When most of us imagine what a perfect home for a family is, we envision one that has ample play area inside and out, one that fosters creativity and inspiration for all of its members, and one that feels like a respite from the rest of our chaotic lives. It seems as if the Taylor family has found just that in their 1919 Oakland, CA farmhouse cottage.
Diana Taylor, a home decor maker and interior designer, and her husband Josh (an app designer), and their two daughters Adelaide and Laia, have only lived in their little Oakland haven for seven months, but you would never know that looking at their inviting space. It’s together inspiring and not surprising to see how settled the family looks when you discover that they have moved nine times in the past ten years! Diana is essentially a pro at this point, and we have no doubt that the heart and spirit of the home is only going to get that much stronger the longer they live in their lovely little oasis.
Diana and Josh have lived in the Bay Area for five years, and this is the first home they have owned. Living in the Bay Area can sometimes feel cruel because you love it so much, but being able to actually own your own little piece of it can be extremely difficult. When the Taylors were looking to buy their home they weren’t even looking in the neighborhood they ultimately settled into, but the unique arrangement of the lot, lush garden, and obviously the adorable (and unusual for the area!) farmhouse style cottage was enough to convince them, fully. Knowing that their kids could climb in the many trees on the property (everything from eucalyptus, to a variety of fruit trees), build fairy houses, and adventure in the park-like setting was an incredible future to behold. The party doesn’t stop at the yard, however, Diana tells us that there is no end to the plays, dance recitals, building, crafting, and choreography
inside their house! Guests are also a common staple in their home, with all of their family being out of town, a rotating cast of visitors are often found enjoying the splendor.
With so much being perfect in this home it’s hard to imagine anything lacking at all, however there are a few places for ingenuity/improvement– storage and a single bathroom being paramount. With all the bedrooms upstairs, and the single bathroom downstairs (and for a family of four) an upstairs bathroom is a dream they have for the future. Storage is also a little short in the Taylor home, Diana admits that for the first five months of living in their linen-closet-less new house they just piled extras in front of the washer. Being the creative and professional unpacker that she is, Diana has come up with solutions– like baskets for the kids’ many toys and crafts, side tables with storage, multi-use items and plans to add a bigger vanity in the bathroom with storage. But, for now, they’re happy to be building memories, sharing their home with family and friends, and watching the endless inspiration they, and their children, pull from their new house.
Photography by Abi Q.
Above image: The Taylor family sitting on their front steps. “Our front porch is quintessential farmhouse living. I often sit and read or get work done on the porch while the girls play and we sometimes all sit on the porch and have dinner together. It’s a great place to sit and chat with neighbors. Its really an important part of the home, where guests are welcomed in,” Diana explains.
“We have hung up a number of swings and ropes from the trees for the girls to climb and play on. It’s so wonderful having a space that they can run, play, and imagine in. They are becoming proficient tree climbers, hanging from branches and are often building little fairy homes from collected leaves, sticks, and flowers,” Diana shares.
Diana describes some of the history of their home, “Our little farmhouse did in fact used to be a little farmhouse. It was one of the first in the area, built in 1919 as a house for the workers. The whole block used to be a farm. I can’t imagine a more adorable little cottage farmhouse and the fact that we found this one in the middle of Oakland still feels pretty unbelievable. It even has a little lamp post! Because it was one of the first to be built, it is way back off the street, while everything else in the neighborhood is built right along the sidewalk. That means we have a great front yard that makes us feel like we have a little garden oasis in the middle of the city. And with all that vegetation, we are learning to find joy and relaxation in yard work!”
Diana shares one of the greatest elements of their new house, “With the relatively consistent nice weather in Oakland we often have both the front and back doors open and have these great old screen doors that we leave closed. It brings a sense of the garden into the house since you are seeing it as you pass by either door. It’s also a good reminder to get outside and water our vegetable garden.”
“I love this photo a lot because it’s the view of the home I most often see. This is the view that I see from the kitchen. While I am cooking or cleaning I can have an eye on basically the whole house. Normally the front door is open and the kids are running in and out and I can easily see into the garden.”
“This is the center of our home—where most of life happens. Dinners and children’s theatre and impromptu dance parties. When we bought the house seven months ago, this space was actually divided into two rooms. Each room felt so small and cramped. Before we moved in we had the wall removed and painted everything white and it feels like a completely different space. It went from feeling cramped and dark to feeling bright and open. We debated that decision a lot, but we are so glad we did it right away. It really makes the small space so livable. Now, with the big old windows, we have tons of light that changes throughout the day and allows us to have lots of plants inside, and to see the garden outside from just about anywhere,” Diana beams.
Diana shares some expert parenting (and textile) advice, “I love textiles and have collected a number of different pieces. I use them interchangeably on the couches so that the kids can play freely and I don’t worry too much about them. I can lay them down for eating snacks and pull them off and wash them if something gets spilled.”
