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Interiorssneak peeks

A Boston Loft with a Small Footprint and a Lot of Heart

by Quelcy Kogel

“Warm, vibrant, inviting.” Those are the words I would use to describe Chocolate for Basil, a food blog by Jerrelle Guy. By no coincidence, they’re also the words I would use to describe Jerrelle Guy herself. I want to make my way to Boston, pull up a stool at her worktable and await the colorful vegetarian fare that has made her so popular. If you’ve found yourself oohing and ahhing her recipes, you’d probably be surprised to know the visual feasts, inspired by her boyfriend Eric’s switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, emerge from a 350-square-foot space (which happens to be over a brewery — quite the bonus!).

Jerrelle is a Boston-based artist, food photographer and graduate student in Boston University’s Gastronomy program. Eric is an IT consultant, a lover of music, and Chocolate for Basil’s top hand model. Together, the couple has created a calming space to promote both mental and physical wellness, with a meditation nook and a focus on healthy, home cooking. Their kitchen is the heart of their small space, illuminated by windows that would fill any photographer with envy.

While we can’t all rush to Jerrelle and Eric’s door to invite ourselves to a healthy meal, we can take a sneak peek. And soon, we can bring Jerrelle into our own homes — it’s the next best thing! Her first cookbook, Black Girl Baking, will hit bookstores in early February. In it, Jerrelle “leads you on a sensual baking journey using the five senses, retelling and reinventing food memories while using ingredients that make her feel more in control and more connected to the world and the person she has become.” Jerrelle’s process has been so inspiring, and I can’t wait to see the final result! —Quelcy

Photography by Jerrelle Guy

Image Above: Jerrelle, Eric, and Christopher the cat, prepping to make a slow-cooker vegetarian minestrone to last the week and ward off the incoming cold weather.

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Jerrelle found her loft on Craigslist, and she knew it was the one. “More than the fact it was a two-minute walk from my university, I chose it because it has an upper level and because of the unobstructed, natural light that comes through the tall windows; it trumped all the other studios I searched.”

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Another selling point for Jerrelle was the lofted space. “I figured the loft aspect would help create privacy that most studio layouts lack, and the perfect nook for whenever I wanted to escape the other areas of the apartment.”

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Managing her prop collection is a challenge. She says, “It’s such a small space, and I’m constantly getting new things for my job — food products from companies, new photography backgrounds, groceries, spices, and thrifted props.” An entry shelf houses most of her prop collection. Another way she has embraced the storage challenge is by displaying many items on the kitchen walls — what she calls “functional art.”

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Jerrelle painted the chalkboard wall as a way to define spaces. She says, “Coming into the space, I realized that the blank, stark-white walls that stood 15 feet high would make it difficult to section off the home and make it cozy. A big, bold color, like the black chalkboard wall I painted in the kitchen, was my first move toward creating the illusion of rooms without erecting actual walls. That got painted [in] the first few hours after I moved in.”

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Looking at all the amazing recipes Jerrelle and Eric whip up, it’s hard to believe they’re working in only 350 square feet of space.

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Jerrelle’s recipe development and blogging work takes her back to the drawing board — the chalkboard wall she painted immediately upon moving into the loft. This view is one of her favorites. “When this table is clear, and I feel inspired, magic happens here.”

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Eric tackling dish duty in the kitchen. Jerrelle says, “It gets wild and messy in here especially because we don’t have a dishwasher.” Eric’s switch to a vegetarian lifestyle was the impetus for Chocolate for Basil, and Jerrelle jokes, “He also holds down the title as one of the best hand models in town!”

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A magical corner — the booze corner! Eric is the artisan behind the Chocolate For Basil cocktails. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a proper cocktail in the comfort of your home. Jerrelle describes Eric and herself as “part homebodies, part travelers, who put our family first. It’s important that our home is comfortable and warm, and that the energy inside it flows well.”

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The legendary hand model in action.

