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Awesome Round House in Oakland Wants an Even $674,000

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Photos via Liz Rusby
Photos via Liz Rusby

What would it look like if Don Draper owned a yurt? According to a tipster who clued us into the listing of 46 Melvin Court in the Oakland Hills, it would look quite a bit like this two-bedroom round house that came on the market last week asking $674,000. The circular home, known as the Nolan House, is exactly 30 feet in diameter. It was built back in 1967 by architect Leon Meyer, who also designed an Alamo round house that gained some attention for its restoration back in 2006. In the Oakland version, absolutely everything, from the kitchen counters to the bathroom sink, is rounded. Even the spa out back is a perfect little circle.

Meyer, who was an engineer before he was an architect, built several round houses in the Oakland Hills back in the 1960s and 70s on lots that would have been otherwise unbuildable. Each piece of the house was made in a West Oakland warehouse and was brought up piece by piece to the home's Oakmore Highlands site. (Listing agents Angela Wei Grubb and Rebecca Erdiakoff credit interior designer and Leon Meyer enthusiast Jonathan Taylor with this research on the architect.) According to Erdiakoff's conversations with Taylor, the homes are built on special footings and are seismically sound. "Since 1967, there's been no recorded [earthquake] damage to the house whatsoever," says Erdiakoff. "And this is fairly close to the Hayward Fault."

Two outdoor patios surrounded by greenery offer up the only straight lines on the property. Perched atop the house is a zigzagging folded roof, and its shape is carried through to the ceilings of the interior. (Only two of Meyer's homes had a folded roof, and the other was the house that he lived in himself on Balboa in the Oakland Hills.) Inside, big floor-to-ceiling windows look over the leafy surroundings, and the staging is all in the spirit of midcentury modern, accenting the home's character and proving that it is possible to put furniture in a round house.

Erdiakoff, who also sold the property back in 2011, recalls that the current owner paid all cash. "It was hard to finance a round house," she says. Banks use prices of comparable properties to ensure that they're lending out a sensible (and recoverable) amount. "They said no way, Jose, because they had no comps for a round house that was two bedrooms, two bathrooms in Oakmore Highlands," says Erdiakoff. "In this new lending climate, they'd probably have a different attitude, or maybe not. Someone who wanted to purchase the house would have to look into that."

—Reporting by Lamar Anderson

UPDATE (6/11/15): The original version of this story incorrectly stated the degree of difficulty of financing a round house. Listing agent Rebecca Erdiakoff told us that when the seller bought the house in 2011, the lending climate made it "hard" to finance a round house (not "impossible," as we erroneously wrote). The post has been updated with the accurate quote. We regret the error.

· Architectural Fidelity Keeps a Circle Unbroken [SFGate]
· 46 Melvin Court, Oakland [The Grubb Co]