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Name: Aleksandra Zee, Antrom Kury, our pups Jack and Lady
Lease: Oakland, California
Size: 1,002 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 3 years, rental
Aleksandra Zee and husband Antrom Kury are both artists and woodworkers, and in the small Oakland house they rent, it shows. Yes, the home features projects they’ve worked on themselves, like a beautiful built-in dining bench and some gorgeous DIY IKEA cabinet doors. But the home is also an homage to wood in all its forms and by many different creators.
Friend and artist Katie Gong’s gorgeous wood knots can be seen around the house (she’s actually the one who found this rental on Craigslist for Aleksandra and Antrom, when they were busy planning their wedding). And there are other ways wood and its varied textures and tones shows up in every room of the home, from fabulous furniture splurges, to live-edge accessories, even wooden serving bowls!
While the inside of their rental home could be described as an ode to nature, thanks to all the wooden elements, it’s the home’s actual connection to nature that really sold them on this rental. “It sits on a hill in and the backyard is what did it for us,” Aleksandra explains. “We had been living in a charming apartment and had been wanting to move into a home and this was the perfect one! The backyard is huge and we have since put a lot of love into it; that is where we love spending all of our time when it is nice out! It’s the perfect little house for our family that we are trying to grow. There are two bedrooms and our garage is my husband’s music studio. The house is also 10 minutes away from my woodshop, so it is in the perfect location.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
MyStyle: Live-in minimal, monochromatic
Inspiration: My biggest inspiration is the California landscape, from desert to ocean and the relaxed design that California is known for. My goal for this space is comfort and relaxation. Running an artwork business with my husband is a 24/7 job and coming home to a calm and serene environment is so important to us.
Favorite Item: Our favorite thing is all of the artwork we have collected over the years from our favorite artists. Our home feels like a gallery and each piece brings me so much joy. Our backyard is also a paradise that we have transformed; it is such a magical space to spend time in.
Biggest Challenge: Storage is the hardest part about this home. The closet space is tiny. So we have gotten creative with IKEA hacks and making extra storage also look and feel special.
Proudest DIY: A few of my fave DIYs are the deck in the backyard; there was only dirt when we moved in. Also, the built-in bench seating at our dining room table. Our living room and dining room are the same room so I wanted to make the seating at the table another spot to recline and entertain. I found the perfect size cushions and my husband and I built the bench.
And the closet IKEA makeover. I needed extra storage and we decided to take an IKEA Pax unit and give a makeover so that it not only matched our decor but looked like art itself. I love how it came out.
Biggest Indulgence: Our Restoration Hardware dining table. I love it. I am a big fan of splurging on certain timeless items and then sourcing more affordable ones that complement the higher price point pieces. It is all about balance. I love the cement and wood of the table and it will be a piece we have in our home for many years to come.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The best part about our home is that we love to entertain. Hosting gatherings is one of my favorite things to do, so we set up our home to be a comfortable and beautiful space to entertain. When you walk in the front door you are in the living room/dining room with a HUGE couch and sizable table with lots of places to sit and enjoy company. Directly across from the front door is the door to the backyard where we have done a lot of the same, creating moments to relax and entertain.
The garage in our home is my husband’s music studio, and he has transformed the space into a musical paradise. He writes and records his original music and compositions as well as works with various other musicians in his studio.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? So many favorites, from our artwork collection, to our Pottery Barn primary bedroom, and our SixPenny couch. Our home really feels like us. We have chosen every detail with consideration. Living in a small space, we really love for things to have function and if they are purely aesthetic, they are super important.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Making over IKEA furniture is a game changer; we had so much fun personalizing it. For me, as a maker, if I can’t find it sold somewhere I make it. I love that my hubby is always game for my wild ideas!
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Find your style, and take the time to develop it. Stay away from fads that leave you wanting to change everything all the time.
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.