A Moody Glam California Apartment

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Names: Bianca Sotelo, Blogger at A Fabulous Challenge and Editorial Manager for Apartment 34 & Craig King, Assistant District Manager, G-Star
Location: Alameda, California
Size: 750 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented

I love interiors that set a certain mood and turn the innate quirks of the space to their advantage. The style mix in Bianca and Craig’s place does just that.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Bianca and Craig live in a garden level unit and their design embraces the naturally dim interior. Their focus on creating lovely lighting, going for deeply colored walls and adding the glimmer of gold accessories makes for an inviting space that feels tucked away from the outside world, in the best possible way.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: We’re both into darker colors — that masculine glamorous style. We like moodier colored walls, black accents and of course gold! We make sure to mix in vintage finds and cool local pieces too because mixing styles is a must.

Inspiration: A lot of people don’t know where to start when it comes to design, but I have the opposite problem, I don’t know where to stop! I look at beautiful design day in and day out for work and I’m always finding amazing new magazines, blogs, and tumblrs full of room inspiration. If I had to narrow it down, I’m inspired by French and Brookstone details and architecture- my dream would be to one day live in a Parisian apartment. Jenna Lyon’s former home is still one of my all time favorites house tours!

Favorite Element: This is a toughy! I like it all, but I’m really into the plants that I’ve recently brought in. They bring life to the space and I love that pop of chartreuse- it looks so good against the dark colors!

Biggest Challenge: Art is quite the challenge. It’s so hard to find a piece that speaks to you and I wish that I had more art to cover the walls, but it’s a slow process. Also, making sure the space doesn’t get overly feminine is something that I always have in the back of my mind when making a design decision. We went for darker, neutral tones as our base on the walls and furniture so they would balance out some of the more girly accessories.

What Friends Say: Most of my friends are surprised at how, as they say, “put together” it is. I think it’s because we’re relatively young and decorating isn’t something that’s on most of our friend’s minds.

Biggest Embarrassment: It takes me months to decide on something to buy and then when I finally do buy it, I still have to think about it. I am an avid returner. We went without any lighting fixtures for over 2 ½ years. Seriously, we lived in the dark for so long – I just could not pull the trigger. Everything I really wanted was so expensive, but I woke up one morning and just decided to go for it and it was so worth it. We still need a floor lamp or two but we’re way better off now than we were 6 months ago!

Proudest DIY: We made the walk-in closet more boutique-like to fit our style and more space-efficient for our wardrobe. We took everything out, threw out ⅔ of our stuff and only kept what we really wear. It’s always a treat to see my shoes lined up in a row and my favorite sweaters tucked away!

Biggest Indulgence: The Regina Andrews raw alabaster table lamps in the living room. Pricey, yes. Worth it? Definitely. Like I said, I thought about them for a long, long time.

Best Advice: So people always say buy what you can afford but I say save for what you really want. I’ve learned the hard way- settling and buying something because it was a good price or a quick fix and a couple of months later ended up replacing it- a.k.a. spending more money. It’s hard to swallow sometimes, but I’m slowly learning to look at the price tag as an investment and to not pay attention to trends. I’m a pretty firm believer that if you really love it, it’ll never go out of style.

I also used to be apprehensive about buying pieces for a temporary home. For the first 1 ½ years we lived here, we didn’t even paint the walls because I didn’t want to make changes to something that wasn’t ours. But I realized it is ours, for now and I want to be around things that make me smile when I walk in the room.

Dream Sources: Antique stores, like Stuff in San Francisco, are my happy places. If I had to choose a dream source it would be Dwell Studio. I’m also really into shopping local boutiques and supporting independents artists on Etsy. The less commercial the items feels, the more special they are to us.



  • Benjamin Moore Old Navy Entryway
  • Benjamin Moore Wool Peacoat Kitchen
  • Benjamin Moore Smoke Embers Bedroom
  • Benjamin Moore Pure White Living Room
  • Benjamin Moore Nightfall Living Room


  • Ikea sofa
  • Black Wool Pinstripe Ballard Design Louis Chairs
  • West Elm Parsons Desk
  • Custom Spotted Rebecca Atwood Pillows
  • Navy Velvet West Elm Pillows
  • Art on accent wall- vintage
  • Geometric Art by desk, Little Paper Planes
  • Allied Maker Task Lamp
  • Regina Andrews Raw Alabaster Lamps
  • Side tables, vintage
  • TV console, antique


  • Chairs, One Kings Lane
  • Table, thrifted
  • Bar Cart, vintage
  • Dinnerware, CB2


  • Bed, Z Gallerie
  • Bedding, Restoration Hardware
  • Dresser, antique
  • Lamps, Long Made Co


  • Shelves, Ikea
  • Clothes rack, Ikea
  • Cowhide, Ikea
  • Mirror, Home Goods
(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Thanks, Bianca and Craig!

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