Home & Garden Tour the Traditional 1920s Oakland Home of One Modernist Designer
Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden, and the Politics of Dressing
After four years, intentional fashion returns to the White House. There is great power in fashion—when it is used with intent. This is perhaps most evident on those world stages when everyone is watching: a glitzy red carpet, a designer runway, a historic inauguration. Due to the pandemic, though, we haven’t had much in the way of fashion on a big stage. Red carpets have been mostly canceled; live runway shows are staged without crowds, filmed, and consumed virtually.
“I have a very modern taste,” says Susie Novak, founder of. “I’ve always loved the charm of old houses but was not particularly interested in traditional design.” That meant purchasing a 1920s home was a challenge for the interior designer, who now lives in her remodeled abode with her husband, Matt, a real estate private equity professional, and their two daughters. The convenient and charming location, however, convinced her to take the plunge.
This Renovated Mexican Guest House Blends Modernist Sensibility With Old World Charm
Originally a private home designed by Mario Pani in 1962, Casa Pani has recently been restored and expanded to offer six generous guest accommodations , reception rooms, rooftop terraces, a pool, and courtyard patios. Casa Pani is the brainchild of three partners: architect Miggi Hood, mezcal magnate Yola Jimenez, and entrepreneur Marie Cazalaa. “We purchased the house from the son of the original homeowners.
“In Oakland, the Trestle Glen neighborhood is a special mix of urban and suburban,” Novak says. “It is close to downtown restaurants, the freeway to San Francisco, and the hills for hikes.”
The 3,000-square-foot, two-story property needed significant work to make it functional for a contemporary lifestyle. Among the biggest changes: The foundation needed to be fixed, which involved lifting the house. The kitchen was also opened up by taking out an adjacent bedroom, and the staircase was relocated and widened. Elsewhere, a 220-square-foot accessory dwelling unit, which was originally a garage, was transformed into a beautifully habitable space–home office. All of this, of course, took a significant amount of time.
“We purchased the home in 2011 and have been in various phases of remodel since then,” says Novak, who became her own most demanding client, and only recently completed the project. “I like working with people on their homes and being given style and budget parameters—it reins options in and you’re given a timeline. When you don’t have a set deadline, it can turn into a never-ending remodel, which can be fun, but is certainly expensive and exhausting.”
9 Best Nespresso Machines in 2021
A model for every at-home barista.
After living in a modern warehouse loft in West Oakland, the designer seized this opportunity to widen her horizons in renovating this new home. “It took me time to adapt my style,” she confesses. “But I’ve learned so much about traditional interiors and what is so warm, whimsical, and quirky about them.” One of Novak’s favorite elements is the windows in the front of the house. “We actually had to replace them, but we did so in a way where we preserved the look,” she says. “We ordered custom wood windows and used antique glass to get that old house feel.”
In the dining room, Novak added wainscoting to bring even more visual interest to the home. But thanks to its bathroom and walk-in closet, the primary suite is a haven that Novak particularly enjoys. “If you have the space, it’s so important to create a large [primary room] within the home,” the interior designer says. “It’s like having your own little pied-à-terre—a sanctuary where you can escape the kids but also a place for them to use that is inviting.”
Different materials, such as stucco, plaster, and marble, were used throughout. Several blue elements, including tiles, paint colors, and carpets, reflect one of Novak’s own affinities. “I really wanted the home to feel collected, curated, eclectic, and personal,” she notes. The final result, which brims with character, traces its inspiration from the California coast to interiors of Great Britain and houses of the French countryside. “In many ways, this is my dream home,” Novak reflects. “But I look at interiors so much that it’s hard to pin down all my desires in one place.”
Vintage Connoisseur Helen Uffner is Hollywood's Best-Kept Secret .
For costume designers in the know, the holy grail is a warehouse in Queens owned by Helen Uffner. Her skilled eye as a vintage collector first caught the attention of Woody Allen, who purchased her entire stock for his film Zelig in 1982."I had a friend who owned a boutique in Soho and Woody's costume designer came in looking for 1920s clothing," says Uffner."He sent them to my apartment where I had one rolling rack in the bedroom full of 1920s clothes, and they bought absolutely everything I had. That's when I realized I had to start from the beginning.