This Colorful Mid-Century Modern Apartment Has a Playful Twist

Do you live in a tiny home?

With a penchant for cute Japanese decor, fashion blogger and TV-host La Carmina recently finished designing her cozy apartment in Vancouver. While designing an apartment with only less than 500 square footage would prove a challenge to most, La Carmina was able to create a colorful mid-century modern space filled with her favorite collectibles.

In this feature, she tells us about the work that went into decorating her space, as well as the challenges she went through putting her mid-century modern home together. Let’s tour her home.

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a travel and fashion blogger, specializing in stories about underground culture. On my La Carmina blog, I share my love of Gothic aesthetics, “kawaii” cuteness, and alternative attractions around the world. I also host travel TV shows – I’ve been on TLC Asia, Travel Channel, Discovery and many more channels – and write books. 

As a constant traveler, La Carmina brings Japanese influences to her space. Here, we see her white teddy bear lamp adding a playful edge to her mid-century modern furniture. She also cleverly uses pops of orange and teal around her home – from planters, chairs and even kitchen towels.

What made you decide to go for a mid-century modern style? 

My dad is an architect, and he introduced me to modernist design from an early age. I was always drawn to the mid-century modern era, as I gravitate towards simple, clean lines. This type of furniture is also a great fit for tiny apartments, as they prevent small spaces from feeling bulky or overly busy. 

La Carmina lives with her adorable Scottish Fold kitty, who needs plenty of space to play. To keep her apartment pet-friendly, she chose multi-functional home decor items to match the rest of her home.

I found cat furniture that doubled as objects of art. For example, the scratching post and cat chaise look like flowing modern sculptures, and the play cube also functions as a coffee table. I also chose colors and materials with my Scottish Fold kitty in mind; for example, the dining chairs are comfortable for him to curl up in, and the fabrics don’t catch his claws.

Are there any home decor items you made on your own?

I painted the small square table underneath the television, to exactly match the teal-blue hue of my Eames chair. I also found creative uses for items – for example, a sardine-shaped dish turned out to be the perfect size to hold a remote control.

For small spaces, it’s important to keep furniture as compact as possible. We love her minimal couch with hairpin legs, complementing lines from her dining set. While La Carmina’s home wasn’t always free from clutter, she is inspired by Marie Kondo’s Konmari method of living a minimal lifestyle.

How did you get into the Konmari method?

I’ve long admired minimalist architecture and Zen philosophies, but after years of fashion and travel blogging, I’d accumulated far too many items (especially clothes). The Konmari method provided the framework and motivation I needed to tackle my clutter in a big way. I ended up donating and selling most of my possessions, and it’s been a relief – I feel as if ghosts of the past have been exorcised. I have items for sale – in case anyone might like anything; feel free to email me, and I can send you anything that I have listed!

What was the most interesting part of designing your space? 

I had limited square footage to work with, but enjoyed the challenge of making the best use of it. I came up with creative solutions, such as choosing multi-use furniture that stood on wire legs for an airy, lightweight look. I loved designing the kitchen-dining-living room, which are actually part of a single room that flows together. I carefully chose mid-century colors and Herman Miller furniture that united these areas, and made the apartment seem larger

What was the most challenging part of designing your space?

It took me a while to figure out the overall direction. I wanted the look to reflect my personality, and for the entire interior design to fall under one aesthetic and color scheme. Although I love all things Gothic, I quickly realized that a dark Victorian-Rococo look would not work for my small one bedroom apartment. Instead, I found more subtle ways to express my love of Goth, such as a Ouija board serving tray, and pentagram coasters. 

Her room features white plush toys that complement her minimal space. The boarding gate pillows express her love for travel and exploration, giving the bedroom a personal touch.

How long did it take for you to design your home? 

At first, I used temporary furniture bought cheaply and later sold, or borrowed from my family. This way, I could take my time to find the right pieces, and test out arrangements to see what worked best. It often took months for items to arrive, as they needed to be special-ordered and customized. All in all, it took about two years to have everything put together to my satisfaction. 

Do you have future plans for renovation or home improvements?

I’m very happy with the results at the moment, but I’m constantly inspired by my travels and experiences. I might make changes later on, especially if my daily needs change. As my dad always said, “form follows function.”

Do you have tips for anyone looking to redesign their space? 

If you have a small home like mine, I encourage you to think of it as an advantage. Carefully choose pieces that you love, and find creative ways to make your living space comfortable, functional, and uncluttered such as by using modular pieces with lightweight lines, and reducing possessions to only items that “spark joy”. I shared more decoration tips in this post on my La Carmina blog.

La Carmina’s home doesn’t only showcase stories of her trips told through her home decor, she also has a mini-library in her bedroom. Her space truly represents her unique style, while still retaining the minimal mid-century modern vibe that’s perfect for her one bedroom apartment.

What do you think? How would you style your apartment? Let us know in the comments.

If you want to know more about La Carmina, check out her blog. She’s also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so why not give her a shout.

Want to see more sneak peeks of how others style their spaces? We’ve recently toured the lovely bohemian home of Etsy shop owner Dilya, which you can read about here. And if you haven’t already, you should also sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates straight to your mailbox!

Project: La Carmina Home

Design: La Carmina

Photos: La Carmina

*This article has been edited for clarity and length.