I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oakland has it all and IKEA too

This was Oakland, California in 1900.
 I think it must have been a beautiful town then.... not as crowded or diverse but with a much more rural appearance. This is still a great city. It's diverse population is an asset to the community because it shows how a variety of ethnic groups can live and work together when there is cooperation and effort. It has it's problems like any city does but I find I feel more comfortable here than in other cities. My oldest son lives here. If you're interested, go here for a bit of Oakland's history.
I have lived around this city all my life, but never in it. When I was a child my father worked at the Navel Supply Center, here, near the Bay Bridge. Because we lived to the east in a very small town (at the time). We went to Oakland for everything. We shopped here, we went to movies here and spent a lot of time at Lake Merritt, Jack London's square, Broadway and MacArthur Blvd (at Kaiser Hospital where my sister was born), and visiting friends who did live here. Now, so many years later, my son lives here. I'm getting to know this town much better than I ever did when I was growing up.
For all of you who know this area here's a trivia question. What's missing in the above picture? I mean besides the thousands of houses that have been built since then. Look out toward San Francisco. Look at the bay area. What's missing?...... Bridges?  There are no bridges. No Golden Gate connecting San Francisco to Marin County (The Golden Gate wasn't completed until 1937). No Bay Bridge connecting Oakland  to San Francisco. There were lots of Ferries, but no bridges. How strange for those of us who always remember the bridges. How different it must have been.
I stayed an extra day so I could go see "M" and the improvements on his little bungalow in the upper Laurel district (now he tells me that it's really in Redwood Heights). I'm not that sure what it's called. I just know how to get there.
This little house is, I think, only about 700 sq. ft. all together. It was built in 1911. It was probably a caretakers cottage on a large estate or farm. There was this scary little bathroom that was added to the back porch a long time ago when who ever lived in it decided to bury the outhouse. I was in fear of "M"s life when he took a shower. The whole bathroom tilted. You had to hold on to the sink when you used the toilet. This little house needed some tender loving care. Now, it's getting some thanks to my son and the man next door who is a contractor, neighbor and very nice guy.
They have added a bedroom and a new bath to the back of the house. OMG! It's beautiful....and a laundry, and a new back entrance. It just so exciting.... so exciting that I forgot to take pictures this time because I were so busy getting a rundown from "M"s neighbor, meeting his wife, looking at paint patches on the wall and helping make decisions about flooring and paint color.
We drove to Home Depot to buy a mirror and towel set for the bathroom.Then it was time for dinner so "M" drove us to Emeryville to the new redeveloped area that had restaurants, condos and very efficient parking.
The weather was cold and windy. I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home with me.  We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen above the "Main Street" and I had a chicken, pesto, artichoke and cheese pizza that was wonderful. We went down onto the "PLAZA" and got a cookie at a cupcake store. Yes, they have stores that only sell cupcakes and cookies. Amazing.
The weather was so beautiful. My son was cold. He likes warm weather. He's a runner and soccer player so he likes "pleasant" weather. I was in my element. Maybe I need to live by the ocean instead of the dry foothills.
Then we drove to IKEA.
I don't even know where to begin, so I guess I'll start with the entrance.....
This is the biggest most entertaining store I have ever been in. You have to experience this store just once. This is my second time and I'm still in awe of the size and volume of things in this store.
When you inter the store you can pick up catalogs....

... a paper tape measure and a pencil....and if you are hungry there is a cafe that has world renowned SWEDISH MEAT BALLS. Even one of my comments mentioned them.
And then the entertainment begins....
There are floors of everything that you will every need to fill the inside of a home....from decor to whole bedrooms....
Everything is set up so you can see what your space will look like.... together and with prices, sq. footage and accessories.
I loved this bedroom with it's pale lavender walls and black and white everything else.

But this one was my favorite...
Very French and La Boheme. I love the free standing closet and the black iron bed. The whole room was just charming. I thought IKEA just had really modern, kind of generic furniture but some of this furniture is really more traditional.... and the best part is that it's not very expensive. You do have to assemble everything yourself.
This was "M"s favorite kitchen. That's the next part of his renovation and he liked this kitchen. It would be on a smaller scale for his space.

