Budget Breakdown: A Bay Area Warehouse Becomes a Live/Work Space For $124K
With one foot in the tech design industry and the other firmly in the art world, producer and community organizer Michelle Morrison started saving to purchase her own home before she turned 30. She was dreaming of her own industrial live/work space, and after 10 years in San Francisco, she started to look in Oakland for a warehouse space which she could convert.
After searching for months and being outbid on multiple spaces, she finally upped her budget as much as she could afford and hit the jackpot—winning a 1,300-square-foot former coffee and produce warehouse in Oakland’s waterfront warehouse district. The space was exactly what she was looking for—something she could break down and build back up.
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Feeling empowered by her purchase, Morrison set her sights on an even loftier goal: to convert the space into her dream home with just a $125,000 budget. With Siol Studios and Elliott Build in tow, the results came in on time and exactly within her budget—and she was able to move in just seven months after closing.
Says Morrison, "I was on a pre-election feminist high, and I bought the loft from a woman and I had a female loan officer, so it only made sense to find a design and build team who were also women. I started calling my home the Womansion."
The super-efficient team successfully executed a carefully considered design that met Michelle’s goals in creative, budget-friendly ways. For example, instead of using raw walnut for the parquet stairs, they repurposed countertops for a beautiful walnut finish. That same walnut "countertop" material (which was sourced from IKEA for only $500) also became a beautiful dining table. Creative hacks such as these gave Morrison the flexibility in her budget to splurge on priority pieces like a $4,200 bespoke pink velvet sofa from Anthropologie—a statement piece which ultimately defines the living room space.
Morrison also had her heart set on having a marble countertop and backsplash for her kitchen. Instead of purchasing from a designer showroom, she was able to score a piece from IRG, a Bay Area marble supplier. The price was so good that she even picked up a spare in case she needs a matching piece to construct a small island in the future.
Now, her beautifully designed, maximalist dream space is filled with plants, artwork, and heirloom furniture from her family, curiosities from her travels, and an extra-long dinner table where she can host dinner parties and continue to organize her feminist agenda—all the things that make a live/work loft truly a home.