A Lovingly Renovated Charming Craftsman in Oakland

A Lovingly Renovated Charming Craftsman in Oakland

Adrienne Breaux
Dec 29, 2016

Name: Brett Foken and husband Brandon Foken
Location: Oakland, California
Size: 1150 square feet
Years lived in: Owned less than a year

Interior designer, stylist and blogger Brett and her husband Brandon moved into this Oakland, California charmer in August 2016, but actually bought the house in March. They had to renovate the entire house before they could actually live in it; this 1900 Craftsman was the absolute definition of "complete fixer-upper." And though the couple describe the renovation of as a labor of love, it's clear they're now settling in and enjoying their home. "I also love sitting by the front windows on the built-in bench in the living room with a cup of coffee or tea and reading a good book or flipping through a magazine. It's these little moments that make all of the hard work worth it," writes Brett.

Below, Brett shares the background of how they found this house and what their design aims were:

"My husband and I had been talking about moving from San Francisco to Oakland for a few months and just so happened to stumble upon our house at the right place and the right time. I think the house scared away a lot people because of the overall poor condition and the level of work that needed to be done. It definitely was a HUGE undertaking but I knew it was EXACTLY what we were looking for. We wanted a house that had good bones but that we could make completely our own and that's what this house was — the possibilities were endless.

While the home showed many signs of aging when we first bought it, some of the vintage charm was still intact. Everything from the custom built-ins to the wood columns, ceiling beams, wall paneling, trim, baseboards, and crown moulding was part of the original design of the 100-year-old home and the level of craftsmanship isn't something you typically come across in many homes these days. I fought to preserve as many of these details as possible while still modernizing the home.

Although my design aesthetic seems to be constantly evolving, I would say it is something along the lines of Scandinavian Minimalist meets Mid-Century California Bohemian. I like to think that my love to create airy, balanced, unique spaces that mix the old with the new is represented in every single one of the spaces I design no matter the 'style.'

When it comes to favorite rooms, I would probably say the kitchen. Both my husband and I love to cook and spend the most time in the kitchen whether it's cooking dinner together almost every night or hanging out with friends. We really took the time to plan and think out every detail of our kitchen so that it was functional for us and a focal point of the home. A few of my favorite features in the kitchen would have to be the open shelving, the light fixture above the peninsula and the french doors that we love to keep open when the weather is nice."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Scandinavian Minimalist meets Mid-Century California Bohemian

Inspiration: We share a love for the outdoors and nature, which transcends into our home with our earth-tone color palette, mix of natural textures and collection of framed photos from some of our favorite outdoor adventures around the world. Having spent some time in Copenhagen, Brett also has a deep love for Scandinavian design, which she blends with her California Eclectic style.

Favorite Element: The built-in corner bench by the windows in the living room. This was an original detail that came with the house that we refinished. It's the perfect place to drink a cup of coffee and read a good book.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest design challenge was deciding what to do about all of the original woodwork in the home. We wanted to achieve a modernized feel while still preserving the original wood detailing but knew in order to do that some of it had to go and/or be painted, which felt like we were committing some kind of sin. Ultimately we got over the fear and pulled the trigger on removing some of the crown moulding in the living room, painting some select baseboards and built-ins and then refinishing/staining some of the trim. We love the end result and are amazed at how much bigger and modern that half of the house feels without taking away any of the original charm.

Biggest Embarrassment: The art ledge in the living room. We bought two separate shelves with the idea to push them together to make one long ledge to place art, photos, etc. Once we installed the first one, we went to install the second right next to it and realized the wall was slanted making it impossible for both to appear in one straight line. It ended up being fine once we realized we could add a wood filler piece to the back of the second shelf to make it level, but we were pretty embarrassed that neither of us thought to check that the wall was level until after the first shelf was installed.

Biggest win: Fitting a washer and dryer in our kitchen. We really had no other place to put laundry except in our kitchen so we had our contractor build what looks like a pantry but it's where we keep our stacked washer and dryer!

Proudest DIY: The wood coffee table in our living room that we made together.

Best advice: Guide all design and decorating decisions with the idea that things should be sentimental, functional and comfortable — the combination of these three things is what makes it beautiful.

The fictional character that would be most comfortable in your home: The Fantastic Mr. Fox would fit in very nicely and he would scare away all of the racoons.


Benjamin Moore — "Simply White" (Walls)
Benjamin Moore — "Onyx" (Glass Pane Doors in Dining Room)
Benjamin Moore — "Wrought Iron" (Bathroom Accent Wall + Back of Peninsula)

Sofa — Urban Sofa from West Elm
Diamond Chair — Amazon
Coffee Table — DIY
Wool Pouf — CB2
Swing Arm Wall Light — CB2
Art — Photography by Brett & Brandon, Framing by Framebridge
Wood Accent Table — All Modern
Plant stand + Planter — West Elm
Area Rug — All Modern
Fireplace Floor Tile — Cement Tile Shop

Dining Table — Seno from Article
Dining Chairs — All Modern
Pendant Light — Wayfair (Spray painted by Brett)

Stools — Treasure Island Flea Market Find
Pendant Lights — Etsy
Cabinets — White Shaker from local source
Countertop — Quartz
Floating Shelves in Flatsawn Walnut — Semihandmade
Floor Tile — Cement Tile Shop
Backsplash Tile — TileBar
Cabinet Hardware — Rejuvenation
Appliances — Kitchen Aid
Sink Faucet — Brizo
Dinnerware — Heath Ceramics

Cowhide Rug — All Modern
Desk — Target
Floor Lamp — Urban Outfitters
Desk Chair — Ikea
Art — Painted by Brett

Vanity — Ikea Godmorgan (w/ custom wood drawer fronts from Semihandmade)
Sink Faucet — Ikea
Wallpaper — Hygge & West
Floor Tile — Wayfair
Mirror — CB2

Vanity — Cherry Wood Shaker from local source
Countertop — White Quartz
Sink Faucets — Ikea
Mirrors — CB2
Vanity Lights — Etsy
Cabinet Hardware — Rejuvenation
Floor Tile — Cement Tile Shop

Thanks, Brett and Brandon!

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