A Laid-Back ‘California Casual’ Rental Has Dreamy Built-In Benches and a Cute IKEA Hack

A Laid-Back ‘California Casual’ Rental Has Dreamy Built-In Benches and a Cute IKEA Hack

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Name: Lauren Meichtry, Sierra Meichtry (daughter, 7) and Leo Meichtry (son, 5)
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Size: 1,000 square feet
Type of Home: Duplex
Years lived in: 2 months, renting

I found this apartment on Trulia and feel like I got incredibly lucky. It was listed only hours before and I had a request in to see it immediately. I was the first one to see it in person and the first application submitted. It was meant to be! I was first drawn to this space by the oversized arched window overlooking the ocean. After seeing it in person though, every detail pulled me in: the high ceilings, wainscoting, built-in benches off the fireplace, green marble countertops in the kitchen, and the ocean view from the primary bedroom. The building is a duplex, so there are only two units, which makes it feel cozier. It’s walking distance from all the shops in downtown Manhattan Beach and is just two blocks from the beach. Our community is fairly small, and I continue to run into people who have lived in this exact apartment. Everyone has such fond memories of their time here and it gives the space such great energy. I spend most of my time in the living room watching the ocean while enjoying the heat from the fireplace.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: California casual – laid-back living.

Inspiration: I wanted to create a space that felt instantly homey. It’s just me and my two young kids living here, so I was able to have a little more fun with it. I had a theme of pink in my mind and decided to add pink elements to both bedrooms as well as the bathroom.

Favorite Element: The front arched window in the living room that overlooks the ocean is my favorite element in this space.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was the short amount of time I had to pull everything together. While I had some of the living room pieces already, I needed all new furniture for the bedrooms and the dining area. I was fortunate to find my bedroom furniture in-stock locally at Kate Lester Home. However, the Room&Board bunkbed I wanted for my kids’ room was backordered for months. I searched high and low for an alternative and found this one at Ashley Furniture for only $300! I also made super speedy decisions on paint colors and window coverings. I’ve found that working on a tight timeline helps me to quickly follow my gut and doesn’t allow for second guessing.

Proudest DIY: My IKEA hacked console is my favorite to date. I used the Stockholm Sideboard from IKEA and painted it “Caldwell Green” by Benjamin Moore. I then added Canfield drawer pulls in Aged Brass. I left the legs unpainted because I loved the contrast of the walnut wood veneer next to the green.

Biggest Indulgence: My sofa was my biggest indulgence, and it was worth every penny. I wanted something that looked a little lived in and fit with my laid-back, California casual style. I bought it from Kate Lester Home, here in Manhattan Beach, and because they had it on their showroom floor, I was not only able to test it out before I bought it, but I was also able to take it home the same day. Nothing like instant gratification!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Moving from a large home where I ran my business to a small apartment was quite the adjustment. I’m fortunate to have a large one-car garage, which I had my contractor help me turn into my new workroom. I have all my sewing machines set up in there as well as a shipping station for my pillow business, Elsie Home.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? One of my favorite pieces is the vintage console I turned into a dresser in my bedroom. I’ve always used a dresser to store items I rarely used, and in a small space, you’re forced to pare down what you have. I eliminated items I didn’t need and now store just the essentials in this gorgeous vintage console. I also happen to love the story behind it, as I couldn’t fit it in my car and my friend helped me walk 8+ blocks with it from the store to my apartment. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: You’re forced to get creative when it comes to temporary spaces and the Container Store comes in real handy. I love using hanging closet organizers in place of dressers. You can use them with or without the drawers, depending on what you’re storing. In my hallway closet, I use them without drawers to store my kids’ board games. In their bedroom closet, I use the drawers with them to store all their clothes. Because our space is small, it was important not to use the little floor space we have for a large dresser.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I always say the sure-fire way to make your space feel like you is to pick pieces YOU love. Pieces that reflect your personality. It’s easy to feel influenced by what you see on social media and in magazines, but ultimately, this is a space where you live and should feel most comfortable.  When people walk into my new space, while it’s small and temporary, they instantly identify that it feels like me. And that’s what makes your space feel like home. Get influenced by your own personality, not by others.



  • Primary Bedroom — Benjamin Moore “Cashmere Wrap”
  • Bathroom — Sherwin Williams “Sandbank”
  • Kids’ Bedroom — BACKDROP “Saged” (bottom) + “Modern Love” (top)








Thanks Lauren!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.