stretching across the back is a family/media area, dining area and kitchen, looking into the terraced hillside. As an alernative to tile, Gaston chose glazed brick for the kitchen walls.

What We Love: Sensing he’d found something very special, Gaston tracked down the architect in Oregon. Michael Pease is now 81 and was delighted to provide input and recollections, giving Gaston’s work a deeply personal resonance.

More: Go to the dedicated site for additional information. Represented by Ruth Frassetto at the Grubb Company.