Does size really matter??? I’ll let you be the judge. Mal here, back to show ya the full tour of my 500 sqft studio apartment and how we maximized every inch. This really was a labor of love. I’m SO incredibly grateful to Em for the opportunity and to all of you EHD readers for your support along the way. Seriously, THANK YOU. This Makeover Takeover (MOTO) has allowed me to work with such incredible brands and make my first-ever adult apartment something really special!! This post is PACKED with space-planning ideas, renter-friendly hacks, and out-of-the “white box” decor ideas. I hope you can take something away from this and leave feeling inspired no matter the size of your home.
First, let’s remember where we started, yes? Welcome to my Hollywood, white box apartment on move-in day:
My boyfriend, Chase, and I had ZERO furniture upon move-in (like, not even a mattress or a bed), so we really had to build this from the ground up. After hundreds of renderings, Home Depot runs, and SO much trial and error, WE’RE HERE!!!
MOVE. THAT. BUS.
Dining Nook Benches | Cushions | Fabric | Curtain Rods | U-Brackets | Credenza | Candelabra | Candles | Grey Rug | Striped Rug | Dining table | Dining Chair | Pendant Light (similar) | Leather Loveseat | Ottoman | Sheepskin Rug | Round Pillow | Record Player | Bar Cart (similar) | Vase | Lamp | Curtains | Sculptural Candles
After all the blood, sweat, and tears I cannot believe my eyeballs are finally staring at these beautiful photos! This shot above is what you see when you first walk in (well, you enter into the kitchen but it’s all one room so this is the main view). The dining nook is one of the main stars of this space and is always the first thing people comment on when they walk in (all of the details are here if you want a step-by-step!). I wasn’t about to build a custom nook myself –– I have no garage or workspace for that and I don’t know how to operate any power tools, so I had to get crafty on how I could create this with ready-made/shippable options. The benches are the line benches from Design Within Reach and they have an incredible amount of storage in them, plus the quality is INSANE. I put a small and large size together to form the base of this nook and it’s absolutely perfect. Then I used a company called Stitchroom to create the custom cushions and they totally NAILED IT.
As I mentioned before, The Parker Palm Springs and the Sands Hotel were two of my main points of inspiration for this space, but I wanted to create a more pulled-back, neutral version that felt calming and livable. AKA I wanted to have the fun, bold style of Palm Springs Mid-Century Modern mixed with the coolness of California Casual.
mediocre iphone photography by me | left: pink cabana | right: norma’s
The huge pendant light in my dining nook is similar to the ones they have at The Pink Cabana at the Sands and Norma’s at the Parker (pictured above), so when I found this light-weight shade from World Market (not avail anymore but this and this are similar), I knew it was the perfect Palm Springs design addition and would constantly remind me of my favorite place on earth.
It also brings your eye upward (which is critical in a small space) and adds more light in this space (we have no overhead lighting anywhere in the main space which is a really cool design choice many apartment buildings do). Because this is a plug-in light, turning it on and off was always a “thing” because you had to reach down to the corner of the nook and switch it manually. That was until I found THIS –– watch this video to see how it works. It’s AWESOME. If you’re a renter, or if you just want it for your Christmas tree/decor, I highly recommend snagging it!
Let’s talk ENTERTAINING in a tiny space like this. The nook really made it possible for us to comfortably have people in our place (and believe it or not we’ve had 7+ people sit over here at one time before which would have never been possible pre-nook).
Now here’s me and Chase cheers-ing happily so you can see human beings in here for scale!!
I also have another living room layout hack that I’ll show you later when I get to the desk area below…you’ll be able to see can how we can fully use this “living room” when we entertain. Every single person asks me about that epic credenza, it’s from Industry West and it’s literally perfect in every way. The cane is SO great because we store our speakers and such in there and the sound still travels through, so I love not having to have all of those giant speakers out in the open. The grey rug is from Annie Selke and they accidentally sent through two which ended up being PERFECT because our space is awkwardly long, so we put both of the rugs next to each other, then layered this smaller striped flatweave rug on top so you don’t see the seam of the rugs. If you need a random rug size I HIGHLY recommend doing this –– it made our space feel so much bigger and cozier!
The gallery wall was one of the last elements I added to this space and it gave it so much flavor I can’t even tell you. I hung most of them with command strips (and they’ve held up for YEARS). The beachy art prints are by a local so-cal artist, Gabe Sullivan, that I met at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. His work perfectly captures so-cal beaches with a vintage flare –– and I found out that the print of the girl on the bottom right is Bing Crosby’s granddaughter! Then some of these photos I actually took myself, then edited them to be black and white, and printed/framed myself (the MCM Stahl House photo next to the two smaller prints below is one of my fine iPhone photography prints).
Okay, how good is that $20 vase?? Bowser pulled it out and I immediately purchased one to live here on the dining table permanently. An easy money-saving tip I did to make this gallery wall uber affordable was to purchase a few frames in bulk and then orient them in different ways. I bought a 4-pack of 16×20 frames and hung some vertical and some horizontal, then spread them out around the gallery wall. Then for the rest of the frames, I purchased most of them from Target because they really are a steal over there!! Okay, now I’ll tell you about my “living room” layout hack.
