India & Joe’s Apartment of Thrifted & Gifted Treasures

published Dec 16, 2015
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: India Mafi, Joe Gray and their dog, Scout
Location: Oakland, California
Size: 730 square feet
Years lived in: 5 months; Rented

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When I asked India to tell me about some of her favorite thrift stores, she jokingly refused to tell me some of her best-kept secrets. She didn’t want someone else to beat her to the many treasures she may find digging through vintage items at thrift stores throughout the Bay Area—many of which have ended up in the couple’s small Oakland apartment. Since living in Oakland doesn’t come with a cheap price tag, the couple pride themselves on their home decor items that are secondhand, DIY, or gifts.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Most of the items and furniture in their 730 square foot apartment have a regional or family tie: the landscape paintings on the walls are reminders of Joe’s hometown in Louisiana, the coffee table was a DIY by India’s brother, and a painting by Joe’s grandfather overlooks the living room.

Though there are several things they would change about their apartment—the kitchen drawers and the odd steps leading up to the bathroom, for example—the positive traits of their space outweigh the negatives. They love the crown molding and the abundance of light that enters the apartment on sunny days, and most of all, they are proud of creating a space full of meaningful treasures.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We would say the style of our home is eclectic. We love to mix traditional vintage with modern. We feel that a home is supposed to represent who you are, so we buy pieces that mean something to us. A lot of our design has regional family ties.

Inspiration: India: I get a lot of my inspiration from my parents’ house. Growing up, I admired my mom’s style and her ability to thrift something and make it beautiful again. She has a really good eye when it comes to putting all the pieces together.

Favorite Element:
India: The original fixtures and molding to the place. Also all the natural light that comes through.
Joe: The built-in bookshelf and original paintings by my father and grandfather.

Biggest Challenge:
India: Our building is from the 1920s and the walls are mostly drywall. Hanging shelves, artwork, or anything with a good amount of weight is scary because there is a chance of it falling. Also, having such small square footage means limited space to decorate, so I had to make sure I was not over-decorating.
Joe: We live on the fourth floor and there is no elevator, so any time we have a heavy grocery load or a new piece of furniture, it’s a struggle! The kitchen is pretty small, too, so cooking big meals can be a tough.

What Friends Say: Friends say they love how we have been able to take a small place and make it feel so homey, and that the place has a good balance and represents both of us.

Biggest Embarrassment: We wouldn’t say it is a big embarrassment, but it’s a little odd having three little steps take you to the throne in the bathroom (as we say in our home). It’s even more embarrassing when you fall coming down them. Also, the drawers in the kitchen are old, but being replaced soon.

Proudest DIY: Both tables in our living room are made by India’s family. She made the TV stand with her dad, and her brother Roman made the coffee table on his own.

Biggest Indulgence: Rent. Most of our stuff is thrifted.

Best Advice: When decorating your home, don’t be in a hurry. Don’t buy things just to buy things. Make sure they have a purpose and a special meaning to you and your home.

Dream Sources: I [India] love to look at Apartment Therapy, IKEA, CB2, and Rejuvenation. Also, I love to find people on Instagram with similar taste and see how they put their home together.


(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Walls: landlord’s choice
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Letters: antique printing press
  • Shoe stretchers: thrifted
  • Gold rabbit: swap meet
  • Floral print: Crimson Horticultural Rarities
  • Abstract painting: painted by Joe’s dad
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Couch: IKEA
  • Pillows: Marshalls
  • Blanket: childhood blanket
  • Coffee table: DIY by Roman Mafi, India’s brother
  • TV table: DIY by India and her father
  • Orange chair: Urban Ore
  • White chair: a gift
  • Rug: World Market
  • White lamp: Rejuvenation
  • Wooden box: Rejuvenation
  • Wooden floor lamp: thrifted
  • Three-shelf stand: thrifted
  • Table clock: Marshalls
  • Globe: thrifted
  • Antique golden mirror: antique shop
  • Gold vase: thrift store
  • Camera: Instax Mini 90
  • Antique cameras: gifts from grandma
  • Blanket basket: Marshalls
  • Wooden box under TV: Ross
  • Curtains and curtain rods: IKEA
  • Air plants: Oakland Supply Co.
  • Plants: Home Depot
  • Stacked wooden boxes: gifts
  • Ceramic woman: thrift store
  • Graffiti art: thrift store
  • Barbie print: ad from the late ’70s in Interview for the Limelight Disco in NYC
  • Yellow frame art: thrift store
  • Oakland Ships On Rocks print: thrift store
  • Wood art with metal: DIY by Roman Mafi, India’s brother
  • Picasso print: thrift store
  • Beach painting: thrift store
  • Desert painting: Ruby Rose
  • Woman painting: thrift store
  • Orange Landscape painting: thrift store
  • Man painting: painted by Joe’s grandfather
  • Swamp painting: thrift store
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Rug: Urban Outfitters
  • Ceramic wall planter: Melissa Rice
  • Wooden wall art: If You Give A Girl A Saw by Janine Stone on Etsy
  • Copper containers: thrift store
  • Bird painting: painted by India’s mom
  • Wood tray: Etsy
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Bed: IKEA
  • White sheets and pillowcases: IKEA
  • Vintage chenille at the end of the bed: thrifted
  • Boobie pillow: Gravel And Gold
  • Indian print pillow: store in Solvang, California
  • Floor lamp: thrifted, originally from Target
  • Dresser lamp: Target
  • Deer skull: Etsy
  • Rug: thrift store
  • Dresser: IKEA
  • Coat hanger: thrift store
  • Wooden art: If You Give A Girl a Saw by Janine Stone on Etsy
  • Plant hanger: Ron’s Nursery
  • Curtains and curtain rods: IKEA
  • Hats: Brixtion, RVCA
  • Plants: Home Depot
  • White hand: Marshalls
  • Wooden box: DIY by India’s dad
  • Orange throw: thrift store
  • Desert photo: thrift store
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Shower curtain: West Elm
  • Soap dispenser: Target
  • Rug: Rejuvenation
  • Glass plant hangers: thrift store
  • Towel bars: Rejuvenation
  • Air plants: Oakland Supply Co.
  • Candles: Target
  • Copper Virgin Mary: thrift store
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)
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India and Joe have lived in the Bay Area for years, but they’ve called their Uptown apartment home for only 5 months. (Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

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Thanks, India & Joe!