An Oakland Rental Apartment Is Designed to Be a Reflection of the Beauty of Blackness

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Name: Grace (website)
Location: Oakland, California
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 750 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The building I live in is in Oakland, California. It used to be a Supreme Court judge’s mansion and was eventually transformed into 14 individual units. I think my apartment use to be the living room because of the fireplace in what’s now my living room. It’s a beautiful building with high ceilings and endless character.

I started to get specific and intentional about how design in the summer of 2020, not only because we were all spending a lot of time at home, but also because as a Black person, I wanted the place that I spent the most time to be fortifying and full of ease and rest. Fortifying because we live in an anti-Black world and we are constantly getting news and messaging that Black life isn’t deserving of the same basic assurance of safety, care, and respect. I designed my apartment to be a reflection of the beauty of Blackness. I wanted to be able to see myself reflected and celebrated so matter what direction I turned. For ease and rest, I have found textures, furniture and smells that hold my body and also calm my nervous system. Home for me has become a place of sweet refuge and celebration.

I’m Black, queer, woman, a dreamer, and an introvert. As mentioned above, parts of my identify are reflected and celebrated in every corner of my home. I like softer colors and sometimes muted ones. Most of my apartment has been furnished by Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Black, restful, joyful, peaceful, and intentional.

What is your favorite room and why? I love my bedroom. I’m always sleepy, for one thing, but also because it’s where I put the majority of the things that remind me of love and community. I have several cards written by sweet ones around, I have a wall of photos of my friends, and I splurged on some linen sheets that make me excited about rest. I also have a vision board that I made earlier this year that I get to see and reflect on daily.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I got the UO’s Alana Bookshelf off Facebook Marketplace! I love the space of it and how it kinda melts into my wall.

Any advice for creating a home you love? For me, my home is a place where I can emphasize and highlight the parts that make me. I would encourage folks to find things and ways of decorating that make them feel at home in the physical space and within their bodies.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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