Ricardo's Spin On Mid Century Nostalgia

Ricardo's Spin On Mid Century Nostalgia

Bethany Nauert
Aug 13, 2012

Name: Ricardo Quintero
Location: West Hollywood — Los Angeles, California
Size: 460 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years — Rent

During the last Small Cool Contest, we got a little preview of Ricardo's apartment. This spacious studio apartment has ample storage space, a big eat in kitchen, and a great roomy bathroom. With Ricardo's love of Mid Century Modern, he has brought together a fun collection of furniture and accessories into a considerably compact space.

Ricardo's house reminded me of a compact version of a 1960's retro Palm Springs home, with some modern touches. He has a great way of keep things more minimal, yet has a knack for layering patterns and textures. The city of Los Angeles has had a great influence on his design choices. "Living in LA you're exposed to extreme differences in terms of neighborhoods, people, lifestyles, architecture, climate, restaurants, creative and artistic expression, topography, you name it… And that's what makes LA such a unique place. It's all here. The city is like a chameleon transforming its identity block by block. I just simply learn to embrace the area and building where I live and allow its own history and existing features to influence my personal design aesthetic."

Not only does Ricardo believe that you should design a home to make you happy, but he also believes in creating a space that you want to come to and enjoy. "You want to create a space that's both inviting and functional. Small spaces very easily become cluttered and claustrophobic, so it's crucial to find furniture that is proportionate in scale to the area you're working with. It's all about finding a good balance."

Everything in his home has significance, and he believes everything is truly unique and stands out in its own way — "I think the plants bring so much life into the home and without them things would feel dull. They really make a huge difference."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Understated, timeless, yet unexpected. A contemporary spin on Mid Century Modern nostalgia.

Inspiration: California's rich history of mid-century modern architecture and interior design. Lots of visual inspiration came from Atomic Ranch magazine, illustrations found in various Taschen books, and Julius Schulman photographs. Don Draper's apartment as seen in Mad Men. And of course, many of the cool small spaces featured on Apartment Therapy.

Favorite Element: Ah man, there are so many! I guess if I had to narrow it down to one specifically I'd say it's my Danish Modern platform bed with the floating nightstands. I found this baby on Craigslist and it was exactly what I had been looking for. It's in amazing condition, and I love how it visually anchors the main room of the apartment. What's crazy is that I paid next to nothing for it, not even realizing how much these could potentially sell for! I saw the same exact one listed on eBay with a starting bid of $1,200 during the same week I acquired mine.

Biggest Challenge: I'd never taken on an interior makeover project before, so determining the best layout for my apartment, reducing clutter, color coordinating, and acquiring furniture that fit nicely within the small space while also on a modest budget was the biggest challenge. I gave my place an entire makeover earlier this year and got rid of everything I didn't want or no longer needed so I could start from scratch. Most of the furniture I had in there before was hand-me-down type of stuff and not a true reflection of my personal style, but it was convenient to have at the time. Ultimately I wanted to invest in nicer furniture and obtain quality pieces I cared about and would want to take with me if I moved again.

What Friends Say: They're pretty impressed, especially if they had seen what my place looked like before. I've heard them say things like "Wow!, the apartment feels a lot bigger, this looks so much better, I love the colors, I can't believe you found all this stuff on Craigslist," etc…

Biggest Embarrassment: I repainted my kitchen 4 different times — and colors — within the same week before finally deciding to go with my original color scheme. I also had a friend staying there with me who thought I'd gone crazy. Seems like a waste of paint, time, and money, but I needed to be certain or else I wouldn't have been satisfied. Then during my last run for paint at Home Depot, I dropped and spilled a gallon of paint as I was leaving the store. It was also closing time, so it must have been annoying for the person who cleaned it up. Some of it is still visible even today by the exit doors ☺

Proudest DIY: I taught myself how to re-wire light fixtures and turn a ceiling flush-mount light into a hanging pendant light. It was a lot easier than I thought.

Biggest Indulgence: Though it might not sound like it; it was the 3 naughahyde cushions placed on top of the bench by the foot of my bed. Why? Because they're nearly impossible to find — especially thin ones like this. I looked everywhere to find something similar but everything was too thick and overstuffed. I found these on Etsy, but they were originally being sold with a similar bench and the seller wouldn't sell them separately even though I asked. I went as far as ordering vinyl and foam to replicate the look and have the cushions custom made, but that turned out to be cost prohibitive when I called around for quotes. As a last resort, I contacted the seller on Etsy again and made a final plea to convince him to let me buy them. I suggested he sell the bench as a coffee table and he agreed that was a good idea. We negotiated a price on the cushions, I made an offer, and soon they were mine!

Best Advice: Measure, measure, measure. Then measure again! It'll make life easier when choosing furniture and determining a good layout without having to sacrifice too much space.

Dream Sources: Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, various vintage stores around LA, West Elm

Resources of Note:


    • Main room, kitchen & vanity area - BEHR Paint: Fashion Gray UL260-6
    • Trim/Chair rail in kitchen- BEHR Paint: Japanese Fern 400B-6
    • Bathroom - BEHR Paint: BEHR Paint: Solar Flare S-G-250


    • Frog key holder: eBay
    • Zig-zag coat rack: EBay
    • Door mirror: Target


    • Sofa: Craigslist
    • Picture on wall: Yard sale
    • Wall planter: The Juicy Leaf - Venice, CA
    • Leather shag rug: Overstock


    • Yellow table: West Elm
    • Place mats: Etsy
    • Fruit bowl: Mixture - in San Diego, CA
    • Metal wall sculptures: eBay
    • Ceiling light fixture: eBay


    • Tea kettle: eBay
    • Trivets on wall above stove: Etsy
    • Saucer hanging light: eBay


    • Platform bed: Craigslist
    • Dresser: Craigslist
    • Lamps: eBay
    • Bench: Craigslist
    • Cushions: Etsy
    • Fuzzy yellow blanket: Custom (purchased surplus vintage chenille fabric on eBay)


    • Bath mat: Bed, Bath & Beyond
    • Plant: Home Depot
    • Lamp: acquired from a friend
    • Framed picture: Gift from a friend


    • Bullet planter: HipHaven online
    • Bookcase: Craigslist
    • Eyeball lamp: Craigslist
    • Blue bowl and vase: eBay
    • Abstract sculpture: eBay
    • Throw pillows: Mid-century Design in San Diego, eBay
    • Wall art: Target, Pottery Barn
    • Vintage globe radio: a gift from my best friend
    • Desk: eBay
    • Chair: Craigslist
    • Various cacti and plants: Home Depot

Thanks, Ricardo!

(Images: Bethany Nauert)

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