Dear Future Houseguests,
I moved almost two months ago and whenever anyone asks me how my new place is, I immediately respond, “TERRIBLE.” I’ve basically turned into a cartoon of a cranky old man and/or an old witch who lives in a tower and screams terrifying things when children pass by. It’s not that I’m not thankful that I found a cute apartment to live in, it’s that I bit off a bit more than I can chew by basically deciding to renovate it myself, alone, in agony. It makes literally zero sense that I’m spending so much time and money renovating this place – it’s a rental – but I had a few reasons why I decided to do so. Firstly, I spent the last few years planning and renovating my perfect space with someone I loved who then decided to throw me away like a moldy half-eaten Luna Bar (What? I’m not bitter. I’M FINE). I kind of had a strong need to make sure the next place I moved wasn’t a total disappointment. Secondly, I’m writing a book and I wanted a place where I could shoot new images for it. Finally, the renovations I’m doing are therapeutic. Perfecting my new home is the perfect distraction from the overwhelming desolation that engulfs the rest of my entire existence. Just kidding. Sort of. AS I SAID BEFORE I’M TOTALLY FINE, GUYS.
I’ve posted a few images of Chateaulando on my Instagram and my friends who have seen them are like “Oh wow you’re done designing it, it looks great!” I am a liar and those pics are deceiving and you guys should know by now to never believe anything you see on the internet. When I moved in I had the landlord rip out the kitchen, the lighting, the vent covers, and a lot of the random switches and wires that led to phones/alarm systems/appliances that no long exist. In older apartments, there tends to be lots of leftover cords and control boxes for home systems that no longer exist or function properly, so I wanted to get all that out of the way before we painted. I’m glad I did it, the whole place is much cleaner and less filled with stupid cords now.
A little about the new building. It was built in 1940 and, according to the world-wide-web, Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney both lived here at some point (Not together, at least not that I know of. I can’t imaging them being roommates/besties). The style of the building is French Provincial, with lots of pretty details wherever you look. In looking for an apartment, I specifically searched for something different than Orcondo. People tend to associate me with that modern/bright/minimal look because of the way I designed the condo but that was really more of a result of the inherent style of the building (ugly 80s) than a result of my desire to live in a bright white box. The truth about my style is that I love all sorts of types of architecture. The crazy crown moulding, wainscoting, and beautiful wood floors made me fall in love with this place immediately.
I applied for and was beat out for two different apartments before I got this one. Anyone looking for an apartment in LA right now will tell you it’s tough out there. We’re one of the only rental markets in the U.S. that hasn’t seen a decline in rental prices over the past months. People are moving here in droves and getting an apartment is harder than finding a parking space at the West Hollywood Whole Foods (which is actually impossible). So when I wandered into Chateaulando, I knew I had to act fast. It was a complete construction mess when I saw it first. The bathroom was being renovated and was nonexistent. The walls were all scuffed and there was dust everywhere. But I could tell from the style of the building and the layout of the apartment that it was exactly the kind of place I wanted. I applied for and got the apartment before it was anywhere near being done.
The design of my last place, Orcondo, was really approachable and easy to digest. Simple, modern, bright, eclectic. I love that look and I am still proud of how that place came out, but I wanted this space to be more adventurous design-wise. I’ve always loved the work of Kelly Wearstler (who designed the above space), and I’m kind of channeling her in coming up with the design plan for this place. I’m adding more sculptural furnishings, bolder colors, and a bit more quirk to my design plan. I see this apartment as a personal opportunity to be playful, to make decisions without worrying about what anyone else thinks of them, to just go totally crazy and play because honestly who cares? I only have myself to impress.
The living room gets lots of natural light, so I painted it Horizon from Benjamin Moore, which is an incredibly beautiful faint grey that’s perfect for bright rooms. It has just enough warmth to be inviting, but isn’t so warm that it looks beige. If I had to choose one fail-proof paint color, it would probably be this one. I just love looking at it and being soothed by it on a daily basis. Also soothing: my glamorous new ivory pillow. It’s good to have soothing things around you when you spend many of your waking hours imagining how you will die alone and no one will find your body for weeks.
My goal with the living room (and the entire apartment) was to create a space where I could host guests. Getting out of a relationship, it was really important to me to have a place where I could host movie nights, dinner parties, any activity that would assuage my codependency. I wanted a lot of seating, so I snagged the Esme Sofa in Stone from West Elm, which I loved because it has low arms that keep it open to the rest of the room.
Eventually, I’m hoping my living room looks like a warmer version of this crazy Kelly Wearstler design. I love how everything in that room looks like a sculpture.
I found a totally ugly sofa at Wertz Brothers and knew it was my duty to give it the mega makeover it deserved. I love rounded sofas almost as much as I like peacock blue, so I chose the most sumptuous, soft velvet I could find. I had my upholsterer put extra down in the seat cushion and the sofa is so comfortable. You really can’t beat a great sofa. They support you, they comfort you, they give you a place to wallow while you contemplate the meaninglessness of life. And, unlike a boyfriend, a sofa won’t dump you and leave you all alone to fend for yourself in an apartment with no kitchen.
