Jonathan’s “What I Did Last Summer” Rental on a Budget

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Name: Jonathan Lo of Happy Mundane
Location: Solana Beach, California
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

Last year, Jonathan Lo circled back around to his fondest childhood memories and rented a place in Solana Beach for long summer weekend escapes. Of course, since it was only going to be used in summer and because the space was temporary, cost was a primary consideration.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

When costs need to be kept low, turn to imagination to keep the final look high. Whether you’re putting together a summer retreat or winter abode, Jonathan’s space is inspiration for furnishing a home simply, chicly and cheaply, mixing thrift store finds, IKEA standards and DIY ingenuity for a timeless and stylish retreat that works in winter and summer.

The jumping off point for the home’s color scheme was a vintage painting that Jonathan picked up at a thrift store. Lush tones of blue and green intermingle with the deep red pattern of the subject’s skirt. Set against a neutral background, the combination, when translated to decor, is masculine yet unexpected. In the living room, the angularity of a white sofa balances a curvy deep teal blue slipper chair and a vintage lamp. Nature’s greens bring summer indoors, and a glass topped table with a metal base adds a note of glamour that is always welcome. Downstairs, in the guest bedroom, orange and red patterns are made extra playful with a yellow side table while, in the master bedroom, weathered wood accents give oceanic shades a nautical cast. Many pieces — the
nightstands, bookcase, desk and
headboard in the master bedroom, the
white cubist art in the living room — received Jonathan’s DIY touch. Luckily, Jonathan is as generous as he is creative, and he’s shared many of his tricks with us here and on his blog.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Apartment Therapy Survey

MY Style: Graphic and modern, with a nod to mid century retro and filtered through the lens of the relaxed lifestyle of Southern California.

Inspiration: I was really inspired by being by the ocean, and also looking through a ton of décor books and magazines from the 1960’s and early 70s.

Favorite Element: The light in the main living room area from the wall of windows was what sold me on the space. I spent many peaceful afternoons there just enjoying the view.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was not so much with the house itself, but more with just trying to not invest too much into the home since it was just a temporary rental. So keeping an eye on the bottom line was the biggest hurdle!

What Friends Say: “Wow” (when they see the view) and “It’s not what I expected” (when they step inside).

Biggest Embarrassment: The bed in the guest bedroom is actually an air mattress and the kitchen counter tile is pretty ugly (hence no photos!).

Proudest DIY: The faux “weathered wood” headboard. It was a bit of a science experiment with steel wool and vinegar, but it was pretty painless and I really liked the end result.

Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive thing in the house was the bed. I don’t think you can go wrong with investing in a a good mattress. A good night’s sleep is completely worth it (especially in a weekend home, where the point is relaxation and rest).

Best Advice: Designer Todd Oldham once said, “If you love it, then it’s perfect.” That line has always stuck with me and keeps me from second guessing myself too much.

Dream Sources: If money were no object, then my dream source would be ABC Home & Carpet in NY.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Resources of Note:


  • Blue Paint: Behr Ultra “Starless Night” UL230-1


  • Couch: IKEA KIVIK
  • Media consoles: Pier 1 Imports
  • Dining table: IKEA
  • Chairs: Stuff Furniture and Consignments, San Diego (
  • Rug: West Elm (Souk)
  • Corner chair: Cost Plus


  • Desk: IKEA MICKE
  • Whale: HomeGoods
  • Night Stands: Consignment Classics, Encinatas
  • Chair: West Elm
  • Headboard: DIY. For instructions, click here.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Thanks, Jonathan!

(Images: Laure Joliet)

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