A Taste of France in Rockridge

A Taste of France in Rockridge


Neat, orderly, and balanced are the characteristics of a stately manse with French flair.

The trademarks of French provincial architecture are symmetry and order, balanced with a casual elegance — a style inspired by the 17th- and 18th-century manors scattered about the French countryside, themselves taking hints from the grand Parisian styles of the day.

And here it is, right here in Oakland — a slice of France on a quiet, settled street in Rockridge.

Built in 1925, the stately two-story, three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home at 55 Ross Circle brings on the symmetry with a slate-blue flat facade and centered front door, framed by ornate white molding and flanked by topiaries and arched front windows.

Pass through the manicured hedge fence that rims the front yard into a bright, white-walled formal foyer lined with gleaming hardwood floors. A black-wood railing sweeps up the central staircase. To the right is the living room, and to the left is the dining room. It’s balanced. Orderly. Elegant.

Lest you think symmetry and order mean stuffy and staid, modern touches throughout signal the 21st century while still echoing a polished past — a modern glass light fixture sparkles in the foyer and black basket chandeliers in the dining and living room throw starbursts of light and shadow on the ceiling.

“This property has been exquisitely maintained through the years, layered with amazing details. It’s truly reminiscent of a bygone period,” said listing agent David Higgins of The Grubb Co. in Oakland. “To still have the original French moldings that trim the formal living room and dining room, French windows, and French doors with cove tops — the fact that nobody has butchered those walls or changed the windows over the decades is really a miracle. You feel like you’re in France.”

Indeed, the original molding on the ornate fireplace mantel is the living room’s elegant focal point. It’s surrounded by arched windows on three walls, letting daylight flood in and reflect off the white walls.

“When people walk into this house, they’re always struck by the natural night,” Higgins said. “You can turn all the house lights off in the daytime and not even notice. The whole space is just beaming with radiant natural light.”

Back through the foyer, you’ll find the dining room. While still a formal space, it has been softened by the current owners’ recent renovation, widening the opening between it and the kitchen to allow for a more spacious, more casual feel and flow. The chef’s kitchen has been freshly renovated with custom white cabinetry and white marble center island, set off by black granite countertops and Miele stainless appliances.

Just off the dining room is a spacious sunroom, perfect as a home office or rumpus/media space, with more light flowing in through French doors. A half bath is also on the main level.

Up the center staircase, you’ll find the three bedrooms. There’s a similarly ornate fireplace in the master suite, a modern glass ceiling fixture, a dual closet system and “vintage-chic” bath with modern accents, dove-gray walls, a pedestal porcelain sink, and gray-and-white tile. And, as in the rest of the home, there are windows galore. The house is situated just high enough on the Rockridge slopes to get views of Oakland and San Francisco skylines from the second level. Two additional bedrooms — with Jack and Jill bath — complete this upper level.

The yard is not large but smartly laid out with a garden and brick-lined front patio with side steps leading down to a wooden rear deck with built-in benches. Neat. Orderly. Balanced.

The Particulars


55 Ross Circle, Oakland

3 Bedrooms

2.5 Bathrooms

Fireplace, hardwood flooring, original French moldings, attached garage

2,142 square feet

Agent: David Higgins, The Grubb Co., Oakland


Faces of the East Bay