A Modern Oakland Hills Home with Vintage Flair


After getting engaged, Megan Gorman and Roger Nabedian found a house in the Oakland Hills with the big rooms, great view and party potential they were looking for. The next hurdle: how to combine their different tastes without compromising on style. “My house in Corona del Mar was beachy and feminine; Roger’s house in Danville was very masculine,” says Gorman. “We wanted to find the right aesthetic as a couple.” Through a friend’s recommendation, the couple hired designer Will Wick, who also owns the San Francisco antiques shop Battersea, which specializes in 20th-century decorative arts, European industrial objects and curiosities. “Will gave us the confidence that he would be able to strike a balance between a home that was going to be too girly or too masculine,” says Nabedian.

Wick found that balance by envisioning a crisp and organic modernism that combined new pieces with vintage and one-off surprises as accents. “It’s important for homes to feel special,” says Wick. “Even if I’m designing a super-modern apartment, I always want to make sure there is a piece here and there that feels unique.” But before he could focus on furnishings, there were more pressing matters. Originally a 1923 cottage, the house had been expanded twice and renovated three additional times. There were terra-cotta floor tiles almost everywhere and a circuitous layout. The worst offender was the T-shaped master bath, with dead ends and skylights in all the wrong places. Because this was the most complicated room of the house, Wick began there. “I started playing with the floor plan because that was obviously the most important piece of the puzzle,” he says.

Wick’s goal was not only to add a sense of logic to the flow, but also to balance the needs of privacy within such a shared space. His solution: the use of rift-cut white-oak cabinetry with a cerused finish as a spine that divides the bathroom into his-and-hers sections. “You still have a lot of privacy,” says Wick of the split, which also allows fixtures and artwork to be more feminine on one side and masculine on the other. Fabricated by Rivendell Woodworks, the cabinetry, with its gray wash, beige undertones and a dash of blue, relates to the similar gray wash of the revamped kitchen’s cabinetry and fits within the overall color scheme of the house. “Less is more,” says Wick. “Often a clean spare aesthetic can pull off that masculine-feminine feel.”

When it came to furnishings, because the couple brought very little with them, “we pretty much started from scratch,” Wick says. He designed a number of custom pieces, including the tailored sofas in the living room and the adjacent walnut coffee table, which he based on a 1970s version he found in France. The designer also peppered the spaces with vintage finds, such as a Milo Baughman burl-wood sofa in the study and several 1960s and ’70s table lamps. “I can’t get enough of them,” says Wick. “They are really nice ways to make a house feel cozy and more authentic.”

Wick intermixed these pieces with contemporary fixtures, such as the dining room’s dramatic Seed Cloud chandelier by Ochre, which proved a challenge to hang with the room’s skylight. Builder David McMorran, who in addition to executing the renovation also provided architectural support by handling all of the electrical and construction drawings along with coordinating engineers and city documents, designed a custom metal bracket to support the weight of the fixture. “We worked with our structural engineer to make sure it would support it and have as little visual impact as possible,” he says. Wick chose another statement piece—a dining table made with a custom top and two vintage brass bases from the 1970s—for the breakfast area and hung a Curtis Jere wall sculpture in the master bedroom for a sense of whimsy.

Start to finish, the project took almost two years, a period that included the couple’s nuptials, and the newlyweds are thrilled with the results. “It’s a great merging of our two tastes,” says Gorman,“and a great party house.”

—Joanne Furio