Skip to content
California design

How Moving From NYC to the West Coast Changed My Design Aesthetic

When my partner got a job offer in San Francisco about a year ago, and we decided to pack up our lives on the east coast and move out to California, I knew change was ahead. Some of the change I anticipated was more definite: Moving into a new apartment, making new friends, and navigating a practically foreign city. Other parts—like adjusting my work schedule to appease both coasts—is a continuous process that requires some strategy.  

But perhaps the one change I didn’t anticipate, and am welcoming with open arms, is the shift in my design aesthetic. 

You see, when I first moved into my studio apartment in Manhattan, I’d liken my aesthetic to a “minimalist Austin Powers.” My place boasted a charcoal gray midcentury couch, faux shag carpet, and all the lucite you could imagine. I’d often joke that if it was something you’d see in Austin Powers’s famous jumbo jet—in a muted color palette, of course— it was probably in my apartment.

boho dining room

Black & Blooms

Of course, my tastes did naturally evolve since decorating my old apartment nearly five years ago. But as I grew more and more excited about our move—and Insta-stalked all the restaurants, stores, and co-working spaces I envisioned myself hanging out once we made it out to San Francisco—I noticed I began to embrace a California cool aesthetic.  

Like most design enthusiasts, I started an inspiration board well before we found our apartment—let alone the general neighborhood. With a board covered in trendy globe lights, candy-coated colors, and woven accents, it became very clear that I was ready to shed my east coast design vibes. 

With a board covered in trendy globe lights, candy-coated colors, and woven accents, it became very clear that I was ready to shed my east coast design vibes. 

Even when it was time to put my mood board to practice and purchase furniture and accessories, I rejected anything that didn’t match my new west coast aesthetic. 

“It’s too east coast,” I’d tell my boyfriend whenever he showed me a piece of furniture that was either too dark or doused in ornate carvings. “We live in California now.”

California style bedroom

Design: Pure Salt Interiors; Photo: Vanessa Lentine

Sure, my boyfriend and my new apartment has remnants of my old aesthetic—after all, I’m still me—but our new digs have an entirely different vibe. Instead of living in a home that prioritizes sleek, modern design, we’re trying to create a home that puts comfort at the forefront. You know, somewhere that looks and feels warm and inviting. 

Gone are the days of my strict black and white aesthetic. Today, I’m gravitating towards softer neutrals and cheery pops of color. My shag-tastic rugs have since been replaced by woven styles and one affordable option with Memphis-like squiggles. And who needs lucite? Now, I’ve been dousing my home in jute runners, caned objets, and a sweet wicker dresser.

California design yard


Have I mastered the fine art of California cool? Not quite. Embracing a new aesthetic requires time, patience, and, yes, plenty of trial and error.

We’ve only lived on the west coast for two months, so I’d reckon I have a long way to go before I become a full-fledged California girl. However, my move and subsequent design decisions have proved change isn’t all scary.  

For me, a new perspective reignited my love for home décor. It reminded me that decorating your space is supposed to be fun—and it’s not always black and white. And above all, it’s prompting me to get out of my comfort zone, try something new, and create a lifestyle I want to embrace in my new home. After all, isn’t that what moving to a new city is all about?