Luck was on Danielle Moore and Bryan Wang’s side when they found their Berkeley home after a six-month search—a "real fixer" according to Danielle, who’s an art director and graphic designer. Their broker’s father happened to be the seller’s agent, so they were able to place a bid under the radar. It was a win-win situation: Bryan, an architect and designer, wanted something they could remodel, and the seller didn’t want to have to prepare the house for sale.
In the intervening four years, the creative couple have been revamping the house, turning what was bare drywall into a ’70s-infused sanctuary with "midcentury accents, feminine vibes, and some Star Wars," as Danielle describes.
Bryan, who specializes in high-end residential interiors, tackled the design and construction with the help of his father. They’ve renovated most of the house and the rear yard and made smaller upgrades, too, such as swapping in new windows.
"We wanted to open the house up, so we vaulted the ceiling and moved some walls," says Danielle. "We were inspired by the challenge of renovating a small home into something that really utilizes the space better."
They say that while they don’t always share the same taste, they each appreciate having a partner that is as aesthetically driven as the other.
"Bryan is so organized—during construction, he would narrow down options to his top five to 10, and we would discuss from there," says Danielle. "He loves everything super clean and modern, and I am a collector for sure—I am constantly adding little touches. I think we found a balance of both of us in this house. It’s my favorite when you can see a little of each of us."
With shelter-in-place in effect, they’re now focused on making the home more usable as a live/work space, which meant developing an office that worked for both of them as well as a separate area for Bryan to focus on projects like lighting fabrication, woodwork, and leather work.
What moments in the home are particularly special to you?
Danielle: The window seat that holds all of our records for sure. We started our collection with my parent’s old records and have added to it over the years. Honestly, the bench was meant for us to enjoy, but it has become Freddie’s favorite spot (aka a very expensive dog bed).
Bryan: I really love the vaulted ceiling. It makes the house feel much larger than it is and is always the first thing people remark on when they come in.
What is your single favorite piece that you own?
Danielle: The Poul Cadovius Royal System—I love that it’s modular, and it fits our space so well.
Bryan: We actually drove down to Ventura to purchase it, and it fits perfectly on the wall in our living room.
What home items are most important to invest in?
Danielle: Good bedding—sleep is the best. Also, with all this working from home, I would say a nice office chair.
Bryan: A nice, comfy sofa and a nice dining set. The sofa doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy; it just has to fit the space and your lifestyle well. A nice dining set is important if you entertain. Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just has to fit your needs.
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How are you coping during COVID-19?
Danielle: I feel so lucky to be able to have someone to shelter in place with. We are both fortunate enough to have work that we can create remotely.
Bryan: The living room is spacious and gets a lot of natural light, so we don't feel like we’re cooped up inside too much. When we do feel like we need space, we are lucky to have a great backyard with plenty of space to sit, relax, and even work. We finished the backyard renovation last fall after a few years of intermittent work. Much of it didn’t work out, so last year we decided to scrap it and start fresh. It’s finally how we want the backyard to look and function and can’t be happier that it’s finished so we have the space during the epidemic.
What is your new normal? Do you have any rituals?
Danielle: Multiple walks per day—our dog loves it! We also have been picking up fresh groceries from a local farmer who was selling to restaurants before COVID-19. We have really tried to support small and local businesses even more during this time—the flowers in the images were purchased to support a Marin florist, Golden Fields Floristry.
Bryan: The new normal is waking up, making coffee for her, tea for myself, then the eight-step commute to the office to start on work. We’re able to do Zoom/Slack calls from the backyard when it’s nice out, or just be in different rooms if we’re both on a call. We try to take a 30-minute walk around the block with Freddie in the afternoon to get some air and stretch our legs. I try to take lunchtime bike rides to clear my head and stay in shape.
How have each of your industries changed?
Danielle: Well, I made my first custom Zoom background last week and have successfully avoided some impossible retouching requests from clients looking to update their content—so yes! I think brands are really looking into new ways to keep the creative moving during COVID-19, and I am grateful to be (virtually) there with them. I love the opportunity to collaborate with brands who are trying to create some good out of this situation; for example, I am working with my clean beauty client, NakedPoppy, to create an organic facial oil to support a local female environmentalist who works with women farmers in Patagonia.
Bryan: Since all construction has stopped, my projects are taking the time to catch up on some design and coordination work. It’s been a little difficult for design, though, because my office is very collaborative, and my boss is very hands-on, so working online isn’t the most efficient way. We did discover Concept Board, which lets us comment and mark up drawings together and discuss ideas. It’s still not the same as a sketching session with the whole team sitting around the table, marking up drawings and sketching out ideas.
Have you shifted things around starting to shelter in place?
Danielle: Yes, we created a double office (big shout out to ViV MGMT for the help) for Bryan and I to both work in. It has been life-changing to be able to close the door at the end of the day and have a dining table (Bryan’s old office) again.
Bryan: At first, I was working at the dining table, and it became hard to separate home and work since my work computer and all my materials were sitting on the dining table. We were able to borrow a desk and office chair from Danielle’s agent’s studio and moved that into the office. We rearranged the office slightly to fit my work area, and now Danielle and I both work in the office. It’s been nice to have a physical separation of work/life where I can say "I'm off for the day" and physically walk out of a room. (That doesn’t mean I'm still not checking my work computer all the time, though).
What are each of your WFH spaces like?
Danielle: I have a large monitor, color books, inspiration, coffee, and always a to-do list. There is also a cutting board for mocking up designs IRL—long live print!
Bryan: My desk has my work iMac, a stack of reference books for both interior design and architecture standards, more pens and pencils than I need, and a huge pile of drawings and sketches. It’s similar to my setup at work—just less physical samples and materials since I didn’t want to bring all the wood, plaster, and tile samples home.
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