McCobb Bertoia in an Oakland home
The redwood ceiling competes with carefully edited furnishings and the treetop view out the windows as you step in the front door. A Bertoia chair and Yanagi butterfly stool are sculptural but understated, and the dining room table and chairs are similarly restrained. The recurring punches of black seen in the cowhide rugs, textiles and artwork help ground the white carpet and walls.

After renovating the exterior (Part 1)and beginning work on the kitchen (Part 2 ), Jean completes the home with classic midcentury details by McCobb and Bertoia.

“IKEA was the most economical way to go,” she says. “The contractors I talked to said its quality was way better than Home Depot’s. And a friend had done something really smart: he got IKEA base cabinets and had custom fronts made. Another friend, who’s a trend forecaster, said to mix materials and it will be modern. “We used light oak, glass and stainless, and an IKEA Pax wardrobe as a pantry. I love the way the pantry looks, I love that it was a fraction of the price that cabinetry would have been. On one side I store all of my vases and candlesticks; on the other are spices and teas and root vegetables and canning and baking stuff.”

mid century modern living room with blue walls

Orlebeke kept the footprint of the kitchen, but would have liked to replace the slate flooring, which doesn’t look as modern as she’d prefer. “The three best things about the kitchen are I opened up the narrow doorway to the dining room, so you really see into the house more; the pantry, which I love; and the Bertazzoni Italian stove, which was much cheaper than a Wolfe or Viking.”

Although she first maintains hers is a modest IKEA house, her furnishings and details are much more eclectic than that. A mustardy Paul McCobb couch, a Bertoia chair and a vintage dining table with knock- off chairs speak with a midcentury accent, while other homey rooms have wicker chairs, stacked antique chests and carefully edited collections of art and objects that fit her particular aesthetic. “If money were no object, I would remove all of the molding around every doorway that a previous owner put in. I had it removed in the kitchen and it made a world of difference,” she says.

Even if the home remains a work in progress and the realities of a hectic work life intrude—“The house doesn’t have a lot of clutter, but my office is just the opposite: there isn’t a single visible horizontal surface,” she admits—it still speaks her pattern language loud and clear. “Because of the perceived isolation of the house—even though that’s just a fantasy—it does feel like an absolute sanctuary.”