Sneak Peek: Rebekah Carey McNall of A & B Creative

Husband and wife Alex and Rebekah (or Alex and Bekah, as they’re known to friends) have lived in this Oakland, California, cottage for the past two years. The home was built in the early ’20s and retains much of its original detailing, such as kitchen built-ins, original doorknobs, a working fireplace, octagonal bathroom tiles and crown molding throughout. Their overall decorating strategy was to utilize the natural light by keeping white walls (“Bone” by Kelly-Moore) throughout the house and allowing the color to come through in their furniture and artwork. A trip to France got the couple thinking about the idea of living to work versus working to live, and the result was deciding to follow their dreams and create the life they wanted to live rather than waiting for it to happen to them. When they got home, Alex began pursuing his dream of writing, and Bekah followed her passion for event design and styling and formed A & B Creative. (A cute bridal shower she recently designed with a ’60s feel can be seen here.) For her events as well as her home, Bekah is more interested in creating a space where people feel comfortable enough to put their feet up than trying to achieve perfection. Thanks, Alex and Bekah! And thanks to Kirsten Julia Photography for the lovely photos. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Our (working) fireplace is without a doubt one of the best features of our little home. We picked up our vintage circus print from a local thrift store that we like to circuit, The Clausen House Annex. The fireplace screen was a gem we found at the Alameda Flea, which is one of my favorite places to scout for both home and work!

Image above: This secretary was from Omega Salvage in Berkeley. When I saw it years ago, I instantly fell in love and kept going back to check on it daily for about a week to make sure it hadn’t sold until I had saved enough to buy it. It holds some of my favorite books and memories, a photo of my dad and I at our wedding, a vintage lion sculpture I brought back from France and, of course, a modern poster of Alex’s favorite movie, The Empire Strikes Back (purchased from the Poster Inspired Etsy shop).

See more of Rebekah’s California home after the jump . . .

Image above: I saw this painting on my way walking from the train station to the entrance of Versailles at a little vide-grenier, and loved it so much that I carried it with me the whole rest of my eight-hour walking day! I love that the artist signed it with “Paris” below it, too — so much better than an Eiffel Tower souvenir.

Image above: This trunk was an amazing find. Someone was giving it away, and we didn’t even notice that it had our monogram (and my business name) on it until the next day!

Image above: This is what Alex likes to call his “writing corner.” Many a day you will find him feet up and computer on lap happily tapping away his next literary masterpiece. Vintage theater seats are an homage to my degree and where we chose to get married, and our mid-century ottoman was a house-warming gift from a friend.

Image above: Our record collection sits atop an old radio console we picked up at a garage sale, which we have our iPod stereo inside of now. This orange lamp is one of my favorite pieces, picked up at Omega Too by a friend as a birthday present for me. I bought this print for Alex as an anniversary present from the Fifi du Vie Etsy shop. It’s exactly how I feel about our future. The fun ’60s owl, originally a hairspray cover, was a gift from a client.

Image above: When I stayed in France, I designed the window displays for the shop The Bohemians, and my host had this same piece and I fell in love with it. The wings flip up to reveal that it’s an ashtray. Before I left, Kim surprised me with my very own vintage French fly ashtray, not something many people have!

Image above: I bought this piece from my friend’s shop, Mignonne Decor. The scroll designs are masking speakers; you open it up, and it has a radio, 8-track and record player. Joni Mitchell is in constant rotation.

Image above: I found these chairs for free. Alex painted them, and I picked out the fabrics, a purple ikat and chartreuse linen from Discount Fabrics, and had them reupholstered at Mignonne Decor. The table is also from Mignonne Decor and has two leaves that are perfect for when my grandma comes over for holiday meals. We are very limited for storage space in our home, so I bought three different Expedit shelves from Ikea and made a wall of shelving to create the illusion of a built-in. I organized all of the books by color so that it would feel less visually overwhelming.

Image above: This faux fireplace was an incredible Goodwill score; it has a heater and rotating gel that gives the illusion of a real fire. This was another vintage circus print from The Clausen House Annex. The blanket is vintage but had never been used; we picked it up at the Alameda Flea, and the little table and rug were garage sale finds.

Image above: I loved this print (and its message) when I discovered it on the Poster Inspired Etsy shop.

Image above: We love our bed so much. It’s a king-size Tempurpedic with a sumptuous Anthropologie duvet and vintage blanket; however, it significantly limits the amount of space we have for side tables. I remedied this problem by turning two vintage office chairs into his and hers bedside tables. I made my side flat with a vintage atlas.

