Berkeley Family Room

Previously unprogrammed mixed use space is transformed into a cozy, textural family room for a creative Waldorf family in Berkeley.

Our clients have embraced and educated their two children by the Waldorf approach, which focuses on creative play with natural materials, dance, music making, and minimal technology in the home. The spacious front room of the home was previously unprogrammed, and used as a flexible play-studio space for the children, totally adaptable to whatever creative play they engaged in. The room was essentially a large, unfurnished catch-all.

Now entering their teenage years, the two children are beginning to interact with an inevitable screen culture, given their ages and peers. With the children growing out of some types of creative play, the homeowners decided it was time to reimagine the room to create a space for cozy family gathering that could accommodate some shared screen-viewing activities while still prioritizing conversation, craft and art projects, and other creative pursuits. Having previously worked with us on a small renovation to another area of the home, the homeowners reached back out to Fischer Architecture for this new phase of interior design and furnishings.

For this project, we divided the long narrow room into two zones: a gathering area on the west and a project area on the east.

In the gathering area, we removed a defunct masonry fireplace to capture the floor area needed to create a floor-to-ceiling built-in, which houses ample shelves for books, games, baskets of toys, and the newly introduced TV. Perhaps the built-in’s most precious feature is the cozy reading nook, which provides a quiet, separate space in the room, perfect for times when the family desires to be together but also wishes to ‘do their own thing’, and during more social times, it provides a place to sit opposite the sofa and lounge chair, thus creating conversation group seating in this otherwise narrow room. This function was essential as it prevents the gathering area from becoming too TV-centered- a key goal for a family that avoids excessive screen time.

Over on the east side, the simple, quiet project area promotes creative thinking. A custom-designed white oak table is wide enough for every kind of project, puzzle, or simple work, and the custom built-in provides plenty of storage space for a plethora of art and craft materials.

Structural Engineer: Berkeley Structural Design

Photography: ©Leslie Williamson