Name: Jennifer Li
Location: Lakeside — Oakland, California
Size: 440 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, rented
When I asked Jennifer about the inspiration behind her Oakland apartment, she turned on her TV and played the music video for Rihanna and DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts.” In it, Rihanna dances around in a bedroom covered in emerald-green walls full of lush, dangling vines. This specific scene in the video prompted Jennifer to take a screenshot and match the paint color at a local Home Depot, which she would use to paint the wall at her studio’s entry. “It looked so deliciously sumptuous and sexy — both Rihanna and the wall,” she says.
This is what is most admirable about Jennifer’s apartment. For being such a small space, it takes from a bunch of different inspirations. To give a few examples, the living room creates a dark and glam mood, the bathroom feels invigorating and preppy, and the bed loft is perfect for a lounging and being lazy. “I love that I can go into each room of my apartment and feel good in a different way,” Jennifer says.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: “Maximalist-Dark” and Moody-Glam Plant Lady”
Inspiration: Rihanna and extravagantly rich white women. Actually, anyone who is being extra, and unapologetically commits to something, whether it’s a goth or a pastel-rainbow look. I actually painted one of my studio walls green after watching Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts” video with DJ Khaled because it looked so deliciously sumptuous and sexy (both Rihanna and the wall). I took a screenshot and tried to match the color at Home Depot.
Favorite Element: Gold over everything. Also bismuth because that’s the bisexual element in the periodic table.
Biggest Challenge: Finding more wall space for art, and counter space for plants. I’m not exactly a minimalist. The wall space is a challenge, but for the counter space, I’ve actually mounted three shelves for plants, and put clippings in the little wall-mounted glass vials.
“Find stuff you like. And if you find something free and it might work, just take it! You can always cover up an ugly pattern or finish with paint or contact paper.”
What Friends Say: “This looks like a cool grandma’s house” or “Your place is an earthquake hazard!” or “Didn’t you just move in?” In the case of my mom, “Stop putting stuff on your walls!”
Biggest Embarrassment: The ugly florescent lights that come with the place. It makes everything look sickly and ugly. I have them in the kitchen, and the front part of my bathroom where the shower is. And the air shaft that my bed loft and bathroom windows open to. When I open it, it smells like cigarettes and moldy carpet. I try to keep them closed.
Proudest DIY: My entire apartment? I did up the whole place myself, from the wall painting, making the shelves (both hanging and L-bracket), painting furniture, contact-papering the bookshelf and coffee table, to liquid starching the bathroom faux-wallpaper. I’m just proud of the entire apartment. It’s my biggest DIY!
Biggest Indulgence: My damn rent. The Bay Area (including Oakland) is more expensive than New York or DC! But I think my biggest indulgence was just letting myself decorate and make this place my own.
“I love that I can go into each room of my apartment and feel good in a different way. I feel dark and glamorous in my living room, invigorated and preppy in my bathroom, like I’m in a weird and personal gallery in my kitchen, and like a lounging, lazy princess in my bed loft.”
Best Advice: Find stuff you like. And if you find something free and it might work, just take it! You can always cover up an ugly pattern or finish with paint or contact paper. A lot of my furniture is actually office furniture, but I just added paint or something else on it to make it more “homey.” My first apartment was all office furniture. My dining table was an office conference table I put a tablecloth over, and my “dresser” was my old boss’s filing cabinet that matched the desk. I finally got rid of it when I found the actual dresser I have now on the street. Oh, and if you want to wallpaper in a rental, or just do it on the cheap, buy fabric you like and liquid starch it to your wall. It’s so much cheaper! It cost less than half for me to do my entire bathroom than it was to do that one small wall in my bed loft with official “temporary wallpaper.”
Dream Sources: Alameda Point Antiques Faire, Goodwill (on a good day), San Francisco Flower Mart, Home Depot (for paints and plants), the street, CB2 (if I ever had the money), Etsy, eBay, and wherever I can find stuff that’s cheap and interesting looking.
PAINT & COLORS
Black paint — Behr Ultra Matte, Blackout
Pink paint — Behr Ultra Eggshell, Flamingo Feather
Green paint — Behr Ultra Eggshell, Fairy Queen
Blue paint — Behr Ultra High Gloss, Calypso Blue
Bed loft wallpaper — Wallflora via Etsy
Bathroom fabric — Fabric.com
Beaker glass tube 16″ wall vase — CB2
Baker glass tube 8″ wall vase — CB2
Wall mounted teardrop vase — CB2
Rocking chair — Free from first office I worked at in D.C.
Gold mirrored table — Ross
TV Console — IKEA
Maroon leather chair — Free from first office I worked at in D.C.
Coffee table — Miss Pixie’s in Washington, D.C.
Marble contact paper — Amazon
Grey Daybed/ couch — Amazon
Blue and White vases — Chinatown
Pillows — Ross, Michael’s, Burlington Coat Factory
Sword and shield — Alameda Point Antiques Faire
Print above radiator — Gift from little brother
Print of The Proletariat of the World Stand Together in Chinese — Gift from a college housemate
Silver tray — Alameda Point Antiques Faire
Gold lions on TV console — Alameda Point Antiques Faire
Rug — Wayfair
Red side table — Free from street, painted red
Bar cart — Target
Ottoman — Goodwill
Gold antlers — Goodwill
Gold pineapples — Goodwill
Brown mirror — T.J.Maxx, gold detailing painted by myself
Coca Cola mirrors — Ebay
Vintage mirrors — Free from street
Shelves — Cole Hardware, Home Depot
Bar stools — TJ Maxx
Executive Desk — Free from first office I worked at in D.C.
Dresser — Free from the street
Gold and wood clock — Free pile in apartment lobby
Wall jewelry holder — Burlington Coat Factory
Bookshelf — Free from first office I worked at in D.C.
Yellow chair — Free from the street, repainted
Gold candlabra — World Market
Green lions on table — Chinatown
Grey carpet — Burlington Coat Factory
Green lamp — Goodwill
Gold vinyl dots — Amazon
Lower Shelf — Cole Hardware, Home Depot
Hanging Shelf — Cole Hardware
Microwave — Gift
Artwork — my own
Bed loft wallpaper — Wallflora via Etsy
Sailor moon poster — Childhood heirloom, had it since I was 5 years old
Sailor moon scarf — Anime Expo
Gold and black canvas — Burlington Coat Factory
Mounted antlers — eBay
Blue elephant side table — Ross
String lights — Target
Paper lamp — Target
Hanging lantern — World Market
Painting of moon phases — My artwork
Bathroom “Wallpaper” — Fabric.com
Porcelain stool — TJ Maxx
White table — Free from first office I worked at in D.C.
Window contact paper — Amazon
Bamboo rack above toilet — Amazon
Bath mat and curtain — Target