East Bay Life

Sometimes a house speaks to me in a very special voice.

I always say “Every House Has a Story” but sometimes the story is less about the building than the contents. Last week I met with a friend who is slowly moving in the direction of selling the home her parents lived in during the last 10 years of their long life together.

My friend and her sister have only one child between them, and as women of a certain age, they are choosing experiences and travel over objects, and they plan to part with many of the things in the house.  On the surface, that makes sense. They each live in little bungalows already filled with the accumulations of their own adult lives, and the furniture and art in their parents’ home just doesn’t fit.

The dining room chandelier has a cobalt blue bowl draped with a necklace of crystal prisms. Lighter blue tear-drop crystals hang from brass arms that drip clear prisms. Collected in Russia, it graced the Berlin home of her grandparents, one of whom was a prominent architect. It went with them to Palestine when they fled the Nazis, then to New York, and then to the house in Berkeley.


The cream colored ceramic covered urns on the fireplace mantle are documented in a book compiled by her father, with photographs of them in the elegant Berlin home. The paintings, books and rugs all have rich stories.

As a Realtor, part of what I do is help people ready houses for market. That means clearing the house of the things that won’t stay. Sometimes I coordinate appraisers, antique dealers, estate sales people and movers. But sometimes, and in this particular instance, the objects speak so loudly, and their stories are so compelling and personal, that I feel my role is to help the seller create a new dream that includes them.

My friend has in mind that she will find a cottage near Pt. Reyes. Something simple, filled with sea air and light. I helped her visualize the blue bowl and the crystal tear drops of the Russian chandelier sparkling in a white room near the ocean. I drew her a picture of the elegant chairs and the painting of the gnarled tree gracing a room by the water. In my mind, that room completes their journey and in my imagination they’re still at home in the family. This picture feels peaceful to me and I look forward to helping make it a reality for my friend.