A Small "Atomic Safari" California Apartment

A Small "Atomic Safari" California Apartment

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Jessica Isaac
Oct 29, 2016

Name: Marni Epstein-Mervis and Laine Mervis (and Fitz the corgi)
Location: Highland Park — Los Angeles, California
Size: 570 square feet
Years lived in: Rented, 1 year

Marni and Laine's mini one-bedroom apartment is the physical manifestation of their perfectly complementary marriage. Marni is eclectic and Laine is minimal. Marni runs a creative agency (STRUKTR), while Laine practices law in the city. Marni tends to collect, while Laine is really good at, well, not collecting. The result is a bright space filled with pared-down, quirky collections and plenty of room left to breath. Oh, and Fitz the corgi, of course.

Because their space is limited, these two make no bones (sorry, Fitz) about purging. While they've gotten good at keeping things minimal, there is still tons of personality packed into these cozy quarters. From their collection of dolls from South Africa (where Laine is from), to the vintage tennis racquet display in their bedroom (one set belonged to Laine's parents, and the other, Marni's), there's no denying this home represents the people who live in it. Small, personal collections displayed in vignettes throughout the home define the space, while a unifying theme of mid-century, atomic-era furniture ties everything together.

Apartment Therapy Survey

Our Style: Atomic Mid-Century meets flea market chic meets African safari. Laine's style is minimal, white, negative space…also, legos. My style is eclectic, boho.

Inspiration: Inspiration comes a lot from our families and our heritage. We have family pieces that have been passed down from parents and grandparents. And also Laine is originally from Cape Town, South Africa so we wanted to celebrate that in our home, as well.

Favorite Element: Our backyard space. We love having a space that works for both us, and our dog Fitz (the boy loves suntanning). I DIY-ed a little bench for extra seating out there. It's so nice to host dinner parties outside at the table whenever the weather's nice (often), and when it gets chillier (just a little) to sit around the fire with friends and enjoy a glass of wine or a hot toddy.

Biggest Challenge: Small square footage. We absolutely love our home, but when we first saw it, Laine actually didn't think we could fit in it. We had to view it three times to be sure. We've had to make tough choices between an office nook, small dining room table, or extending the kitchen pantry area (in the end we moved the dining room al fresco and went with a pantry area). Also, fitting our clothes into the very small wardrobes. Around here, it's basically buy-a-new-article-of-clothing-give-away-an-article-of-clothing. The square footage can be a challenge, but it's also made us really creative about how we live and what we put in our home.

What Friends Say: Very inviting. Clean lines. SoCal Mid-Century with a hip and happy twist — and a very effective use of space.



Biggest Embarrassment: Fitz, when he hasn't gotten his requisite beauty sleep...just kidding, we love that little weirdo. I'd say it's that our space is so small that we have to go to extreme lengths to make it work. For instance, to store our vacuum, we have to disassemble it into its component parts and store them, variously, above and to the side of the washing machine and in the kitchen "everything" drawer.

Proudest DIY: Recently when Laine and I were both in grad school, we had a side hobby restoring Mid-Century furniture. We'd often have two surfboard coffee tables and three bar carts taking up our entire living room. We ended up keeping our favorite piece for ourselves; it's our $20 Saarinen tulip coffee table craigslist find. No one's claiming its not a repro, but the $20 is still killer and I refinished and repainted it.

Biggest Indulgence: Our vintage "Mayan" lowboy. We got it at a great little now-defunct vintage store in our old neighborhood of Echo Park. We love the mid-century period and it's got such amazing detail — and great storage as well.

Best Advice: Before going out and adding new pieces, move around your existing furniture. Between rooms, too. Bathroom storage can become an amazing living room piece. Storage crates can become bedside tables. You'd be amazed.

Dream Sources: Co-op 28 in Los Feliz. I walk in and want to buy everything, but where would I put it? But truthfully we love finding treasures on Craigslist so really our dream source would be having all the time in the world to find everything we want.

Thanks, Marnie and Laine!


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