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