Things I Love About Oakland, California

August 22, 2008

Hi everyone! First, a huge thanks to Holly for inviting me to write a guest post while she and Thorsten are getting settled in their new haus in Germany. My name is Leah, and I have a blog called More Ways to Waste Time, which is exactly that (but hopefully in a good way!).

After having lived in San Francisco, London, and New York, my family and I now call Oakland, California, home ? and today I want to share with you some of the things I love most about our adopted hometown. Just across the Bay and a few minutes from San Francisco, Oakland is often overshadowed by its beautiful and glamorous big-sister city ? but has many quiet pleasures of its own just waiting to be discovered if you take time to look.

Like Brooklyn, Oakland is home to an incredibly vibrant creative community, many members of which have migrated to this side of the Bay Bridge in recent years in search of more space, more sun, and a more affordable, down-to-earth lifestyle that is not always possible in San Francisco these days. I?m constantly amazed by the wealth of creative talent Oakland boasts. We have a lot of great art happenings around town and a growing number of wonderful independent shops and unique wares produced right here in ?Oaktown.?

Here, a photographic tour of some of my very favorite homegrown treasures:

Things I Love About Oakland, California

So many incredible emerging and established artists live in Oakland. The prestigious California College of the Arts is a big draw, as is the relatively affordable warehouse and studio space available in industrial West Oakland. Clockwise from top left: Pieces by Lisa Solomon; Marci Washington; Yvette Molina; Sarah Haba; and Patricia Gillespie.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

The upstart art galleries in Oakland?s Uptown area stay open late for the Oakland Art Murmur on the first Friday of each month.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

Hundreds of artisans, craftspeople, and designers live and work in Oakland as well, creating gorgeous pottery, textiles, and other handmade or independently produced homewares. Above photo, clockwise from left: Salvaged vinyl and marine fabric tote from Bird vs. Bird; Mediums to Masses? silkscreened glass designs; Jason Munn of the Small Stakes gigposter; recycled fabric pillow by A Minor Thread?s Charlie Wright; eggshell diorama by J. Brook Patterson; Ezme Designs ceramics.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

Wooden apple box by Miss Natalie; Whitney Smith?s ceramic creations; Maja Brugos of Tikoli?s graphic tea towels; Doileez from Modern-Twist; Papaver Vert’s felted wool vases (OK, I’m cheating a little bit, since felting goddess Patty Benson actually lives in Alameda ? but hey, it’s right next door); Jason Lees’ handcrafted modern furniture.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

Several great little home boutiques have opened here in the last couple of years, offering eco-friendly housewares, fabulous vintage furniture, high-end designer pieces, handmade goods, and other chic home accents. Top photo, clockwise: Form Vintage Modern; Maison d?Etre; Nathan + Co.; the Dry Garden (photo by Chuck B.).

Things I Love About Oakland, California

Of course I must include the lovely and popular Atomic Garden; Entrez; Industrielle; FiveTen Studio; and Mignonne.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

A few more things I love about Oakland… The fried-chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty (to die for; photo by pengrin); B Restaurant; Oaklandish t-shirt; the awesome monthly 800+ vendor Antiques and Collectibles Faire (on the neighboring island of Alamada); I Hella Love Oakland t-shirt.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

The jaw-dropping Paramount Theatre (photo by lisa-k); the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, the best place anywhere for pizza, beer, and a movie; the always-outspoken marquee (photo by Stephanie Anne) at the Grand Lake Theater, a restored art deco movie palace.

Things I Love About Oakland, California

Oakland?s breathtaking new architectural wonder, the $190 million ?Cathedral of Light? (photo by 1600 Squirrels); beautiful Lake Merritt; and views for days (photo by Peter Rafanan).

Thanks again to Holly for letting me share some of my hometown favorites here on decor8.

Globe trotters & Bay Area locals: If you live in the Bay Area or have a vacation planned in San Francisco, be sure to pop on over to Oakland and check us out! To view many more things that I love about Oakland visit the Things I Hella Love About Oakland series on my blog.

