From Funky to Fabulous

From Funky to Fabulous


An Albany farmhouse gets a dazzling do over.

When the dilapidated, junk-strewn, and cat-urine-anointed home at 815 Madison St. in Albany changed ownership in early 2016, the neighborhood rejoiced. Built in 1910, the farmhouse-style house had gone to well beyond seed to an eyesore, which nearby residents described as a “hot mess.”

“You had to see past the junk. Like, hoarder levels of junk, and the oppressive feline ‘aroma’,” said Quartet Ventures’ Becky Yip. “You couldn’t spend more than a few minutes indoors. But the house had great bones.”

It also had a large lot on which to expand. The 1,719-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home sits on a 3,800-square-foot lot—a rare find in Albany, where outstanding schools are a draw for East Bay homebuyers with kids.

“After taking the home down to the studs, we extended the footprint and reconfigured the interior living spaces,” said Jeff Yip. “The new design allowed us to maximize space, improve flow, and bring modern functionality to a 100-plus-year-old home, while staying true to the original farmhouse style.Yip and business partner/brother Jeff Yip purchased the property, in the highly walk-able neighborhood near San Pablo and Solano avenues, as an investment. A structural engineer, Jeff Yip reimagined the traditional farmhouse with functional living spaces, while paying homage to its architectural lineage.

“Our goal is to create homes and spaces that we’d want to live in,” added Jeff Yip. “We love to find old homes and reinvent them with a modern vintage vibe.”

“We hadn’t planned on using repurposed wood, but we found some at a lumberyard,” said Becky Yip. “I knew what my brother could do with this gorgeous wood.”Jeff Yip, a master woodworker intent on reinterpreting the home’s farmhouse past, created an accent wall of repurposed barn wood in the home’s newly expanded kitchen. Evolving as the home’s design reference, the patinated wood was used as sliding barn doors, accent walls, and other portals.

Flooded with natural light, the home’s common areas provide a spacious, multifunction room with tastefully appointed finishes. Beamed ceilings add visual height to the expansive sun-filled room, while wide-plank hardwood flooring imparts an authentic period feel and anchors the modern open-concept.

A sunny sanctuary with a loft-like feel, the spacious master suite overlooks a roomy backyard. On the main floor at the back of the house, the bedroom’s en suite bathroom features a custom his-and-hers vanity built by Jeff Yip and a contemporary, glass-enclosed shower.In the galley kitchen, walls glisten with contemporary subway tile, stainless appliances, and a fashionable period-perfect farmhouse sink (of course). Below-counter cabinets provide plenty of storage, and there are lots of windows for natural light. A blackboard “wall” for keeping tabs of groceries or family whereabouts adds a rustic, playful touch.

“There’s a lot happening at this end of Solano Avenue,” said Pacific Union’s Dan Joy. “Albany is known for its great schools, walkability, access to public transportation and shopping. This is an ideal home for a couple with school-aged kids. We’re coming into the slow season now, and this home is priced to sell.”In the home’s lower level, two bedrooms, accessed down a short flight of stairs, share a central bathroom, provide quarters for the kids, friends, or visiting family. The hallway connecting the bedrooms—one has outdoor access—features a handcrafted, built-in book shelf (another Jeff Yip creation), with bench seating and plenty of space to display family photos and objet d’art.

Old McDonald, your new home awaits.


The Particulars

815 Madison St.


Price: $1.398 million

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2.5

Square Feet: 1,719

Lot size: 3,800

Broker: Dan Joy, Pacific Union

Virtual tour:


Published online on Jan. 5, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

Faces of the East Bay