Interiorssneak peeks

A Touch of Scandinavia In California

by Maxwell Tielman


Berkeley, CA might not have much in common with Finland, but step one foot into the home of artist Amy Nathan and one might feel instantly transported to the so-called “Land of The Midnight Sun.” Designed in 1940 by architect Arne Kartwood and peppered with simple, Modernist designs, the home feels markedly in-tune with the aesthetic and nature-centric thinking of Finnish design legend Alvar Aalto. Large-paned windows bring the beauty and light of the outside world indoors, while organic materials and textures create an enveloping sense of warmth and comfort. A few notable bent-ply and Danish-modern pieces bring the ensemble to completion with views of Mount Tamalpais replacing those of vast, coniferous forests and the Bay Area’s temperate climate filling in for the less hospitable one of Northern Europe. Shared with Amy’s husband Rob and their two children, this stunning home is a best-of-both-worlds situation in many ways, an ever-evolving, inspiring space perfect for nurturing creativity and a family. —Max

Photos by Melissa Kaseman.

Image above: A section of the home’s eat-in kitchen nook. The windows near the children’s corner overlook the backyard.



Image above: “The big, red architect’s flat file moved with us across the country,” Amy says, “and has always had a place in our home.”

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Image above: “A very mid-century corner,” Amy says. The black Eames chair was a gift from Amy’s husband, Rob, when the couple first moved into their house in 1999.


Image above: With giant floor-to-ceiling windows, the living room features stunning views of  San Francisco, The Golden Gate Bridge, and Mt. Tamalpais. “When we were looking for a house,” Amy notes, “our real estate agent kept telling us, ‘You can’t eat a view,’ but we’ve found that the view is one of the most palpably lovely aspects of our home. After all this time, Mt. Tam feels like a companion of our days.”


Image above: The living room’s back wall wraps around a central hearth and features built-in bookshelves, design elements that seem to draw inspiration from American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian ideals, something that was no-doubt popular at the time of the home’s construction.


Image above: An assortment of vintage and handmade vessels are displayed on the living room shelves.



Image above: The working section of the kitchen was kept simple and sparse to maximize functionality. Cabinets are rift-sawn oak stained a dark black-brown. “We kept it muted and simple to let all the green of the backyard take center stage,” Amy says.


Image above: The eat-in kitchen features a window made from a single pane of glass. “We love having a couch at our breakfast table for cozy weekend coffee and newspapers, or hot chocolate and comic books; depending on who claims it,” Amy says.


Image above: “The boys have just about outgrown the mini-me round table,” Amy says, “but I’m not ready to give it up. They’ve made art and snacked at it since they were toddlers.”

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Image above: The master bedroom. Long ribbon windows wrap around three walls of the room, bringing in ample amounts of natural light. “The throw pillows are made from a fabric I designed for a show for Lola,” Amy notes, “a beautiful shop in Berkeley that closed a couple of years ago.”

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Image above: An Anne Appleby etching, a wedding present, hangs above the dresser.

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Image above: Amy’s eldest son’s bedroom.


Image above: Amy’s youngest son’s bedroom.


Image above: Amy in her at-home studio, a lower-level space that overlooks the bay. 


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