A light-filled home, perfect for capturing a growing family, in the Oakland Hills

If you follow Abi Q on Instagram you know that not only is she hilarious, but her candor and honesty about the joys, and occasionally less-than-glamourous, moments of parenting are not only endearing- but incredibly relatable. She is a talented wedding and portrait photographer with an eye for candid moments and capturing light in the shadows. Abi’s more serious side is a deep-rooted passion for activism, educating children (and adults) on race, and making sure that her kids always have art, toys, and people around them that make them feel represented.

Abi and Ryan’s house is for one, clean- which she assures me is not always the case. Minimal in a storied way, where each trinket and detail comes from a trip or sentimental moment. The house itself is a beautiful 1920′s Spanish Style home with pristine parquet floors (the better to scooter around on and play-out epic Star Wars battles on) and little architectural details to make your heart skip. Hello, over the fireplace nook!

It’s obvious that kids live (and play) in this house, but there’s no question that it’s still a space for adults to enjoy themselves with furniture pieces that are stylish and beautiful, while still being able to have the tiny little kid finger marks easily wiped off of them. After living in an apartment for six years, and towards the end having three small children running around, Abi and Ryan knew it was time to look for a bigger space. Their advice for finding the perfect place in such a competitive rental market? Search right before the holidays because, “No one wants to move then!”

Now they have a home with a back yard to draw chalk people to their hearts content, a basement that has the perfect light for snuggling up and watching “Master Yoda” (as the kids refer to him), and a view of the Bay which rivals that which you would see landing at the Oakland Airport.


Photography by Abi Q

Ryan works for VSCO and Abi is a photographer, so you can imagine that they have no shortage of amazing photos of them and their family. Their fridge not only makes use of an oft-overlooked space, but it acts as a gallery to all of their adventures and memories. And doughnuts.
“One of my unexpected favorite spots of our little bungalow is this counter. My boys sit here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days and the conversations we have around it make my heart happy. I created a hashtag for it #theqcounter and it’s some of my favorite photos of the boys to date. I love watching them grow up here.”
“I realized when we were decorating that I keep everything very gender neutral and in a house full of boys, I needed a bit of a girl in all the madness, so I chose a pink rug to compliment my table. I’d been searching for this table literally for years. Before this house we didn’t even have a spot for it, but I was so obsessed that I would randomly search for “vintage tulip” whenever it came to mind. And then one day, there she was-and she had to come home with me. She is one of my most prized possessions, but I still let my boys have dance parties on her in the afternoons.”
“Representation matters and I know as a transracial adoption mom, I know it matters even more for my sons. I have actively searched for art that represents my sons, and this portrait is maybe my favorite thing I own. I found her at a little junk store in Oakland, and paid $25 for her, but I would of paid $200. We named her Mabel. She’s perfectly at home right next to the record player, and in case you didn’t know, Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” becomes classic rock when played on vinyl.”
“The second I walked into this house I fell in love with the old parquet floors and the light that overtakes every inch of this space. I knew I wanted rugs to cozy it up a bit, but I wanted to show off the floors as much as possible at the same time. The accent of the curved door frames kill me. I love to just stare down the hall and admire our home’s bones. I also tend to hang precious pieces way above little fingers’ reach, so they stay that way.”
“I know the old rings of paint around the chandelier are technically something I should want covered but I love how the rings are different colors and from different times in this home’s history.”
“I’m minimal, or I always joke, maybe a hoarder who’s a minimalist at heart. And with toys I’m as minimal as they come. People ask me what my kids do without millions of toys and I tell them they play, they use their imaginations, they woodwork with dad, learn to skateboard, and they read. They helped their Dad and Uncle build their bed. It is a treehouse fort, has a rock wall, a plank and a wooden ladder, a rope ladder and a roof that’s perfect for poking your head out in search of bad guy pirates.”
“I had my eye on Chasing Paper’s wallpaper for at least a year, and the second we moved in I ordered it. It’s so classy to me, but still kid. Our boys’ art pieces are made up of a variety of concerts we’ve been to, favorite books, a mask we picked up in Belize, and we hang Finn’s ukulele here so it doesn’t get stepped on! We brought back the ballon for the boys when we were in Iceland”
“This little nook is yet another favorite architectural detail from our home, but more importantly, it holds a lava rock from a trip to Iceland with my  love, a painting of one of my favorite canals in St. Pettersburg, Russia (that I bought from a local artist while walking the canal), a rock from a day of adventuring to a private cove in Nicaragua, and driftwood from our family trip up the coast of CA last fall. It’s these little reminders that make my heart full from all the adventures we’ve had and make me excited for all the ones we have yet to take.”
Dining table- vintage Tulip found at Klassik Living is Berkeley, CA
Dining room chairs- vintage from the Alameda flea market, a few from Craigslist, and a few from Klassisk Living
Rugs- living room and dining room and boys’ room- Rugs USA,  master bedroom rug vintage from Turkey (via Etsy)
Master bedroom bed- Klassik Living in Berkeley, CA
Mudcloth from Ghana-Alameda flea
Bedside lamps- CB2
Master bedroom chandelier- Mignonne Decor in Berkeley
Living room couch- Vintage. Frame from the the 60′s and recovered in WWII army uniform fabric by Klassik Living
Velvet living room curtains- Anthropologie
Mid-century sideboard- Craigslist
Boys’ room wallpaper- Chasing Paper
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Introducing the Bitty Berkeley Bungalow

