The couple wanted their house to combine a fondness for
Michelle’s former home state with their current embrace of California’s relaxed sensibility. Casual entertaining, a huge priority
for them, took architectural shape in thoughtful spaces set aside
for visitors and features equally conducive to large barbecues
and intimate cocktail parties. (The bar, a particularly deft design
feature, is slipped into a corner adjacent to the kitchen, expertly
utilizing an area that might otherwise be wasted space.)
Debbas worked on the space planning and McNab selected
the furnishings. “Lane was phenomenal at understanding what
we needed,” Munson says. Owners, architect and designer all
collaborated smoothly, remarkably so given their diverse starting points. While Debbas is a longtime Berkeley architect who
came recommended by the realtor, the owners found McNab
by searching online; where Debbas is the establishment, she’s
the up-and-comer. “She really proved herself,” Munson says.
Playing off each other’s ideas and strengths, the designers
found their contributions meshed well. “I felt like my job
throughout the process was to help complement the elegance
and beauty of the architecture as well as the warmth and
approachability of the clients and their home,” McNab says.
Debbas engaged fully with the details, like bringing in cabinetry
hand-produced by local craftsman Brian Eby — material finishes that mainly made sense in the context of hand-dyed rugs
sourced by McNab and the Lego-filled room of the couple’s son.
Of all the accomplishments and architectural sleight-of-hand, the greatest invisible trick might be the 40-foot steel
beam that Debbas had builders install, a structural element
that spans the entire length of the first floor and allowed the
architect to completely open the space.
Which is another reason that landing is so crucial to admire.
Because while it might look like mere clever design, when you know
what it took to achieve it’s the epitome of architectural success. n
“BUT THIS IS BERKELEY,
WHERE ARCANE AND
ARE ALMOST THE NORM
FOR SOME OF THE