The North Oakland home of Damien Merino and Jimmy Brower is beyond cool. From the vintage pieces to all of the greenery throughout, their loft is full of beautiful pieces and elements that provide a natural feel that is both cozy and clean. In this home tour, you’ll not only get to check out this awesome space, but also get to know more about two of the coolest creatives around.
We’re so excited to feature your beautiful home with our audience. Can you each tell us a little bit about yourselves?
J: Jimmy here. Thanks to all our new friends at Glitter Guide for this feature of The San Pablo Loft! Our last home tour was over a year ago, and it is ALWAYS a surprise how transformative this space can be from one year to the next. We love our gem in North Oakland!
I’m a Leo, fire sign—driven with a passion for leading people with their small brands and businesses in building relationships, connecting people through product and succeeding in their goals. Wholeheartedly, that comes from being a self-employed creative and entrepreneur, juggling a few small brands and businesses of my own, mainly my desert-inspired lifestyle brand West Perro and a marketplace for makers, merchants and mavericks called HEAD WEST.
I’m a blue-collar, Midwestern guy at heart, now rooted for the past 12 years on the West Coast. I have a firm belief that people should be treated how they want to be treated and that acceptance through love is a way of life.
In my downtime, I enjoy zen moments on long weekend adventures and far away road trips. You can also catch me at farmers’ markets and shopping small, catching up with friends and hosting dinner gatherings at The San Pablo Loft with Damien.
It also goes without saying that Joey is our heart, an 11-year-old rescue pup that came into my life 10 years ago and took a quick affection to Damien when we met 5 years ago. When people say they consider their pets as their kids, that couldn’t be any truer for us.
D: Thank you so much for asking us to share our home! In the process of getting ready for our tour, we really did fall in love with our space all over again.
I’m Damien. I was born in Hawaii and grew up in Southern California—I am West Coaster through and through. I love traveling and am always looking for our next adventure, I find so much inspiration from the people we meet and the places we get to see.
I love interior design, creating a space that represents your style while bringing in comfort and ease. I was that 15-year-old that changed his room around every couple of weeks and painted his walls to match his sheets (my parents loved that, I’m sure).
My professional career is in corporate retail where I am a manager on the Field Visual Merchandising team at Old Navy HQ. I love working for a brand that represents my values and allows me to be me. When I am not doing my day job, I am at Jimmy’s side whenever he needs my help. I love being able to support him as his brands grow, and nothing is more exciting than seeing his success.
How would you describe your décor style? How about your personal style?
Our décor inspiration for the loft is definitely not one defined style—it’s such a mix of our individual personalities, admiration for interior design + travel. We’re not 100 percent coastal, desert or mountains —but somewhere in the middle. These elements come through with inspired warm and neutral color tones you’d find on the Pacific Coast and Mojave Desert to the bark reds and greens of the Redwood Forests and Sierra Nevadas. Pair that with clean, modern lines found throughout our furniture and DIY projects to give an overarching sense of simplicity and comfort.
D: I love denim and cotton—a good thick canvas—American workwear and Levi’s. When it’s hot or we are on vacation, I like linen and hemp. As I get older, I find myself in a uniform—I own a denim shirt in every shade and own four pairs of Vans in the same exact style. I say it’s because as you get older, you know what looks good on you and what you’re comfortable in. I guess you could say I’m easy.
J: Touch and feel really comes through for me in textiles and their textures, probably because I work with my hands so much. Much of the time that translates into vintage clothing of oversized natural summer linens, denim shibori and handmade huaraches. I call it my Buddha-meets-Bohemian self. Then comes mountain rugged with worn-through blue jeans, hemp tees and work boots for DIY projects, mountain travels and winter. At the end of the day, I always overpack and my closet is full. Style for me happens in the moment, it’s a feeling.
Where are some of your favorite spots to shop for home décor?
For Plants: Cactus Jungle, East Bay Nursery, Brother & Sisters Flower Shop and The Home Depot
For Textiles: Nipomo, Coyuchi, Soukie Modern and Kudd:krig
For Furniture: West Elm, IKEA, Urban Ore, Amazon, Ashby Lumber and The Home Depot (Jimmy does a lot of DIY project builds)
For Vintage + Handmade: Local marketplaces and shows such as West Coast Craft, Renegade Craft Fair, and of course, HEAD WEST
What’s your favorite part about living in Oakland?
