If you ask me, Los Angeles can very well win an Oscar nomination for awkward apartments, cookie cutter condos and tasteless townhouses. The 70s and 80s all but wiped out all the quaint Country Cottages, Spanish Style Bungalows, Mid Century Modern Architectural homes from the two decades prior, replacing them with generic housing, low in aesthetics and high in rent – invoking a quintessential LA understanding of the term “affordable”.
Nonetheless, the teeming masses that move to this land of beautiful people and not so beautiful houses, need more than a place to rest their head. They need a shelter from the storm in this city of hopes and dreams.….and so we try to decorate and personalize these soulless boxes to reflect our tastes.
Thus apartment makeovers have taken on an art form.
When I moved to my Santa Monica townhouse from suburban Orange County – known for its planned cities and wide-open spaces – in comparison, Los Angeles was organic and spontaneous and therein lay its charm. I told myself I was a city girl, and the city was where I wanted to be.
However, pretty soon, it started to feel as though one was missing something. Not the least of which was a garage, a designated space to park the car, a driveway, and in summer months, the patio with dining and lounging areas and a palapa that I had hauled over all the way from Bali.
My townhouse was small. Smaller still was the Bel Air bungalow where I moved into, a few years later. I sold off most of the furniture keeping only a handful of one-of-a-kind pieces from buying trips to Europe and Asia. I covered the walls with paint, wallpaper, fabric and artwork. The journey and the destination were both……exciting! It taught me a lot about editing.
Currently designing a client’s penthouse that is Art Deco with a dash of cookie cutter. Will have some pictures soon.
Apartment and Condo dwellers – you do not need to put your decoration plans on hold till you buy a home. Here are some ideas.
1. Buy some fancy designer china tableware (right when they go on sale) and use them to serve everyday meals, be it takeout Chinese or pizza.
2. Splurge where it counts. On 300 thread count sheets. Sleeping in a bed layered with luxurious hotel-like linen will have you waking up with a smile in the morning. Add a buckwheat pillow or bolster for that luxe look. Look out for Black Friday and other sales on high quality linen. That way, you won’t have an attack of buyer’s remorse afterward.
3. Create mood lighting all around the room adding oodles of candles. Choose scented or plain. Have floor lamps and plug-in wall sconces for a luxurious Zen vibe.
4. Buy prints in a variety of sizes in a single theme. Frame them in DIY frames in rich finishes like those expensive frames you saw at that quaint little Art gallery down in La Jolla.
5. Buy furniture with character, one item at a time, instead of a whole room-full. You must measure the room and create a masterplan before you start buying. Decide on a style and color scheme first otherwise the space will look choppy, making you feel stressed out.
6. Buy quality Rugs that add texture to your space. Be on the look out for sales. A client of mine recently recounted how with a little patience, she snagged an 8×10 foot rug for $48. No kidding! The rug makes the room, adding texture, finishing the space.
7. Add some houseplants. Plant them in shiny industrial style containers for a modern touch. Choose a hardy species like a small Rubber Plant or a large Fiddle Leaf Fig and watch the place come alive. Gardening – indoors or out – is a natural stress buster and great therapy.
8. Create a feature wall. I like to paint one wall of a room in a darker shade or sometimes I will wallpaper one wall of a small room, such as a powder room or foyer. It gives a generic space a much-needed character. A number of online retailers have gorgeous peel and stick wallpaper that would beautifully dress up an otherwise bland apartment or condo.
Let’s live in the now, wherever we are…rather than wait. With a little work and some planning, we can add personality to any apartment or condo. Here’s to self-expression….!
Generic does not nurture the human spirit. It feeds our soul when we begin to personalize our abode – no matter how temporary the stay is, no matter how small or large, grand or unassuming. Whether our home is in the city or the suburbs, on the East side or the west, up in the Hills, out by the Ocean or down home in the Valley, LA is the quintessential urban jungle dotted by large swathes of uninspiring breadboxes. What better place to start?
One apartment – one condo – one townhouse – at a time……!