Remember that tree house you fantasized about as a kid? The one that put you above the worries of the world…a whimsical and fun retreat that you could escape to whenever life proved too stressful; that special place of shelter that allowed you to survey the world from your safe and cozy vantage point? Maybe your inner child wanted to take flight from your own Superman phone booth, flying above the surrounding oaks and eucalyptus, looking down at your waterfall-fed glistening pool, fire pit, and the magical world below? Now imagine that fantasy come to life as a stunning custom hillside estate appointed with every luxury one could want, with nearly every room affording specular un-obstructed sweeping Bay views.
Built in 1976 by a Stanford/BART engineer utilizing massive wood poles and timbers, large expanses of glass, creative sliding barn doors, and solid oak floors and trim (stained to match the surrounding eucalyptus), 3235 Brunell is a 4588 square foot architectural masterpiece that embraces it’s natural surroundings while providing an unparalleled indoor/outdoor flow due to its extensive decking, covered pathways, bridges and terraced lush landscaping. The gated 17,172 square foot double lot offers 5-bridge views from San Jose to Marin, yet is just minutes from several commute options and Montclair Village, making this home the ideal urban retreat.
No tree house ladder is needed (although there is one), as each of the home’s levels can be accessed by its private elevator all the way up to a rooftop widow’s walk where you can enjoy a sunset glass of wine or a July Fourth fireworks show. Near the apex of this treetop masterpiece sits the expansive master suite with its Japanese soaking tub and spa-like bath. A total of 5 bedrooms and 4 full baths are spread over five levels, each offering views for miles. One level is designed as a kid suite or expansive work environment with two bedrooms adjoined by family room and full bath. The lowest level is ideal for au pair or guest room with en suite bath and separate entrance.
There is also a large gourmet kitchen with a cook’s island, large wine cellar, breakfast bar, pantry and a gorgeous antique wood-burning stove. The kitchen opens to dining area, dry sauna, hot tub, solarium, and outdoor pool and tiled patio. Sliding glass doors access the enormous redwood decks (nearly 6000 square feet!), perfect for entertaining, dining al fresco, and star-gazing. There’s even a slide down to a play structure and another tree-house (this one’s for the kids!).
Bonus spaces and extra storage abound in the flexible open floor plan. A two car garage, a laundry, wet bar, built-ins, solar water heating system, internal vacuum system, an intercom system and multiple-zone climate controls nearly complete the amenities of this rare home. Childhood whimsy and executive amenities find natural harmony in the architectural gem that is 3235 Brunell Drive.
Joaquin Miller / Woodminster
This tranquil, woodsy neighborhood in the heights of Oakland is bordered by one of the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, as well as miles of trails, and picnic grounds. Nearby is the Woodminster Amphitheater, built in the 1930s by the WPA. Today the Amphitheater is a favorite place for East Bay families to take in a summer musical under the stars.
Just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Joaquin Miller neighborhood includes a range of activities, many of which center on 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park. Inside the park, Sequoia Horse Arena offers trail rides; Goats graze the underbrush, to help control the vegetation; Chabot Science Center straddles the top of the ridge at Skyline Boulevard. This is one of the premier science museums in the country, with a particular focus on astronomy and space exploration. The center offers a robust calendar of family friendly events, including overnights, hikes, and dinner-and-a-movie social events. The area offers sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, downtown Oakland and the San Francisco skyline. A neighborhood community center can be rented for weddings, picnics and neighborhood events. And a plus for dog owners, the park is one of the few open space areas that allow dogs on leash. Nearby Redwood Regional Park provides miles of hiking, running, and biking trails.