Oh my goodness, I have waited a long time to share this! Last year Alex and I embarked on the grand adventure of turning my Grandma’s 1905 garage in Berkeley into a home for the two of us (and our three pups). Through two surgeries, a lost Bogie, more Craigslist searches than you could possibly imagine and what felt like actual millions of nails, it’s done! Today, on Domino, you can see the debut of our Bitty Berkeley Bungalow. Design and styling by yours truly and photography from Ashley Kelemen.

I suppose I should show you the “before” now…

Yeah, it’s honestly hard to believe it is the same space! The shape of the room and beams are really the only ways you can still tell.

After cleaning, patching holes, and sanding the beams we were ready to start adding insulation and start creating the framing for the reclaimed oak strip flooring to be attached to (which would also flatten out the slanted concrete slab floor). It was my goal not to buy any new building materials so I had to rely on the Craigslist Gods to find the materials we would need at each step. Certainly our wood floors were the biggest undertaking. Alex spent days removing nails from the flooring, then I laid out the pattern, Alex cut it, then we nailed it down (oh, yeah. By hand. Two nails, every foot or so), wood-filled, sanded it and sealed it! I could not be more happy to have that process over, and I think Alex would intensely agree.

Certainly one of my favorite pieces I found for our house was the teak mid-century double drop-leaf table. In addition to how narrow it is, and the fact that when it’s set-up it can seat six, is that there are four folding chairs hidden inside! I had my eye on this table for a YEAR before I found one at a steal on CL. It was absolutely a challenge at points during this process not to just cave and buy the new version of something, or to spring for the item that I KNEW I could find for cheaper at some point, but just wanted to have be over now. But, I held strong and it was so worth it!

The next, and arguably most important piece, is our Murphy bed that my dad made us to house our beloved king sized temper-pedic mattress. Having a Murphy bed (as opposed to a lofted bed which we technically could have fit) allowed our dogs to be able to have easy access, keep the ceilings feeling high and therefore the room less cramped, and allows the house to double as a studio for shoots, an office and an entertaining space.

I’m excited to be sharing more small space interior design and styling tips soon! In the meantime, read more about our Bitty Berkeley Bungalow and our story on Domino!

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‘Creative Manifesto

On a rare morning that I wake up with more energy and rapidly firing synapses then I’ve had in quite some time, I have to take advantage. Decided to write a manifesto, here it goes:

A & B Creative (or at least the blog) is going to start seeing some changes. The past year has been one of the most challenging, and with adversity I feel that one is more and more driven to live as their authentic self. Being bed-bound for long stretches of that year forces you even more so to be self-reflective. To think about all that you really want and want to do and create.

Just as I’m constantly telling our couples that their wedding is first and foremost their day, well…your life should certainly be your own! Starting your own business is incredible in so many ways, and the most amazing of all of the benefits is certainly creating a business that allows you to do what you love and create the life you want for yourself through that.

So, how will this all look? For weddings, we’re focusing on the ones that initially made us fall in love with this intimate gift we have the privilege of being a part of; those are small, intimate and destination weddings. One of our very first weddings (over four years ago) was an intimate destination wedding where nearly EVERY SINGLE person there cried happy tears at one point during the day! We don’t require tears, but seeing that joy at sharing these moments and the desire to be as present as they all were, man, that’s the good stuff. That’s where we began and where we’ve been many times over and we’re now getting more purposeful about that being our focus.

For styling, we’re expanding more purposefully into interior styling and interior design & planning, specifically for small spaces (something that has long been a passion of mine (see: living in a closet (literally) in high school to maximize the living space of my bedroom) and with which we have a big announcement coming soooon! (For now, here’s a little sneak peek of a corner of our #BittyBerkeleyBungalow)

Just as no person is just one thing and people are constantly evolving,  A & B Creative has never been just one thing; that’s the entire reason why “Creative” had to be part of our business name! In that vein, I’m also going to be sharing little snipits (or links at the least) of my personal passion which has always been performing (and more specifically, acting). More to come on that, perhaps with photos from the archives of middle school through college theater? Yikes.

May this be the beginning of loving what we do that much more and continuing to find humor and inspiration in the dark times and support and love in the times of light.

And, here’s one last sneak peek from our little house warming dinner a little while ago.

Wedding photos: Jay Eads, Our little house sneak peek and housewarming photos : Ashley Kelemen

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Glassybaby, Now in Berkeley!

Last week I did something admittedly unlike me, I actually went out after a long day styling a shoot (can’t wait to share more of that when it’s published) I know, I amazed myself. Since we moved back to Berkeley I have been trying to let my developed, and somewhat snobbish attitude about how great Oakland was, go by learning about all the amazing shops and creatives that have moved to Berkeley in our absence. One of the newest, and really exciting, businesses that has ventured to Berkeley is Glassybaby.

Have you heard of them? They began in Seattle (which my PNW raised heart felt even more connected to) when Lee Rhodes was suffering through a battle with cancer and a handmade glass vessel from her husband (after she gifted him lessons so that he could have a distraction from her struggle) with a tea light in it became a beacon of calm and hope. To support those supporting her and others who were struggling with their health she began hiring glassblowers to make molds of her husband’s first creation to give as gifts.

Today, Glassybaby is an incredibly successful business with various locations in and around Seattle, San Francisco and now Berkeley. I’ll try to avoid too many glassblowing puns, but truly, out of the ashes rose this incredible business, and those roots have not been forgotten. When Lee was going through chemo-therapy she realized how much of a financial burden illnesses can be on families (no one reimburses babysitting, gas, food, lodging, etc.) so to date, Glassybaby has donated nearly 4 million dollars to organizations who support those struggling with finding hope so that they can focus on healing. They also actually pay living wages and benefits to their employees as well. All that to say, this is a company you can feel good about supporting. Here are a few of those said employees now, tell me Flashdance doesn’t immediately come to mind.

Alex and I each picked out a favorite, I picked the first Glassybaby color, “True White” (which is actually more of a pink when lit) and Alex said that he wanted to pick one that “closest matched the blue of my eyes,” which happens to be ” Mountain Lake”  apparently. I’m a lucky lady, indeed. One of the most interesting parts about the votives and glasses is that no two have the exact same hue when they’re lit. Here’s how you test how yours will look at home, in the dark.

Such a lovely evening, really cool studio, and amazing mission-driven company!




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An Evening With Joanne Weir in Honor of Kitchen Gypsy

This was honestly one of the best nights I have had in a really long time, and the most perfect example of why pushing yourself past your comfort level can be such a good thing. I was invited to join some other bloggers for an intimate dinner at Joanne Weir‘s (renowned chef and author (this is her EIGHTEENTH cookbook!) and host of two PBS cooking shows) home along with Oxmoor House publishing and Sunset Magazine.

It was an incredibly clever concept, to really delve deeply into the new cookbook we would come to Joanne’s house and each bring a dish from the book. Sounds so fun, right? Well, I imagine for someone who considers themselves a chef or even a “cook” this opportunity would probably seem like that of a lifetime! For someone who had about three dishes down pat, then went vegan and could only make sides, then basically just started cooking this summer it was completely and utterly intimidating. Naturally, I chose the most colorful dish (gotta try to utilize the skills I do have, thank you God for styling!) that also didn’t have to be cooked, enter Citrus Salad with Mint & Red Onions. Even with those considerations it became a little overwhelming, I needed kumquats and despite having not one, but two Berkeley Bowls (for those not local, they have just about every kind of produce from every part of the world you could imagine) near me, I couldn’t find them. Great, now Joanne’s going to think I don’t respect her recipe. Then when I began actually preparing the dish it turns out that my Grandma’s Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH, for die-hards like her) knives haven’t been sharpened in awhile and are going to produce nothing like the pristine circles of citrus that are perfectly and evenly sliced as you see in the cookbook. After turning the kitchen into a citrus bloodbath (sticky, but my heavens did it smell delicious in there!) I attempted to style my jagged slices into something resembling a salad.

