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Neighbors didn’t like quirky home. Then they visited & fell in love

Breeze Braunschweig and her husband Kartik Ramachandran don’t see their home as an asset, but as an experience, so when they bought a 1920s home in Berkeley, California, they transformed it with Breeze’s decades-long collection of rescued items like stained-glass windows, antique doors and 200-lb utility sinks.

The house is rich in surprises that seem out of a Studio Ghibli fantastic animation movie, such as vintage airplane awnings, or a central wooden column salvaged from an iconic California bridge.

Everything here has meaning, from antique door knobs to her mother’s macraméd curtains. As an homage to her grandfather’s experience in WWII, Breeze visited an airplane salvage yard to find a pair of 1950s Cessna Skymaster airplane wings and a tail that now serve as awnings for the back of the house.

The home has expansive views of the San Francisco Bay, but when they bought the home, it had just a couple windows in the back of the house, so they opened it up with a full glass wall (Breeze’s dad is a glass installer). When Breeze began to watch the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge being dismantled from her window, she organized a meeting on the bridge and managed to bring home a massive wooden beam (once used as a bumper for boats) that the couple installed as a visible structural post, 1930s nails and accumulated dirt and all.

During the remodel, the couple visited Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico City and fell in love with the color and promptly painted their entire house cobalt blue. They landscaped for the color and Breeze kept telling neighbors to just “wait for the bougainvillea to grow in”.

When they bought the home, the crawl space basement “was not in use,” explains Kartik, “It was the rat’s lab”. They removed an old boiler (it would have cost $70,000 to try to recover) and turned the space into a charming second home for Breeze’s mom. Using damaged tiles that Breeze carefully collected from a local supplier, she created a pattern on the floors and walls that makes the space feel alive with color.

A few links from Breeze: