Harriet's Nature Inspired, Designer High Rise

Harriet's Nature Inspired, Designer High Rise

Marcia Prentice
Jul 30, 2010

Name: Harriet Zaretsky
Location: Los Angeles, California
Size: 1112 Square Feet (2 Beds 2 Baths)
Years lived in: 1 year

The first time I walked into Harriet's home, I knew she was a designer. We live in the same apartment complex and I have to admit I was comparing her fabulous space to my own apartment. We have the exact same floor plan, so it was very interesting to see how someone else envisions the space and implements their personal design. Harriet proves that just because you live in an apartment, it doesn't mean that you have to accept their status quo designs.

Harriet has such a welcoming personality and physical presence, which is reflected in the uplifting and peaceful design of her apartment. I could feel the passion in her voice as she explained why she chose every element in her designer home. She pointed out that in just about every room there is some node to birds and nature. With the windows open and John Mayer playing in the background, we tried to capture the true beauty of each detail of her carefully chosen aesthetic.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My own and holding Vicente Wolf closely

Inspiration: This is my first apartment, first time living on my own, and I am over 60. Therefore, it is really all about me!

Favorite Element: My art and collections from nature

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was creating an easy, breezy living arrangement within one space. Also, the biggest challenge was creating a design that can be changed at a moment's notice.

What Friends Say: They consistently say that the design is a "knock out."

Biggest Embarrassment: I am only a renter, so the floors are shot. Old fashioned radiators are an eyesore, but I worked around these obstacles.

Proudest DIY: My "wall of encouragement"

Biggest Indulgence: My Michael Berman credenza

Best advice: Just when you think you are done, remove something

Dream source: Nature. I lived in a house in the Hollywood Hills before this apartment and always had birds and other living animals in the surrounding hilly environment. I created a natural habitat in the backyard and became certified by the National Wildlife Assocation to hold tours of the gardens. My dream source inspired the crystal chandelier over my bed. I have embellished the chandelier with hand painted enamel bird pendants set in silver bezels (about 2" each), then I tied them with light green velvet ribbons. At night I can look up and have birds all around me.

Resources of Note:

First and foremost, I attend the local flea markets on Sunday. The Long Beach flea market is my favorite, but I also discover great finds at the Santa Monica location, and the mother of them all, the Rose Bowl flea market. For other great decor finds, check out vintage furniture stores such as Wertz Brothers. Sometimes you will find treasures and if you find something you really like don't be afraid to let the salesperson know. You may just get lucky and get it for a better price. I have had many of those experiences. People like to talk about what they are selling, so get them inspired.

I am blessed to have an original William Haines sofa covered in a soft light blue color. The chairs are standard chairs in off-white from Room and Board. The coffee table is a vintage lucite and glass table. Jonathan Adler Needlepoint Letter pillows in black/white adorn the chairs.

The small dining table is a vintage Saarinen and the two dining chairs are Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost Chair in a pale green.

Lastly, the most fabulous furniture piece is the credenza on the wall in the living room, which is designed by Michael Berman.

I am a collector and this is a very dangerous area for me. When on hikes or at the beach, especially at the beach, I always look down for new inspirational decor items. I once had an old silver Victorian tureen filled to the brim with shells and coral. Lately, I have been picking up pieces of bark that fall off the tress in the surrounding apartment complex.

If you collect exotic shells and coral, Ebay is your best bet to find the more exotic beach accessories. If you are traveling up the California coast, check out the shell shop in Morro Bay. It is huge and they have large specimens of shells, coral, and my favorite, sea fans.


  • Sonneman 3 globe pendant in hallway
  • Seascape woven flax and walnut pendant in dining area
  • Sonneman reading lamps in living room
  • My crystal chandelier in the bedroom

The standard renter's paint and neutral palette works for me.

The flooring is the apartment's standard wood parquet floors, which are old and damaged. There is carpeting throughout the rest of the apartment. The carpeting is not something I would have chosen, but I am a renter and not an owner.


  • Thomas Paul rug in Persimmon in pass through area
  • Thomas Paul white/brown Coral Dhurrie rug in living room

Mitchell Gold bed with a fabulous chenille and wool duvet


  • A real Robert Rauschenberg
  • Two Ron Pokrasso paintings
  • My son's signs and paintings. You really need to see them to appreciate what I am talking about.
  • Some Robert Mapplethorpe artwork, authenticated as part of his own personal collection
  • Friend's sketches
  • Art picked up in London, France (the small pieces)

The stand issue with renting, you have to just work with what you have. I like to keep everything sparkling clean, which adds a freshness and a sense of newness, even it it is not new. Tip: If you have a new kitchen, make it look older with baskets, pottery, etc. When you have an older kitchen, make it look as new as you can by keeping it clean and sparse.

What I dislike most is the standard vertical blinds. However, I keep them open to capture the view. I have a great view of the Hollywood sign and the hills from my bedroom

Again, the tile is the standard apartment tile. However, the color of the tile is not all that bad.

I love the hardware in my apartment. It is the standard 1940's hardware, which is straight and plain. If I were shopping for new hardware, a great source is Liz's Antique Hardware on La Brea.

Thanks, Harriet!

Images: Bethany Nauert

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