Design plays a central role in Michelle Morrison's life and career. Currently a Design Producer at Dropbox, she's also worked for companies like Facebook, Square, IDEO, and more. She runs Designers + Geeks, a "community for people interested in design, art, and technology" that hosts events and lectures. And when she found this industrial live-work space from the 1920s—once serving as a coffee roastery and produce warehouse—in Oakland's waterfront warehouse district, she says her aim was to build a home where she could accommodate wild dinner parties, her dogs, velvet sofas, and her creative life.
"My home feels like my brain turned inside out. It's bold and feminine. It's organized, but not at all minimal. I intentionally hired a talented team of women to help me build this place, because owning a home is an act of independence as a modern woman."
"When I was a kid I would stay up at night imagining all the ways I could design my room. I dreamed of AstroTurf instead of carpet and disco balls hanging from the ceiling. While my tastes have shifted, my habits of dreaming have persisted. I designed my current space to be a treasure chest for objects and ideas I've collected. I wanted it to feel like the inside of my brain.
As a first-time homeowner, I felt that owning a home as a woman was an act of independence. Buying my home before turning 30 was a statement about what I value—Independence, ownership, freedom to create. And since I held the purse, I hired an all-woman crew to help me bring my ideas to life."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Maximalist.
Inspiration: Mexico, Morocco, the inside of a treasure chest.
Favorite Element: I love my giant pink velvet sofa. It is a place where I can snuggle with friends and my two greyhounds. It's a happy communal space.
Biggest Challenge: The challenge with building out this space was my limited budget. I needed to manage a full remodel in Oakland (which is notorious for high prices) on a set budget.
Proudest DIY: My dining room table is actually a slab of countertop material perched on two A-frames. It seats eight people perfectly.
Biggest Indulgence: Pink velvet sofa!
Best Advice: I kept a shared spreadsheet with my architect and contractor. I tracked every expense and purchase against our estimates to ensure I stayed in budget. This helped us make tough calls and trade-offs along the way. Transparency really brought us together.
Tile — Cle Tile
Dining Table — Countertop slab from IKEA on two A-frames
Sofa — Anthropologie
Plants — Home Depot
Dining chairs — A great sidewalk find
Paintings — By Michael Morrison, Michelle's brother