Welcome to the desk area!! Okay here’s the layout hack…see this super cute Lulu and Georgia desk chair?? It’s super comfy and deep so you can sit in it for hours. The best part is when friends come over we swivel it around and then we turn to dining nook chair around to form a conversation area with the Article leather loveseat. We comfortably seat four this way which is a decent amount in this space, but I love this hack because otherwise we just wouldn’t have been able to have a living room or host people.
You can see a bit of the kitchen here, it honestly didn’t change much from the day we moved in, so check out the befores at the beginning of the post if you wanna see more of it. This apartment complex was designed by Commune, so we were lucky to be in such good hands with the finishes and overall design of this space.
Alright now let’s flip around and show you the bed area that you saw in the reflection of the mirror…
Bed | Nightstands | Pendant Light Shade (similar) | Pendant Light Cord | Linen Duvet | Linen Shams | Pillows | Duvet Insert | Sheets | Bed Blanket | Bed Pillow | Cane | Wallpaper | Grey Rug | Leather Loveseat | Curtains | Hand Dish | Glassware | Grey Rug
It’s like my own little boutique hotel room!! The other thing I didn’t mention about Palm Springs earlier that I really tried to take with me through this design was the idea that in the glory days of PS, the town was known as the Hollywood Oasis, where celebrities found equal amounts of sanctuary and play, outside of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. This quickly became the mission statement of my design and I really think we pulled it off. I have all of the details of how I created this back wall over here if you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation. It was a loooong process with lots of trial and error, but MAN was the result worth it in the end!
I’ve always loved Annie Selke for their rugs but I was blown away when I realized they have such an incredible bedding selection. Since I wanted to incorporate a “hotel feel,” the crisp white bedding and comfy inserts were a must in making this space feel elevated, and BOY did their products deliver. Their pillow is my perfect pillow –– soft enough that it doesn’t crank your neck up too much but fluffy enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re sleeping with your head flat on the mattress.
Bed | Nightstands | Pendant Light Shade (similar) | Pendant Light Cord | Linen Duvet | Linen Shams | Pillows | Duvet Insert | Sheets | Bed Blanket | Bed Pillow | Cane | Wallpaper | Grey Rug | Leather Loveseat | Curtains | Hand Dish | Glassware
Oh, and everyone always asks me where the closet is. It’s a fairly large closet on the right side of the bed (if you’re looking at the above photo) –– you can see the whole space here from this closet org challenge we did a while back –– it’s INCREDIBLY hard working since it’s our only closet and I have a lotta shoes!!
For the pendant lights, I took the shades from a Justina Blakeney x Target lamp (currently unavailable but these are similar!) and then I hot glued them to these pendant lights and added rechargeable battery-powered light bulbs. Also, these light bulbs are magnetic so they’re SO easy to snap on and off instead of having to full screw and unscrew them every time you have to charge them 🙂
Bed | Nightstands | Pendant Light Shade (similar) | Pendant Light Cord | Linen Duvet | Linen Shams | Pillows | Duvet Insert | Sheets | Bed Blanket | Bed Pillow | Cane | Wallpaper | Grey Rug | Leather Loveseat | Curtains | Hand Dish
The curtains are from Wovn Home which is an incredible brand that allows you to customize your curtains to the perfect size. We went with the blackout option and THANK GOD we did, our sleep is so much better because of them!! Also, the bed is from Modshop, we had them build 7″ legs on their Berlin bed so we could store items under it (this is a game changer if you need more storage!!) and then we requested black velvet fabric. They were SO awesome to work with and there’s nothing sexier than a black velvet bed. It was Chase’s only non-negotiable lol.
Now onto the bathroom…brace yourselves for some FUN wallpaper!!
Here’s my non-neutral moment for all you color lovers. The Cole and Son wallpaper really took it from basic, builder-grade white bathroom to a seductive, sultry surprise. Finding a wallpaper to work with this tan tile was difficult, but once I held this one up to the tan –– I knew it was the one!
And yes, that is the kitchen right outside the bathroom…it’s small space living what can I say?? Comparably, it’s a fairly large bathroom to the rest of the apartment and the walk-in shower is ginormous. We got so lucky with this!!
Also, I decanted my shampoo and conditioner into these plastic bottles (it’s giving Aesop) and it made SUCH a difference with how the shower space looks on the day-to-day. It definitely feels more spa-like, so if you’re wanting to feel extra pampered in your shower routine, I highly recommend giving yourself this treat in life.
BEFORE AND AFTERS
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!! THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME!!! I had the absolute best time designing this space –– if you want to see even more you can check out my Instagram and TikTok where I have some more videos of it. Again, thank you thank you thank you to you all for being here and to Emily and my EHD fam for giving me this opportunity to do my Makeover Takeover! I love design!!!!!!!! I’ll see you guys in the comments xoxoxo