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House Talk

No. 43 - November 12, 2012

Whimsical Berkeley Cottage with Style
A talk with Belinda Taylor

Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine are so enthusiastic about the many exciting people and places that they meet in the intricate and diverse world of East Bay real estate. While at a 21st season opening for Berkeley's own Aurora Theater with the Bay Area premiere of "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity", Sheila had the opportunity to meet a very talented local playwright, Belinda Taylor. During their lively conversation, Belinda described her delightful home which includes a unique walk-in fireplace. Sheila was very intrigued to see it and arranged for a visit.

Belinda's home is nestled on a quiet and private street in the Berkeley flats. The Fox Brothers, a well-known name, built the picturesque house in the 30's. This talented team left a legacy of romantic cottages scattered throughout Berkeley. They believed that fine homes should not be exclusively for the rich. They built many homes in working class neighborhoods. In the Arts and Crafts Movement, this house is considered the "fairy-book style" reminiscent of a German or Swiss chalet. The exterior is composed of various colors and sizes of irregular laid brick and it has a very steep sloping roof which allows rain to roll off in winter. There are no right angles in the house, adding to the sense of whimsy and delight. It also has wonderful wide plank floors and an interior balcony on the second floor where Belinda stationed musicians as an entertainment focus for one of her birthday parties.

The focal point of this fairy tale home is the unusual walk-in fireplace. Sheila has seen this feature in one other home - an 18th century chateau in France. Indeed, what a pleasant surprise to see such a wonderful architectural feature in the heart of Berkeley. It has brick pillars on either side measuring 10.5 feet and the width of the fireplace structure is 9.5 feet. It is surrounded by cathedral ceiling measuring nearly 30 feet tall and even has built-in seating on either side to accommodate guests. Among the most famous of visitors has been the Grateful Dead.

There are other guests of the house who have inspired Belinda. By being in this home, Belinda has felt the strong presence of her muse, Julia Morgan. She was inspired to write a very popular play entitled, "Becoming Julia Morgan." ln fact, this month the Cultural & Historical Endowment Landmark of California has chosen Julia Morgan to be honored for her extraordinary influence in California architecture. Belinda feels that her home exemplifies some oflulia Morgan's traits - mindful light patterns, placement of a home that blends with the environment, exposed beams and use of natural materials.

As a writer nearly her entire life, Belinda has a deep appreciation for details. She is continually inspired by the creative and peaceful energy that her house showers on her. Belinda has her own little Hearst Castle.

For further information about Belinda Taylor and her work, please visit www.juliamorganproject.org.

Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine comprise an East Bay residential real estate team at The Grubb Company. Glass-Sabine can be reached at 510-326-5055 or through their web site at www.G|assSabine.com where you can read more of their illustrated "House Talk" articles.

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For further information or questions for our House Talk column, 
please contact Glass/Sabine by email:  Sheila@GlassSabine.com
or call us at 510-326-5055.

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