Quiet on the Set

This modern mansion brings some Hollywood to the Oakland hills.


Photos by Open Homes Photography

From its inauspicious curb appeal, 40 N. Hill Court’s decidedly understated exterior belies the home’s real surprise. Enter center stage and get ready for your close-up.Steps beyond the home’s circular portico, a light-filled great room is the size of a movie set—with near panoramic views. If it weren’t for the Bay Area’s distinctive skylines and landmarks, you’d swear you were in the Hollywood, not the Oakland, hills.

Photos by Open Homes Photography

I let my clients enter before me,” said Pacific Union agent Carla Buffington. “Then, I wait for the gasps, the ‘I had no ideas!,’ and the ‘it’s so BIGs!’ The views are truly breathtaking.Cue: applause.

“If my husband and I hadn’t just finished building our own home, we would have bought this one,” she said.

Wrapped in glass, the home’s common spaces are expanses of white walls anchored to dark hardwood floors. The girded steel ceilings give the space an industrial vibe, a modernist mansion with wide-open spaces, inside and out.

If you’re looking to make a statement, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom home is the sort of abode one expects of today’s technology innovators or entertainment trendsetters. Futuristic and assertively postmodern and masculine, the space is still surprisingly livable and adaptable. From intimate dinner parties to dance parties on the patio, this home is a perfect fit for those who love living large.

On a hard-to-find half-acre lot without slopes or stairs at its entry, the 5,390-square-foot, two-story house was built in 1994, not long after the fire. It's nestled between two super-sized mansions on a cul de sac, and an aerial view provides a better understanding of the home’s floor plan.

Two fan-blade-shaped wings radiate outward, providing the architectural signature for the showpiece great room. Private master quarters are situated off the great room, with office space and reading and lounging areas steps away. Banks of rooftop solar panels help offset the home’s carbon footprint and give it some eco-cred.

Almost every room in the house has direct access to the outdoors. The voluminous master suite opens to an expansive sun-drenched patio with uninterrupted and near-private vistas of the bay. The en suite bathroom and spacious walk-in closet are sure to delight any clotheshorse.

Photos by Open Homes Photography

High ceilings, abundant windows, dark hardwood floors, and panoramic views put this Oakland house in a class of its own.

A second master suite opens to a cool, grassy palm tree-framed courtyard, perfect for sunning or taking your calls outside.

“Mr. Spielberg on line one.”

With its proximity to the Bay Area’s major arterials, shopping, and dining districts, what it lacks in walkability is more than made up for in up amenities.

The hyper-modern kitchen is clean, spare, and professionally appointed, with plenty of counter space, and roomy drawers. An organic tile backsplash, in muted neutrals, defines the space and provides texture to the kitchen’s cabinet-free walls. Adjacent to the dining area, the kitchen keeps the cook close to company and in the conversation.

“I could envision a single person who loves to entertain or a family with teenagers living here. The two master suites are located on the upper level, with the two other bedrooms on the lower level,” said Buffington. “Trust me; you don’t want your bedroom next to your teenager’s.”

Ironically, Buffington said this is a great home for downsizing or aging in place.

“This home is perfect for empty nesters who might need space for their adult children and families,” added Buffington. “The level lot also makes it ideal for people looking to age in place.

“There’s been a lot of interest from buyers in [San Francisco]. It’s close to the Caldecott Tunnel and easy to get to the Bay Area’s main transportation hubs,” said Buffington. “Yet, when you get up here, it’s really a world away. “It’s a very sophisticated home.”