Image above: Alex’s side of the bed features a matching vintage office chair. To hold more items, I repurposed an old crate, which always contains at least one Michael Chabon novel, blank books for his notes and other favorite reading material.

Image above: My mom gave me this Le Creuset kettle to match my collection, and I love the pop of color it gives our white stovetop. Banania was a brand I saw a lot of in France, and when I came back, I found this fun print at a local antique shop. I love the colors and graphics; the cute baby isn’t too shabby either.

Image above: I have had this yellow vintage shelf in every house I’ve lived in as an adult. My mom picked it up at a garage sale, and I have made it work in every room, from the kitchen and living room to the bedroom. It now holds a ’40s rooster tin set I found at a garage sale and a favorite cast iron pot set from Goodwill. It adds much-needed functionality as well to our petite kitchen.

Image above: My mom handed down this salt and pepper collection to me. I love that they’re all wood, all different and of varying sizes. My favorite pairs are the tiniest ones.

Image above: I am obsessed with vintage glassware, especially from the ’60s. I have repurposed our old ironing board shelf into my display and safe hideaway from our frequent earthquakes. Most of these sets I brought back from France. I don’t use them nearly enough. Clearly I’m overdue for a cocktail party!

Image above: We picked up this vintage locker from an estate sale, and Alex spray painted it (Blue Ocean Breeze by Krylon) beautifully. It now serves as our pantry and was the perfect size for the only open space we had in our kitchen.

Image above: The original tiling we have in our bathroom is one of the most unique details of the house. I like to lovingly refer to our bathroom as a dollhouse bathroom. (I’m fairly certain the doctor’s office I went to as a kid had the exact same dollhouse version of our sink.) We were lucky enough to move into our place with the sink already painted. Our ProVenDi rotating wall soap has a nice aesthetic but also frees up the very limited “counter space” we have. The small table was my great-aunt’s from her first apartment in San Francisco in the ’60s, which feels really special to see every day. The bright white Anthropologie shower curtain helps to make the space feel a little bigger than it actually is. I added the vintage-inspired mirror since the only one is on the other side of the bathroom and is significantly taller than I am.

Image above: I’ve had this piece of art, a gift from my aunt, since middle school (I was an old soul), and I love how it brightens up the space and hides my blow dryer.

Image above: I have a knack for finding amazing pieces for free (comes in handy as a stylist), and these are by far the best pieces I’ve procured. I adore how wholesome they are while being clad in underwear. I’ve debated having the woman shape cut out as the man’s is, but I like that these are as found.

  1. Jeanne says:

    I love this house. It is my favorite on DS so far. I also live in Oakland and am so enamored with all the vintage cottages and bungalows that pepper the landscape. This one is perfect! Thanks for a great post.

  2. Elise says:

    This is such an incredible post! I love the simplicity of their cottage. Really inspiring since I live in a tiny space and can incorporate some of their ideas.

  3. Such a gorgeous home… so many books!

  4. Kim says:

    As a HUGE fan of the teal/coral color combination (and similar variations), I am in LOVE with this house! The colors pop throughout and I cannot wait to feature similar pops of color as I find and decorate my new apartment. Great inspiration, and reassurance that the colors work throughout the house. Beautiful, happy, and cozy!

  5. Lindsay says:

    Places like this make me want to throw away my entire apartment and start over! Brava!

  6. MB@YarnUiPhoneApp says:

    OK, I’m going to do an OMG – but I have that **same exact** 1940s lightswitch cover. I picked mine up from a vintage seller, unused. Sadly, I have to use the switchcover even though the lines are so Art Deco. I sometimes think about using it as a photo frame too. Where did you get yours? Just curious.

  7. Love it! Such a happy colourful space. People whine about white walls all the time but they make the perfect backdrop for all this bright happy, retro kitschy stuff!! Very cute! LOVE the art deco plaque for the switch!

  8. Joanna says:

    Perfectly stored books and i love all the decoration details.

  9. Cubicle says:

    The house looks amazing. I particularly like the writing corner. I can imagine working from the same space with my feet up, tapping away on my laptop!

  10. Cindy says:

    This space is such breath of fresh air!

  11. Frances says:

    Gorgeous – I love the way everything is thought about but that the whole place looks lived in and loved. So many great stories behind all the pieces.

  12. AB.SO.LUTE.LY. obsessed with every last detail of this house. nearly every object has a story and it is all so perfectly mashed together. love it all.

  13. Jessica says:

    I cannot even process all of this.
    This is absolutely gorgeous!

