Caitlin’s Art Deco Apartment with a Parisian Flair

published Nov 17, 2010
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Name: Caitlin Murray
Location: Beverly Hills — Los Angeles, California
Size: 700 square feet — 1 bed, 1 bath
Years lived in: 6 months

I met Caitlin a few quarters into design school and immediately knew she had an inherent talent for interior design. When apartment hunting, Caitlin scouted out units with strong architectural features, knowing it would be much easier to complement a well-designed rental space. Like most students, the budget for home furnishings was very nominal after school tuition and material expenses . She relied on Craigslist finds, flea markets, and inexpensive sources to pull together a cohesive home on a student budget.

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Caitlin Murray (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Because of the sometimes temporary nature of living in apartments, it can be a challenge to initiate motivation for styling your home. However, the more you make your space a home, the less it will feel like just a rental. Caitlin’s stylized apartment reminded me that I need to refocus on finishing the design of my own apartment. I see a trip to Home Depot’s paint department in my very near future.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Collected chic with a mix of modern and vintage

Inspiration:My apartment was built in the late 1920’s and like many of that era’s buildings — especially in Beverly Hills — the architecture was infused with Art Deco elements. Stairstep motifs and ornate details dominate the space along with some of the original hardwood oak flooring and gorgeous black and lavender tile. Art Deco was a fabulous age in design because of the decorative sense of style and whimsical aesthetic. It was a very feminine themed movement that first began in Paris, so I wanted to celebrate those inherent qualities instead of design against them. On top of that, when I stood in my apartment for the first time, it had an undeniable feeling of a place inhabited by a Hollywood starlet from days gone by that coincided with a vintage Parisian vibe. I just took it from there.

Favorite Element: The color scheme in my bedroom was very unexpected and derived from my usual taste. It started with a bold color I was dying to try on the walls – Benjamin Moore’s “Electric Blue.” Then I found this great peacock duvet cover from DwellStudio, which happened to be mustard yellow with blue, orange and brown accents. After all was accessorized, I ended up with a ton of orange elements that I would never have naturally gravitated toward, but since blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel they complement each other and look amazing together. Finally, I threw in some gold and white that really popped against the paint and also toned down the bright hues.

Biggest Challenge: I was a student when I moved here and now I have just finished school, so the biggest challenge has definitely been not having enough money to design my space exactly according to my vision. After only six months, it’s absolutely still a work in progress.

What Friends Say: I had one male friend gush over my apartment and say, “Caitlin, you don’t understand, the rest of us don’t live in places like THIS!”

Biggest Embarrassment: I’m so sad that the landlords covered up most of the hardwood and the original, ridiculously beautiful tile flooring in the bathroom with carpet and cheap, synthetic surfaces. My neighbor still has the original lavender and black floor tile that matches the wainscoting we both have and I’m beyond jealous. I wish everyone would appreciate the loveliness and endearing craftsmanship of the period.

Proudest DIY: The breakfast room is my favorite. I wanted to go all out girly, so I painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s “Pink Begonia” and hung a crystal chandelier that was created by a well-known designer in the 40’s/50’s who had movie star clientele. I have been collecting and refinishing accessories and adding plants, but the table and chairs were from my previous place — they fit perfectly with the black and white scheme in the kitchen. It started as a beige box and all of the old and new elements came together really well.

Biggest Indulgence: I purchased custom roman shades for the six windows in my corner unit apartment and despite the fact I’m renting, they have been so worth it. Shades work better in this space than drapery because of some awkward window placements that leave little room for curtain rods. Plus, they are super chic and highly functional.

Best advice: Words to live by from two design icons:

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

“I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.” – Dorothy Draper

Dream source:, Jonathan Adler, Design Within Reach, Windsor Smith Home, and a plethora of West Hollywood showrooms

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Resources of Note:





  • Vintage and Thrift Stores
  • DIY Projects
  • Posters from Blick






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Thanks Caitlin!

Images: Evan Koester

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