This ‘Hard-to-Make-Cute’ Rental House Was Once so Dated It Was Nicknamed ‘The Retro Beast’

This ‘Hard-to-Make-Cute’ Rental House Was Once so Dated It Was Nicknamed ‘The Retro Beast’

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Renters’ Name: Halley Elefante
Designer’s Name: Kelly Shannon of K Shan Design
Location: Newport Beach, California
Size: 1,875 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

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Fashion influencer Halley Elefante—better known as TheSaltyBlonde—moved to Newport Beach from Hawaii with a ton of clothes… but not a single piece of furniture. “She rented a home in a great neighborhood in Newport Beach, which she quickly dubbed ‘The Retro Beast,’ as its all brown, retro vibe seemed fun at first… before attempting to decorate it,” explains designer Kelly Shannon of K Shan Design, who Halley hired to help. “We sourced from local thrift and consignment stores, CB2, RugsUSA, and Halley was gifted some awesome pieces by HD Buttercup, Eclectic Goods, and Loloi Rugs.” 

“After living in tiny, little shoebox apartments all of my life for location, when I moved to California, I was ready to live in a stand-alone home with space. You know, the suburban dream—a real home without a shared wall, with a garage, a yard, and an actual washer and dryer,” Halley explains.

“These seemingly small things were a huge deal for me after coming from fifth-floor walk-up apartments in NYC and surf shacks in Hawaii. For months I looked at tons of places to rent all around Orange County, and then in comes a house that looks like it came straight out of the ‘Brady Bunch’. Does it have cringe-y cheap blinds? Yes. Does it have brown paint and brown carpet everywhere? Also yes. Has it been updated in years? Definitely not. Did I see its potential because I had Kelly Shannon in my corner? Yes. So I rented it and we immediately dubbed it ‘The Retro Beast.’ Kelly and I definitely had our work cut out for us on this home, but we both knew we had to play up the retro vibe, which I love. We both love spaces with character, color, prints, and vintage finds, so we were a match made in heaven. And somehow we turned this dated rental into a chic, cozy, and welcoming home and I absolutely love it.” 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, retro, tropical

Inspiration: Mixing prints, colors, textures, and styles

Favorite Element: The spacious backyard. I feel so fortunate to have it, especially in 2020. We’ve all spent way too many days and nights drinking too many beers back there. 

Biggest Challenge: Trying to hide the eyesore that is the wall-to-wall brown carpet. We placed area rugs all over the house, so sometimes I forget it was wall-to-wall carpet… sometimes.

Proudest DIY: Spray painting table lamps (successfully, nonetheless) and also replacing the knobs on a dresser that made it look so much more chic.

Biggest Indulgence: A couple special pieces, both from CB2, actually… My bed (which is sold out) and a rattan credenza for the living room.

Best Advice: Don’t go and do everything all at once. It’s so much fun to watch your home come together over time as you collect pieces you love. And if you can, hire a professional, because it’s an extremely overwhelming process. I did not own one single piece of furniture when I moved into The Retro Beast and I like everything to be done immediately, so this was a very humbling experience for me. Kelly taught me to hold out for pieces that you truly love and that will last you. And in my case, that can and will be used where I move next. [Editor’s note: Halley is moving from this rental house to another place. We’re sure it’ll be just as great!]

What’s your best home secret? Spend a little extra on your bedding. I was doing it all wrong all of these years. Thank god for Brooklinen sheets. 







  • Ehren Oatmeal-Ivory Area Rug — Loloi
  • Zoya Table Lamps — Anthropologie
  • Palm Print Blackout Curtains — Pottery Barn
  • Custom Fiber Art Wall Decor — Shop Akcelos
  • Luxe Sateen Sheets — Brooklinen
  • Bobila Cane Bed — CB2, sold out
  • Black and White Dresser — Living Spaces, sold out (similar option)
  • Tallulah Rattan Nightstands — CB2 (found at consignment store)


Thanks Halley and Kelly!

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