A 550-Square-Foot Studio Gets High-Contrast Style
Who lives here: Kristy Degina and her two Chihuahuas, Spike and Little One
Location: Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles
Size: 550 square feet (51.1 square meters); studio with full kitchen and bathroom
Year built: 1927
“Black, grays and white are my colors,” says Kristy Degina, who works as a merchandising manager for Crate & Barrel. Degina also is a freelance interior designer for her company, franklinAve, which specializes in small-space design and original art and pillows. Her space is a reflection of her design philosophy. “I finally decided to live the mantra that I teach my clients: to live minimally, organize more and reduce spending,” she says.
In her Hollywood studio, the sharp contrast of colors brings drama to the petite room. “Don’t be afraid to go big and bold in a small space,” she says. “I see clients choose pure white for their walls. White is clean and modern but can feel sterile if it’s pure white,” she says. Here, she used Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams, which was voted color of the year for 2016. “It’s slightly off-white so it’s still modern but livable and not hospital-like. It also helps to hide imperfections, which pure white tends to highlight,” she says.
The accent walls are painted in Cyberspace, also by Sherwin-Williams, in a matte finish. “I was so lucky to find this beautiful handmade fireplace on Craigslist. I gave it a new look by painting it Cyberspace as well,” Degina says.
Degina has worked as a freelance interior designer for more than 15 years and focuses on homes of less than 1,000 square feet. “I’m from New York, where most apartments are small,” she says. “Many of my friends here are in small spaces too. I saw a niche to be filled.”
The dramatic style Degina chose for her studio, a break from her usual transitional look, pays homage to the building’s luminous past. “Right now most people want clean and contemporary,” she says. “For this apartment, I decided to highlight the elegance of the space, so I ended up with a softer, more feminine design than I normally favor.”
Two other pieces she brought with her from her old apartment are the small white nightstands that now serve as a coffee table. “The two tables give me more flexibility than one bigger table since I can move them around easily to gain more space when I need to,” Degina explains.
Lounge II petite apartment sofa: Crate & Barrel; black leather bed, white woven chairs and white nightstands: Crate & Barrel (no longer available)
Degina changes the room based on the season or her mood by rotating things out of her closet. “Aside from the bed position, the room is constantly changing,” she says.
For that reason, she decided against an area rug in the living space, which would hinder easy movement of furniture. “As a designer, it was a really tough choice to make since I love textiles and was looking forward to having a rug here,” she says. “These are the kinds of choices that make life work in small square footage. I tell my clients to first make a checklist of what they need functionally. Aesthetics and organization come after.”
Duvet cover: Restoration Hardware
East Melrose Collection pillows: franklinAve
Sawyer bookcase: Crate & Barrel
The bathroom features a black floral wallpapered accent wall. “All three rooms in the apartment have an accent wall,” she says. A
silver console from Target with an added marble top adds extra storage to the apartment’s only bathroom.
Resort ’17 Collection artwork: franklinAve
Halcyon II and Halcyon IIIartwork: franklinAve; Docksta table, Ikea; Vienna chairs: Crate&Barrel
She also decorated the accent wall with letters she found at the popular local flea market Melrose Trading Post. Modern wine racks and bamboo storage boxes placed above the cabinets complete the design.