Dana and Steve's Sophisticated Small Space

Dana and Steve's Sophisticated Small Space

Marcia Prentice
May 31, 2011

Name: Dana Benoit and Steve Johnson
Location: Miracle Mile - Los Angeles, California
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 15 years

Dana and Steve make the most out of every inch of their 600 square foot apartment. Even after 15 years (and with the addition of a new puppy) their small space feels just right. They have collected their furniture over time and even found a few inexpensive finds at swap meets. Can you believe they picked up their living room coffee table for only $75?

A few design tips to take away from the tour: The warm woods, classic shapes and artwork give the space a refined and sophisticated aesthetic. Smaller accessories complete the design and add a sense of personal style. The more contemporary elements (such as the lucite base table lamps) balance the darker colors. Even though purchasing weekly flowers can add up, these photos show how they can make the space come alive and add such great color and texture. I think that after taking the tour, you'll agree that their excellent use of interior design makes Dana and Steve's home feel much grander than its 600 square feet…

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: What gives us most pleasure is the balance between the calm, ordered and disciplined on the one hand and the somewhat random and sometimes jarring collision of a somewhat eccentric family of objects. We thoroughly enjoy one foot in 1940's Paris or Milan, the other in 1970's Los Angeles or New York with an eighteenth century portrait of an English aristocrat thrown in for good measure.

Inspiration: There certainly is no pre-ordained path, but a love of the search is central to the outcome. We are entirely too open to falling in love with something unexpected and outside of our predictable territory. The combination of a baroque shell encrusted mirror purchased in the desert placed over a 1970's Paul Evan's "Cityscapes" olive burlwood credenza cannot be planned. We would say if asked, the one place on earth that we could give up everything and move into right now would be the Villa Necchi Campiligio in Milan. Google it.

Favorite Element: The most meaningful part of our house is the place for our personal photographs in our bedroom and in particular the pictures of our beloved golden retrievers, past and present. Paintings are also like family, so it is hard to choose a favorite. One small painting of a desert mountain in evening light, found years ago in a consignment store means a lot to us because it was the innocent beginning of a love affair with the desert. We look at this painting in our small three room apartment in Los Angeles and dream about our weekend home in Palm Springs, acquired many years later. Our backyard views that same extraordinary mountain and for the two places to be connected in this way means a lot to us.

Biggest Challenge: Loving and coveting way too many things and there being so little room to hold them. Editing and restraint is an admirable goal, but it takes enormous concentration and willpower. I suppose sometimes we cross the line, but in the end there is some pleasure in that.

What Friends Say: The best compliment is that they feel comfortable. We feel "apartments" are making a comeback and our little apartment is a good example. A city apartment close to everything you need, easy to maintain and compact enough that you can indulge yourself in some modest luxuries is a real lesson, especially now. Friends in Los Angeles are circling back around to a notion that Parisians and New Yorkers have known for a long time - comfort, luxury and small spaces are not contradictions.

Biggest Embarrassment: Paintings under the bed.

Proudest DIY: Steve is an architect and together with his business partner, Jim Favaro, designed two pieces of furniture in this house. These pieces were part of an extensive line of furniture designed for John Saint-Denis Atelier in Los Angeles. The pieces were designed many years ago, but John Saint-Denis Atelier is preparing to re-launch and add them to the line.

Biggest Indulgence: The 1960's painting by the Chicago artist Claude R. Bentley over the sofa.

Best Advice: Rotate. Don't be afraid to part with something. Sometimes you have to make room to find and include something old/new. It is the single best way for your home to always look like you. Changing.

Dream Source: Modern One, Blackman Cruz, Fat Chance or Therian all in Los Angeles. You can always dream.

Resources of Note:


  • Dining Table and Living Room Console: John Saint-Denis Atelier
  • Paul Evans, Cityscape Credenza: Spaces, Palm Springs
  • Dunbar Reproduction Sofas: Futurama
  • 1940's Cerused Oak Dressers: Suzan Fellman, Los Angeles (suzan@suzanfellman.com)
  • Dining Room Chairs and Bedroom Chest: France Tradition, 458 S. La Brea, Los Angeles
  • Warren Plattner Chrome and Glass Side Table, Y Lighting, Palm Springs


  • Cast Concrete Head: Gary Gibson
  • Shell Mirror: Stuart Galleries
  • Bar Accessories: John Saint Denis Atelier, Los Angeles
  • Bronze Leaf (living room): Gary Gibson
  • Large Eye Screw (living room): Gary Gibson
  • Blown Glass Orb (living room): Suzan Fellman, Los Angeles (suzan@suzanfellman.com)
  • Cookie Jars: Various Sources




  • Chrome and Glass Coffee Table: Long Beach Swap Meet

Thanks Dana & Steve!

Images: Bethany Nauert

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