Renter Decor Hacks LA Apartment

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Name: Ben Cuevas, my plants, and my pet tarantula, Thierry Spoodler
Lease: Silverlake—Los Angeles, California
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, rental

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I moved to my home right after the start of the pandemic in April 2020. Immediately, I knew I wanted it to be my refuge — a space that felt soothing and healing yet stimulating with all the things I love. Rich textures like plush velvet, supple leather, and woven jacquard cotton, plus saturated jewel-tones of malachite and azurite all helped give me the sensory dose of dopamine I needed to get through lockdown.

I made quite a few personal changes beyond your average rental unit. I took to heart Amy Sedaris’ suggestion to view your rental deposit as your design fee, and installed a statement bookcase for the living area, filled with all my favorite books and objects. I love to curl in my own little library nook of personal pleasures at the end of the day. I’m an artist and designer, and my home is my workspace as well. I set up my work area by the apartment’s large south-facing windows, so my plants and I can be bathed in light as we go about our day. I changed out all of the light fixtures to give the place a glowing personal touch, and I even re-surfaced the shower surround with removable vinyl subway shower tiles.

Having worked in art and design for many years, I enjoy finding moments of connection in geometric design across objects, styles, and cultures. From my Art Deco stained glass mirror (by local LA artist Harpal Sodhi), to my Scandinavian handwoven rug (by way of IKEA), to my natural reed Vietnamese baskets (courtesy of West Elm), there’s a geometric through-line that adds visual excitement and an unexpected kind of continuity. Being a bit of a witch and putting much stock in the flow of energy, I worked with Feng Shui consultant Mark Ainly to make sure the flow and balance were all copacetic. Light balances dark, so that I can move from bright and airy moments, like my white sawhorse desk, to dark and sexy ones, like my bedroom’s emerald green velvet blackout curtains.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern eclectic meets laidback decor.

What is your favorite room and why? Definitely my living room. To me it’s the perfect combination of luxury meets laidback vibes.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought actually hasn’t arrived yet! It’s a set of gold velvet bolster pillows to add to my couch.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t be afraid to make your space your own, even if you rent! You deserve to live in a space that’s a reflection of you and your style!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

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