“The living room, dining room, and kitchen are all open. We haven’t done anything to the kitchen other than paint the walls white. We would like to make some improvements to it eventually but for now it actually functions very well. Those shelves separating the dining room from the kitchen were there when we moved in and we really love them. It’s great having a little separation, but it helps keep the kitchen really open and light. The shelves are a perfect place to keep special pieces and display our large collection of baskets from our travels to Tanzania,” Diana says.
“Everything in a small space has to serve multiple purposes,” Diana advises. “Our dining room bar cart is also where we keep our record player. It’s right in the center of the house and the music can be heard everywhere. The basket next to the record player is filled with blankets that we grab when sitting outside on cool evenings.”
“The bookshelf is packed! No room for minimalism here. I love to read and collect books and right now it’s the only spot for a bookshelf in our house. We would eventually love to add a built-in bookshelf in the attic upstairs, but for now we squeeze as much onto this little bookshelf as we can,” Diana explains. “It’s also filled with fun little photograph memories and all kinds of mementos of our family travels to places like Barcelona, Vietnam, Uganda, Tanzania, Russia, Switzerland and Costa Rica. These little camels came from Israel and Dubai. We love to travel together and often say that we ‘family’ best when we’re out of our comfort zone experiencing new things together. Somehow, traveling puts us all on the same page and we have to work together as a little team. Whenever we pick up little mementos, we try to avoid touristy souvenir shops and opt for something small that we find along the way that will remind us of the local culture or of our experience there.”
“The dining room is so connected to the living room and kitchen that it ended up not feeling like it’s own distinct space. So we arranged the furniture to create a bit of separation and chose this statement lighting to create a focal point and ground the dining room,” Diana explains. “Our outside garden is so wonderful and so far, we have always had different plants in bloom. We pick new blooms with the girls every week from the yard and make a bouquet for the table. It’s a fun activity that they love. We enjoy the blooms outside, but it’s so nice being able to enjoy them inside as well.”
“The big window is my favorite part of the kitchen. It allows for so much light in the space and we can look out to the garden when doing dishes or preparing a meal. I love being surrounded by plants and am always looking for any spot in the house to be able to put them. The plants love this spot so I’ve filled it up. It’s a good connection with nature to have a bit of the green from outside, on the inside,” Diana shares.
Adelaide helps her dad in the kitchen with a peek in from the dining room.
“Because we took down the wall in the living room, we don’t have a whole lot of open wall space in the house,” Diana admits. This wall in the living room is one of the only open walls so we decided to do a giant floor to ceiling gallery wall to display all the art and prints we have collected over the years. While they are a collection from all over the world that we acquired over ten years, somehow it all comes together. I love that it adds so much color to the room and really tells a story of our life together. Most of the pieces or prints have some kind of significance to our experience—places we’ve been, things our friends have made, or things friends have made about places we’ve been.”
Diana shares the special significance to a collection, “In this photo, you can see a big wood bowl that was a wedding gift from Costa Rica. It’s full of corks that have become a family tradition. Whenever we open a bottle of wine we write the date, place, and who we enjoyed it with or what we were celebrating on the cork and save it. It’s fun to look back and remember so many special moments.”
“This back wall is very much the backdrop of the main living space. I knew that I wanted to wallpaper it, especially since we painted everything white,” Diana explains. “I wanted something fun, but also something simple that worked with the aesthetic of the farmhouse feel. I finally found this paper,
Ladwig Scandinavian Block Tulip, and it’s perfect. We really love the simple character that it adds to the space.”
Another view of the simple wallpaper backdrop that adds so much to the stairwell.
“The big white wall at the top of the staircase has the best light, so it has become my go-to spot for taking photos of the banners I make for
Sunday Makers, Diana shares. “It has now turned in to an ever evolving arrangement of banners as I photograph them. It’s fun to have a constantly changing wall of inspiring messages we walk by every day.”
“This is the girls’ room. Since it’s the first room of theirs that we have really been able to decorate, we wanted to make it special,” Diana explains. “We painted the walls
Benjamin Moore “Love and Happiness” and added the fun wallpaper to the little alcove. Even though the alcove is not the best space wise, I love it because of the great character it adds. The quilt at the end of the bed I made as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Adelaide and I still love the colors and fabrics so much.”
“It’s been tricky to figure out storage in this room because it has very few flat walls and a teeny, tiny elf closet. Most of the furniture is from Ikea since it serves such a specific purpose so when we decided to look for a little desk we were so happy to find this perfect little wood desk that fits perfectly in the nook and adds some character,” Diana continues. “We also painted and added brass handles to the Ikea furniture in their room to make it a little more pretty.”
“I love so many of the quirky details in this old house, and this one might be my favorite. It’s the sweetest little nook. To take advantage of its charm, we added some translucent shelves for the girls to keep all their little treasures on,” Diana shares.