(images linked above to sources, layout and text by Leah Hennen.)


  • Reply elizabeth August 22, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    awwww! i recently moved to Eugene, Oregon from hella downtown Oakland. we rented out our Jack London Square condo for greener pastures up here. i’m loving the green– but your Oakland entry got me right in the heart. Oakland is still home, even if my mail comes to Oregon these days!
    thanks for highlighting home for me!

  • Reply lisa August 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Just found your page and enjoyed this post. I, too, live in Oakland and was reminded by your post that it is a very interesting city! I am going to check out some of the shops you listed this weekend! Thanks!

  • Reply Cupcakes and Cashmere August 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    How is it that you didn’t mention the Oakland A’s??? I’m from the Bay Area and while I technically should be a Giants fan, I love the vibe at the Oakland Coliseum. The fans, the baseball and some of the best bbq EVER!

  • Reply Hannah August 22, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Yay for Oakland! Leah, you did a great job of capturing our city.

    Hannahs last blog post: Car Snac

  • Reply The City Sage August 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the great tour, Leah. I just moved to the Bay Area from Brooklyn and it’s terrific to have a cheat sheet on all the things to check out! My mouth is watering at the thought of one of those fried chicken sandwiches :)

    The City Sages last blog post: Color Me In

  • Reply Stella August 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for showing how great our city is! I’m always looking for new artists and shops in Oakland and this will keep me busy this weekend!

    Stellas last blog post: Paper Couture

  • Reply Rachel August 22, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I love this post! I’ll be down there next month, now I have a bunch of great places to check out. Thanks!

  • Reply maja @ tikoli August 22, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    hooray for oakland and thanks for the mention!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente August 22, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Oh, this is so great! I don’t know alot about Oakland (I am a northeast gal) but, this lovely post made me really want to visit. It sounds fabulous and looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing and now I am off to check out your blog!

    Melissa de la Fuentes last blog post: hope II

  • Reply Carrie August 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Berkeley native, currently living and working in Oakland (and very fond of it), and I was totally with you until the Cathedral of Light. That thing is hideous.

  • Reply Shauna August 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    great post! and another thing I love about Oakland? This gal:

    viva la oakland!

  • Reply Grace @ Poetic Home August 22, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Fabulous post! I really miss the bay area (spent several years in Berkeley), and the “I hella love Oakland” shirt made me laugh really hard. I am deeply happy to see that the artist culture there is vibrant and happy, and I can’t wait to visit the new shops that have just opene.d

    Grace @ Poetic Homes last blog post: Japanese Tansu..perfect for vintage treasures

  • Reply Jennifer August 22, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah! Although I live in Alameda, I’m in Oakland every day for work… I hella love Oakland too! It is funny, because I’m typically in the “bad” neighborhoods of East Oakland, but I still love it! I seriously think Oakland is coming into its own…. Buy your houses now!

  • Reply Nancy August 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I love Oakland too, though now Walnut Creek is my hometown. There are so few cities with its mix–art, natural beauty, restaurants, etc. And, most importantly, its very diverse socio-economic blend. Thanks for giving me several more places to scout out.

    Nancys last blog post: Headphones: our new isolation unit

  • Reply Leah August 22, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks, everyone!

    Cupcakes & Cashmere: I didn’t mention the Oakland A’s because, alas, they will soon be the Fremont A’s. Also, since my future husband Barry Zito defected for the Giants, I find my interest in baseball waning …



    Leahs last blog post: Shameless Plug: Guest Post on decor8

  • Reply charlie w. August 23, 2008 at 12:13 am

    i, too, hella love oakland. i’ll be celebrating my 6-year oaklandiversary in december! this is a wonderful post to remind me why i’m here. thank you!

  • Reply casacaudill August 23, 2008 at 2:20 am

    What a great list!

    Some of my other Oakland faves:

    – all of the great farmers markets: Lakeshore, Jack London and Temescal to name a few

    – Pizzaiolo and Dona Tomas, just a couple of doors down from Bakesale Betty

    – Hiking in the Oakland Hills … it’s like going far away … in 15 minutes.

