After ten long years of living in near permanent sunshine and perfect weather, I find myself currently inhabiting my seventh (and last) Los Angeles apartment. I’ve lived alone, with roommates, and with a significant other; with and without animals; in studio, one, and two bedroom apartments. I’ve lived upstairs, downstairs, both upstairs and downstairs; with laundry in-unit, without laundry at all; and only once (thankfully) without a dedicated place to park my car. I’ve lived as far east as Hollywood and as far west as Santa Monica, hopping around every few years to places like Culver City, Brentwood, and Pico-Robertson, and not once have I truly felt like this is it; I am home.
I’m showing off an apartment I love in this post: a space that I put a lot of time and effort into that I’m damn proud of and “finished” earlier this year, but there has always been something missing in it for me. If you read on from here, I hope you’ll appreciate the dueling perspectives of really wanting to show you something I created and take pride in, while also feeling a sort of fracture with the space itself, like it isn’t actually “mine”. Every single thing I’ve put into this space gives me tingly feelings and little bursts of joy–every paint color, accent chair, and rug I picked out for my enjoyment, and mine alone–but I can’t for the life of me get past the feeling that I don’t actually belong here.
I said that this apartment will be my last one in Los Angeles because as long as I live in this city, it will be here in this space. But lately, my head is very noisy with ceaseless thoughts of becoming a homeowner–a desire I didn’t know I had until the pandemic began. I’ve been looking at houses in Minneapolis to buy for a while now, after our team decided to work from home indefinitely and tele-commuting from a different state actually became a real, long-term option, thanks to the generosity and flexibility of Emily, G, and our team. My heart absolutely bursts with gratitude to work with such an open-minded group of individuals who don’t mind if I eventually end up in a different time zone (in a very different climate they’ll tease me about six months of the year). If there’s one thing working from home during a pandemic has taught me, it’s that I’m just as productive working from home as I am in an office–and I’m sure many others have experienced this life changing revelation as well. No matter what the next year brings for me in terms of homeownership, I moved into my current apartment to level-up my WFH life in a major way–and it definitely delivered.
When the news reached me in early 2021 that we were letting the lease on our office expire, the first thing I thought of was moving. My pandemic apartment was charming and full of natural light, but not an ideal setup for working from home. I sat down and thoughtfully made a list of amenities I was missing that my dream apartment would have: somewhere to sit outside and drink coffee in the morning, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, and laundry that didn’t require me to walk outside. I briefly considered a two-bedroom apartment to give myself an actual in-home office, but that dream was quickly squashed once I realized (yet again) how unreasonably expensive rental prices in L.A. are. Armed with my list, I set out to find an apartment that met all these criteria, and finally found it–a 650 square foot one bedroom in West LA–after seeing 19 other places that just didn’t do it for me.
Walking up my private stairway into my upper-level unit, the first thing you see is my surprisingly large living room, with a light blueish/greenish accent wall that gives off a cozy, airy vibe. On the right there’s a landing space where I store masks and mail in a West Elm console table that’s perfectly apartment-sized and supports the weight of my Zara Home mirror which I didn’t totally properly mount to the wall (#renter), but it works.
Moving into the living room–my favorite room in my apartment–your eye probably goes to the dark pink vintage Moroccan rug on the floor, my absolute pride and joy. It’s one of my favorite things I own, and I spent many hours of online shopping trying to find her. I’ve been told that you should either start or end a room with the rug, and in this case I ended with it (it’s the last thing I bought for this room) and I have zero regrets. The colors perfectly compliment my 31st birthday gift to myself: an incredibly happy fiddle leaf fig tree with glossy green leaves that make me smile every time I hit my head on them walking out onto the balcony.
