Name: Celeste and Rama Gottfried
Location: Berkeley, California
Size: 1,300 sq/ft
Years lived in: 7 months
Two years ago, Rama and Celeste Gottfried were living in Berlin. But when they found out they would be moving to Berkeley, California so Rama could pursue a PhD in music composition, the couple immediately began trawling Craigslist. They found a stunning converted loft—the type of beautiful industrial space they had always dreamed about living in.
A month later, after a week-long drive across the country, they pulled their moving truck up to their new home and were thrilled. Tropical gardens blossomed outside their front door, and inside, the space was delightfully vast. The apartment is owned by a pair of artists who purchased the loft twenty years ago when many of the West Berkeley factories and warehouses were being converted into residential and office buildings. Materials, such as the gorgeous oak flooring, were salvaged from the old Navy barracks on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.
Though Celeste and Rama made the vast white space cozy with their mix of mid-century modern and New England farmhouse antiques, the apartment retains many of the original details from its days as a mattress factory. Exposed I-beams support the ceiling, while a wall of windows lets in the California sunshine. A Vermont pot belly stove reminds them of home in the Northeast.
My/Our Style: We were always drawn to the French farmhouse look, but our move out west prompted an attraction to a more California modern style. We like how we've been able to combine the two. Our Danish, mid-century platform bed looks great with our Alexander Calder lithograph and huge rustic mirror that Ram's grandmother left outside in the rain, snow, and sun for a whole year.
Inspiration: There are lots of architectural salvage shops in the area, where we've found some amazing pieces. But it's also super inspiring to just go and browse the old rusty garden trellises, antique scientific equipment, and discarded kitchen tools with tons of character.
Favorite Element: The soaring ceilings and exceptional spaciousness. We could actually do cartwheels if we wanted to. It's great for parties.
Biggest Challenge: At one point I felt like the apartment was actually too big, and just not cozy enough. So we moved our bed down into the main living space, and it feels so much better.
What Friends Say: It's so big! I love the floors! You have a wood burning stove!
Biggest Embarrassment: Since the building is mix-use with apartments and offices, delivery guys don't always know that our apartment is our actual home. So when they barge in and we're still in our pajamas, it can be a little embarrassing.
Proudest DIY: I like to re-line all the kitchen drawers when I move into a new place, and found a really cheap, half used roll of contact paper at this great salvage place called Urban Ore.
Biggest Indulgence: We found a gorgeous teak dining room table of Danish design that we splurged on. We figure we'll have it for life. It's currently surrounded by a hodgepodge of old wooden kitchen chairs.
Best Advice: You don't need a lot to have a happy, attractive home.
Appliances: We were thrilled to discover a washer/dryer stacked unit when we arrived. We rarely use the dryer, but it's handy for the occasional times we do need it.
Furniture: On our way west, we stopped in Minneapolis to visit some friends. We had some room in our truck so figured we'd see what we could find. Turns out Minneapolis has the most amazing Craigslist! We bought a basic white couch, a pair of fabulous lounge chairs, and then stopped in at Salvation Army for a $30 credenza and matching side table.
Accessories: Books, records, a globe... It definitely feels a lot sparser than places we've lived in the past.
Lighting: Our landlord installed energy efficient track lighting that we use in the kitchen, but a pair of ceramic 1970s lamps is all we use in the living room.
Rugs and Carpets: Our friend Monica in Minneapolis passed along a red cotton rug that we use as our main rug under our coffee table. A comfy sheepskin that we brought back from Berlin adds an extra coziness to the bedroom area. And there's a little striped rug in front of the kitchen sink that has a nautical feel to it. IKEA has a ton of them in all different colors.
Beds: Ram's parents passed on their king sized Tempurpedic mattress, which is incredibly heavy and difficult to move with, but fabulous. The modern platform bed we found for it is a perfect fit.
Artwork: We mounted a big Japanese print of chickens, bees, and lily pads that we picked up at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian onto foam board. It hangs in the kitchen with a colorful painting of farmers (possibly Indonesian?). A Calder lithograph hangs over the bed with a black and white image of the solar system, and a concrete photograph of a light bulb is by the Cologne-based American artist Peter Miller, a good friend of ours.
Paints and Coatings: It was all white when we arrived, and still is.
Flooring: Recycled oak planks salvaged from the Navy barracks on Treasure Island.
(Images: Celeste Sunderland Gottfried)