A Touch of Tuscany on Harbord Drive

This tri-level home with opulent gardens feels lush and lavish.


Photos by Open Homes Photography

Let’s begin where we typically end — the backyard.

Oh, the tri-level house itself at 4863 Harbord Drive in Upper Rockridge is stunning, no doubt about it, with four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, warm wooden accents, a chef’s kitchen, wine cellar, an extra living suite on the lower level, and more. But we’ll get to that in a sec, because the grounds — oh, the grounds.

Set on a nearly 10,000-square-foot gently sloped lot, the gardens are bursting with fragrant plantings galore. A 400-square-foot terrace shaded by a wooden trellis overlooks the tiered landscaping. From there, roses of yellow and pale pink weave through staggered arbors, creating a floral pergola down to a jasmine-laced gazebo and on to the circular courtyard with a stone fountain at its hub.

There are established citrus and olive trees, Japanese maples, lavender, creeping figs, bougainvillea, and cascades of wisteria — on trellises that light up at night. There’s even ambient music swirling through the air from built-in speakers. A few more steps lead down to a second tier filled with more plantings and trumpet vines.

“The gorgeous yard — it’s truly magical and feels like you’ve been transported to a romantic Tuscan villa,” said Maria Cavallo-Merrion, co-listing agent with Carla Buffington and Anita Becker of Compass Real Estate in Berkeley.

Indeed, with a yard like this, you may never want to go indoors. But you should, because it’s equally lovely. Built in 1938, the home has been re-imagined for the 21st century with dual-paned windows and wired with built-in surround sound in many rooms.

Enter past an ivy-clad wall and through the original wood front door with peek-through window, then step into the living room with warm Brazilian cherry floors and coved ceilings, highlighted by wall sconces that flood the ceiling with light. The fireplace is framed with tumbled marble tiles laid in a diamond pattern. An alcove with a large window looks out to the bay views. It’s a cozy seating area and a good spot for some tea and a book.

Through original pocket doors is the spacious family room, illuminated by a large skylight. French doors lead to the main terrace. Custom-built wood cabinetry cleverly disguises a media center. A half wall separates the family room from built-in bench seating in the breakfast nook and the chef’s kitchen, complete with a six-burner Viking stove, Gaggenau dishwasher, GE oven and fridge, and large pantry.

The formal dining room is steps away, centered by a large capiz-shell chandelier. More wood built-ins serve as a bar area and storage space for linens and tableware. Also on the main level is a powder room with soft brown-and-mauve diamond-shaped tiling and classic pedestal sink.

Up a gently curved staircase is the master suite with walk-in closet and another alcove/seating area in front of French doors that open to a balcony with more views. The spa-like master bath includes a double vanity with marble countertops, glassed-in shower, a skylight, and Italian-stone floors — heated, no less, for chilly mornings.

Two more bedrooms with hardwood floors and plenty of natural light are down the hallway, next to the second bath.

On the lowest level, you may think you’ve entered a second home — first stepping into a large living room with a another fireplace, then to a study, bedroom, bath, and small but well-equipped kitchen. This level could serve as guest quarters or studio space and has potential as an additional living unit. The wine cellar is also on this floor. More French doors lead out to the lower patio tier and down to the gardens.

Did we mention the gardens?

The Particulars


4863 Harbord Drive, Oakland

4 Bedrooms

3.5 Bathrooms

Fireplaces, full lower-level living suite, wine cellar

3,495 square feet

Agents: Maria Cavallo-Merrion, Carla Buffington, Anita Becker, Compass Real Estate, Berkeley


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