Diana explains the function of their attic space: “The attic room is a bonus room over the garage that functions as our tv room, office, and guest bedroom. We love all the wood details and angles in this room. It feels so cozy and charming. When we bought the house it was all wood and very dark. It felt a little terrible painting over all that wood, but it turned out wonderful,” Diana admits. “It feels so much bigger and brighter. The fox print chair on the right is one of the few pieces of furniture that we still have from our first year of marriage. It’s the Astrid chair from
Anthropologie that we wanted so bad, but couldn’t at all afford because it retailed for $1500.Then one day by chance we found it in the ‘As Is’ section for $250, which we could not pass up. At that time that was still a really big purchase for us and we choose to eat rice and beans for two weeks in order to make it happen. Because it was in the ‘As Is’ section the original fabric was pretty worn so eventually I recovered it myself in the fox print fabric.”
“There are a lot of quirky nooks and built-ins in this room, and this is one of them,” Diana shares. The framed photo is from our wedding in Costa Rica and was gifted by a friend. We made the hanging from drift wood we collected from one of our favorite beaches on the Sonoma coast.”
Diana added her personal touch to a utilitarian piece, “The couch is from Ikea. We got it for its very practical nature since we needed something comfortable for our family for tv watching and something comfortable for guests for sleeping. I felt it needed more life so I recovered all the couch cushions using scraps from pillows I’ve made for
Sunday Makers. It adds such good character and warmth for an otherwise generic couch. The little red pillow I made using a good piece of scrap from the original fabric that was on the Astrid chair. I love having that leftover piece from that first big furniture piece we made together.”
“This is the view when laying in bed. I love waking up here every morning and was so intentional about hanging my collection of ocean oil paintings here,” Diana explains. “I’ve been collecting them from all over the world for the last few years. The ocean is such an inspiration to me and has such a calming effect that it serves as a great thing to see first thing in the morning.”
Diana shows us that charm is not size dependent, “This is our master bedroom. It’s not very large, but is just the right size for a king bed with a little space to move around. It has great big windows, and with a white ceiling and white trim, it felt like it would work to paint it a dark color. We picked
Hauge Blue by Farrow and Ball and I love the way the blue changes depending on the light and time of day. It’s like the ocean in that way—sometimes a bit more navy, and sometimes a hint of green. It makes the room feel serene and cozy which is just what I want in a bedroom. I was so happy that my favorite rug from the Alameda Flea Market just fit in the space. It’s a big rug and when we moved into the house I was so worried it wouldn’t fit anywhere and I’d have to give it up. Hanging next to the bed is the very first weaving and banner I ever made. Making them for fun eventually resulted in opening Sunday Makers, so it’s a special reminder to have them hanging in the bedroom.”
“I had a hard time finding affordable side tables for our bedroom and ended up deciding to make a few different Ikea ones that work while I kept my eyes out for others,” Diana explained. “Turns out, I really like them both so they have stuck around. This one from Ikea was super affordable. The size was perfect and I liked having the storage space so I painted the top and sides, stained the front drawers and added new brass hardware. On top are a collection of little gifts and treasures that I like keeping close by. They make me happy and remind me of special moments.”
“We converted our master closet into a little office/workspace. The master already had two small built-in closets and this one was a bit awkward—it was a pass through from the master to the girls’ bedroom. We decided to close off the door from that closet into the girls bedroom for our little office workspace. Now it’s where I do all my sewing/creating and it houses all my materials and tools. It has two big windows that look out to the garden, so even though its really small its actually a really nice place to work,” Diana shares.
“The backyard isn’t huge, but it works great for us. It’s full of so many wonderful trees, plants, vines, and flowers. The backyard houses three vegetable garden boxes, as well as the outdoor table and chairs. Since our dining room is not large, we eat many of our meals outside,” Diana shares. “It really functions as a second eating space and is where we have many tea parties. Having extra outdoor spaces like this make a small house feel much much bigger. Our girls love tea parties and they have become a weekly family pastime. Our family rule is that if you’re drinking tea you have to also talk about what we’re feeling. So it becomes a time where we all catch up on each others’ days, thoughts, but also a way for us to connect to really how we are doing as individuals and as a family unit.”
“The house feels very secluded and is often hard for people to find,” Diana admits. “On the other side of the wood gate is the street. Being able to close that and let the girls run free is invaluable. The front yard is so much bigger than the backyard so it’s where we spend more of our time when we are outside. No matter what direction you look some kind of flower is blooming. It’s such a wonderful garden we have inherited. We are working hard to educate ourselves and take care of it well.”
“This is the larger side yard of the house where there is a large path that takes you from the front yard to the backyard. The little awning and white gate are just so sweet. It’s lined with roses and plum trees,” Diana explains.