When I arrived at Joanne’s house I tried to sort-of sneak my dish into the fridge so I wouldn’t have to see her at the moment she saw what I brought. It was like watching someone you’ve never met open a really personal gift you’ve just given them. I focused instead on the flowers that I was arranging for the evening, something that I felt was ever-so-slightly more in my breadth. Joanne was incredibly complimentary about the flowers and giving me input as to where to put each of the arrangements. (Isn’t Joanne’s plate collection incredible? …and that light!)

Having broken the ice (and admittedly, asking a friend first) I asked Joanne to try the vinaigrette before I drizzled it all over the salad (and, I feared, ruining it if it wasn’t good). I had never made a sweet vinaigrette before so it was hard to judge its flavor. Joanne was so incredibly generous and even called it “delicious!” She was actually completely amused by how nervous all of us were (turns out I wasn’t the only one debating canceling when my dish wasn’t turning out the way I had hoped) about showing her our versions of her treasured recipes!

That’s actually my favorite thing about Kitchen Gypsy, this is a cookbook (obviously) but it’s also a memoir-in food form. She takes memories and attaches them to recipes, which really, I think I (and so many of us) associate certain times and memories with meals.

My honeymoon is punctuated with memories of dutch cookies, the best green beans I’ve ever had in my life, and lamb (sorry, pre-veggie days) in Aruba. I associate childhood memories of times with my beloved Aunt Candy, who has now passed, with her deviled eggs, garlic bread and homemade blue-cheese dressing. Now I can remember this laughter and conversation-filled night with Oaxacan Chocolate Milkshakes (which I have truly not stopped thinking about since), her Mom’s Tomato Sandwiches which ask for homemade bread which I have admittedly not made to go along with- but picked up someone else’s homemade bread and made many times already since this night!

I don’t want to give away too much about the book, but it’s honestly beautiful and filled with exactly what I care about–ephemera, memories, hilarious stories (like finding a fly in a bottle of wine which turned into a life-changing trip to France for the first time) and family traditions.

Thank you so much Joanne for being so welcoming and supportive and for sharing so many wonderful stories and so much delicious food to pair with it! All neurosis aside, my salad ended up looking pretty beautiful despite my knife issues, and most importantly, it was delicious!


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Ethereal Oregon Boudoir Featured on Once Wed

I can honestly say that I feel that this is some of my best work (brought out by the incredible women I collaborated with, of course) and some of the very hardest to have to wait months to share with everyone! The wait is over, and you can see more on Once Wed. Without further ado, Oneanta Gorge Boudoir:

I cannot say enough good things about how many incredible people I get to work with. It is truly a pleasure. Ashley Kelemen is such a talented photographer and also one of my favorite people. Beth Level Artistry created this incredible glowing goddess that is Lana Nyman. I could happily work with them every day.

Oregon is one of those incredible states where you really can travel to every kind of environment within its state lines. However, when I first came to Oneonta Gorge it was like nothing I have ever seen. The gorge is akin to what you would imagine finding in Hawaii or Costa Rica, but instead of palm trees the ridge is dotted with pines.

Your senses come alive as you walk through the gorge; everything gets quieter and cooler, the sun makes the water sparkle and the air is the freshest you can imagine. I couldn’t possibly think of a better location for something as intimate and special as a boudoir session.

I chose simple and natural feeling materials and colors that would not detract from the awe-inspiring setting.

Looking through Ashley’s beautiful images I’m immediately transported back to this incredible place where I can nearly hear the echoes of the falls and feel the early morning sun start to warm my skin.

See Once Wed for more of this feature!

Photography: Ashley Kelemen | Creative Direction + Styling: A & B Creative | Hair & Makeup: Beth Level Artistry | Model: Lana Moon Nyman | Film: Indie Film Lab

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Sunrise Boudoir Session

One of the hardest parts of my job is having to wait (with bated breath) to share images from projects that I have worked on. Today the wait is over for one of my shoots because one of my favorite blogs, Once Wed, is sharing this Sunrise Boudoir session!

The concept of a sunrise boudoir session on your wedding day is incredibly apt and a beautiful way to document your last moments before becoming a bride. It also offers you a way to stay present in these special moments of solitude before the wedding day begins. Rising early on your wedding day to capture these moments ensures that you will take the time out of a day of busyness to think about the weight of what this day will bring and offer quiet moments of reflection.

