This 450-Square-Foot Rental Is So Stunning You Can Hardly Believe It’s a Studio Apartment

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Name: Maxie Optican and Tofu, puppy
Location: Santa Monica, California
Type of home: Studio Apartment
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 2 weeks, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The nine-month quarantine was making me restless and eager for new and challenging projects that revolved around staying home, so I took the opportunity to move apartments. After five years of living in Venice, I packed up Tofu and my belongings and crossed the 405 Freeway to Santa Monica. Although the move was a 15-min drive, it felt like you needed a passport to enter. The magical studio apartment dates back to the 1930s with all original Spanish details including French glass doors, hardwood flooring, built-in wood bookshelves, purple-tiled bathroom, and glass door knobs. The courtyard is accessed through French doors right off of the kitchen and feels as if you’ve entered a Nancy Meyers movie. The pink building and lush succulent landscaping offer that epic pink/green contrast. It’s like if Spain and France had a baby girl.

My identity is a combination of my past, my family, my community, my present, all the things that bring me joy and all that’s to come in the future. And my apartment is a complete reflection of that. I love blending antique furniture from flea markets and my parents’ and grandparents’ homes with modern touches that I source online or in contemporary stores. My studio boudoir is all woman! Just like me. It’s pink! With pink Moroccan rugs, pink fringe lamps, pink velvet desk chair, and pink peonies to match the pink Bougainvillea bush that my desk overlooks. I start my mornings with coffee in bed out of my homemade pottery mugs while watching the sunrise from my floor-to-ceiling Spanish Bay windows. The apartment just makes me feel good, cozy, sexy, safe, and joyous all at once.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Spanish casita meets French boudoir

What is your favorite room and why? As much as I love the kitchen with French glass doors leading to the courtyard, I can’t help but relish in my main studio space. It is the boudoir of my dreams. The wood beamed ceilings against the French Bay window make me smile. And I love the combination of materials and fabrics — velvet, wood, fringe, fur, and leather. It’s the perfect balance between modern and antique, female and male, and soft and strong. This room is where I spend 80 percent of my days. Is is my yoga studio, my dressing room, my pottery studio, my office, and so much more.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? At the Santa Monica flea market I snagged an epic piece of art. A stack of books that spines read “YOU WILL BE TOO MUCH FOR SOME PEOPLE THOSE AREN’T YOUR PEOPLE.” And if you know me, you know this resonates. Even though I found these for $15 at a flea market, you can get them here: E. Lawrence Ltd.

Any advice for creating a home you love? First: figure out what you love. What makes you feel beautiful, happy, safe, sexy, comfortable, free. Once you figure that out, flood your space with it. Whether it be colors, materials, art, fabrics, objects, books. Don’t leave any corner unfinished. Make every square inch your favorite space and let everything you see bring you joy. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks — it’s your world and you have to live in it.

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