Inside the Box: Camille Renshaw

click to enlarge Camille Renshaw in her loft at the Box Factory; behind her is the bookcase by Ybor designer Will Stack. - Megan Voeller
Megan Voeller
Camille Renshaw in her loft at the Box Factory; behind her is the bookcase by Ybor designer Will Stack.

When Camille Renshaw moved to Tampa from Brooklyn in 2007, she knew that she needed to find "something a little more eclectic" than your typical suburban single family home if she was going to weather the transition. Today, the living room of her Box Factory loft overlooks a courtyard where workers once cut and dried wood used to make cigar boxes. Now the site of a glimmering swimming pool, the courtyard serves as a gathering space for residents — a mix of creative young professionals, Renshaw says — of the preserved and repurposed building's 53 homes. Inside her loft, the wooden joists and a concrete block wall date back to the building's original construction in the 1890s, while new appliances and polished concrete floors reflect urban sophistication.

Eclectic? Done and done.

At 1,800 square feet, Renshaw's loft, which she shares with girlfriend Micheal Hooker (a musician whose band Dear Old Liar was named Best New Chick Band in 2009's Best of the Bay), is one of the Box Factory's largest. Along one wall of its study, a tall metal-and-cherrywood bookcase custom-made by Ybor designer Will Stack holds personal photos and books, including some of Renshaw's own publications as a writer of short stories and former editor of literary magazines. Elsewhere, art photographs by Renshaw's brother and one by famed artist Jeff Wall — an imaginary portrait of the protagonist of Ralph Ellison's novel,The Invisible Man — adorn the walls. A stainless steel bar cart, another Stack creation, tucks under a staircase leading up to the loft's bedroom and an office.

For Renshaw, a Tennessee native, Ybor offers the best of both neighborhood-scale intimacy and the flavor of city life. Through her work in commercial real estate, she often helps people relocate or start businesses in the historic district. A role on the board of HYNCA (the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association) furthers her goal of contributing to Ybor's burgeoning scene. Living through Brooklyn's rapid gentrification in recent years has shaped the attitude she brings to Tampa and to Ybor: Help build the community you want to live in, Renshaw says.

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