Anyone who follows me on Instagram probably remembers that this Eames-inspired piece in my living room is lovingly called my ‘insomnia chair’. It used to be the dedicated space I could go to in the middle of the night to read when I couldn’t sleep; something I learned was necessary for those with insomnia earlier this year. Since meeting my boyfriend this summer, my sleep issues have almost completely disappeared, so this chair has morphed into a really aesthetically pleasing reminder that my anxiety from that time didn’t define me. Emerging on the other side of that period of my life is an indescribable feeling.
My Living Spaces sectional is absolutely massive, but I love it in this space. I was tired of having a small apartment-sized couch I couldn’t properly stretch out on, so I went big, and now my living room feels like a cozy oasis sponsored by Netflix. Perched just above the couch is the Gray Malin piece I bought last year and still love just as much or more as the day it arrived. Investing in art I love is a lesson I learned in 2020 that is 1000% still paying off in 2021 and beyond.
Similar to my pandemic apartment, my office and gym areas are still just off of the kitchen. I leveled-up my WFH area in a big way with a new, much larger desk and an *actual* office chair from Branch (see you later, eight hours in a dining chair!). Most of my books live in this area as well, although you can probably tell I’m running out of space for them. One day I’d love a room with an entire wall full of books–you better believe I’m manifesting that idea in my eventual future house.
I painted this wall behind my desk a very dark color (Railings by Farrow & Ball, currently my all-time favorite paint color), which I know is a huge risk. I wrapped it around a corner so it spans from the space left of my entryway to my bookshelf and around to my desk area, and it actually made the room seem bigger, not smaller! I can’t even picture this area any other way now, I like it that much. Paired with some plants and a vintage rug from Etsy, this space is cool, if I do say so myself.
This bedroom, man. I actually prefer a smaller bedroom that “cocoons” you in a little bit, so this large, bright space was actually a bit of a challenge. I treated myself to Parachute bedding in a dark charcoal color to get rid of the “light and bright” vibe my white bedding was lending to the space, paired with a dark blue/green accent wall to make the room appear a little bit smaller. I think both of these updates achieve their intended effect, and the West Elm dresser I’ve had since 2014 really shines.
Rug: Chris Loves Julia x Loloi
Bed: Scandinavian Designs
Dresser: West Elm (similar here)
Mirror: World Market
Horses art: Urban Outfitters (no longer available)
Woman art: Slim Aarons print from Fine Art America
Black and white pillows: Vintage IKEA (similar here)
Wall color: Surf Camp by Backdrop Home
A close second to being my favorite room in the apartment is definitely the bathroom. Not many people would put this much effort into making a really sad and cold apartment bathroom into a unique space you want to hang out in, but I am 100% one of those people. I started by doing my first peel-n-stick tile project on the floor, and when I saw how sick the results were, I knew I really had to go for it in the rest of the space to do the new floor justice.
Two paint colors, fun towels, an over-the-toilet storage rack, a philodendron, art I stole from Emily’s old gallery wall, and a new shower curtain made this genuinely one of the coolest tiny apartment bathrooms I’ve ever been in. Let this space prove to you that being a renter doesn’t mean you’re stuck with boring and/or sad decor forever.
And finally, my little balcony! I wish this space was a little more private, but reading a book with a cup of coffee is 100% achievable out here, so I’m happy. After losing out on the Target chairs I wanted out here (these days, when you know you want something, buy it immediately), I went for Mexa Acapulco chairs instead and love them. The beautiful people at Filling Spaces sent me this rug that works perfectly out here–it looks vintage, but it’s actually just weathered from sitting outside in the sun for a few months.
All in all, this apartment was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done. Decorating my own space without anyone else’s input was so wildly freeing. With no one else to weigh in with their opinions, anything was possible. From bold pink rugs to dark accent walls and plants in every room, I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever really been able to flex my design “skills” (if you can even call them that) in an interior space, and man was it fun! I definitely made a lot of mistakes, but I also learned an amazing number of things I’ll take with me into the future. I'm looking forward to collaborating with my partner on the next one (luckily for me he has excellent taste), but this was truly an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.