3 Creatives Make It Work in an Open, Eclectic Modern Oakland Loft

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

Name: Michelle, James, and their son Triston
Location: Santa Fe — Oakland, California
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 1.5 years

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When a family of creatives lives in one open space, creating nooks where each person can work and relax is challenging. But Michelle, James and their son Triston have successfully completed the difficult task of creating a functional live-work space utilizing pieces that are well-designed and beautiful.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Michelle is the founder of Forma Living, an Oakland-based home furnishing company that aims to make sustainable products, and James is a photographer and videographer. Their son Triston is a musician, journalism student and also helps James edit videos. Since the family does a lot of work from home, it’s critical that they also provide their clients with a comfortable space. By scattering products they love throughout their home, such as keepsakes from their family and photographs from their travels, each vignette has a story to tell.

Get the look! → Playful, Creative & Modern Style

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic modern with undertones of Scandinavian and mid-century

Inspiration: Michelle – I like the juxtaposition of using materials, textures, and natural elements in an nontraditional, modern way.

Favorite Element: James – The garage door which allows a blending of interior and exterior space, combined with the high ceilings and skylights, which create an amazingly light­-filled space.

Biggest Challenge: Michelle – I can almost never throw anything away. If it doesn’t look good or fit, I can’t help dreaming about how it can be reborn. For example, originally a chest of drawers, after a couple of trips to the hardware store, we now have a kitchen island. It’s not always worth it.

What Friends Say: “You’re sanding again!”

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Biggest Embarrassment: We tend to adopt a lot of items. We often use the studio to photograph pieces and then they just don’t seem to make it back to the warehouse.

Proudest DIY: The herringbone wall. We created it on the back of wardrobe units from IKEA to divide the space and add storage.

Biggest Indulgence: James – Having the black sofa that has been in the family for probably a century shipped from the East Coast. It’s been a challenge fitting it in our space, but it’s so worth it.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Best Advice: If you fall in love with something, don’t worry too much about whether it fits—find somewhere to work it in. It’s nice to be surrounded by objects that have a story or simply a place in your heart.

Dream Sources: Michelle – Coup D’ Etat in San Francisco where I can only afford to dream, flea markets in every city and country where I can make the dream a reality, and my current crush, Danish rattan chairs from the 1930s. It’s so inspirational how designers like Viggo Boesen used minimal organic materials to embrace the shape of the body and at the same time, create modern profiles.

Get the look! → Playful, Creative & Modern Style

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)
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Left to right: Triston, Michelle and James share a modern Oakland live-work loft. (Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Thanks, Michelle, James & Triston!

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