Delightful Harbord Home with Green Point Rating on CSL Tour

Country Club
Jim Simmons Photography

By Patricia Forsyth
Special to the Piedmont Post, edition 4/2/2014

A charmingly appointed family home on Harbord Drive in upper Rockridge is open to tour during the Children’s Support League of the East Bay’s Heart of the Home event on April 25 and 26. Only the fourth inhabitants to occupy the home originally built as a modest one bedroom/one bath in 1924, the present family has made major changes to expand and modernize the structure and property. An interim expansion in the 1930s added two more bedrooms and a second bath; but not until this family’s renovation has the home acquired its spaciousness, beauty and prestige.

The property is one of five wonderful family homes located in Piedmont and Oakland Hills in the 26th annual CSL tour. The event is headquartered at the Piedmont Community Center, 711 Highland Avenue, and includes two days of home touring, a pop-up boutique, and raffle of more than one hundred prizes. Tour-goers who purchase a VIP ticket join the celebration at a kickoff gala on Thursday evening, April 24, at a sixth home, an exceptional Piedmont estate that is not part of the public tour.

From the street view, the Harbord Drive home’s transformation is dramatic: now broad and expansive and painted a creamy buttery yellow, it’s perched smartly on a gentle knoll framed by leafy green and curved ironwork. The steps and walkway to the front door were redesigned to create visual symmetry. When the family moved in seven years ago, the remains of an asphalt driveway and concrete slab, leftovers from a demolished garage, dominated the large, level backyard. The seemingly endless dust and noise kicked up by jackhammers attacking the asphalt made way for a graceful, lush backyard retreat that caters to a multi-generational family when close visiting relatives are in residence. One of the factors in the home’s expansion was to comfortably accommodate regular visits from out-of-town extended family.

Excavation of the home’s lower level created space for a two-car garage and the husband’s at-home office, a sporty haven furnished in dark leathers with a flat screen TV and adjoined by a climate-controlled 1,200-bottle wine cave. Upstairs on the main floor is a spacious, hi-tech wired family room and a big family kitchen with multiple prep stations. The kitchen’s white cabinetry is a fresh choice, and the countertop is a durable quartz slab that imitates Carrara marble, but without the extra care that marble needs to avoid food stains. The quartzite stone is cut on the diagonal to reveal the streaked gray and black veining. Metals are thematic in the home’s décor, especially in the lighting fixtures, where matched Foucault iron and crystal orbs hang over the kitchen workspace and complement the lighting choice in the adjacent dining room.

The home is rated as Green Point under the California Green Building Standards Code, meaning that environmentally sustainable products and processes were used in the renovation. Features were selected purposefully, such as energy-efficient appliances; energy-wise insulation and computerized thermostats; tankless water heater; irrigation controls to manage water use; and lighting that is extensively low-energy LED.

The existing three bedrooms were remodeled, and a new master bedroom and bath completes the wing of rooms separate from the public rooms. The couple maintains that this is a family-friendly home where their active children have plenty of space to kick back and enjoy themselves without worry about furniture and decor being too precious or formal. The children also utilize their own upstairs attic playroom; and a section of the backyard is dedicated to a built-out play structure. The remainder of the yard was meticulously planned to cater to adult enjoyments, with hot tub and a handsome outdoor kitchen, ideal for entertaining family and friends, and a versatile setting for casual get-togethers or larger events. Brick pavers extend the entire length of the yard with table seating, and recliners are positioned to enjoy the sunny exposure. To achieve the desired layout several mature trees were uprooted and replanted; and to the family’s delight, the trees have thrived.

The Harbord Drive home in nearly its entirety is on tour, and visitors are sure to appreciate the décor blend of antiques, vintage finds, and new Mediterranean styles. The additional four homes on tour were built in the early to mid-20th century and include a contemporary, mid-century colonial, brown shingle, and Tudor estate. VIP ticket holders attend the gala kickoff, plus they receive early entry to the Tudor home and its breakfast and speaker event, and continue the tour with lunch. The VIP ticket is $125. A Tour only ticket in advance is $45 and tour with lunch is $55 and can be purchased from retail stores and CSL members; or online at

The ticket price on tour days is $50 or $62 with lunch for purchase at the Community Center. The boutique and raffle are open to the public on Friday and Saturday tour days. To volunteer as a tour docent, contact