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THE BIG REVEAL: A Full Look Inside Mal’s 500 Sqft Resort-Like Hollywood Oasis

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:

The Before

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!!!

Alright gang…

MOVE. THAT. BUS.

The After

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!!

Frank Sinatra Palm Springs Print | Palm Tree Print (similar) | Beach Prints by Gabe Sullivan | Freddy and Michael Print | Frames

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).

Vase | Sculptural Candles

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.

Desk Chair | Scrunch LampCredenza | Candelabra | Candles | Artwork | Mirror (full body size unavailable) | Wood Tray | Match Striker | Ribbed Lamp | Grey Rug

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.

Styled | New Design Rules | Marble Box Desk Chair | Scrunch Lamp | Artwork | Wood Tray | Match Striker

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!!

Wallpaper | Towels | Artwork | Frame

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!

Wallpaper | Towels | Artwork | Frame | Soapdish | Glass Jar (small) | Glass Jar (medium)

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!!

Vase | Artwork | Plastic Shampoo Bottles | Labels

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

*Design by Mallory Wackerman
**Styled by Emily Bowser
***Photos by Veronica Crawford

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Amy
5 months ago

This is AWESOME. Small space living but luxe. I love it

Sarah
5 months ago

Wow!!! This is nothing short of spectacular. I’m kind of sad that it’s a rental bc I wish you could keep it forever! But it’s nice to enjoy it for as long as you need to! Very inspiring work!!!!

Lauren H
5 months ago

It looks amazing! One of my favorite MOTO in recent memory. Actually perhaps one of my favorite finished product posts on EHD in a while. What a wonderful use of the space. Enjoy living there!

Mariana
5 months ago

Congratulations, this is truly spectacular! So chic!

Linda
5 months ago

That is a real boutique hotel look, in a very perosnal way. Congrats! I just miss a shot of your “living room” with the incredible credenza/TV combo and all seatings directed to the sofa. Any chance to show it to us as well? via EHD Instagram? Enjoy this beautiful space”

Emily
5 months ago

Wow!!! Great job Mal! This was definitely worth the weight. Neutrals are not normally my jam but I think it’s the heavy dose of black and warm leather that make it more interesting to me. Plus- those are some stellar wallpaper choices. I love it! Definitely has boutique hotel vibes.

Erin Dae
5 months ago

It’s SO GOOD Mal! I’ve been waiting for this and had started to think I had somehow missed it…and then your how-to last week came up and I got very excited. This is a beautiful space and I like how you translated your inspiration to something that was less literal and more tonal. Gorgeous!

ZY
5 months ago

If anyone missed the comment from Stitchroom on the dining nook/custom cushions post: “Hi! Stephanie with Stitchroom here! We do work with designers and architects primarily, but we loved working with Mallory so much (and we’d love to work with readers of EHD) – drop us a line if you have any projects we can help with!”

Stephanie (from Stitchroom)
5 months ago
Reply to  ZY

Thanks Zy!

Lane
5 months ago

This is so beautiful and refined. Couldn’t be any better.

Amy
5 months ago

Beyond creative and inspirational – bravo!!!

Mary B.
5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful space – I hope you and Chase are fully enjoying living here! And now – what are you designing next!? Can’t wait to see more from you!

Lisa
5 months ago

This is really, really incredible. It’s amazing how you used neutral colors but it’s so layered and lovely. I’m super impressed! Love it!

Lucy
5 months ago

This is jaw-dropping! Amazing job. I can’t believe what thE wallpaper did to spruce up that tile!

ZY
5 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

Yes, this wallpaper is the perfect pivot from the original choices in this post: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/best-peel-and-stick-wallpaper. The strong colors work so well with your palette and disguise the undertone issues with the tiles and countertop.

5 months ago

Stunning!!

5 months ago

LOVE the Sondheim print in the bathroom!

Heidi
5 months ago

WOWZA!!!! An epic accomplishment. Such an inspiration, too. I added more than a few things to my amazon “save for later.” Congratulations!

Molly Phillips
5 months ago

Such a great way to utilize every inch! Question – do you find the battery-operated lights in your bedroom pendants usable? Can you read with them? I’ve thought about doing something similar since we don’t have our walls hard-wired where our bed is, but I’m afraid it’s just good enough for photo ops, not real life.

5 months ago

This is so good! So many high design takeaways! That bathroom wallpaper!!!

Stassy
5 months ago

Thank you for sharing your space! It’s incredible. As a follow up post, I’d love to see it styled as a living room (for when you have people over). I’m always looking for ways to make my own small space more flexible.

Erin
5 months ago

Slam dunk. Gorgeous. Incredible respect for such creativity and attention to detail!

Christa
5 months ago

Fabulous! Everything works together and it’s all so interesting. Well done.

JinFL
5 months ago

Absolutely in love with this space! This has been my favorite reveal in a really long time – ingenious, fresh, fun and modern. Also, this is a doable transformation for those of us who don’t have an unlimited budget. I’d love to see more content from Mal!!!

