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House Talk

No. 36 - March 7, 2010

Real Style in Upper Rockridge
A talk with Sandra Schmit

Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine have seen many exciting homes throughout their careers in real estate. One such residence is located in the sophisticated Claremont Pines area of Oakland, minutes away from the Claremont Country Club. The owner, Sandra Schmit, was ready for a new challenge after completing all of the decorating projects at her home on Trestle Glen.

Sandra stumbled upon her new home at a Sunday open house. The house was a 1941 Hollywood Regency style with glamorous details and timeless architecture. The house had never been touched and was ready for attention. It was patterned after the traditional Old World homes where the maid had separate living quarters. The kitchen, complete with blue Formica counters, was tucked away behind doors leading to the formal dining room. The Cabana room suggested the scent of cigars and the sound of clinking martini glasses. The powder room had the original vanity table (wooden) painted white. Sandra painted it high gloss lipstick red and put in vanity lights. Now one can almost imagine Debbie Reynolds applying her layers of bright red lipstick.

Sandra thought that the house looked very sad and in need of a face-lift. The first thing she did was to remove the English cutting garden in the front yard and replace it with three large palm trees in order to establish a Hollywood theme. She wanted the house to be glamorous but not fussy - no gilding please. It also had to be somewhat indestructible so that she did not have to worry about her friends enjoying the home during festive parties.

She stocked a cooler full of pizza and beer, rolled up her sleeves and began her new project, separating it into several phases. She started off by installing white oak hardwood floors throughout the house. She decided to keep the integrity of the Cabana room but painted the red brick floors a sophisticated charcoal graphite color and added gauze white curtains and a plantation fan which creates the feeling of outdoor living. Next, she focused on the transformation of the fireplace mantle, replacing the old marble and mirrors with an entire wall of stacked stone .The fireplace became the creative focus –she was clear it would have no wood and no ash. She installed a gas starter and then covered it with sparkle grain-the same material that is used in concrete to add sparkle. It has a high heat index and the final appearance is very dramatic yet extremely functional.

Next, on to the kitchen. She courageously knocked down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen and made it one big room. She had seen a kitchen while traveling in Brazil at a Designer showcase and used that as her model. The countertops are dressed in Calcutta marble and the impressive marble island counter - a real focal point is a waterfall design with the marble draping to the floor. A fun touch in the kitchen is a wall painted with chalkboard paint so that her friends can write their personal messages - such as “A vacation is nothing more than killing time between meals” or “Nick was here - what’s yo island?” or “Take my advice - I don’t use it.”

Now on to the next phase. She added glass railings, state-of-the-art Ikea closets and cabinets, zero entry showers, and an oval hatbox toilet. In the master suite, she added a floor-to-ceiling wall of raw silk sheathed curtains behind the custom-designed bed. A unique touch is the huge oval Italian paintings that resemble oversized medallions. All of the room colors and tile choices have been tastefully chosen. The furnishings, the original art and the touches are a brilliant mixing of Chanel and The Gap suggesting a South Beach look from the Art Deco era. Even the front door entrance has an exciting and unusual appearance. It features elegant drapes made from outdoor fabric patterned after drapes she saw at the Palm Springs Viceroy Hotel.

In summary, Sandra has several pithy suggestions:

1. Everything has to be functional

2. Keep a sense of humor in the house and put a touch of red in every room (even her washer and dryer are a classy red)

3. Be outrageous - don’t be afraid to take chance when expressing yourself

4. Take risks – your decorating is not irreversible

5. Real style is impossible to describe but easy to recognize.

If you have further questions about this great house you may contact Sandra’s good friend, Karen Starr at Starr@Grubbco.com.

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please contact Glass/Sabine by email:  Sheila@GlassSabine.com
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