A Bright DIY & Art-inspired Loft in Oakland

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: Erika Brulé
Location: Jingletown — Oakland, California
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 2 years

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When Erika saw photos of the Oakland loft she now calls home, she immediately signed the lease without even looking at the space in person. She knew it would provide her with all she needed: a spacious area where she could indulge in crafts and DIY projects, expansive walls where she could hang art she loves, and industrial elements like exposed pipes and brick.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

When Erika packed up her stuff in Austin and brought it to Oakland, she got started with filling the space and walls with furniture and accents that inspired her. She loves furniture from West Elm and CB2, but likes to add her own personality to the pieces. When she didn’t like the color of an IKEA shelf at her entry, she painted it green to suit her vibrant personality, and she painted a pair of IKEA chairs blue to fit in with the bold colors around them.

Get the look! → Bright, Colorful & Art-inspired

She finds it challenging to control the urge to move things around. In the past two years, the loft has undergone five different facelifts. “For some reason, I always have an idea for something to do in this place,” she says. “I’m a crafter. I DIY the way you breathe. In my teens, my friends gave me the moniker Black Martha.” On a given weekend, you can find her strolling through the local antique market or strolling the aisles of a home store, looking for a new project to work on. And her idea of a sexy text? Sending her boyfriend pictures of her polyurethaning a piece of furniture, figuring out a new use for contact paper, or entering Home Depot.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: CB2 & West Elm get married, and shame their Ikea-born children into being more like them

Inspiration: Life, impatience, and a desire to challenge myself coupled with a neurotic hamster wheel of a brain. Oh! And leisurely strolls through Home Depot. That’s my jam. That place is like Mecca. I also troll Apartment Therapy, Houzz, Saatchi Art, and a number of interior design accounts on the ‘Gram.

Favorite Element: The expansive gallery wall in the living room, my hardwood floors, my super roomy kitchen, and all of the exposed pipes and brick.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Biggest Challenge: Storage is a challenge too; but the absolute biggest challenge is not being able to paint my kitchen cabinets a high-gloss black *swoon*.

What Friends Say: Don’t stop SnapChatting your DIYs and decorating! Friends (and the occasional UPS delivery driver) seem to love my place. The compliments are plentiful. My friend Ty continues to badger me into hosting more. And while I host the occasional dinner party, and an annual Friendsgiving—which is a blast—I’m thinking it’s time to get more social activities on the docket. Friends, rejoice! There may just be a Cards of Humanity and lamb taco night in your immediate future.

…And then there’s my boyfriend. We undoubtedly share a love of design, art, architecture, and interiors, and our styles are akin to a Venn diagram; he’s Eames, I’m Adler and we intersect at West Elm. I know he’s quite proud of my building abilities, creativity, and the way the loft is designed, although I sometimes think I leave him scratching his head.

Proudest DIY: Upcycling and transforming an ’06 dark brown Ikea bookcase into a white and wood media bench. That project ended up being my introduction to the proper use of an awl (thank you to my Tinkering Monkey neighbor, Mike for the instruction).

Biggest Indulgence: The dining room. The problem was that I knew exactly what I wanted, and then in one weekend I quickly hemorrhaged the cash to make it a reality. Table, sideboard, chairs, rug, art. That’s just how I am—impatient. I have an idea, I dart to the source, and then done! No waiting. Not possible. Not an option. “Wait a minute CB2. What do you mean that my dining room chairs are on back-order?! Seriously? That’s no bueno.”

Best Advice: Does it count if the advice is from me? I’m drawn to the trite cool-kid cliché: “Do you, Boo”. Your house is both home and sanctuary–it should be filled with pieces of you. When I look around the loft, I can read myself in the selections and I see a collection of experiences and growth and memories, not things. I have this white and rainbow striped Crate and Barrel wool throw that my sister bought me about a decade ago, and while we no longer speak, that throw is one of the first things I grab when I get cold and want to snuggle up. I know it’s my subconscious reaching for it as a reminder of our brighter days. I love that damn blanket.

Dream Sources: I heart Jonathan Adler and truly appreciate his uncanny knack for mixing whimsy with practicality. Also: Chairish, Lux, Design Within Reach, RocheBobois, Heath Ceramics (tiles on tiles on tiles!), DwellStudio, Room & Board

Get the look! → Bright, Colorful & Art-inspired

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)
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Erika poses for a photo in her bright living room. (Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Thanks, Erika!

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