Matt and Lena's Cabinet of Curiosities

Matt and Lena's Cabinet of Curiosities

Name: Matt and Lena Reynoso (of The Compound Gallery)
Location: Oakland, California
Size: 1,068 sq/ft
Years lived in: 5 months, rented
Who else lives here: The Baroness Sidonia de Barcsy (aka Sidonia the dog), and Limpir the cat.

Matt and Lena Reynoso were never all that keen on new constructions. But when they got word of a two-room, two-story apartment in a green building around the corner from their North Oakland art gallery, they couldn't pass up the two-minute walk to work, drastically lower utility bills, and a front door that opened up onto a trickling fountain. Since moving in last spring, Matt and Lena have turned the sleek, modern space into a delightful trove of art and oddities.

Designed by Orjala Architecture, the award-winning building features sustainable, durable elements like fly-ash concrete floors, dual-glazed windows, and aluminum panels made of eighty percent recycled content. The tranquility of a central courtyard is enhanced by the sound of flowing water and sculptural arrangements of native succulents. In this calm oasis, the bustle of the city seems a world away, but the real adventure begins on the other side of Matt and Lena's door.

The couple's exquisite collection of scientific diagrams, medical models, hand crafted instruments, antique furnishings, art - made by themselves and friends - and treasures picked up on journeys to Asia and South America fill the space. Everything is arranged in perfect order. A sculpture constructed of a vintage fishing lure lies neatly beside a porcelain phrenology model. A black tetrahedron sculpture created by Matt ended up as a side table, while Lena's painting of US presidents and their pets (that's John Quincy Adams walking his alligator) is centered above their bed. And that thing that looks like a potato encased in glass that hangs above the kitchen counter? It's a rock. But don't tell Matt. He thinks it's a dinosaur egg.

Re-Nest Survey:

My/Our style: Victorian, modern, vintage, eclectic, weird.

Inspiration: Old cabinets of curiosity, Victorian parlors, and modern homes.  We really try hard to be as maximal in as minimal a way as possible. That is, we have a lot of stuff, but try to keep it contained without overwhelming us. We really enjoy having fun with our interior and love bringing the past into the present. 

Favorite Element: We love our big windows, the orange stained concrete floor downstairs, and new energy efficient appliances.

Biggest Challenge: Dealing with a rental that we can't really paint, remove carpets, etc.

What Friends Say: What the hell is that? We usually have some weird stuff around. We used to travel a lot and have acquired some interesting objects over the years.

Biggest Embarrassment: Not being able to fully customize, since it is a rental.

Proudest DIY: Transforming our curio cabinet and sideboard to match. We made them a little "darker." Matt distressed and painted the outside of the cabinet black, painted the interior white, added a light, and custom made small Sspires" for the top. For us, our entire apartment is a DIY project where we try to make sense of all the random objects, furniture from different eras, etc.  

Biggest Indulgence: Honestly, having a real sink and oven is an indulgence for us. Our last place was a converted warehouse that only had one small sink that was a kitchen/bathroom sink combo and a hot plate.

Best Advice: Use cast iron skillets. They last forever (several lifetimes) do you don't have to keep re-buying pans and throwing the old ones in land fills. They work great and do not contain Teflon or other creepy coatings that can scratch off into your food.

Dream Source: There are so many small independent furniture design companies that have amazing pieces that we love and equally we have seen some fantastic (out of our price range) dream pieces at some local antique shops. As far as new stores, we have seen some great items at Design within Reach and Restoration Hardware.

Green Elements/Initiatives: All appliances are energy saving, water saving shower, toilets, sinks.


Appliances: Bosch refrigerator, GE gas stove and microwave, KitchenAid dishwasher.

Hardware: Kohler sink/bath fixtures.

Furniture: Most of our furniture is a mix between vintage/repurposed and a few scattered new items. We love things that are both ornate and simple. We have things from the early 20th century to the present. Our living room "end table" is actually one of Matt's sculptures.

Dining area: refinished IKEA glass cabinet (painted black, wood spires custom made for top, light installed), IKEA sideboard repainted black, Dining table from Salvation Army in San Francisco, found chairs (seat bottoms custom made), vintage butcher block island, found stools, IKEA couch, Danish TV cabinet from thrift store, sculpture by Matt Reynoso (used as end table), leather chair from thrift store, footstool from Ross.

Bedroom: Vintage dresser from Urban Ore, Victorian chair from antique store, vanity is an old writing desk from thrift store, vanity stool from IKEA, desk IKEA, chair IKEA, red leather chair from Urban Ore, IKEA bedside table (used as study table), bookshelves from Fenton MacLaren in Berkeley.  

Bathroom: old sewing machine stand from Urban Ore

Accessories: It's hard to think of our favorite objects as accessories, we like to think of them as part of the Reynoso Museum.  Each item reflects some aspect of us, our interests, our aesthetic. I'm finishing my PhD in early American curiosities and displays at UC Berkeley, so sometimes I get a little out of control and the research ends up on our shelves.

Rugs and Carpets: IKEA rug in living room.

Tiles and Stone: Granite counter tops.

Window Treatments: White IKEA curtains.

Beds: Simple IKEA frame.

Artwork: Most of our art is made by local Bay Area artists. Since we own a gallery, we know a lot of amazing artists. As artists ourselves, we end up having our work all over the house as well. We really love having original artwork around....every piece has a story, was made with thought, and carries a little piece of the artist with it.

[Jake Gillespie (screaming man illustration), Pete Glover (sheriff badges, paperbag), Matt Reynoso (octahedron as end table), Kerri Lee Johnson (gun drawing above sideboard), Symon (red triptych), Lena Verderano Reynoso (black/orange portrait and george washington print), Adrian Van Allen (skeleton print), DoubleParlor (meat sculptures)]

Paint: Behr.

Flooring: Cement with stain/sealer on bottom floor, gray carpet on second level.

(Thanks, Matt and Lena!)

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(Images: Celeste Sunderland)

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