Michael & Benjamin's Modern Contemporary Apartment

Michael & Benjamin's Modern Contemporary Apartment

Bethany Nauert
Mar 2, 2011

Name: Michael Killoren & Benjamin Wiser
Location: Studio City, California
Size: 1 bedroom apartment
Years lived in: 1½ — own

Michael and Benjamin share a moderate sized one bedroom just off the beaten path of Studio City. What they describe as Modern/Contemporary is still styled with an inviting charm and peppered with a sense of humor. It's not hard to notice Zac Efron's Rolling Stone portrait…or the 6 foot blue mannequin that greets you on your way to the bedroom.

Both Michael and Benjamin put a lot of hard work in to creating a space that was personal and inspired by their dream sources. Two major DIY projects I loved were their hand-tiled fireplace and their storage cabinets in the hallway. Each room was polished with personal artifacts and a rich sense of color and design — of course I was impressed how organized each detail was. Their living room was well designed for entertaining or for enjoying a lazy afternoon. Regardless of if they find their lighting a challenge, I felt a very soothing vibe throughout the whole space as just enough sunlight reached each room.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern/Contemporary

Inspiration: We're constantly inspired by the art and design world around us. We both personally never studied interior design but rather enjoyed it vicariously on the side. I personally love reading various online blogs, magazines and attending showrooms to see what's new and how I can integrate fresh ideas into our home.

Favorite Element: That would definitely have to be our glass and granite fireplace (although it's also one of the most difficult projects we tackled). Having a fireplace automatically makes for a great focal point for the living room, and tiling it was icing on the cake. We love the way it turned out. Is it perfect, hardly, but we consider it one of our greatest design achievements.

Biggest Challenge: Storage (or lack thereof). Los Angeles (like most cities) are not known to have the most spacious apartments and condos, especially for first time homebuyers. Trying to utilize and maximize the storage space, which in my case was two small closets, became a huge feat and constant headache. Our solution was to rent a separate storage unit for larger furniture items that we no longer needed but didn't want to throw away. Another solution we came to was to build our own custom cabinet storage in the hallway. That additional storage became a lifesaver and also a great feature in the hallway.

What Friends Say: I think most people are typically surprised by how much we managed to fit in a one bedroom condo. Followed by "are you guys interior designers?" or "can you decorate MY place?"

Biggest Embarrassment: The lighting here definitely needs improvement. We get some great natural lighting in the morning, but unfortunately we're still stuck with some unflattering florescent lighting in the kitchen and a lack of overhead lighting in the living room and bedroom. It's definitely something we're hoping to improve upon in the future.

Proudest DIY: Once again, this goes to the fireplace. While it's our favorite element, we're also proud of the way it turned out considering it was our first time tiling anything! If you're in a relationship, a great way to test its endurance is to tile a large area. If you can make it through that, you can make it through pretty much anything.

Biggest Indulgence: The hallway custom cabinets are one of our home indulgences, but it was also our necessity. The sectional in the living room is also a close second.

Best Advice: Take your time and enjoy the process. You should never feel rushed to complete your Home, it's always a layered process that builds over time.

Dream Sources: Interior home magazines, dwell, design blogs. CB2 resonates with me.

Resources of Note:


    • Bathroom: BEHR's Granite Boulder & Sherwin Williams' Frolic
    • Hallway: BEHR's Granite Trail
    • Bedroom: Sherwin Williams': Rainwash & Brevity Brown


    • Coat Rack: CB2
    • Matte: FLOR
    • Entry mirror: Recycled from Bathroom/Reframed


    • Custom Sectional Couch: HD Buttercup

    • Art Work - Vertical Focus by: Lisa Kowalski: //art.com/Art.com

    • Coffee Table, Back Side Tables: CB2

    • Chinese Temple Dog Sculpture: Home Goods

    • Blue Film reels: Craigslist and Blue Spray Paint

    • Floral Décor: Michael's Art Supply

    • Fireplace Glass/Granite Tiles: Emser Tile in West Hollywood

    • Side Lamps, Media Cabinet: Ikea
    • Pillows: Ikea and CB2


    • Bar Table: CB2

    • Bar Stools: HD Buttercup

    • Art Work - 2HRS by Parves Taj: //parveztaj.com/parveztaj.com
    • White Credenza: CB2


    • Spice Holding, Knife Rack: Ikea

    • Aluminum Backsplash: DIY Project. Aluminum from Home Depot

    • Rugs: FLOR


    • Bed frame: Ikea

    • Window Bench: Ikea
    • Closet Doors: Sliding Glass Door Co
    • Interior Closet: Ikea
    • Bedding: Bed Bath & Beyond
    • Comforter: CB2


    • Shower Curtain: CB2
    • Hand Towel Rack: Repurposed ring holder from CB2
    • Built in Shelf: DIY project
    • Medicine Cabinet: Modern Bathroom Showroom


    • Blue Mannequin: Acme Displays Downtown Los Angeles
    • Industrial Hallway Light: //barnlightelectric.com/BarnLightElectric.com

    Thanks, Michael and Benjamin!

    Images: Bethany Nauert

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