How to Bring the Outdoors In

How to Bring the Outdoors In

Photo by Kathryn MacDonald

A former ranch-style home gets transformed into a two-story roost that celebrates its owner’s love of nature.


Majestic mountains — their peaks nestled in the clouds beneath cerulean skies, their slopes festooned with fluttering aspens and an explosion of wildflowers. No, this isn’t a travel brochure for a Colorado Rocky Mountain High vacation, but rather the vision for a nature-inspired color palette in a decidedly urban Bay Area environment.

“My client is an avid hiker and backpacker,” said interior designer Leslie Price. “She wanted her home to reflect her love of the outdoors.”

Mother Nature’s inspiration is evident throughout the reimagined “Monterey Style” home, from the handprinted textiles to the sublime, natural expression of materials used in every room.

Taking on the interior design portion of this remodeling project, Price, of Price Style and Design, joined forces with Berkeley architect Caitlin Lempres Brostrom, principal of First Bay Architecture, to create a comfortable home imbued with nature, sunlight, personality, and plenty of outdoor access.

Price selected furnishings and finishes based on her client’s descriptors, all evocative of the great outdoors. In the kitchen, a shimmering tile backsplash in subtly shifting shades of gray suggests the tone of a mountainside at dusk. White cabinets surround the dramatic counter-to-ceiling backsplash, a subtle reference to snow-capped mountains. 

This earthy feeling is amplified in the rustic European oak wide plank flooring, pale Caesarstone counters, and a combination of bespoke and ready-made furnishings and finishes.

The designer sourced a custom kitchen table from local makers Kolka Furniture, then surrounded it with Chinese Chippendale-style chairs from online retailer, Bungalow 5. The chairs were stained to accentuate their obvious woodgrain pattern, and Price finished the seats in a felted wool-looking indoor/outdoor fabric in a color reminiscent of a high altitude lake.

Originally slated for a second-floor addition, the formerly nondescript ’70s-era rancher would be completely demolished after issues with the foundation were discovered. Undaunted by this setback, the architect and interior designer proceeded with their original design.

“We could have designed an entirely different home after these problems were discovered,” said Brostrom. “But our client had invested in beautiful landscape design, so we were constrained to the original footprint.”

The newly added upstairs features vaulted ceilings, spacious bedrooms, and quiet niches flooded with natural light, perfect for reading and reflection.

Price approached Brostrom’s clean architectural spaces as blank slate, adding layers of texture, color, and nature-inspired finishes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the master bedroom with its enormous en suite bathroom.

The master bedroom welcomes you like a dear friend at a swanky St. Maartens resort. The room’s focal point is a padded faux-leather bed frame with matching headboard that is enlivened by a playful blue ikat weave duvet paired deftly with a sea-green settee. Flanked by windows overlooking an impeccably landscaped backyard, French doors open to the great outdoors, expanding the home’s livable space and enjoyment factor. 

An understated traditional writing desk fills a niche between the portal and a concrete mantled fireplace where Price harmonized the color palette with playful zebra print seating in a leafy shade of green. It was Borstrom who specified the black-bordered windows and doors to further accentuate the home’s Monterey style.

Taking design inspiration from a Zen mountain retreat, the bathroom is a shrine to self-care, with a healthy dollop of luxury for good measure.

A human-scaled ottoman upholstered in a robin’s-egg blue, water-resistant faux velvet fabric dominates the room. This plush pouf is surrounded by custom steel framed mirrors above dark gray Caesarstone countertops that enhance the serene color scheme.

The destination for this room, however, is a massive curbless shower alcove. This tiling masterpiece features a double-sized showering room with twin heads and bench seating. Price turned again to gray tones for her palette, which was made wholly distinctive through shape selection and impeccable installation.

Price created the illusion of a mountainous backdrop using larger square tiles for the shower walls, while a herringbone “waterfall” separates the two shower areas, before cascading to its destination of rectangular floor tiles representing a bubbling stream.

This sublime home is a celebration of nature in all its seasons: a well-feathered nest among ancient coastal redwoods and verdant flora, where the wilderness is welcome, albeit tamed.   n


Interior Design: Leslie Price, Price Style and Design,

Architect: Caitlin Lempres Brostrom, First Bay Architecture,

Faces of the East Bay