Elise
5 months ago

Wow, your apartment is gorgeous. I love anything Palm Springs inspired. You made such good use of every square inch, it doesn’t even look small. Love, love the dining nook.

Cici Haus
5 months ago

SO, So good! I always wished I had lived in a small space in my life – I love this.

KD
5 months ago

Brava! Brava!

5 months ago

This is gorgeous. So impressed with the level of detail in 500SF. It’s a rental, right? So how did you hang the wallpaper so it’s removable when you leave?

Sheila
5 months ago

Absolutely stunning! Each functional area is a gem and they all work together beautifully. When you started this project, I wasn’t crazy about making the bed such a feature and thought putting the bed sideways along the wall and dressing it as a daybed might be more functional and less bedroom-y and open up more space. Whelp, I was so wrong and this is so perfect. You should be very proud of yourself!

kiki
5 months ago

This is the best most inspiring thing I’ve seen on EHD in months!! I LOVE IT. Well done Mal!!

Tara Lynch
5 months ago

I can’t find words … 🤯🤯🤯. I love every detail.

Stephanie
5 months ago

AMAZING Mallory!

Kim
5 months ago

So beautiful! You did a fantastic job! Real questions when it comes to TIMELINES & how much time do you put into a place you know you won’t always be… How long did it take to go from move-in/ no furniture to the “AFTER?” And how long to you plan to live there? I would just love some actual data so that it can help me figure out the timeline for my own current “probably not forever home” timeline. Thanks!

Kim
5 months ago

Thank you so much {all the hearts}

Gretchen
5 months ago

Incredible! So chic.

jen
5 months ago

What a stunning space! So many great ideas. Well done Mallory!

Deborah
5 months ago

Beautifully designed and styled Mallory, and so very chic!
You solved some really hard design problems/challenges wonderfully, so beautiful and useful for you and Chase’s lifestyle! Brava, brava, brava!

Leah
5 months ago

So impressed! Really like your aesthetic

Madison
5 months ago

Amazing job Mal! So fun so trendy and so relatable with the rental! 10/10!!! Incredible MOTO <3

AMY Louise BECKER
5 months ago

Absolutely fantastic! Incredible job, Mallory! You hit it out of the ballpark! Inspiring me to get a little more creative…thank you!

Billie
5 months ago

The cane mimicking the headboard is genius!

Breanna
5 months ago

This space turned out spectacular! I’ve been waiting YEARS for this reveal and it majorly exceeded my expectations. So many smart small space solutions and bold design statements done very well. So much inspiration!!

Cris S.
5 months ago

Looks amazing! So finished and edited. I’d love to see a view of your kitchen and how you have that styled out. And as someone else said, a view of the whole “living/dining” area also. Great job!

Paula
5 months ago

It always surprises me when a place with the furniture in it looks bigger than the empty space. Your place is a good example! Only one tiny quibble — doesn’t the black velvet attract any dust, lint, hair floating around? I’d feel like I’d need to vacuum my headboard daily. But, overall, GREAT job.

Meg
5 months ago

Truly incredible, BRAVO!

Patti
5 months ago

What a transformation! That kitchen banquette is so friggin inspiring! I find the pendant to be a bit cold but it’s your jam!! Congra

Patti
5 months ago

Holy cow, what a transformation! That banquette is friggin inspiring! I find the pendant to be a bit cold but it’s your space! Congrats on an amazing job! I could never put so much effort into a rental!

🥰 Rusty
5 months ago

You achieved a super-luxe finish; veryPalm Springs in a livable way.
I’m wondering if the bathroom wallpaper is removable and if it is, how it will stand up to steam?
While luxe is likely the opposite of my aesthetic, I really appreciate the “”cool factor in your impeccably finished home. A really well-written post, too.
Congratulations!! Yaaay!

cse
5 months ago

I absorbed every word and photo this morning and came back this evening just to admire it all again.
I’ve lived in an apartment this size and know just how hard this is to pull off. Bravo!

SARAH
5 months ago

The bathroom is beggggng for a rich colored bath mat but more importantly WHAT A FANTASTIC JOB MALLORY!!!! Well. Done.

A
5 months ago

That bathroom surprise 🤩 I actually gasped out loud. Amazing job on the whole space! Beauty and function in one package.

Cece
5 months ago

I LOVE it! But I’m so confused that you say it’s 500sq/ft? I used to live in a 1 bed Hollywood apt that was 500ft and it had a biggish bedroom, living area, galley kitchen, dining corner and bathroom plus corridor with vanity and storage etc. And our London flat was marketed as about 650ft and was a 2-bed. I can’t for the life of me work out how the space here is more than maybe 300ft? But admittedly I’m not very good at this sort of thing! Is there more space than we’ve seen?

beth
5 months ago

Incredible design!! Well done!