Vivian’s Converted Loft in Oakland
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Location: Oakland, CA
Three words to describe our home would be: organic, DIY and modern. What I love most about our apartment is it’s a space that has a character of its own, which allowed us to bring in both of our personalities to make a cozy relaxing home in the middle of a concrete urban neighborhood.
After several different tries of configurations, as occurs when you’re working with a large empty rectangle, we settled on splitting the main living space into our living room and dining room/kitchen. A buffet from Scandinavian Designs helped divide the space, along with my large elephant ear plant (that has since grown to epic proportions.) The plant serves as a great divider that still allows for conversation and flow between the two spaces. Our bedroom is situated in a lofted space above the kitchen. It allows for a great view of the whole apartment and is a cozy space that feels like you’re sleeping in a tree house.
Making this essentially empty space with no divisions feel like a home took a bit of time. And we were on a budget. We quickly realized that most regular sized home furniture was going to feel small due to the unusually large elongated space.
That’s where we turned to Ikea and Home Depot to create some furniture made specifically for the space. We made a long credenza out of bathroom sink cabinets and plywood that we stained and glossed. Simple metal shelves became a grand bookcase with stained plywood dividers. Our entertainment center and my work desk is also made by a combination of Ikea metal storage and stained and glossed plywood. We chose the stained wood aesthetic to keep in harmony with the exposed wood beams. All these DIY projects (including creating a “cat condo” for our cat, Osiris that houses his litterbox out of view) helped bring us together even more and made the most of our limited storage space.
When it comes to decorating our home, we chose to feature elements that represent the both of us. From what we display on our bookshelf to the art on the walls to the use of plants and candles, everyone works together in harmony. The first thing you’ll noticed with our apartment decor are all the plants (my influence) and the taxidermied animals (my husband’s influence.) I often joke that I brought in all the live things to balance out his dead things. My plants are one of my pride and joys as I inadvertently discovered I had a green thumb six years ago when I kept buying plants and they were actually thriving. Many of the large plants in our space were raised from little house plants to the majestic plants that they are now.
In addition to the plants and creatures, we have a lot of art and musical instruments. My husband plays in a band and has been an avid musician for his whole life. Instead of relegating all his instruments to one space, they are placed around the apartment. The drum set is the main focal point, underneath the windows. (As it’s also the best place acoustically for the drums to be.) My husband also rigged up speakers throughout the apartment so we can always have the same volume of music no matter where we are. As a professional photographer, I have a several of my own pieces on display. I also have a few of my own art pieces when I decided to exercise my old drawing and painting skills (such as the humorous painting of a sea creature coming out of a found painting of a bucolic lake). I like to say we’re the “audio visual club.”
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