    – Thornhill Nursery in the Montclair district

    casacaudills last blog post: it was a busy (decorating) day

  • Reply Sarah H. August 23, 2008 at 2:26 am

    I’m in agreement! Oakland rocks, and the people that live here are all so wonderful! Thanks for featuring my glass table-wares:)

  • Reply kim August 23, 2008 at 2:43 am

    work near 40th and broadway (not in that sense); know the area well. personally dig marci washington a bit.

  • Reply rachel August 23, 2008 at 9:58 am

    thank you for posting yvette molina’s art – I’m in love!

  • Reply Jamie Watson August 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    This is a terrific post. I live across the bay on the peninsula, and have always wanted to know more about the artists that live in Oakland. Will definitely take a weekend day to head over, and indulge in that fried chicken sandwich!! (-:

    Jamie Watsons last blog post: Surf Fridays!

  • Reply Marie August 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you Holly for this wonderful piece about Oakland.

    My favorite thing about the city is the wide variety which blends just perfectly … I am not sure it is making sense for other than me though ; )

    Being the owner of Entrez (thanks for mentioning the store) I don’t have so much time to shop, but I will for sure check out the stores you mentioned and contact Tikoli for their products, they look gorgeous!

  • Reply Marie August 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Leah, sorry, I got distracted and put Holly’s name instead of yours :(
    Holly, thank you for having Leah as your guest! isn’t she making a wondeful PR agent for our town ; )

  • Reply J August 23, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I grew up in Alameda and have lived in around the East Bay, including Oakland. Growing up, I had really mixed feelings about Oakland and am only now appreciating what it’s become and come from.

    Good job on your post – very insightful.

  • Reply lisa August 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    this was a wonderful post. as you know, i live in SF but my significant other lives across the bay. you have wonderful recommendations and such a lovely collection of wonderful things about oakland!
    lisa congdon

    lisas last blog post: OLD SCHOOL OPENS!!

  • Reply Arctida August 24, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Great post! I’m in love :) Thank you for sharing :)

    Arctidas last blog post: Homemade Lavender Soap with Shea Butter

  • Reply Brandie August 24, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I am so glad someone gave Oakland the kudos it deserves! We moved away from Oaktown a few years ago (we lived in the hills and in Jack London Square) and we miss it terribly. After reading your blog, I totally missed the Parkway…any day that ended in a “y”, I was there.

    Brandies last blog post:

  • Reply JENNIFER RAMOS August 25, 2008 at 12:25 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit OAKLAND….this actually made me want to EVEN more, thanks!!!! : )

    Jen Ramos
    ‘100% Recycled DESIGNER Cards & More’

  • Reply MissNatalie August 25, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Thanks so much for the lovely mention, Leah. You are dead-on for all your recommendations, especially Bakesale Betty’s. I’ve converted many die hard city folks on the goodness of Oakland with one whiff of those fried chicken sandwiches (and almond apricot scones, oh my).

    MissNatalies last blog post: Finnish Sailor Wooden Apple Box

  • Reply EBrown September 20, 2008 at 3:20 am

    I ? Oakland. Prefer it to anyplace else in the Bay Area. Best weather in the Bay Area. Great public trans. Great restaurants: the ones you included plus Doppo, Bay Wolf, Citron. Great coffee: Rooz, Cole Coffee, LaMyx, Uncle Gaylords. Great people: just about anyone you meet.

    I love the Cathedral of Light. It’s gracious to the buildings surrounding it and it shows a commitment to an urban and struggling area. Check out Loren Partridge Gallery on Piedmont Ave. for prints of Imogene Cunningham’s work and some interesting African pieces. Sagarada in the Temescal is a spirituality bookshop that always has interesting pieces.

    Oakland: try it you’ll like it.

    EBrowns last blog post: Haiga

  • Reply EBrown September 20, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Instead of the ? read “love”

    EBrowns last blog post: Haiga

  • Reply qq July 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Thank you for sharing this information. The information was very helpful and saved a lot of my time.

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