Oakland is a mix of social activism, creative arts and strong community—it’s a great representation of the Bay Area. Total, we’ve lived in Oakland for almost 10 years, and we are proud to call it home. Although we see change happening, the community remains vigilant and resilient in maintaining its culture, values and connection to its shared history.
You seem like you get to travel quite a bit. What are some of your favorite trips you’ve taken?
It’s so true—we love traveling! It’s important to us both to have a work/life balance. Mexico definitely takes the top spot for our favorite with a mix of people, culture, food and design that we love.
Another fun adventure was our travels north to Iceland—soaking ourselves in natural hot springs, trekking on top of massive glaciers and discovering beaches filled with black diamonds (not real diamonds, just really beautiful chunks of ice on a black sand beach).
Aside from international travel, we love getting in as many local road trips as possible—down south to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, out east to the Yuba River and Yosemite and up north to Guerneville and Bodega Bay. We also get to travel the country for our work…mostly separate, but we try to meet each other halfway if we get our timing right.
We are hoping to get to Marrakech, Morocco in 2020!
You’re both so creative. What projects are you each working on right now?
J: Wow! That is such a big question for me, because I have so many things happening. A friend once told me that being self-employed usually means you have about seven streams of income (1 main focus and 6 side projects) happening at the same time. And at times, I definitely feel that. Currently, I’m working to expand product categories for West Perro, including new palm leaf hat designs, a resort/casual-wear clothing capsule and apothecary. And for HEAD WEST marketplace, it’s all about growth and expansion for 2020. We’re rooted in the East Bay, but definitely down to travel to some new and beautiful places along the West Coast! Far off goals for both also include travel experiences and retreats for creatives, once we find that cabin or homestead in the woods (wink wink).
D: I have been working on creating more content on my blog and supporting Jimmy with curating all the music for HEAD WEST. I love being able to create atmosphere with music and sharing some of my favorite tunes with the community at the markets. You can check out all the playlists from the markets on Spotify here.
As Jimmy hinted at, we are actively looking for a homestead in the mountains—a place for us to put down roots and a space for us to share with others. We are super excited and can’t wait to share the process. Stay tuned!
Where do you find your inspiration for your creativity?
I think we can both say that our inspiration comes from our shared lives so far. Adding bits of our heritage in Hawaiian and Midwestern living. We also draw heavily on the inspiration that is right outside our front door, nature in all forms, the city—and all of our travels.
We also look to our friends—the hard-working people that are creating lives for themselves—the makers, crafters and artists that so lovingly share their work and creativity with us on a daily basis (literally on our walls!).
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
D: I love that Jimmy is always thinking about community—about how to bring others into the fold. His creativity and design perspective are inspiring—and he makes me laugh every day (literally cry-laughing).
J: My favorite things about Damien are his natural ability to make me smile or laugh, our shared love of Joey (our pup) and his passion to live life through a series of adventures and journeys…together.
In your absolute dream world, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
The three of us, and maybe a few other rascals running around—on a farm in the mountains, a cabin by the lake and a homestead in the desert—enjoying each other, nature and being able to share that with others. Bringing people together to experience authentic living and ignite inspiration through design and nature.
What’s on your nightstand/bedside table right now?
We swapped out our typical nightstand with a beautiful oak stump from West Elm via Feather, which made such a great natural addition to our lofted bedroom.
On it sits a beautiful natural ceramic lamp by Virginia Sin, a stone air diffuser by Vitruvi, lavender eye pillow satchels and bedtime mists from our favorite wellness brands.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
Shop Their Home:
Custom by Jimmy: Cabinet + Drawer Refacing, Barn Closet Door
Custom by Jimmy: Cabinet Handles, Toilet Paper Holder, Bath Tub Shelf + Shower Curtain Rod
West Perro Workshop
Joey’s Under-the-Stairs Nook
Custom Dog Pillow by Damien
Custom by Jimmy: Closet + Shelving Build Out