With their roots planted firmly in San Franciscan soil, Bonnie and Jim Bell’s Japanese architecture and backyard tea garden in Chabot Canyon might seem a bit out of place. But while this abode certainly stands out within the traditional Berkeley Arts and Crafts neighborhood, this couple is feeling far too Zen to care.
Both Bonnie and Jim gathered inspiration from their love of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, along with their extensive travels in Japan. Although the Eastern influence is more than obvious in the backyard, it actually begins at the front door, where they used rice paper as window panes and a slate-and-redwood staircase leading up to the front door.
The outdoor sanctuary, which has been used for many a special occasion—from their daughter’s engagement party to various local fundraisers—is separated from the rest of the property by a large tori, or a Japanese-style gate.
The grand centerpiece is a spectacular teahouse made from Canadian red cedar, white birch, and gray glazed roof tiles that were brought over from Japan. Bamboo blinds and a tatami mat floor complete the effect. Landscape gardener Danna Pierce added a miniature weeping cherry tree, a variety of maples, azaleas, and white wisteria to surround the structure.