There's something special about visiting a good friend's house, knowing once you walk in the door, you can kick your shoes off, curl up on the couch, and instantly feel at home. Not every space can evoke familiar feeling, but Alisha Agrellas' Santa Monica bungalow does so with ease. The founder and principal designer of Honné Studio, a Los Angeles-based boutique design firm, transformed her 850-square-foot rental into a calm and cozy retreat for herself and her fiancé that is as welcoming as it is chic.
"We lucked out with solid bones, as the bungalow features original, restored oak-wood flooring throughout, along with intricate crown and panel molding," Agrellas tells MyDomaine. "We wanted to make sure we paid homage to these charming and coveted elements as they truly infuse so much character into a space."
We lucked out with solid bones, as the bungalow features original, restored oak-wood flooring throughout, along with intricate crown and panel molding. We wanted to make sure we paid homage to these charming and coveted elements as they truly infuse so much character into a space.
The one-bedroom, one-bath home was built in 1948 and comes complete with a large living room, dining room, kitchen, deck, and a ton of natural light, courtesy of sunny Southern California. The location of the home provided plenty of inspiration for Agrellas while decorating.
"As a Newport Beach native, I find myself consistently drawn to a neutral, earthy palette and just generally influenced by that natural, effortless, California-casual vibe," Agrellas shares. "Lots of warm mango woods, ‘lived-in’ linens, and woven textures layered throughout. That feeling of warmth, texture, and intentional layering is really what the design work of Honné Studio has been founded upon."
Keep scrolling to see more of this enchanting bungalow hideaway.
Full of earthy colors, a mix of wood tones, and plenty of bright light, the living room is full of textured pieces with sentimental value.
"The living room undoubtedly houses some of my favorite pieces and some noteworthy finds—a woven leather accent chair sourced from Bali, vintage maps passed down to my fiancé from his grandfather (with custom frames by Stuart Collective), and an abundance of ceramics and beads sourced from local Southern California boutiques like The Garage Collective, Burro Goods, Goodies LA, and The Bead Chest SM," Agrellas says.
Because this is her first home she's shared with her fiancé, Agrellas was conscientious about blending both of their styles.
"I found myself exploring more diversified materials in order to find an optimal balance that suited us," Agrellas explains. "For example, my fiancé loves substantial reclaimed and/or old growth wood, and out of my sheer panic that our bungalow would inadvertently inch closer to looking like a cabin rather than a coastal retreat, I tried to bring in more elements of stone, metal, and acrylic."
In order to make the home feel like home for them both, Agrellas decided that most of the furnishings in the home should be new finds for the couple—save for this cabinet, which is a standout piece in the living room.
"The bungalow was a complete blank slate, as my fiancé and I really wanted to build off of it from scratch—except for one sole piece that I couldn’t part with and had invested in a few years prior—a fairly substantial, solid mango wood accent cabinet with antique bronze scoop handles, which now serves as a media console of sorts," Agrellas explains.
In order to make the most of the small size of the home, Agrellas opted to maintain the feeling of an open floor plan and incorporated several dual purpose pieces that could help combat limited storage.
"Plotting out the living room floor plan had its fair share of challenges due to the scale and orientation—it’s a rather long and wide space," Agrellas explains. "Logistically, it was a bit of a balancing act to ensure we maintained a feeling of warmth and coziness without it feeling too spread out or impersonal."
Agrellas finds design inspiration from all over, including Etsy and flea markets.
"My sources of inspiration are constantly changing but are primarily a combination of Instagram, Pinterest, and a handful of my go-to design publications," Agrellas says. "I also love browsing local flea and antique markets, and could spend hours (maybe even days) perusing Etsy vintage storefronts."
And, of course, it wouldn't be a SoCal abode without some greenery.
"The bungalow is also surrounded by palms and rich green foliage that transport you away to your own little oasis," Agrellas says. "I wanted to extend that feeling of the outdoors and bring elements of greenery in (I find they infuse life and dimension into a space) so you’ll find plants, such as this snake-plant and fiddle leaf, layered throughout the space for height and texture."
Because the home is a rental, Agrellas couldn't do a complete renovation, but focused on small changes that have a big impact.
"All of the bungalow’s renovations were smaller scale and ‘landlord-approved,’" Agrellas says. "With that being said, the first few changes we made—which I think have the most impactful effects on a rental—were replacing the window treatments, lighting fixtures, and hardware throughout."
Agrellas' favorite part of the home is all of the natural light streaming in throughout the day. She made sure to employ smart design choices like placing this mirror across from the bedroom windows to reflect a ton of light across the space.
In the bathroom, Agrellas added a 'gooseneck' fixture above the vanity, switched out the rest of the bathroom hardware to matte black, and added these unique decals from Etsy that give the illusion of wallpaper for easy, rental-approved fixes.
Through every corner of this cozy bungalow, Agrellas followed her favorite design advice: "Slowly and intentionally fill a space, and connect with what you're bringing into your home."