Vanessa De Vargas of Turquoise Interior Design has decorated and redecorated her tiny 500-square-foot bungalow in Venice in a variety of themes during the last 15 years.
When she was going through "a dark phase," she painted the walls steel gray and installed red flocked wallpaper. From that moody place, she moved on to a sunnier, beachy vibe with seaside blue and green accents.
The bungalow may be small, but De Vargas said the size does not limit her. It is, in fact, what has empowered her to change designs over and over again. "It's a great white box that I can do anything with," she said.
Weary of the beach phase, De Vargas recently sold nearly all of her furnishings and started anew. "I decided I was sick of everything," she said.
She set her budget at $4,000 and chose a palette of gold, gray and white so all of the rooms would flow easily from one to another. She started in the living room, adding an ultrasuede Sofa Co. sectional that she found on Craigslist for $500. The sectional makes the room feel larger and allows guests to relax in the small space.
De Vargas hung inexpensive white Ikea curtains, which she customized with cotton backing and tassels to give them more heft and an ethnic feel. Underneath, bamboo privacy shades from the Woven Co. allow in light and create privacy from neighbors who are only 10 feet away.
The designer also scoured flea markets, thrift stores and antique malls for gold and brass accents. She wanted continuity from room to room, a decision that simplified the design process. Instead of a traditional coffee table, De Vargas placed two gold Safavieh end tables in the center of the room. She also added gold hardware to an Ikea wall-mounted console and spray-painted white a light fixture from Cost Plus World Market.
Two midcentury wooden stacking benches were reupholstered with the covers of furry pillows from Target. A gold Moroccan pouf is from Amazon. A Pottery Barn jute rug layered underneath a World Market rug adds some warmth and texture, while inexpensive artworks draw the eye around the room.
Where did her budget go? De Vargas said that much went to labor: She painted the entire bungalow, installed bead board in the bathroom and replaced the laminate floor in her mud room with black-and-white check tile.
In the end, the bungalow is a mix of quality pieces, budget finds and creative fixes. "It’s all about the presentation," De Vargas said. "It's how you pull it together. We paired the Ikea cabinet with vintage items. It's an inexpensive way to update your home without spending a fortune."
To see more of how she transformed her Venice cottage, we asked De Vargas to talk through photos of the rest of the house in the latest installment of Virtual Tour.
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