  14. Rachel Wilson says:

    WOW. WOW. WOW! I love it all so so much! Your house looks more like a home than I could ever imagine myself having. I’m so happy for you that you have this opportunity to express your creativity and talent! You’re truly gifted!

  15. CindyE says:

    First time commenting here – love your blog. This is such a great house — so comfortable and interesting – everywhere! I love that is is imperfect ( in a wonderful way) – I get so tired of these sterile “decorated” places – boring. You could walk through this house and end up with tons of ideas and a real idea of the kind of people who live here…it is a HOME! Love it!

  16. This is my absolute DREAM HOUSE!

  17. hg says:

    A lot of highlights! Fun Place. Im not sure how you function with those “nightstands” Those look impractical. Art on the bathroom floor? Highly unlikely.

  18. Maria says:

    Wow, this is amazing inspiration for me. My Mr. and I just moved into a deco-era home in the Bay Area, and, like you, have kept a neutral palette to highlight our collection of colorful (mostly vintage) finds. Just wonderful–thank you for demonstrating how beautifully the technique works.
    Also, very jealous of your Barnum & Bailey prints–those are the names of our dog and cat! Thank you very sincerely for sharing your gorgeous home.

  19. Elen says:

    What a lovely house! I love everything: the light, the colors, the vintage touch. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed it. ^^

  20. Wow, I love this. Looks like such a nice well lit home, white walls are by far the best.

    I really like that rug!

  21. Jaturon says:

    Lovely & comfy home with lots of great ideas too. Love the vintage office chair + crate idea in particular.

  22. Absolutely quirky and interesting, just loved reading this post and looking at the photos. Love the bedside vintage chairs. Genius!

  23. ali thompson says:

    ay-yi-yi. i love this front top to bottom. the chairs as bedside tables are genious. love it all–well done!

  24. caroline says:

    Perfect house. It sounds like almost every piece of furniture was found or thrifted and they all look gorgeous together. I have the same shower curtain and I love it to bits!! You can see it here

  25. Vanessa says:

    This was a treat. One of the most lovable places I’ve ever seen here. Thanks for starting my day so creatively.

  26. Lisa says:

    Great place – clearly a home! We have the same Lollipops for… white box that we use in our restaurant.

  27. Savanah says:

    Pretty pretty pretty! Thank you so much for the tour :)

  28. Maddy says:

    ADORE! Your home is what I try and achieve with mine but am not nearly there yet! It’s got a gorgeous comfy feel to it and you have a great eye.

    The fly on the tray is my fave. Thanks for sharing!

  29. So many lovely things! This is really my style :p I especially love the light switches :)

  30. Clarissa says:

    the girl in the painting looks like taylor swift. lol

  31. Thelma says:

    I have that orange lamp too, but not repurposed. I have it with the original patina which is a bronze color. It is a vintage atomic age lamp. I have never seen it anywhere else and I’ve looked so I’m pleasantly suprised to find it here. I’ve had it for over 20 years and was just about to get rid of it. Seeing it painted orange has given me pause though. It does look great painted. Mmmmmm . . . . .

  32. Dana says:

    Wow. I love this house. It’s actually similar to ours…I’ll have to send in some pics one day soon.

  33. CarleyGeorged says:

    whoa, whoa! I have the brass version of the fly ashtray and I love it dearly, too! Spectacular nest!

  34. Helena says:

    Lovely home and gorgeous decoration which is totally my face.
    Thanks for sharing.

  35. Nathalie says:

    There are no words for how much I want that vintage circus poster. NO WORDS! I grew up on a circus and regularly curse my fam for not saving any of the gazzilions of posters from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that they had. Really gorgeous home, love the blue and green tones throughout.

  36. Aline says:

    Ok. This secretary from Omega Salvage is to die for! So beautiful and vintage and… just my style!

  37. Cara says:

    Love this space. I swear if I had been at the same flea market with you guys I would have tackled you to the ground for those circus posters!!! What finds!

  38. Love your style and LOVE your collections.

  39. Amy says:

    That trunk was clearly destined to be yours! What a cosy home you have made together, you’ve given me much inspiration, the most important involves dusting off my lovely cocktail glasses and getting them filled in the hands of friends ;)

  40. Kat says:

    I love the french fly ashtray. Reminds me of a cicada :) That whole place is pretty amazing, minus the Barnum and Baily poster.

  41. mike larson says:

    Love this! all of the style and feel of these collections! Our home is from the 20’s and we incorporated a similar style but your organization and inspiration here are great!

  42. shoshanna says:

    I love how quirky everything is in this home yet it also feels very liveable and practical x


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