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Interiorssneak peeks

A Reimagined Life And Home In The Bay Area

by Liberty Lausterer

Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge

If you could completely reimagine your life, unbeholden to your past, what would it look like? When Sarah Reid’s son Zane turned 18, she experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment. She’d been working in non-profit administration but had always wanted to do interior design for spaces that served low-income communities. Thus was born her business, Small Victories Design. A move from Massachussetts to California facilitated this transformation. In the move, Sarah left behind thrifted finds that filled her attic, basement, and garage. As a “borderline hoarder,” leaving them behind proved difficult. But in having the courage to let go of one incarnation of herself (and most of the objects that made up that life) she embraced another.

Sarah and her husband Matthew Latkiewicz, a television host, writer, and producer, arrived in Oakland with only what they could squeeze into their Honda Fit. This included Sarah’s grandparents’ coffee table, Matthew’s two favorite chairs, some art, and their clothes. After weeks scouring Craigslist and thrift stores, Sarah realized the best place for reasonably priced home goods was estates sales. “That is how the best stuff gets into the bloodstream of the Bay Area. That and the Alameda Flea Market.” From her estate sale and flea market explorations she began assembling a collection of what she calls “soulful objects.” It took about three years before Sarah felt like she had made a cohesive and comfortable space of their 1920s Art Deco apartment.

And comfy it is. The living room is the most inviting space to unwind and imbibe in style. “Matthew has been writing about booze and drinking culture for 14 years (culminating in his book You Suck At Drinking) so we have to have a good bar!” They also have a side table in the living room with whiskey on it for those occasions when they are “too lazy to get up and walk to the bar.” Contentment, Sarah reminds us, is often found in the small, thoughtful details.

It would be the perfect home for Sarah were it not for the fact they can’t have cats. “I have offered bribes and contracts and everything I can think of to our landlord but we just can’t have a cat.” Luckily, Cat Town Cafe, America’s first permanent cat cafe, is within walking distance. It also happens to be one of several non-profit groups where Sarah has volunteered her design work. Other than the lamentable absence of a cat, I can imagine that an ideal evening would be spent in Sarah and Matthew’s gorgeous home, listening to their records, sipping Matthew’s flawlessly mixed cocktails, all while coveting that unbelievable crown molding. And, of course, toasting Sarah on her courageous and inspired decision to reimagine her life. —Liberty

Photography by Esteban Cortez

Image above: Sarah put together her half of the office in a fit of energy over the course of one day. Since they can’t paint their apartment, Sarah relies on punches of color, such as the “Oh What Fun!” art she found at a thrift store. “It says how I feel about my work.” The desk was cobbled together with IKEA pieces. The chair was a gift.

Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
1/19
"That rug. Oh that rug. When Matthew's aunt passed we were heartbroken. The cousins were allowed to choose a few items of hers so we chose this. She was an artist and I love the idea that she and I walked on this rug while doing our work." You can peek through from Sarah's office to her dressing room. The dressing room "fulfills some strange little-girl fantasy I didn't even know I had." And check out the vintage beaded door curtain Sarah transformed into a clever bulletin board.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
2/19
A shelf in Sarah's office holds a collection of thrifted finds she uses in her design and styling work. "I do not apologize for the amount of cat art and objects in the apartment!"
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
3/19
When looking for an apartment in the Bay Area, Sarah saw an ad for an apartment in Oakland near Lake Merritt, though it only had one photo of the exterior; a gorgeous pink and red stucco Art Deco building. She thought, "Whatever is inside that thing is going to be awesome." It is awesome, in part, because of Sarah's creative touch. A corner of the office with a sleeper sofa, shown here, doubles as a guest room. The large painting is by Federico Saenz-Recio as seen on Design*Sponge.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
4/19
"It sounds hokey but I tend to ask a room what it wants and it tells me. The neutral, textured, comfortable vibe in the living room was really clear to me. I think I channeled what I imagined my mom in the 70s would do now, and with a little money." Can you find the TV? In an effort to reach a marital compromise (Sarah didn't want it above the fireplace and Matthew wanted it in the living room), they placed it in front of the fireplace. "Most people think it's the fireplace until we point it out, thank god." The feather art on the mantel belonged to Sarah's grandparents. They got it in Mexico on a Quaker service mission in the 1950s. Her mother carved the wooden doll as a girl.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
5/19
Sarah likes to walk in the door and see flowers. They're "the cheapest medication I know of." She also keeps a thrifted tray in front of the the West Elm sofa for handy items such as quarters for laundry and parking. The photo is of her and Matthew, taken by friend Jessica Eve Rattner, before they walked to town hall and got married.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
6/19
Behold the to-die-for crown molding! Sarah was raised surrounded by house plants, so she has them in every room. Here they are nestled in a corner of the living room around thrifted items and an IKEA floor lamp. Sarah calls the sculpted deer Sophie and pets her when she sits in the chair. (It's nice to have something to pet when one's heart pines for a real cat.)
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
7/19
The living room table is a very special family artifact. It was handmade and inlaid by prisoners in Kansas and given to Sarah's great-something grandfather who was in government. If the apartment was on fire, the living room coffee table is the one thing Sarah says she'd save. Matthew, she adds, would probably save his bike. The painting was the first piece of art Sarah and Matthew ever spent money on. It's by their friend Amy Borezo.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
8/19
"The first piece of art we hung after moving in was this old school wall map of New England. I love Oakland but New England is deep in my bones." The church chair has a sibling in the bedroom. The lamp and table were found thrifting.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
9/19
The ropes hanging along the living room wall were the result of a painful time in Sarah and Matthew's relationship. "We almost left each other but when we decided to stay together I strung up these pieces of rope and every night we would tie a knot in one of them, together, and say, 'I had you in my heart all day today.' We stopped tying them when we tied the actual marriage knot." It's such a moving and honest example of the work and resiliency that it takes to make love last. Matthew and Sarah are no strangers to little acts that add up to something bigger. Matthew's habit of collecting change (filling the jar) often ends up with the two of them doing something special, like taking a vacation.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
10/19
In the corner of the living room, Sarah has placed a dollhouse on a bench, right at child's height, for their friends' children. It's a thoughtful act of hospitality and yet another example of Sarah's consideration for comfort. The embroidered pillow was hand stitched by Sarah and Matthew's friend Melissa and is based on a drawing Melissa's son Enzo made of the couple. "We named our wedding 'The Yes Party' after this drawing!"
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
11/19
Sarah and Matthew in a light-filled corner of their living room next to a fiddle leaf fig. "The windows in this apartment are unreal. I love this corner and so does my fiddle leaf fig. I don't care if the design community is over figs, I love them so much." Of all the rooms Sarah has designed thus far, the living room is by far her favorite one. The tray next to Matthew is from Urban Outfitters and holds whiskey, an extension of the couple's impressive bar cart.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
12/19
Sarah used the move to California to embrace more white and light in her spaces. To that end, she chose a mostly white dining table from CB2 and paired it with vintage chairs she found at Alameda Flea Market. She also switched out the dining room light. "There had been a terrible Home Depot boob light. This acrylic chandelier cost me forty dollars at the Flea and I love it SO MUCH." The rest of the lighting in the apartment is original. Her goal, Sarah says, is to honor the Deco style of the apartment without bowing down to it. The photograph on the wall is a Polaroid collage by Star Drooker and features Matthew and Sarah in The Lady Killigrew cafe, which they owned together for three years in Montague, MA. The rug is from Rugs USA.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
13/19
The gallery wall in the dining room highlights a collection of Sarah and Matthew's art. The wall tells their story, which is exactly what Sarah strives to do in her design work. "I really believe that the space you live in should be an extension of some core truths and beliefs of your being, of your relationship (if you're in one), and of your history."
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
14/19
"When we moved in, I just started taping little mementos to the wall with washi tape because I didn't know where else to put them and then never moved them." Nearby shelving is home to extra barware. Sarah says she cannot resist a good decanter.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
15/19
The bar area, also in the dining room, consists of a Treasure Island Flea bar cart and vintage sconce. In contrast, Sarah opted for a modern piece of art above it. It's a refined little corner to go with Matthew's refined palette. For Matthew, a classic Martini (not dry), up, with a twist. And for Sarah, an old fashioned Old Fashioned, no cherries or oranges. Cheers!
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
16/19
In the bedroom, Sarah used a West Elm table runner to cover the non-functioning air conditioner. The collapsible clothes valet was a $10 find at Thrift Town. "It made my heart sing when I saw it." The curtains are from IKEA.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
17/19
The bedroom combines special handmade pieces with thrifted finds. Sarah made the brass tie display, reflected in the mirror, for Matthew's birthday one year. Her grandfather made the leather satchel hanging on the mirror when he was a teenager. A quilt from Anthropologie and bedding from Target are paired with an antique runner textile and handmade decorative pillow. A gifted tassel garland hangs above the CB2 bed, flanked by two Salvation Army lights.
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
18/19
In her design work, the floor plan is one of Sarah's favorite things to sketch. "In general, everything has its place; it's comfortable and makes my heart and eyes happy."
Sarah Reid's Home Tour for Design*Sponge
19/19
Photos highlight Sarah and Matthew's Lake Merritt neighborhood. "Its proximity to the BART, the Lake, tons of local shops and eateries, and the fact that Oakland is sunny and warm all the time makes it just absolutely perfect. We pinch ourselves every day."

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