An Enchanted House in the Berkeley Hills and a NativeStone Tub with a View
Three definitive threads have run through Brodie Jenkins’ life in Northern California—her family, her music, and the old and storied homes that both family and music have filled with heart and soul.
Today, the musician lives in a freshly renovated French Normandy home that’s been nestled in the Berkeley Hills since 1925. Though it’s not far from the old farmhouse in wine country where Brodie grew up in a close-knit musical family, she may as well have been transported to the French countryside. Her new home appears straight out of a fairytale, replete with a turret, arched doorways and a nautilus-like central staircase which rooms branch off from like chambers.
Already, the house has become internet famous as “Enchanted Berkeley.” Thanks to its inspiring blend of old and new world styles, it began attracting a steady social following in the early days of Brodie’s renovation. The home has now also been featured in Vogue Living and coopted for photoshoots for both McGee & Co. and Jenni Kayne.
Brodie and husband Scott Walker purchased the home in August 2019, but by early 2020 still hadn’t yet begun work on it. When the pandemic kept her and her Cathedrals bandmate on opposite sides of the world and unable to tour, however, she was able to fully turn her creative attention to renovations of the 2,100-square foot abode.
Having not seen updates since the ’90s, the house was outdated but its selling points were immediately clear.
“I’ve always been enamored with the beautiful architecture and nature in the East Bay hills,” says Brodie. “There’s so much color and whimsy everywhere you look. Even the air is delicious up here. There’s also a calm, laid-back feel to this area that suits us. The house was pretty much love at first sight. I remember walking down the steps through the garden and feeling like I was stepping into one of my favorite books as a child. It was magical.”
It took a little over a year to whip Enchanted Berkeley into shape—a year that included a good bit of trial and error and a lot of lessons about trusting her intuition. Brodie, who calls herself a “complete novice” at design, got a hand from her retired architect father, who stepped in to help with any structural changes. “I see his love and hard work everywhere in this house now, and will always cherish the memories of working together with him on our home,” says Brodie.
Envisioning a house that would be minimal and calm, Brodie utilized soft tones and textures at every turn.
“When we bought it, the inside looked like it hadn’t been touched since the ’90s,” she says. “I wanted to bring back the romantic French Mediterranean without being too kitsch or precious in the design.”
Also referenced in the home’s color palette and overall aesthetic: Belgian design, the couple’s beloved trips to the Spanish island of Mallorca, and their love of Mother Nature.
“You don’t realize the sheer amount of choices and research required until you’re drowning in it,” says Brodie. “But there was catharsis in the hard work. I was obsessed (or ‘possessed’ as my husband would say)—and it’s an incredible feeling to watch something you’ve designed take shape, until one day you look around and it’s finished.”
In her bathroom, a NativeStone tub Brodie calls “the best seat in the house” sits under a window with expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. The texture of Zellige tile in the nearby shower and feel of aged limestone floors underfoot make the bath all the more exquisite.
It may look effortlessly serene, but Brodie says it was anything but easy to trust her vision for the bath.
“Designing the bathroom was harder for me than the kitchen,” says Brodie. “The vision didn’t come to me as quickly, and for a second I was a little stumped by the tub. It was the first thing we ordered, and I was worried I’d made a mistake with the color—that perhaps I should have chosen something a bit creamier and lighter. But as it all started coming together in my head, I loved how the tub brought a depth and moodiness to the space and balanced all of the warm tones. It was a lesson in overthinking, and I’ve since learned that your first instinct is usually right.”
Brodie’s NativeStone bathtub is in the Earth finish, a warm, natural brown-gray that Native Trails debuted in 2019.
Today, the bathroom has earned the distinction of being Brodie’s favorite room in the house, thanks to its beautiful natural light and a mixture of organic materials and soft neutrals.
“It’s so serene and feels like my private sanctuary,” she says. “Our tub feels like this magical cocoon and you have the insane view to look out on—you feel like you’re floating on a cloud.”
This storybook-style home is one the singer can’t imagine she will ever be finished with: “We plan to be here a long time, filling it with music and hopefully one day our own children, who will have their own enchanted castle to call home.”
All photography courtesy of Brodie Jenkins.