Modern Meets Rustic

Modern Meets Rustic


A banana belt home marries Santa Barbara architecture with redwoods.

Chabot Heights, a hilltop neighborhood at the far southern border of Oakland’s boundaries, was developed during the post-World War II housing boom when the country’s mood was buoyant and land was plentiful. Notable for its expansive lots, swimming pools, and a banana belt climate, the location feels more like Santa Barbara than the East Bay.

The 2,800-plus-square-foot California ranch home at 11310 Elvessa St. exemplifies the nascent tenets of the midcentury movement. Its low-slung exterior, accented by a red tile roof, is reminiscent of the Mediterranean-inspired homes north of Los Angeles. The tawny-colored brick structure blends seamlessly into its surroundings, a testament to enduring design.

Descend the gently sloping driveway, and the Leave It to Beaver facade vanishes as you enter the main portal. If you thought you were in Santa Barbara at the curb, you’ll soon find yourself whisked into the California redwoods.

With its sweeping vaulted ceilings and walls of exquisite clear-heart redwood, the expansive great room lives up to its name. The earthy interior is imbued with a deep-forest sense of calm, enveloping you in gleaming wood and natural light. A perfect marriage of modern and rustic.

“The seller is a historic preservationist and was adamant about not painting the wood,” said David J. Higgins, listing agent with The Grubb Co. “He said, ‘Don’t even ask.’”

The five-bedroom, three-bath house was previously owned by a lucky California Lotto winner who had the best intentions, but sadly let the house go to seed. Higgins’ client bought the house specifically for its epoch and the wood and spent the next three years living in and lovingly restoring the home to period-perfect condition. By all accounts, nicely done.

From the great room, enter the home’s sleek, Jetsons-inspired kitchen. Mostly original, the restored galley looks as modern as anything you’d find in a Valcucine showroom. Updated stainless appliances bring the home into the 21st century, while a rustic wood-fired brick hearth (complete with roasting spit) adds gourmet bona fides. If you’re not a gourmand now, this kitchen is sure to inspire you to become one.

The five well-proportioned bedrooms are ample with expansive windows that continue the conversation between indoors and out. Expertly restored, the original wide and narrow plank oak floors unify the home throughout.

With its wholesome, all-American-family-values lineage, the large home holds appeal for buyers with big broods, or individuals seeking alternative, or communal, living arrangements, Higgins said.

A separate 450-square-foot, one-bedroom annex building is perfect for guests, an au pair, or home office, while an additional structure—just large enough for use as a music, art, or yoga studio—provides space to play, paint, or meditate.

Like many of the nearby properties, 11310 Elvessa St. has a pool; however, this is one aspect of the home that remains uncompleted. Fully wired, the electric and plumbing infrastructure is in place, but the pool itself requires attention.

What this home lacks in “citified” amenities like a coffee shop on every corner is more than made up for by its stellar views and spectacular year-round weather. The nearly one-acre lot has numerous sunny spots ideal for urban farming, so bring your green thumb and grow your own food.

“It’s an unknown and out-of-the-way neighborhood,” said Higgins. “Yet, downtown Oakland is less than 20 minutes away. A short hike or bike ride through the neighborhood and you’re in Chabot Regional Park, surrounded by actual California redwoods. “It’s the best of both worlds.”


The Particulars

11310 Elvessa St. Oakland, CA 94605


Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 3

Square Footage: 2,818

Lot size: 1 acre

Guest House

Swimming Pool

Faces of the East Bay