InteriorsStudio Tour

Shop Tour: Marisa Mason

by Rebekah Carey

Marisa Mason, a shop in Oakland, CA’s “Temescal Alleys,” is a prime example of not rushing your business into growing. For the past six years, Marisa Haskell has been able to grow slowly, learning what she needs in time, how she wants to expand, and even having the opportunity to take on a connecting space in her latest location. Marisa began her business in 2011, after leaving the design/build industry after the recession left her with limited hours and job options. Without much to lose, Marisa saw this as an opportunity to try her hand at owning her own business. Having always loved making jewelry and feeling ready to venture out on her own, she made the jump to sublet a tiny studio in what’s now known as Temescal Alleys (a shopping area that’s connected by two pedestrian alleys featuring beautiful local businesses) after a friend had an art studio there years before. Her friend moved on, but Marisa never forgot the space — or the potential she imagined the alley having.

With the two alleys being tucked off the street, it’s created a sense of community for the shop-owners, where they’ve been able to bounce ideas off each other and learn from the growth and advice of their peers. This element happens to be one of the things Marisa is most grateful for in her space, which was originally horse stables for the Oakland Fire Department in the 20s. When Marisa took over, it was a storage shed with corrugated metal doors as the facade. The positive was that it was a blank slate for the latest Marisa Mason shop, and her husband is a builder, meaning they could be even more ambitious in the space. While Marisa was able to make all of the design decisions without a previous owner’s designs getting in the way, she did want to be sure to incorporate some of the original character of the building, and not be hemmed in by making it feel solely like the Bay Area.

One side of the shop was rustic with brick walls, concrete floors, and exposed dark wood ceilings. The new side was drywall with chipboard wood floors. The couple decided to rip out the wood floors on the new side so that both sides would have cement, and they painted the wood ceilings on the original side white to better blend with the plaster they added, and to brighten the space. Now, with the arched doorway and clay walls, customers have likened the shop to Morocco, Mexico, or the Southwest. Marisa’s goal was to have the shop feel like a vacation, where you’re transported to another place, no matter how briefly. With the expansion of the shop now completed — which happened to coincide with the couple having a newborn — they can revel in their hard work paying off… and dream of some new display cases and furniture elements that Dave can build with his company Jacob May when they have the time. Below, you’ll get to read about how Marisa and Dave conquered connecting the two spaces to make them feel cohesive, and what makes their shop unique. —Rebekah

Photography by Hannah Thornhill

Image above: “The back room is a few inches lower than the front room, so we had to make a ramp to connect them,” Marisa explains. “We used the same redwood for continuity and it makes a satisfying sound when you walk on it, like crossing an old bridge.”

Marisa Mason's Bright Exterior In Oakland On Design*Sponge
The Marisa Mason storefront now has not one, but two entrances, and its bright exterior leads to a beautifully designed space that celebrates small businesses and makers. 
Original Side Of Oakland Shop Marisa Mason On Design*Sponge

“This is the original side of the shop after our remodel,” Marisa explains. “My favorite change is the new surface on the walls — we used a product called American Clay to plaster over the brick walls. The pattern of the bricks shows up through it, which was an unexpected but happy effect.”

Clay Walls And Redwood Details Add Dimension To The Space On Design*Sponge

“This image shows the front of the store and displays the contrast between the clay walls and the redwood surfaces. I like the contrast of the warm and cool textures,” Marisa explains.

A Redwood Wall Proves To Be A Good Neutral For The Shop On Design*Sponge

Marisa describes her favorite details, “I love the redwood wall because we can change the display around so easily and it feels warm and inviting.”

A Painted Front Door Adds A Pop Of Color To The Shop On Design*Sponge

“I love the contrast of the redwood wall with the newly painted white ceilings. I like the pop of color from the front door added in the mix,” Marisa shares.

A Cozy Nook Wastes No Space And Creates An Inviting Environment In Marisa Mason On Design*Sponge

A petite corner is utilized to become a welcoming seating area. “This space felt so small that I thought it would be best to wrap the wood around to emphasize the cozy nook feeling,” Marisa explains.

Hard Work Pays Off In This Beautiful Additional Detail Added In Marisa Mason On Design*Sponge

A difficult project becomes a gorgeous focal point, “We had to demo the brick wall to create this passageway and my husband built the arch out of wood, which we then plastered over. It was quite an undertaking,” Marisa admits.

