How Designer Lizzie Green Gave a Tiny California Apartment the Space to Entertain

Bright coastal living room with warm brown furniture.

Design: Lizzie Green; Photo: Jessica Alexander

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My clients moved from Seattle to Los Angeles with only their clothes and boxes overflowing with their large book collection,” interior designer Lizzie Green says. “I needed to start from scratch when it came to furniture and accessories, and bring life and personality into a bleak and boring new-build apartment. My goal was to create a quintessential California cool vibe with hints of a Japanese influence.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Lizzie Green, owner of Malibu-based Popix Designs, blends a California cool style with midcentury modern and contemporary design through layering textures, mixing patterns, and incorporating different shapes and colors.

Before:

Before shot of apartment.

Courtesy of Lizzie Green

"One of my client’s concerns was the small open floor plan, which had no designated dining area. Since it was a rental apartment, we had to work with the current floor plan and come up with clever space-saving solutions, especially because they had lots of books and no place to put them,” notes Green.

After:

Side view of dining nook in living space.

Design: Lizzie Green; Photo: Jessica Alexander

“I created a dining nook which includes a 35” round table surrounded by two chairs and a unique bench that has a cognac-colored leather seat cushion and a backrest that affixes to the wall using blush-colored straps. Additionally, a one-of-a kind wooden modular shelving system in the hallway embodies the feeling of a luxurious built-in without having to make any alterations to the rental property.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme:  A palette of cream, blue, and earthy browns was infused throughout the room.
  • Sofa: A soft leather midcentury style sofa in a timeless rich Italian leather is as comfortable as it is stylish. 
  • Coffee table: The minimalist style coffee table blends a luxurious material like walnut wood with a white marble top. 
  • Chair: The accent chair evokes a midcentury feel with a solid wood frame, sharp angles, and a neutral colored cushion. 
  • Corner lamp: The iconic Akari lamp has a Washi paper shade and is paired with bamboo accents and a painted steel wire base. 
  • Rug: A Moroccan-inspired blue wool rug adds texture and warmth to the living area. 
  • End table: A black wood accent table with clean lines is the perfect piece to hold a small plant, book, or drink. 
  • Pillows on couch: Cream square pillows with black piping and an indigo lumbar pillow are handmade from India-sourced fabrics. 
  • Painting: The abstract West coast seascape print over the couch has a vibrant yet calming feel.
  • Dining table: The solid oak pedestal dining table provides a spot to eat without taking up a lot of room. 
  • Painting over table: A wave photograph turned on a vertical adds color to the dining area. 
  • Woven chairs: The wood chairs with their ergonomic backrests are fitted with comfortable woven cord seats. 
  • Leather bench: The space-saving wooden bench with its leather cushion and backrest creates seating for two. 
  • Book shelves: Three wooden modular shelving units interlock together to form one streamlined bookshelf, hung from a single wall-mount bracket. 

Shop the Look:

Living room sofa and decor on table.

Design: Lizzie Green; Photo: Jessica Alexander

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Isamu Noguchi Floor Lamp Model 10A
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