Blueberry House

Berkeley, California

This home, on any idyllic site in the lower Berkeley hills next to Codornices Creek, has gone through several steps in its history to become what it is today. 

Historically, prominent members of the Berkeley community had lived in the simple Craftsman home in the past. Saikley Architects’ first clients initially intended the home to be renovated for one family member, then later for a larger group of extended family as their needs changed. Ultimately, our clients moved to a different home, and Saikley Architects then worked with developer-builder Dan McDunn who purchased the property. 

With an understated front façade to the street, the house becomes tall toward the large back yard as the ground drops down toward the creek at the rear of the lot. Our clients bought the property for its tranquil forested setting and its walking proximity to the heart of Berkeley’s civic and commercial areas.

We looked at several design options to accommodate evolving needs of the extended family. Primary concerns were accessibility for older family members and friends, accommodation of spaces for religious ceremonies and social gatherings, and a large addition and flexible plan to accommodate multiple people and different uses at different times. The integration between house and site was always at the heart of the design. Our clients named the house Blueberry House. 

During construction, it became clear to our clients that a different property would better fit their needs, and so they sold this property when the house addition was partially built. Saikley Architects then worked with the new developer-builder, Dan McDunn, on design revisions and permitting. McDunn largely kept the large, flexible floor plan and the landscape layout as we had developed, but he made some key changes to fit a broader market. McDunn designed the interior and exterior finish details, landscaping, and building systems, and finished building the project.

Architect: Saikley Architects
Developer/builder/designer: Dan McDunn
Designer: Tim Larkin
Structural engineer: STG Engineering
Photography: Open Homes Photography, 

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“We worked with Alexandra on a major project with several challenges – building a brand new home on a small, sloped lot that required several variances. To add to that, we were first-time owner-builders. From the very beginning of the process at the design stage, Alexandra was easy to work with and very open to both incorporating our requests and needs while providing helpful insight and guidance. Her clear, consistent, and thorough communication got us through a complicated Zoning review process. She and her team helped us adapt in creative ways to ensure that we met Zoning’s requirements while still keeping the best parts of the design. We’ve been living in the home for several months now and absolutely love it! The best part for us about working with Alexandra, which is easy to take for granted but very significant in a long project like this, was her incredible professionalism, responsiveness, and trustworthiness. We never had any problem communicating and working with her over the course of our project, despite the other challenges and many different people involved. Thank you, Alexandra, for helping make a dream come true for us!” – Client