I have had the great opportunity to work with many clients over the years and match them with houses that fit their personalities. Recently, my client Jorg came to me with a few items on his property wish list:
- A home walking distance to shops
- A property with a spectacular view
- An older home with character
- An Oakland home
Shortly into our home search we found the perfect house in the Upper Rockridge District of Oakland. Mr. and Mrs. Dondero purchased this piece of land in the early 1940's, but because of World War II they were unable to break ground for sometime. After 20 oak trees were removed from the lot, the Dondero's discovered that the house had a panoramic view. After discovering the breath taking San Francisco, Berkeley and downtown Oakland views, the house was designed to bring the view into almost every room. Being a prominent stone builder in San Francisco, Mr. Dondero integrated a variety of stone from various prestigious San Francisco buildings into his home. The walls are Venetian plaster, (Venetian plaster is a mixture of gypsum, sand and lime or mix of aged slaked lime, ground marble dust, and pigment. This mixture is usually tinted or colored before it is applied with a spatula or trowel.) Because the color is in the mixture, one can simply sand the walls when they are dirty or scuffed instead of painting them. After 59 years the walls are in fantastic condition.
This Oakland home has a distinct mid-century modern flare, on a level lot with courtyard and terraced backyard, immense rooms, floor to ceiling windows, stacked flagstone fireplace and more.
Well designed and constructed, most of the features and finishes are original and in pristine condition. Over the years there were a few enhancements, the stove that needed replacement was replaced with a Jenn-Air range complete with an oversized stainless steel hood, and the old absestos roof that saved this home from destruction during the Oakland Hills fire of 1991 was replaced with a composite tile roof, then topped with solar panels. At the close of escrow Jorg and I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Dondero as he gave us the guided tour of his masterpiece. Mr. Dondero remembered every nuance, every step and it was with pride and honor that he handed Jorg the keys.
Espaller is a horticultural technique of training trees, by pruning and grafting them to grow into this flat angular design. Popular in Europe fruit trees can grow in courtyards or against fences, yield fruit without taking up much space. I think this old world technique is stunning. Mr. Dondero says this lemon tree has been here for years.
The wooden cut-out panels that cover the windows that flank the front door have hinges and locks and open easily to clean the windows. The wooden angles remind me of a Greek key pattern.
Mr. Dondero is telling Jorg all of his secrets to maintaining the backyard and drains