The counter tops are granite and the cabinet fronts are bead board or glass. I doubt that he would want this quantity of glass front cabinets but maybe a couple would be nice. The farm sink is really big and the tile backsplash would be very easy to keep clean. 
There was another one that he liked too. It was more modern and sleek...
This kitchen was more the size that would fit the space he has and was less expensive. I liked it too.
Can you believe all of this? There were whole sections with mock ups of different kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms like this. There were areas with just beds and mattresses. A whole corner with chairs, couches and one with desks and offices. Then, they had a floor of children's things. It's all there if your feet can hold up. Mine finally said "Enough" and we headed for the front door, following the arrows,  hoping to make it to the car before my feet gave out completely  and I dreamed of rubbing in some Aspercream later on. 
I hope you get to see one of these IKEA stores someday. You won't be sorry.... but give yourself at least half a day. This isn't just a walk to the chicken coop.


  1. I have a great Oakland story. My Mom and Dad had just married and driven across country from NC to Oakland. Dad was being deployed to Hawaii 1948 and Mom had to wait 6 months before she could join him. Dad was having his car checked out at the dealership and Mom decided to go out and sit at the bus stop. Never meeting a stranger she struck up a conversation with an older woman sitting and waiting for the bus. She told the woman she was looking for a room to rent for 6 months while Dad went ahead to Hawaii(by ship). Dad came out with the car and they drove to the womens home and moved in. Dad left for Hawaii and Mom and Mom Pearson became best friends until her death in the 70's. She called Mom her little honey child. She took Mom all over the Bay area. Think that would happen in this day and age???
    What fun to help your son with his little cottage. We don't have and Ikea her in Fl.
    Lucy (Susie)

  2. I've still never been to an Ikea store, and I can't wait!

  3. I first went to IKEA about 20 years ago when we were in Vancouver BC. I had not heard of them before this and was stunned at the size. I swear we spent an entire day there and wondered if it would be worth renting a truck and driving back up to purchase some things. Recently they opened a store in this area and I've been once. The thrill is gone but I still think it's a fun place and when the catalogs come out I enjoy window shopping.

  4. We do not have a IKEA store here. I wish we did it sounds like a great store. My husband and I lived in San Francisco for a while he drove city buses there in l960. We traveled many time over the bay bridge going to visit my folks in Nevada City. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. I felt the same about Toronto (where I lived until I was 12)and discovering a whole new ball game, as they say, when I went back in the spring. Now, about Ikea...its kind of like a FUN torture maze to go through it! I always come home with some silly gadget or gorgeous bed spread. Lucky for my wallet we don't have one on the Island and I have to make a trip to the mainland to go. By the way, I prefer the first kitchen design... must be the country gal in me!

  6. I have two IKEA chairs and a side table but I have never been to one of the stores. I would love to go. Thanks for the tour. We almost moved to a home in the Oakland hills when I was very young but the deal fell apart at the last minute so we stayed in Fremont (Mission San Jose). It seems like when I lived in the bay area, we always flew right past Oakland and went to SF. (except for when we went to Fentons Creamery!) Hope you remember to take pics of M's house next time. It sounds very cool.

  7. Well I knew your first comment was my Lucy before I even got to the end. I love this post. I was born in Oakland. We lived in the Piedmont Hills until I was 8. Love the pics and how gorgeous everything is now!
    the kitchens are very cool. I would LOVE a big farm sink.

  8. Connie--B's Aunt, who just passed away a few months ago, was one of the first people to walk across the bridge when it was built. I am going to have to see if I can get a copy of the photo they took of her. Also, she inaugurated one of the Liberty ships when she was 16. What an incredible life.----We put one of those farm sinks in when we bought our IKEA cabinets for our kitchen! Easy to assemble and easy to install. And, they look great, especially with that sink!

  9. When we moved back to Oakland, we remodeled the kitchen out of Ikea. Now that we're familiar with the store, we see quite a few Ikea touches in businesses around town, as well as in magazines. I like their innovations


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