A Handmade Detail Still Holds Strong After Five Years In Marisa Mason Tour On Design*Sponge

Marisa explains a DIY store feature that’s lasted the test of time: “I made this display about five years ago in a pinch and have kept it around. I oxidized the wood using vinegar to blacken it, so it made the shop smell like pickles for about a week.”


“This is our studio space in the shop where we do mostly assembly. We have a separate studio where we have the torch and polishing machines.”

A Window Offers A Peekaboo Into The Marisa Mason Studio While Also Offering Privacy On Design*Sponge

Marisa explains the concept behind leaving a peek into the studio, “I wanted to create a little privacy in the studio to hide some of the chaos, but leave it open enough that customers could look in and see the process.”

Organization Is A Requirement In The 100 Square Foot Marisa Mason Studio On Design*Sponge

“We make a big effort to stay organized. It is not natural to me, but has been absolutely critical for running a jewelry line out of a space that is about 100 square feet.”

While The Studio Is Small Luckily Jewelry Doesn't Take Up Much Room On Design*Sponge

“One thing that has always been incredibly helpful is how much work you can fit into a tiny space with jewelry,” Marisa admits.

Familiar Details Ensure A Cohesive Design In The Marisa Mason Expanded Space On Design*Sponge

Marisa explains their key to cohesively connecting the two spaces, “We carried the redwood siding into the new space to clad the studio — we wanted to keep the space open so that customers could see the process.”


Marisa shares one of the most special aspects of her shop, “This is our ‘pop-up’ space where we have different designers every month who get to design the space however they want, so they basically have a store within the store. Our September designer shown here is Mira Blackman.” October’s featured designer will be Jess Feury.

Jacob May's Work Is Displayed In This Corner Of Marisa Mason In Oakland On Design*Sponge

In addition to the build-out in the shop, Marisa’s husband also has some of his handcrafted items for sale. “This is a little display of some of my husband’s work, his line is called Jacob May.”

A Resting Space Within Marisa Mason Offers An Additional Peek Into The Studio On Design*Sponge

“From the ‘pop-up’ space you can see into the studio to see how the work is made. I have always wanted one of these equipale couches and finally had some space for it,” Marisa shares.

Antiques Mix And Match Modern Pieces And Displays In Marisa Mason In Oakland On Design*Sponge

“I love mixing antique pieces throughout the shop like this antique Mexican chair that I dug out of my dad’s warehouse,” Marisa shares.

A New Entrance Calls For A New Mural By Meagan Donegan At Marisa Mason In Oakland Tour On Design*Sponge

Meagan Donegan painted the lovely mural outside the new side of the Marisa Mason shop.

Floor Plan Showing Both Incorporated Spaces Of Marisa Mason On Design*Sponge

Marisa created a layout that gives a clear feel for how the spaces connect, and how they’re utilized.


Front Room
Plaster- American Clay
Construction- Jacob May
Ceiling and wall paint- “Swiss Coffee,” Benjamin Moore
Table- Antique from Heidi Swanson of Quito Keeto
Various furniture- Antique/flea market/salvage yard
Masks- Guatemalan masks from Haskell antiques
Plants- Crimson Horticultural

Mirror- Jacob May
Cabinets and desktops- IKEA
Chairs- Craigslist, used

Back Room
Wall color- “Swiss Coffee,”  Benjamin Moore
Construction/wood working- Jacob May
Plants- Crimson Horticultural

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  • I am so drawn to this light-filled shop that feels like an escape. The jewelry display is so simple, effective and inviting. And I love the peek into her well organized workshop. I am going to plan a day trip to Oakland with a friend ASAP with to visit!

  • I live just two shakes away from this shop and the Temescal Alley. To say I love my home doesn’t even describe the level of feeling I have for this area of Oakland. Her shop is stunning in person. After you’ve looked through it, you can bop down the street to get an ice cream at curbside creamery. There’s also a super cute plant shop around the corner. Could be really cool to do a full feature on the alley. It’s really fun and unique.


  • I’m swooning over this space. l can imagine Georgia O’keefe stopping in for a look see and and being very pleased.

  • What a beautiful space! I bought a gorgeous MM necklace in SF at a similarly cute shop called Voyager in the mission — I’m scared to check out her Temescal Alley shop because I’d want to buy ALL THE THINGS!