Originally built in 1997 (and largely untouched since then), this 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom property went from dated builder grade finishes to a fully custom family home—all thanks to the creative vision of Jen McAnaney of Swoon Inside and an enthusiastic, design-loving multigenerational family.

The property is situated on a charming canal about a block from the San Francisco Bay in Alameda and boasts beautiful biking and walking paths with city views right outside the front door. “Our clients hoped to achieve a light and airy feeling that was well-suited to their island location, without leaning on any traditionally coastal design elements,” the designer says. “We chose classic finishes with luxe accents that would stand the test of time aesthetically.

The size and location of the home were well suited to the clients’ multigenerational family, but the finishes were dated, and the kitchen wasn’t serving their needs. “The family of six needed more storage and counter space, and they hoped to convert their tiny triangular island to a large island with seating for their three children to hang out, eat breakfast, and do homework while the adults prepare meals,” Jen explains. “In addition, the formal dining room had been converted to an office for both parents during the early days of Covid, so the family had been eating at a tiny table squeezed into the kitchen and blocking access to the patio. Our goal was to restore the dining room to a proper place for family dinners and find better spaces for the adults to work from home. Creating dedicated storage for kids’ toys, art supplies, books, and games was also a top priority.”

They created a foundation of traditional finishes in a warm neutral color palette, with black, cognac, and dusty blue accents. Sprinkled throughout are luxe touches—oversized brass statement lighting, a basalt fireplace surround, and a custom white oak range hood elevate the overall look and feel of the space. The furnishings needed to seat a crowd and handle plenty of wear, so the Swoon Inside team chose durable leather seating, performance rugs, and family-friendly upholstery in sleek silhouettes.

“We worked through the phases of design, construction bids, permitting, and materials orders for almost a year, pivoting halfway through to dramatically increase the scope of work,” Jen says. “Construction began in July, and the family moved back in right before Christmas – just in time to get a tree up and enjoy the holiday in their beautiful new home!”

Beyond the holidays, the house has served as a joyful home base for the grateful clients. “They are thrilled with their new space, and it makes me so happy to know they are hosting parties, playdates, wine nights and game days, filling their new home with family and friends,” the designer shares. “The older kids often build a removable ping-pong ‘net’ out of Magna-Tiles on the dining room table, and the youngest has claimed the corner spot behind the curved great room sofa as her own personal hideout to read books. I love that we created a family home that feels elevated and beautiful, but durable enough to play in!”