Food & Home

The Guest Apartment

The challenge: Transform an expansive but frill-free space above the garage into a cozy and fully outfitted guest apartment (or teen exile)—on a budget. HD Buttercup, one of L.A.’s most prodigious home goods emporiums (it occupies the sprawling Helms Bakery building in Culver City), took the challenge and donated the goods. As you can see from the process shots below, the market-like design mecca is one of those rare places where you can find everything, from early 20th century antiques to modern classics. The results, below.


The Challenge - Room

The apartment empty except for a few key pieces—a light, a flatscreen TV, wall covering, and sideboard for storage.

The room’s greatest assets are also some of its toughest challenges:

Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Majorelle fabric in Azure
Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Majorelle fabric in Azure
Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Majorelle fabric in Azure

Floor Plan

Floor Plan

The bare bones: two big bay windows, a small bathroom with a shower, and a kitchenette.

Mood Board

Mood Board

Click to see more on Pinterest…


Initial Sketches

HD Buttercup sketched a design incorporating several “zones” for different activities, using area rugs to demarcate the boundaries of each.


White Furniture

To lighten up the room while still keeping with a Mid-Century and slightly mod vibe, we go for a white scheme with lacquered pop accents scattered throughout.

Black Furniture

Plus, a few black statement pieces to anchor the space.

Various Textiles

And, cushions, ottomans, rugs, and throws to bring in texture and warmth.

The Final Result

A Few Tweaks

The guest apartment transformed in shades of grey and white. In a relatively small space we’ve created a suite of separate areas for sleeping, reading, working, and hanging out.

Wall to Wall CarpetDesign Detail: The new wall-to-wall carpet in “light ivory” goes a long way toward making the space feel brighter. It picks up the lighter hues in the wavy wall covering, and helps tone down the darker blues in the pattern.
White Bays

Design Detail: Painting the window bays white pulls even more sunshine in. Jeff Lewis Color’s Pearl Bracelet works right in with the warm grey and blue tones throughout the room.


This side of the room now boasts two separate zones—a casual seating area and a desk space.

The MirrorDesign Detail: The mirror on the wall above the seating area does a great job of breaking up the wall pattern. It performs double duty by adding dimension to the room, making the space appear larger.Black DeskDesign Detail: The occasional black accent adds some necessary contrast to the many light tones in the room. The black furniture also differentiates the desk and seating area from the calmer bed and reading nook across the room.
Black Border

Design Detail: A thin black border around the bay windows carves out the space.

It’s amazing what a coat of white paint and some sleek blinds can do to create a pared down vibe.

White on White

And white on white…on white compositions for balance.


Finally, because the large window and door let the light flow in, the kitchenette stays the same Payne’s grey (which we didn’t want to get rid of in the first place). We searched high and low for the perfect appliances to fit a fully-functional kitchenette and found Jenn-Air’s under counter refrigerator and an ideally-sized dishwasher for one.

StoolDesign Detail: The stool at the end of the counter makes this yet another functional zone in the room. The white lacquered dresser behind is tall enough to store a long-term guest’s possessions.

Photography by Mimi Giboin and Christian Nicco

Special thanks to HD Buttercup for donating the furnishings and design services.

And to Jeff Lewis Color, Jenn-Air and KitchenAid for the fine details.