I had the pleasure of teaming up with one of my very favorite people (in general, but for work too) Beth Level who highlighted all of Marlie’s beauty for a hair and make-up look that is luminous and somehow comes across as effortless.

This was my first time working with Kimberly Seabury and as you can see, it turned out quite well. I’m already having to anticipate waiting a painfully long time to share the latest project we worked on together just last weekend.

I had been a fan of Gossamer Vintage for some time and was so happy to get to use three different gorgeous pieces of hers for this shoot.

I basically want everything in her shop (and probably closet). If I had no ego/insecurities/shortage of crinoline petticoat skirts I would constantly look like I just walked off the set of Dirty Dancing. So many vintage party dresses to lust after in her shop! Thank you for a wonderful team and to Once Wed for sharing this shoot, hop on over to their blog to see more.

Vintage pieces: Gossamer Vintage | Photography: Kimberly Seabury | H&MU: Beth Level | Model: Marlie York | Creative Direction and Styling: Rebekah Carey of A & B Creative


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Organic Bali Destination Wedding

I am so excited that Style Me Pretty is sharing this gorgeous Bali wedding today so that I can finally share these beautiful images from Em the Gem and Ashley Kelemen!

Cathy and King had a long, long-dinstance relationship all the way up until their big day. I worked with the couple to be true to that with the phrase we came up with of  ”Worth the Wait.” I contacted Jenna Rainy of Monvoir to create this gorgeous piece for the ceremony altar and I love how it turned out.

I love these fan favors in muslin bags!

We wanted to create a simple and organic reception design that allowed the beauty of Bali from outside the floor-to-ceiling windows really shine.

Cathy and King were such a sweet and beautiful couple and we are so happy that we got to be a part of their special day! To say the experience was one we’ll never forget would be an understatement.  Also, baby monkeys:

Photography: Em The Gem | Design & Styling: A & B Creative |Wedding Gown: Angela Marcuccio Bridal Couture | Cake: C For Cupcakes | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Ceremony Venue, Reception Venue: Kayumanis Nusa Dua | Floral: Chantelle Madison | Hair + Makeup: Lona Bali Make Up Artist | Photography – Assistance: Ashley Kelemen | Wedding Stationary: Eza Nasir

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Intimate Bridal Shower

I’m delighted to share images from this beautiful (if that’s not too immodest to say) bridal shower I threw for Addison of Twiggs that is being shared by 100 Layer Cake today!

I am very fortunate to be a part of a small group of like-minded wedding creatives based in the Bay Area and recently one of our own (Addison Searles of Twiggs) got engaged (in France!) As soon as I knew she had been engaged I was excited to celebrate her.

Addison has such great style and I wanted to reflect that in the classic invites and paper products (via Wedding Paper Divas), minimal design and autumnal palette. Aubriana of The Bloomery Co made all of these invitations more personal with her beautiful calligraphy and floral inspired quotes.

With (nearly) all the ladies of our group gathered in my Berkeley studio we showered Addison and ate delicious food and, obviously, talked about their future wedding!

Naturally, a shower for one half of Twiggs wouldn’t be complete without stunning florals!

This was such a great afternoon to just be able to chat and relax and for everyone to get to catch up after the busy summer. It is so special that we all have these beautiful images by Jessica to remember this moment in time.

Photographer: Jessica Burke / Styling & Design: A & B Creative / Florals: Twigss Floral Studio / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Calligraphy: The Bloomery Co.

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Classic San Francisco Engagement Session

I love this engagement session so much. Em The Gem just captured all of the love of this gorgeous couple, our beautiful state (and why I moved to the Bay Area over six years ago), perfectly. Hop on over to Style Me Pretty to see the whole feature, below are some of my favorites!

Kristarae and Felix were having a San Francisco City Hall wedding, so an engagement session was the perfect way to be able to capture their invitation suite (by Wedding Paper Divas with custom calligraphy by Aubriana at The Bloomery Co), local San Francisco scenery and beautiful moments together shortly before they will be husband and wife.

I said this in the feature, but as I got the images back (and even in person as I was watching K & F), I kept thinking how this is the San Francisco that Alfred Hitchcock was so enamored with and had to include in his films.

How can you not feel that San Francisco is just completely enchanting when you see images like these? It doesn’t hurt that the gown I found for Kristarae fit her as though it was custom made for her and that she shines so beautifully in it!

Photography: Em the Gem, Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas, Calligraphy: The Bloomery Co


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