There’s a quiet renaissance happening in Vallejo, Calif. The demographic is shifting in Bay Area cities as San Francisco real estate shoots through the roof and displaces residents to Oakland and beyond. As Oakland, one of the fastest growing cities in America, gentrifies and becomes more expensive, artists and other creative folks are moving north to Vallejo, one of the last holdouts on the Bay for realistic real estate prices. Adjacent Mare Island is also an attractive alternative to artists seeking affordable rent in its warehouses. The Empress Theatre and other venues are bringing music back to Vallejo, birthplace of famous actors and musicians of the past, with its Wednesday night Rambles, live music, film and comedy.
Benicians are taking advantage of the growing cultural movement, selling their homes here and relocating to Vallejo to take advantage of less pricey abodes. Rob and LorriMarie Jenkins recently made the switch—the well-loved Benicia artists downsized from their beautiful downtown Benicia home to a quaint Vallejo address where the trees form a tunnel of green over the street. “There’s less maintenance here. Our priorities are different now—we want to travel and have time to create. We love living here,” says LorriMarie. Intrigued with the small-house movement, they wanted something under 800 square feet, but fell in love with a home closer to 1,000 square feet on a corner lot. It’s still a significant downsize, but they each have a studio to create their magic, and enough space to entertain friends and family. The house is filled with light and lots of color, with a mix of vintage and rustic furnishings, found objects, and a lot of art. LorriMarie decoupaged the blades of an unloved ceiling fan, now a showstopper in her studio that showcases her artworks and supplies to create her mixed-media pieces. Rob’s art and handcrafted furniture make their home a one-of-a-kind live/work space that expresses the couple’s new adventure.