Photo by Amy Bartlam, original on Houzz
Photo by Amy Bartlam, original on Houzz

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“People who rent should never feel like their hands are tied when it comes to design,” says interior designer Katie Hodges. When sprucing up her own apartment in Hollywood, she knew she would be staying awhile and wanted to make it feel like home. She set up her living room to be a space for lounging, entertaining and TV watching, complete with a workspace, and designed a charming built-in banquette between it and the kitchen.

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Houzz at a Glance

  • Who lives here: Interior designer Katie Hodges
  • Location: Hollywood, California
  • Size: 221 square feet; the new dining nook is an additional 9 by 7 feet

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The style of the building is 1950s resort, and Hodges fell in love with the original Old Hollywood architectural details of the space. In this photo you can see the trim work around the doorway and the original sconces.

Hodges brought only the large Moroccan mirror and the baby blue chair to the apartment with her, both of which she inherited from her grandmother and are favorite sentimental pieces. The chair adds soft curves, while the modern chandelier brings contrast with its straight lines and angles. “The coffee table is one of the most important pieces — it’s a little crown jewel in the room,” she says.

The painting was a vintage score that helped determine Hodges’ color palette. “I knew I wanted to go with indigo, olive green, tans and leather colors,” she says. “When I found the painting at the flea market, I immediately fell in love. There was no dating — I immediately married it!” Incorporate More Color With Paintings.

Hodges loves the treasure hunt of vintage shopping, especially for pieces like artwork, coffee tables, case goods and textiles. “I get the most inspiration in my design work from vintage textiles,” she says. She loves flea-market shopping in Pasadena and sifting through Craigslist.

When it came to lighting, the designer wanted a mix of old and new. She loved the sconces that were original to the apartment but wanted something more modern for the chandelier. “I kept all of the finishes similar to keep the light fixtures consistent and complementary but also look somewhat unintentional,” she says. The original fixtures are a dark bronze that’s almost black, so she chose something similar for the chandelier. In the banquette area, she went for a white Noguchi lantern that floats above a tulip table. (She got the OK from her landlord to install these; she just had to hang on to the original fixtures.)

The TV console was a vintage score. “I go vintage for these pieces for a lot of my clients because they tend to be more narrow than today’s case goods and take up less room,” enhancing the flow. Hodges also recommends going light with color on larger pieces like this so they don’t feel heavy and weigh down the room. This one came in royal blue, which she painted a light sage green-gray. The piece is hardworking, providing space for objects on top and room for media, china and textiles inside.

Hodges likes to pick up one special thing on each of her travels. The feline figurine came from Panama, the small one to the left her grandfather picked up when he lived in Africa, and the Buddha is from Thailand.

A white bookshelf unit floats against the wall, creating a workstation and a place for Hodges’ books and favorite things without crowding the room. “I like to mix high- and low-end pieces,” she says. “And the white lets my books and objects pop.”

Hodges created this area, which is open to the living room and leads to the kitchen, to be a special, comfortable space where she’d spend a lot of time. She designed the melamine banquette to suit the space. “A lot of people thought I was crazy to put a built-in for a rental, but by using melamine instead of wood, the banquette cost around $350 instead of $1,400,” she says.

She also designed the leather covers for her Bertoia chairs, going through several prototypes to get them just right. “These chairs are great-looking, but even with the pads available for them they just aren’t comfy,” she says. “Now they are as comfortable as an armchair, and I can pull them into the living room when I need seating for extra guests.”

She chose the cowhide rug for its organic shape. The matchstick blinds add a natural texture to the windows.

The banquette doubles as another workspace and triples as a second bed for Hodges. “I love to curl up with my dogs, Max and Toby, and look out the window and read here,” she says.

She upholstered the cushion in a kantha, an Indian textile that’s typically used for baby blankets and is quite durable. The botanical pillows are by Peter Dunham, and the large photograph is by Michelle Steele. Add Texture to a Space By Mixing and Matching Blinds and Shades.

Though she designed the banquette to be removable if necessary, her landlord appreciated the upgrade.

Hodges carefully balanced her budget between high- and low-end purchases, but she feels strongly that everyone should make rentals feel like home. “Be smart with your money but don’t skimp because it’s a rental,” she says. “Enjoy where you live.” Bathroom Makeover: Old Hollywood Style.

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