Courtney’s Corner: Tour this 1930s mid-century home

Balancing her husband’s need for comfort and the reality of raising a rambunctious toddler, this wife and mother found a way to also sneak in her love of all things vintage and quirky.

More often than not, design is about trade-offs. Nothing exemplifies this more than the struggle content strategist Elka Karl experienced in her attempts to find a sofa to fit her family’s needs. Trying to balance her husband’s desire for a “comfy place to take a nap” with her son’s proclivity for turning sofas into indoor trampolines could have steered the Berkeley resident down a path of safe albeit predictable choices. However, Karl was determined not to allow her design sensibilities fall by the wayside. Mixing family heirlooms, vintage finds and strategic retail purchases, she was able to create a delightful mix that clearly highlights her feminine perspective in a house where men outnumber her two to one.

Set in the hills of Berkeley, the adorable cottage greets guests with a sense of warmth and vitality, starting with the Dutch front door where Elka and her son met us for the house tour.

Front Door

Built in 1930, the house boasts a compact but efficient layout that fits a spacious entry, two bedrooms, a living room, a formal dining room, a bathroom and a large kitchen. Many of the wonderful features of the original construction have been saved, creating the perfect melding of old and new, as witnessed upon entering the home through the wide foyer. Decorated with vintage and thrift-store finds, it provides all the essentials to start and finish your day, even including a place to rest your hat… if hats are your thing!



Directly off the hall are the bedrooms, which are again decorated with vintage treasures from local markets and shops.

Child's Room

In her son’s room, Elka wisely decided to install bunk beds, which not only have seen their fair share of sleepovers but double as the perfect bones for fort building. Rather than go the typical color route of bright, cheery and primary for the room, Elka chose a midtone green hue. At once playful and masculine, the color is the perfect backdrop to the wood tones and dark window treatments in the space. It envelops the space and hides a multitude of toddler sins, from errant crayon marks to little shoe prints.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

In contrast, the master bedroom is light, bright and airy. Elka employed a trick designers often use with her wall paint selection by going “half-tone” from the ceiling. The subtle variation of color highlights the room’s plaster walls and architectural features without being glaring. Otherwise, she used color sparingly, such as in the green bentwood chair, in the room to create a calm and quiet oasis for rest and relaxation. While neutral, the bedroom deftly showcases how masculine and feminine objects can live in perfect harmony to create balance.

Up next: The dining room and living room >>


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