Isabelle’s West Hollywood Studio

published Aug 10, 2015
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(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

Name: Isabelle E.
Location: West Hollywood; Los Angeles, CA
Size: 375 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months; Rented

Until late 2014, Isabelle and her roommate had lived two buildings up from me for years. While I was disappointed to learn that they planned to move into their own places, that sentiment didn’t last long—Isabelle soon found an apartment only a block further up our street. I remember her questioning its potential, but she quickly embraced the tiny space and transformed it into a comfortable, stylish home with the help of Alexander Reid, a friend and interior decorator.

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The view from the bedroom area down through the kitchen (Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

As a writers’ assistant on a TV comedy, Isabelle approached designing her apartment with the same sly sense of humor that she is known for (you can find her on Instagram @50shadesofsuck). Anyone who has lived in a studio understands that such small spaces present some unique design challenges, but Isabelle attacked these issues head-on. A tiny apartment was nothing new to this native New Yorker, and Isabelle had a very clear vision of what she wanted. Despite a limited budget, some smart shopping and a little luck joined forces to yield an environment that both looks and feels luxe. The result is a light-filled, relaxing, and livable small space that doesn’t feel cramped, even when entertaining a few friends.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Clean and natural with masculine accents.

Inspiration: Alexander Reid, a friend and interior decorator who also happens to be the in-house designer at One Kings Lane, was the biggest asset– he came up with the floor plan and put the whole place together. I compiled a bunch of images I responded to. Some common themes were Scandinavian designs- lots of neutral colors- and brass. I had a very limited budget for the studio but I knew I wanted it to feel as bright and spacious as possible, with expensive (looking) accents.

Favorite Element: The custom-made mohair couch I got for free as a hand-me-down from my old boss. Alexander and I had ordered the Moroccan rug before we knew about the couch and coincidentally the striping tied in beautifully with the color of the mohair.

Biggest Challenge: The budget. There were certain pieces I had my heart set on, like my coffee table, the Moroccan rug, the desk, and my bar cart, so after buying a few medium sized/priced items like that, it did not leave much room for the big ticket item: my couch- not to mention the soft goods items like shower curtains, baskets, cutlery, etc. But Alexander was very crafty and knew tons of under-the-radar spots to get deals.

What Friends Say: People think it’s a great reflection of my personal style. One of my friends (a homeowner) said it was his favorite spot in LA, which I told him was truly ridiculous. But he went on to explain that all the elements tie in perfectly and it’s a lovely small living space.

Biggest Embarrassment: Upon move-in, the building manager showed me that he removed the door to my bathroom in an attempt to save space. So, if you’re using the restroom at my apartment, you have to close the club doors that lead to the closets (the bathroom is just past them). I always blast the TV when someone is in there so they don’t feel self-conscious. It’s intimate.

Proudest DIY: This isn’t really a DIY, but when I first saw the apartment, to say the bathroom was a “shit show” would be putting it mildly. The linoleum tiling on the floor was particularly heinous. I asked if they would mind if I had a new floor installed- since the square footage of the bathroom was so small, it didn’t even cost that much. I went to Lowe’s with a friend to hand-select the tile. We went through about fifteen boxes of 1’x1′ tiles weighing at least seven pounds each until we found twenty cohesive-looking pieces of marble. That was very labor intensive- I was covered in marble dust. The manager of the floor tile department was super pissed.

Biggest Indulgence: My Matteo duvet cover and fitted sheet. I got it at a sample sale, but it was still way more than I should have spent on simple, white bedding.

Best Advice: Try to imagine what you can do with a space. When I first saw the apartment, I almost didn’t take it because the former tenant’s belongings were still there and it needed a number of repairs. But I’m glad everyone encouraged me to look past that and see the potential in the studio.

Dream Sources: I love everything Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors does. It’s funny because it’s not really my aesthetic, but I’m still drawn to it. She has a shop with gorgeous textiles and art. I’d love to be able to spend a lot of money there. Besides that, I really like West Elm. But it’s best to not go overboard with them because your place ends up looking like a showroom or catalogue.


(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Walls: Dunn Edwards Droplets (DEW381) in Eggshell
  • Trim: Dunn Edwards White (DEW380) in Semi-Gloss
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Shelves: Ikea
  • Basket: Ross
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Curtains: Ikea
  • Sofa: gifted, custom
  • Geometric throw pillow: Saturday by Kate Spade in collaboration with West Elm
  • Mongolian lamb throw pillow covers: West Elm
  • Planter: Ikea
  • Plant: Mickey Hargitay Plants
  • Marble coasters: J. Crew
  • Candle: Voluspa
  • Rug: nuLOOM
  • Coffee table: West Elm
  • Floor lamps: West Elm
  • Console/desk: Maker and Meadow on Etsy
  • Side chairs: Modway
  • Table lamp: Crate & Barrel
  • Artwork: collected over time
  • Day of the Dead skull: Bristol Farms
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Bar cart: Target
  • Artwork: collected over time
  • Champagne glasses: vintage
  • Stripper glasses: Fishs Eddy
  • Cocktail pick container: flea market
  • Matchboxes: Candle Delirium
  • Cocktail pick plate: CB2
  • Candle: Jo Malone
  • (Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


    • Light fixture: Louis Poulsen, purchased at Design Within Reach
    • Floor mat:
    • Garbage can: Simple Human
    • Wall art: lithograph by Todd Goldman
    (Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


    • Bedding: Matteo
    • Nightstand: Target
    • Euro shams: West Elm
    • Geometric throw pillow: Saturday by Kate Spade in collaboration with West Elm
    • Lucite lamp: Pablo
    • Stemless wine glass masquerading as a vase: Ikea
    (Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


    • Bath mat: West Elm
    • Taxi Driver poster: street market in Milan
    • Shower curtain: Pottery Barn
    (Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


    • Plant stand: came with the apartment
    • Pots: Ross
    • Plants: Mickey Hargitay Plants

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    Thanks, Isabelle!