Name: Elle Ruhstaller and Alex Ristevski
Location: Piedmont Avenue — Oakland, California
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting
Elle can't really pinpoint a specific style for the Oakland apartment she shares with her partner Alex. "It's a mash-up of what I like most from many different eras," she said of her apartment's decor. Elle inherited a lot of antiques from her father, an antiques dealer with an estate sale business, and her home is filled with them: on the wall, the living and dining rooms, and the couple's bedroom. It's many of those pieces that give the couple's home a unique look that can't really be matched — a timeless eclectic style
Elle has called the apartment home for three years, and Alex moved in about a year ago. They live in one of Oakland's busiest commercial neighborhoods, literally right above a few small boutiques, and just steps from several antique stores. While that has its perks, the couple's favorite thing about the apartment is the natural light, as well as the ample space they have for entertaining. "We are lucky enough to have a dedicated dining room," Elle says. "We host monthly 'Saturday Suppers' with friends, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with my family."
Elle finds inspiration from lots of source — interior designer Emily Henderson's work, Justina Blakeney's bohemian style, and Apartment Therapy (of course). But what most attracts her is the history of each item, and that's why she fills their home with things that have a story. In one room, guests might find a beautiful mid-century credenza, and in another, they'll see a display cabinet that was previously used in a bakery to display loaves of bread. "The fun part is that it works!" Elle says.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: It's a bit of a collected mash-up of vintage and new! I love estate sales and was lucky enough to have a father who had an estate sale business. Over the years if there was something I was looking for, I would give him a call and put in an "order." He would keep an eye out and let me know if he found something. It was pretty fantastic. My mom has also contributed many pieces she no longer has room for. As for Alex, his previous place was fully furnished by IKEA, and not in a good way. It was hilariously different from the style here. Luckily, he didn't love it either. It made for an easy transition when he moved in.
Inspiration: Emily Henderson is a huge inspiration of mine. Her spaces are always wonderful. So fun and full of personality. Plus, she seems super rad — I want to be friends with her! Inspiration is really everywhere you look. Traveling always opens my eyes to new looks and fresh ideas. Recently, we were in Mexico and I saw this amazing wall hanging of pastel pom-poms in a beautiful shop in Sayulita. Not being able to fully justify spending $500 for pom-poms, I decided I would make one. It's now hanging in our entryway!
Favorite Element: I love the big windows in the living room; they bring in so much light! And when it's raining, it's the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the weather. I also love that we have a separate dining room, and that it fits a large table. We host a "Saturday Supper" for our friends every month, plus my family always comes over for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it's awesome that we have room for everyone!
Biggest Challenge: It being a rental is the biggest challenge. There are so many things I would love to do in the space, but we have limits. The kitchen is a major bummer for me: the cabinets, countertops, flooring, paint color, appliances, and odd window that opens into a dark (mildly creepy) airshaft. It's not great, but it's a rental, so we "Tim Gunn" it for now!
What Friends Say: "When can you come over and decorate my place?" Every time my friend Sophia come over she says, "Hold on, let me just look around first." She knows that I am constantly changing things and moving pieces around, so she does a full investigation!
Biggest Embarrassment: Honestly, the amount of dust that this place gathers is astounding. I swear I never stop dusting and I still encounter major dust bunnies. Where does it all come from?!
Proudest DIY: My sister-in-law and I went to an off-loom, roving class taught by the amazingly talented Meghan Shimek (Editor's note: See Meghan's house tour here). It was so inspiring. I ended up creating a giant piece that's now hanging in our bedroom. Alex refers to it as "Falcor." For Alex, it's the bed. When it arrived, it was a little shorter than we had imagined. But we loved it so much we didn't want to send it back. So, Alex added extra length to all seven of the legs. It took multiple trips to the hardware store, but he did it, and now it's the perfect height!
Biggest Indulgence: After my dad passed away last year, I kept one of his Tiffany lamps. I would never buy something like that for myself, but it was always on his desk, and it reminds me of him.
Best Advice: Don't take it too seriously and have fun! You're the one living with it, so if it makes you happy, that's really all that matters.
Dream Sources: When I lived in New York, I would walk by ABC Home and dream about shopping there some day. Still dreaming about it! The Alameda Point Antiques Fair is one of my favorite places to go treasure hunting for unique additions to the house. Rows and rows and rows of antiques—THAT is a dream!