Too Cool for School

Berkeley home not far from campus wows with classic MCM looks—and a mystery too
Fridays on the Homefront
This Berkeley MCM above, now on the market, oozes with mid-century charm and has all the essential classic MCM features—from post-and-beam construction, to the slight butterfly roof, to the use of clerestory windows, to the rich interior paneling and compact galley kitchen. But who is the architect behind it all? Photos: courtesy Stephanie Mull and Stella Tsakonas

Modern use of the versatile term 'cool' is said to have been popularized in the mid-century by jazz saxophonist Lester Young, though its basic concept is centuries old.

Its usefulness in language has grown to the point, however, where two realtors pitching an attractive mid-century modern home in the Berkeley Hills recently couldn't help but employ it—repeatedly.

"It is quite cool," stated Stephanie Mull emphatically, teamed as she is with Stella Tsakonas as a mother-daughter tandem representing the home at 185 Hill Road. Tsakonas listed the property at $1,510,000 for Compass real estate. Mull, the daughter, adds, "It's very original."

Fridays on the Homefront

"It has panoramic views from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Richmond Bridge to the Bay Bridge," the daughter marveled at the two-bedroom, three-bath built in 1957. "You can see all of downtown San Francisco. It's beautiful!"

Mother agrees, with Tsakonas citing "the 'cool factor' and the views" from the top floor and its wraparound deck as the property's strongest assets.

For this real estate team, the 'cool factor' is amplified by (but not limited to) 185 Hill's stylish modern design by an architect who, to our surprise, remains unknown, at least at the moment. We thought: "This must be an architectural property by an architect of note. Is a pleasant surprise awaiting the next owner when that missing piece is finally unveiled?"

Fridays on the Homefront

After all, this house oozes with mid-century charm and has all the essential classic MCM features—from its post-and-beam construction, to the slight butterfly roof, to the use of clerestory windows, to the rich interior paneling and compact galley kitchen—even those knock-out complementary views. All very cool, indeed.