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If only we had Beyoncé’s full team, right? Jerrelle jokingly said she likes to look at this hustle inspiration before taking a nap.

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Jerrelle and Eric planned their loft as an ode to the abundance of natural light. She explains, “Because the windows are so low to the ground, I kept a lot of the furniture low to the ground also. It felt wrong to put things in the way of the light, since it’s the highlight of the space.”

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Jerrelle had her priorities straight when she moved in — a few basic pieces and a kitchen arsenal. “I love DIY. I drove from Texas to Boston with my coffee table shoved into the back of the SUV. Before I moved, I found it discarded outside of a warehouse and bakery, but I loved it so much I refinished it, stained it, and brought it across [the] country with me. I didn’t want to live in an empty space and didn’t have the money to buy a bunch of new furniture because I was just starting school. So it was just me, a bunch of boxes filled with kitchen stuff and clothes, and my refurbished coffee table.”

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A detail of the coffee table, a former pallet, Jerrelle salvaged in Houston and schlepped to Boston.

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Both Jerrelle and Eric are dedicated to health and spiritual wellbeing, and she says, “This pouf makes sitting for long periods of time doing absolutely nothing okay.”

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Jerrelle finds a lot of joy in adding DIY elements to their home. “I’ve made a lot of things out of found or thrifted objects, and find it so therapeutic, and most of [the] things in the apartment are Home Depot projects we did together.” The headboard was a piece of plywood they stained. Christopher the cat obviously finds it to be a chill place to relax.

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The embellishments on the headboard are a nod to the couple’s signs. “The Lionhead doorknockers are a nod to Eric’s sun sign and my moon sign. I’m obviously very into astrology, too.”

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The succulents were a recent DIY addition to the space. Jerrelle and Eric’s loft is close to Fenway park, so they can sometimes watch the Red Sox play from the comfort of their home.

 

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Detail of the DIY succulent wall the couple made.

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Adding this wall-mounted desk system made their living/work area flow much better, especially for Christopher, who looks quite busy

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What are Jerrelle and Eric most grateful for? “Everything,” she says enthusiastically. “[Our loft] is perfect for us, for where we are in our lives right now. It’s close to everything we need, the views make us feel connected to the city, and the lighting is everything for my photography.”

 

SOURCE LIST

Living Room

Black Bookshelf – Ikea
Wire Baskets – Sur La Table
Rug – Cynthia Rowley
Bread Painting – Jerrelle Guy inspired by artist Tjalf Sparnaay
Button Pillows – HomeGoods
Cushions – The Foam Factory/ Cushion Cover – Sewfisticated Fabrics
Lamp – Found
Prop Chest – Savers
Studio Lights – Amazon

Kitchen

Wall Paint – black chalkboard paint
Table – John Boos
Bulk Grain Containers – Bed Bath and Beyond
Barstools – Amazon
KitchenAid Stand Mixer – gift from Mama
Keurig – gift from Mama
Mini Food Processor – Bed Bath and Beyond
Moscow Mule Cups – Gift from Lisa Bolin
Tea Kettle and Espresso Maker – Sur La Table
Dish Towel – family gift
Magnet spice containers – Bed Bath and Beyond

Bedroom / Loft

Bedsheets – Target
Gold Silk Pillow cases – Grace Eleyae
Hanging Lights – Economy Hardware
Pouf Pillow Case – Amazon
Lion Head Doorknockers – Amazon
Gray Slippers – the Christmas Tree Store
African Print Pillow Cases (18”) – Amazon
Painting – gift from Rusty Hill Photography, artist Elizabeth Schowachert
“You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce” – Gift from Taylor Mulford

Work Area/Living Room

Shelving – Economy Hardware, painted with Copper Paint
Computer Chair – Staples

Hallway

Table Plant – Home Depot
Prop Napkins – West Elm
White Shelf – Found
Wall Paint – Black Chalkboard Paint

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