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A Sun-Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA

by Lauren Chorpening

My daydreams usually involve traveling the world in some way or another. I’m a homebody with an appreciation for what’s outside my door. If I could take trips to new places for a couple weeks and spend time at home for a couple weeks every month, I think I’d be content. For Nicole and Daniel, having a place to land after living in Singapore for a year was of great importance. Their roots in Northern California drew them back to the San Francisco Bay Area where they have happily settled in.

Nicole Anderson, wedding photographer and freelance copywriter, and her fiancé Daniel Lev, a freelance writer, expected their house search to take a while, but when they saw the first rental they were shown — a sunny, 1912 apartment in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, CA — they signed the lease immediately. Their home is a landing place after travel for both their work and for their relationship. Instead of buying a diamond ring, Nicole and Daniel set off on a three-week trip to Morocco and Spain to celebrate their engagement. “I’m so glad we chose that adventure over a diamond, it was a decision that reflected our values and our love,” Nicole says. “Plus, I finally got the handira I had been dreaming of! I love textiles from around the world, it’s my favorite kind of souvenir to bring back from a trip.”

Both Nicole and Daniel work from home, writing, reading and editing. Creating a space where they could both feel inspired was on the top of Nicole’s mind as she started to design their home. “It feels like a work in progress for sure, but decorating helped articulate my design aesthetic. I gravitate towards a refined-bohemian style, and design blogs introduced me to the mid-century modern craze to which I was not immune,” Nicole says. “Although, whenever I try to tell Daniel about something design-related that I like, he just jokes ‘it must be boho-chic, it must be your lifestyle.’ Although there were not so many design differences along the way of decorating. Working from home makes it that much more important to feel cozy and happy here.” These world travelers and writers have made their space the perfect starting point for their adventures together. –Lauren

Photography by Nicole Anderson

A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Nicole and Daniel's 1912 home is a garden-level apartment with tons of natural light.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Their love for global and mid-century styles is evident in every room of the house. "We wanted a cozy home to inspire creativity. Daniel and I luckily share a lot in common when it comes to our design aesthetic," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"I am thankful to be creating a home with the man I love. We glory in the dailiness of living together. For me, certainty in love rests in the small things, the tea he makes me in the morning to get me out of bed, bringing home an eggplant for him so he can make baba ganoush, heading to the laundromat together, cuddling on the couch during Netflix marathons," Nicole says. "We both take pride in our home, which really makes me feel like we are a team. I'm thankful we have an inspiring and relaxed space to read, to write, to talk for hours, to dream. There are days that we only leave for a short neighborhood stroll!"
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A bench in front of the windows in the living room is one of several ideal reading spots located throughout the house.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"I knew that I wanted to create a gallery wall, but I also knew that I wasn't interested in carefully curating it to have a color scheme or theme," Nicole says. "I just wanted to put up whatever we loved. I love the randomness of it; there's an old family photo from Daniel's family, a photo of us being goofy in front of a mural in Saigon, postcards, a map of Oakland, a Communist era poster we picked up in Vietnam, a piece of fabric I bought in Bali, and an air plant!"
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Nicole and Daniel's home is balanced, beautiful and simply styled. It is a gorgeous space that is loved well.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Nicole's international finds, bar cart and twin anchoring end tables make this once-standard living room closet into a perfect bonus space for entertaining.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"Our bar cart is one of our favorite purchases that we definitely use! We go through the Bulleit Bourbon most frequently," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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The plant wall is a conversation piece for almost every guest that enters Nicole and Daniel's home.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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The second bedroom is an office space that Nicole and Daniel share. The green velvet sofa converts into a bed when they are hosting guests for the weekend. Daniel's Spanish guitar was brought back from their engagement-moon and flamenco music gets played on it regularly by Daniel.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"Decorating our apartment was important to me because I knew that we would be spending a lot of time reading and writing in our space," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"We love to travel, and all of the personal photos on the wall are from trips," Nicole says. "My favorites are the large photos I printed, one from watching sunrise over the temples of Bagan in Burma, and the other of olive trees in Menara Gardens in Marrakesh, where we had a picnic and read a collection of Borges stories aloud (one of my favorite travel memories of all-time)."
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"I splurged on a West Elm office chair because I figured if I have to sit in front of the computer to edit photos when I'd rather be outside adventuring, I should at least have a stylishly comfy chair to sit in," Nicole says.
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A portion of Nicole and Daniel's book collection is anchored by two loro blonyo sculptures from Yogyakarta. "One of the most significant aspects of creating our first home together was merging our book collection. It feels like such a major commitment! We still comment on how lovely it is to see our books beside each other on our shelves," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Their landlord painted the kitchen mint before Nicole and Daniel moved in. While not their first choice for walls, it has been growing on them and sets off their kitchen items beautifully.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"One day, I was staring at the white-painted brick above the stove and feeling like it was just too bare, so I tore out some etchings from a book and put them up with washi tape. I don't know if it will be a permanent thing, though, maybe it's the perfect spot for a rotating exhibition of found things," says Nicole.
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"For a ground-floor unit, there is beautiful light in the kitchen," Nicole says. The eclectic mix of industrial, vintage and bohemian pieces in the kitchen contrasts perfectly with the black and white floor.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Nicole and Daniel's bedroom is a bright and balanced retreat for them. "I love our linen bedding, it was really worth the investment. It immediately upped the cozy factor. I keep contemplating alternative headboard ideas, but I kind of love the simplicity of our room as it is," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"Our biggest disagreement was over pillows. 'Why so many pillows?' he wanted to know. He was most confused about the Euro shams on our bed, which he thought were absurd when I first bought. Now he loves to sit up in bed to read supported by the pillows, so I think I won the pillow disagreement in the end," Nicole says.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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This spot in the bedroom has incredible light for reading, relaxing and drinking tea.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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Buddha statues and plants can be found throughout Nicole and Daniel's well curated and well loved space.
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Daniel and Nicole in their sun-soaked, inspiring home.
A Sun Soaked Space to Come Home to in Oakland, CA | Design*Sponge
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"What I love most about my home is that I've got everything I need right here: books, tea, and love."

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