Beachside Apartment Makeover

Tuesday, February 24, 2015



A former colleague and friend was lucky enough to move from Montreal to San Diego. I'm always super jealous of her Instagram pictures of sand, sun and what looks like killer Mexican food, especially right about now! She wrote me a long time ago (sorry friend!) and asked if I could help her out with the finishing touches on her apartment. Of course I said yes but with the caveat that I could share the process on the blog. So let's follow along with the entire process from her first email to my inspiration and design process. Here is what she had to say initially:

Okay so here are the pictures of my apartment as it stands. The truth is, this whole building and many other buildings in this area have such a motel feel. I am not sure if its because the beach is close by but in any case it is off topic!

As you can see, the apartment is pretty bare bones. Mostly it was for financial reasons but also my husband and I have a hard time agreeing on anything!!! I had bought these chairs and we couldn't agree on a table. After buying two tables and returning them we agreed on this one! Everything else was similarly chosen haphazardly merely because we agreed finally on something. For that reason, I feel like things don't necessarily go together and I need to tie them all in with decor (lamps, cushions, rug, mirror etc). We are having a hard time agreeing even on a color scheme so maybe you can start there!

I know that in the living room, we need a side table next to the couch with additional lighting. I also know that we need something under the tv to put his little box on and hide those wires. What do you think should go there?

Again, a wires problem, next to the dining table, I need maybe a table/console to put the plant on and to hide all those crazy gadgets and wires that just drive me crazy. Maybe we also need shelves..

Besides furniture, I was thinking a round mirror on top of the fireplace (thoughts?) I HATE the carpet in here...what can I do to make it less carpety? I also hate these blinds. Should I put curtains up in the living room and take down those blinds?

We have a West Elm in San Diego, Ikea, Target, World Market etc. but I can also order online. If you send me ideas I can also check out the flea market. 


HELP!!!! I don't feel cozy in our place!!


Firstly, I think she's done an amazing job in terms of getting some great larger pieces. I think they definitely have a style that reads very mid-century modern to me. Her ideas of what she needs are also spot on. Here is what I think we need to work on: 

  • A few more accent furniture pieces like she mentioned-tables, lamps, shelves, mirror
  • Some pieces to add layers, colours, texture and personality-area rug, original artwork, curtains, pillows

I find a lot of people want a cozy room but don't necessarily know what goes into getting that feeling. It's the layers of things in a room, like area rugs, blankets, pillows, curtains, artwork and decorative objects that take a room from motel-like to cozy. 

I usually like to start off a decor plan with a search for inspiration for the final space. With this space, I immediately thought of all the beautiful Instagram beach photos she takes that make me so jealous. The mass produced art above the sofa isn't screaming "we're a cool mid-century modern couple who live by the beach so feel free to hate us." Why not use your own photos to inject some personality and originality into a room? 


Any combination of two or three of these photos blown up and framed inexpensively would look great over the sofa. I also often like to start a specific Pinterest board and search for inspiration from other rooms. 




A little tip for you, don't search coastal or beach house if you don't want a whole lot of rope mirrors and seashells! That was not where I envisioned this room going. I was thinking more along the lines of this:

via Top Left to Right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

From that I have a pretty good idea of the kind of mood board I'll start working on. To recap:

I'll look for pieces to bring in a cool blue colour palette to reflect the ocean inside, pull in some warm wood tones to offset the cool blue and crisp white, add in lots of layers and original artwork. Time to go get started on sourcing some possible options. I can't wait to use all the amazing online resources not available to us Canadians. Next time I'll show you all my sourcing options, get some feedback from our cool mid-century we live by the beach couple and give you a peak at the moodboard.



2 Response to Beachside Apartment Makeover

February 26, 2015 at 2:13 PM

This is cool. I like that you're helping her out from Mtl. I'm still lazily getting my place together.

Looking forward to seeing the end result!

March 18, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Thanks! I find it's always easier helping other people out then decorating your own place. It's also a plus when you can source from the United States- so many options delivered right to your door.

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