Things I Love About Oakland, California

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

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.).

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

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.

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.

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.)