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Super sleek West Oakland house asks $925,000 [Update]

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One of the priciest homes in the neighborhood, but once you’re inside it shows

[Update: A tipster tells us this is not actually a renovation, as advertised, but rather new construction carefully crafted to look like a warehouse renovation. Peering back at the property as it appeared in 2014, the warehouse is there, although it looks quite different from its present form. Skip ahead to May of this year and most of the lot is cleared.

What's the story? Realtor Claudia Mills says that "90 percent" of the old structure was thrown out, but that she's "legally not allowed" to list it as a new home regardless. If true, this would make it technically a renovation by process of elimination, even if it somewhat defies our expectations of the term.]

Right across the street from West Oakland’s Poplar Playground and the West Oakland Farm Park you’ll spot 2828 Helen. Or, more likely, you won’t spot it, since its humble aluminum sided exterior still looks like precisely what it’s been for its entire life up until now: a West Oakland warehouse.

Inside is a whole other story, however. Sold as part of a larger property earlier this year, the overhaul began in earnest back in April. The 2,729-square-foot building went into rehab and emerged as a single family home now listed for $925,000.

That’s a big number to swallow for the neighborhood; even with prices soaring this year, most real estate sites peg Oakland’s overall median home price at around $615,000. In fact, that would make 2828 Helen the second most expensive West Oakland home listed on the popular MLS aggregate sites.

Once you’re inside, what do you get for the price?

For starters, three beds, three and a half baths, two stories, a steel staircase of the sort that sometimes looks sterile and off putting in other modern homes, but in the case of lofts and industrial conversions like this one feels at home. The marketing materials even refer to the exterior deck as a "steel catwalk." And, yes, upon inspection, that is indeed what it resembles most.

Materials vary from the floral tiles in the bathroom to the polished concrete floors throughout the first story. They added a new skylight and plus-size sliding glass panel on the back.

It’s a marriage of the unforgiving utility of the building’s old life with the minimal but self-satisfied trappings of a modern home. On paper that sounds unappealing, but looking at the finished house, it manages a vibe and a charm all its own.

The through-the-looking-glass transformation of approaching the old warehouse façade and finding yourself in an unexpectedly tasteful interior space is tough to beat. And the perfectly geometric yard with its perfectly geometric fountain is a nice touch.


Watch: Harry Gesner talks design of Wave House

2828 Helen

2825 Helen St, Oakland, CA 94608, USA