A Dreamy Loft For A Young, Book-Loving Family in Oakland, CA

Share It

When graphic designer and illustrator Jess Levitz found out she was pregnant last January, she knew it was time to bid farewell to her tiny San Francisco, CA apartment. After an exhausting search for something affordable in San Francisco, Jess and her husband Josh, who’s finishing up as a Neuroscience Post Doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, set their sights on Oakland. Many of their friends were located there and it was affordable, so after just 48 hours of looking, they found the one: an old live/work loft just a short stroll to the BART and Lake Merritt. Jess says, “I had always wanted to live in a loft, and while not your average space to bring home a newborn, we knew it was the right fit for us during this transition time of our life.”

Before moving in, Jess spent many hours brainstorming the best layout for their family and came up with the idea to construct a lofted platform bedroom to create the illusion of more privacy while providing plenty of much-needed storage underneath. Before the couple even moved in, Jess had the space painted white, the platform built, and all of their container-store bookshelves installed. As organized and seamless as the few months were prior to moving in, thanks to Jess’s planning and hard work, just one short day after moving in and sorting all of their furniture — including arranging their 1,000+ book collection on their shelves — everything fell apart, literally. Jess explains, “I was sitting up on our bed when our entire shelving unit collapsed, sending our books flying all over the loft. It was so scary! The handyman company that put up the shelves felt so badly, they came back and helped us organize all of the books and put up the shelves with the sturdiest screws they could find. Luckily there was only minor damage: our TV was hardest hit and now sits slanting forward (if you look closely you can see it in the pictures!).”

Another unexpected surprise came by way of baby Izzie: After a painful pregnancy, (Jess had a condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy), Izzie arrived 5 weeks early. But with his arrival also came peace. Since Jess, Josh and their scrappy Terrier Jack welcomed Izzie into their home, life has settled and slowed down (as much as it can with an infant). Jess and Josh are now enjoying the calm after the storm and taking their time with decorating in order to craft the perfect, most comfortable nest for their family.

Their 850-square-foot space showcases the family’s eclectic taste and unique collections, but also oozes with function, familiarity and comfort. As much as Jess and Josh enjoy looking at photos of minimal spaces, in their own home, it’s all about being surrounded by their favorite things, from their coveted book collection — organized by genre and author’s last name — to their in-suite laundry. Jess says, “With a new baby I can’t tell you how happy I am to not have to go down to the basement with a roll of quarters!” But perhaps the most beautiful aspect of their space, the large windows, also presents the most challenges. In the late afternoon, the sun comes in so strongly that their loft feels like a greenhouse, to their houseplants’ approval and the family’s discomfort. Jess says, “If we owned the loft I would install air conditioning so we could enjoy our big windows during those peak hot times,” but despite the few issues they’ve been met with, life for Jess and Josh is quite dreamy. –Sabrina

Photography by Ellie Koleen

  1. RANDI BAYNE says:

    Beautiful and so serene.

  2. Christine says:

    I’d love to know if/how they have secured the books onto the shelves. Something I always had in the back of my mind as a book lover in an earthquake zone.

    1. Jess says:

      Hi Christine! Unfortunately the books are not secure – just the shelves! We are right near a fault too and should probably think of a solution for this! Thanks for your comment :)

  3. Shruthi says:

    I love block shop textiles too and temple scarf is my favourite :)


  4. Courtney says:

    I love this entire space, there is not one thing I find fault in. What a dream. I’m pregnant with our first child and this gives me hope of maintaining some style and serenity with a newborn!

  5. Julie Wylie says:

    Such a lovely space. So dreamy! I feel that if I had ever lived in a loft, this is exactly what I would try to go for! Really love Jess’ work too (I follow her on instagram), so it’s fun to see her home featured on here. They did a beautiful job decorating & make it feel so home-y in a loft space.

  6. avital says:

    such a lovely and charming space!

  7. alex says:

    dream loft space – particularly those windows! beautiful shots on that hashtag. inspires me for our downsize once our not-so-little-ones fly away.

  8. Yeiyei says:

    Wow! They chose the perfect word for this: DREAMY! HOW DREAMY! I would probably never have given the space a chance if I knew I needed lots of storage and had a baby coming…But this is so brilliant! It really challenges one to make no excuses! A little creativity is all one needs to make it work. I’m going to get to work with the few iffy spots of my apartment now!

  9. Melissa says:

    Congrats on your little one! We have a 6 month old and ended up building a loft in our SF home too! I love everything about your space minus one detail…I have the same IKEA chaise and I replaced the legs with these amazing mid-century-ish modern ones from a company I found in Sweden. Trust me, you will love the difference! Check it out:

  10. Laura says:

    The pale green wall in the kitchen is fab. Love all your plants!

  11. Logan says:

    Dying to know which building in Oakland this is! I can’t believe that they 1. found an apartment in Oakland in <48 hours 2. have a newborn in a loft and 3. have such a bright and airy space!

    Their home only solidifies that Oakland is a fantastic city to move to!

  12. Sharon says:

    Beautiful space and story. We are currently in the process of trying to figure out how to accommodate our book collection into a small nyc apartment and this is just the perfect inspiration.

  13. Courtney says:

    I would love to know where you found your bassinet!

  14. Eva says:

    I am in love with the bassinet that is right next to your bed for baby izzie, I was hoping you could tell me where you found that gem?

    1. I found it on Amazon! They call them Moses baskets :)

  15. kimithy says:

    What a warm and cheerful loft! Seems like such a happy place to be :)

    As a semi-handyperson myself, I’m shocked that the company didn’t install the shelves correctly knowing how much weight was going to be on them, particularly given the scale of damage possible to both property and persons. Glad they did the right thing and re-installed them when they collapsed!

    We have ~72 feet of wall-mounted bookshelves in our apartment, and since it houses our entire book collection and tv, I used commercial shelving uprights on studs. If stud mounting (heh!) wasn’t going to work I probably wouldn’t have risked it – I’ve seen a small bookshelf with 2 75lb drywall toggle bolts rip out of a wall before, so it just makes me too nervous!

  16. Simon says:

    OH those windows and the door. Very charming. Also i like the reading space in picture 4. Inspiring.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely space! I was wondering if you could share where you got the cord and eyelet/bolt hardware to hang the curtains? Is that from ikea as well?

  18. Nomi says:

    This is absolutely beautiful! I am really curious about the bookshelf system above the TV, it’s perfect! Would love to know where it’s from if someone can enlighten me :)

    1. Jess says:

      it is from container store!

  19. nella says:

    Where did you find the living room rug? The colors match perfectly with my room colors.

    1. I found it vintage on Ebay. Lots of great rugs on there :)

  20. hayley says:

    Lovely! I have to ask about that yellow/lime colored chest of drawers the TV is sitting on — where did you find that?!

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Hayley! I purchased it off craigslist years ago and have no idea where it comes from, sorry!

  21. Ashley says:

    Hi! Where did you get your gray couch from? :)

  22. Christie says:

    Do you have the layout or specs for the platform bed and the steps and shears? Would love to know how it was constructed. Thanks so much in advance!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.