Name: Jonathan Paul
Location: Santa Monica, California
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; rented
Jonathan, a recent California transplant, is enjoying a home that offers him the opposite of what he grew up with on the East Coast. Taking full advantage of a kitchen large enough to double as a workspace, he added incredible built-ins and is making full use of all the spacious storage. Another luxury he now enjoys is a front yard, where he is embracing his green thumb. Welcome to Jonathan's new Santa Monica digs!
Says Jonathan: "LA has warmed me to home design that is more relaxed in its approach to being stylish. New York interiors can look chic but feel severe; in LA, the prevailing aesthetic that I like is cool and calm. I think this apartment captures that nicely."
To help bring his style ideas to life, Jonathan hired a friend of his, interior designer Simran Winkelstern. She was able to bring together his art collection, layers of colors both bold and neutral, and a cozy organic touch. One of the features that I really loved was the soft tones of the bedroom, which I'm sure help to create a calm sleeping environment. Then there are the great vintage pieces peppered in with some thrifty finds from Craigslist, Target, and West Elm. Simran sourced pieces that bring together East Coast and West Coast vibes, which was one of the biggest goals for Jonathan upon moving to the beach.
He also wanted a space that would serve a lot of different functions at one. "This apartment is both a home and an office, so there were many requirements. For example, I needed more counter space in the kitchen, plus somewhere to sit and eat. I also needed an office and shelving. Simran cracked the code when she designed a kitchen layout (sketched on the back of an envelope) that made efficient use of a small nook and created a workstation, shelving and a kitchen island. It looks terrific and despite being custom made (by me and my buddy Josh), it wasn’t too pricey." All these ingredients will hopefully add up to a successful move for Jonathan, offering him a wonderful long term solution in his new city.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My taste in interiors is always evolving, usually at the hands of creative friends. When I moved to California from New York City, I wanted a reset. Style-wise I was curious to advance from my Manhattan apartment, which was heavy, with dark grays and mid-century wood. Thanks to my friend and interior designer Simran Winkelstern, the vision and ambition for this Santa Monica cottage reached well beyond the limits of my personal taste. I’d call it a reinterpretation of my swanky East Coast sensibility — a Santa Monica riff.
Inspiration: The space itself, a small but handsome 1920s Spanish-style bungalow, was inspirational. A lot of the original interior details, like the hardwood floors, moldings, door hardware, and vintage Wedgewood stove set the tone. Natural elements like the banana tree behind the bedroom and the flood of morning light guided the color palette.
Favorite Element: I love the art in my apartment because it illustrates my life. Everything has a story behind it, including the Robert Indiana posters on loan from my parents, who first met at the artist’s SoHo loft in the late sixties. Some of the other pieces I made myself, like the large poster in the living room that I created for my 25th birthday party.
Biggest Challenge: I moved in with no furniture whatsoever. Getting the place furnished quickly while on a tight budget was a huge challenge. Simran and I used a shared Pinterest board to swap ideas and iMessage to make game-time purchasing decisions. Thanks to those efficiencies and Simran dispatching me 24/7 to chase Craigslist leads, we got most of the project done in a couple of months.
What Friends Say: “Where’s the guest room?”
Biggest Embarrassment: I had just moved to LA when I decided to take some items to the framer. Returning to my rental car hours later, I discovered that I’d left the passenger door wide open — it was actually blocking the sidewalk. Luckily, nobody seemed to notice.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen’s shelving and island. The butcher block is all countertop material from IKEA. The island base is made from The Container Store’s Metro Commercial shelving. We even raised the counters a few inches above standard, accommodating my 6’4” height. It makes chopping vegetables feel pretty deluxe.
Biggest Indulgence: The Westnofa Siesta armchairs were an early Craigslist purchase and led to the gray/blue color story in the living room. I wasn’t sure I liked them at first, but Simran persisted. Once we got them in the room, they started to set the mood.
Best Advice: Paint your space, even if you rent — it’s the cheapest and fastest route to a transformation. We spent a lot time painting sample boards and holding them up on the walls at different times of day. It really paid off. Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter and Athena are two great neutrals we chose.
Dream Sources: Craigslist! Simran’s clients call her the Queen of Craigslist. During the design process she would show me something wildly expensive on 1stdibs or eBay, then turn around and find it on Craigslist for cheap. My job was to move quickly and buy it.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Living room walls and hallway, Benjamin Moore: Revere Pewter (flat)
- Living room shades, Benjamin Moore: Stormy Sky (flat)
- Kitchen walls, Benjamin Moore: Stonington Gray (flat)
- Kitchen cabinets, Benjamin Moore: Coventry Gray (hi-gloss)
- Bathroom, Benjamin Moore: Eagle Rock (enamel flat)
- Bedroom walls, Benjamin Moore: Athena (flat)
- Brass chandelier, coffee table, Lucite table lamps, magazine rack, sectional sofa by Mariani, Siesta arm chairs by Westnofa, wood bench: all Craigslist
- Coffee table; Lucite table lamps; magazine rack; sectional sofa by Mariani; Siesta arm chairs by Westnofa; wood bench, Craigslist.
- Striped throw pillows, Calypso Home
- Fleece pillows, custom
- Calvin Klein Home charcoal wool and silk rug, Overstock.com
- Linen lampshades; 10-inch Martini side tables, Restoration Hardware
- Throw, Alicia Adams Alpaca
- Bench cushions, custom
- Console table, Too by BluDot, Target
- Floor lamp, Thomas O’Brien, Target
- Vintage brass and Lucite chandelier, eBay.com
- Bamboo shades (painted Benjamin Moore Stormy Sky), WindowBlindOutlet.com
DINING ROOM + KITCHEN
- Custom shelves made with Numerar countertop, Ikea
- Island made from Metro Commercial shelving, The Container Store, and Numerar countertop, Ikea
- White metal counter stools and black three-light track light kit, Nuvo Lighting, Overstock.com
- Custom counter-stool cushion fabric, Sunbrella
- Forsa desk lamp, Ikea
- Wood bar tray, Global Table
- Antique citrus juicer, estate sale
- Bamboo wine racks, Zabar’s
- Fruit bowl, Heath Ceramics
- Glass vase, Weck
- Table runner, West Elm
- Cookware, from left, All-Clad, Lodge and Cuisinart
- Vintage stand mixer and enamel basin, estate sale
- Utensil holder, Le Creuset
- Billy bookcase (painted Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter), Ikea
- Ceiling fixture, Manufactum
- Bed, Urban Home
- Herringbone throw and pillow, Sferra, Bloomingdale’s
- Bedding, Nate Burkus, Target
- Linen pillow, custom
- Side tables and dresser, Craigslist
- Brass lamp, Alameda flea market
- Lamps, vintage
- Lamp shades, Lamp Plus
- Rosewood shoe horn, La Cordonnerie Anglaise, Leffot
- Brass desk clock, Tiffany & Co.
- Thonet-style arm chair, estate sale
- Ceiling fixture, Manufactum
- Photographs by Melissa Soltis
- Shower curtain, bath mat and hand towels, Restoration Hardware
- Bentwood table and alabaster lamp, estate sale
- Paper shade, The Oriental Lamp Shade Company
- African woven basket, street fair
- Apothecary jars, America Retold
Thanks, Jonathan! And also thanks to Simran!
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(Image credits: Bethany Nauert)