The dining room has some lovely detail, including a beautiful ceiling moulding and wainscoting around the room. I had the walls painted an insanely gorgeous (and unexpected, at least for me) color called “North Shore Green.” The wainscoting is now Benjamin Moore “Super White,” and the contrast gives the room a wonderful structure it lacked when it was all painted the same color.
I want the dining room to have a modern-meets-old-world vibe when it’s completed. I love older European apartments with lots of architectural detail contrasted by modern furnishings. Park Studio has been gracious enough to design a custom light fixture for above the dining table, which is this simple pedestal from AllModern:
I found some totally gross dining chairs at a thrift store and spray painted them black. A fun fact about design is that pretty much anything looks more chic when painted matte black. My parents visited me recently and helped me do a DIY seat upholstery job so the chairs went from REVOLTING to REVOLUTIONARY in just a few hours.
I pretty much projectile vomited the second I saw the kitchen. Upon viewing that gross refrigerator, nasty tile, and room full of non-closing cabinets, I screamed, guttural and from the soul, “RIP OUT THIS KITCHEN IMMEDIATELY.” Full disclosure: this was a HUGE mistake. I had originally planned to get the whole makeover sponsored by an appliance brand, mainly because I’m too poor to handle this on my own. But the sponsorship got complicated, so now I’m handling mostly it on my own. Yes, I know, so stupid. I’m literally throwing money away by renovating a rental kitchen. But A) It’ll make my time here MUCH better and B) It’ll make for a much more fun before/after story. I am working with Semi Handmade, an amazing company that takes off-the-shelf Ikea cabinetry and makes it look custom and glamorous, to completely redo all the storage in the room (and add a whole lot more). The kitchen is very small and I’m kind of a psycho for dinner parties, so it was important to me to make it as user-friendly as possible. It’s going to be a dream kitchen for any chef. If the chef was poor and lived in a world where everything was miniature.
The kitchen is going from dingy yellow to bright, Super White from Benjamin Moore. So far, the walls are prepped and ready to go. In a few weeks when my doors arrive from Semi Handmade, I will scream for joy at the sky and thank God for cabinetry.
Fellow-designer Sarah Sherman Samuel also used Semi Handmade for her kitchen, and I’m basically doing the same style as hers. I wanted the kitchen renovation to be more in keeping with the style of the building (unlike the 1960s update that existed when I moved in). The upper cabinets are going to be white and the lower cabinets are going to be light grey. AND I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO WALK INTO THE KITCHEN AND GET A GODDAMN GLASS OF WATER AFTER THREE MONTHS OF WASHING MY DISHES IN THE BATHROOM SINK LIKE AN ACTUAL HOBO.
The hallway went from a weird toothpaste color to one of my favorite go-to’s, Benjamin Moore “Half Moon Crest.” And don’t worry, that depressing-dangle-meth-lab-light has already been removed and replaced with this gorgeous woman:
The guest bedroom, like my old master bedroom that I used to sleep in when there was love in my life, doesn’t get a ton of natural light. So I’m painting it a gorgeous, saturated navy blue called “New Providence Navy.” I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until I die of breathlessness, if a room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, it’s best to paint it a saturated color. Giving the walls some pigment makes it look purposefully romantic. Originally, I thought I’d use the guest bedroom as an office/art studio but I realized soon after moving in that I wouldn’t want to spend much time in there. It’s a cozy sleeping place but much too dark to hang out in during the day.
I literally lost my mind with the master bedroom. I’ve wanted to paint a room pale pink for YEARS. But no client has ever let me do it. For years, I have been oppressed. So, now that I’m single I decided to go for it. The color I chose is “Yours Truly” from Benjamin Moore. Without a boyfriend to tell me “No, you’re insane, you can’t have a pink bedroom,” I decided NOW IS THE TIME FOR LIVING. Sure, I might never get laid ever again because I have a Barbie bedroom, but I don’t think I’d want to sleep with anyone who isn’t cool with pink anyway. So to all you suitors out there, if you’re so obsessed with hegemonic, constraining ideas of what it is to be a man that you can’t deal with my pink bedroom, go fall down some stairs.
Pink really is the best color for a room. It’s so warm and inviting and soothing. Everyone in the world should have at least one pink room in their house.
I’m obsessed with my new giant bed (it’s the Roar & Rabbit Pleated Bed from West Elm). My mom thought it was ridiculous that I bought such a big bed and was all “Why do you need such a huge bed just for you?” And I was like “YOU HAVE TO DESIGN FOR THE LIFE YOU WANT NOT THE CRAPPY LIFE YOU HAVE,” before I ran out of the room screaming.
So that’s basically what I’m doing. With this new place, I’m trying to create a new home for myself that is comfortable and cozy, a place to host family and friends from out of town, to have game nights, to cook with friends. Basically, the whole goal for this place was to stave off the overwhelmingly lonely feeling that you get when you go from being in a relationship to LIVING ALL BY YOURSELF. I gotta be honest, I hate living alone. It’s boring and there’s no one to hang out with and you have to text like 800 friends before anyone will commit to eating a meal with you. But one good thing about living alone is that you get to do whatever you want, even if that means decorating your apartment to look like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which is maybe what I’m doing. WISH ME LUCK.