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Zen Den

Mary Peffer

Living with limited space is a reality many city dwellers face. I imagine, given the opportunity, most of us would be perfectly content in a palatial pad to house ourselves, a dog with a cool sweater collection, and the prized combination of timeless vintage wares and aspirational runway we’ve been carefully investing in since youth. But for most, until pricey pursuits of travel and the arts subside, shelter is likely to be more right sized than resemblant of Kimye’s ever-evolving estate plans in Calabasas. Here are a few tips to make the most of “cramped” quarters without giving up on the desire for your much deserved fashionable zen den.

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The authors own Zen Den in Los Angeles

Lifestyle Lighting The number one rule in interior best practices is to immediately add dimmer switches, or at least it should be. Too bright, and the most beautiful home becomes unwelcoming. Too low, and say hello to a potential plummet in productivity and poorly informed decisions when getting ready for the day. Appropriate lighting sets mood and comfort level, it’s nice to retain the power to edit the amount emitted based on what you have going on in the space. Tackle this, and you are well on your way to acing the home beautification process. —Don’t forget to enlist a trusted electrician.

Effortless Efficiency Know your lifestyle and create a space that compliments it. Living in a major city means friends likely visit and you may even Airbnb your home when you travel. In both scenarios, it isn’t thrilling to think of someone sharing your sacred space. Accommodate reality without giving in to a closet cleanse, build a mobile rolling rack that serves multiple functions; coat rack for guests, dugout for looks in the week’s running, and personal space for guests to stow belongings.

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To create the rack pictured, I followed a simple DIY tutorial found online and amended the formula slightly to incorporate eco-friendly hand screen-printed wallpaper by Cavern Home I had been eyeing for months but was unable to install due to pesky wall restrictions that come hand-in-hand with a rental. Don’t DIY? A touch of personalization to a store bought rack can also make it feel more your own. (A little paint goes a long way.)

Statement Seating Balancing the temperature of materials is the difference between having a place to sleep and creating a home. New buildings constructed of metal and cement provide a raw and minimalist canvas but run the risk of feeling sterile if not accessorized with statement furniture in inviting textures. I live in one of these, and dually suffer from a fear-of-print-commitment and residing in an asylum style apartment of my creation. As a remedy, I swiped a mid-century modern chair from my brother’s home and designed new cushions with upcycled berry-colored chevron window treatments leftover from a previous apartment. The cost to turn the fabric into seating covers was low and valuable time was not spent stressing over where to source new fabric I might despise in two months. You can do this with most spare textiles, size permitting, and a little bit of foam from your local fabric store. Flea markets are typically the best locations to hunt down timeless furnishings and most second-hand shops can direct you to a reliable upholstery expert if you aren’t keen to sew your own.

Valuable Views We all know allowing natural light to flood through large windows and playing said light off of mirrors makes a space appear larger, but it can also affect how we feel –a crucial component in the live/work/be lifestyle.

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-Home hunting? Be sure to note the size of the windows and the nature/ architecture surrounding the property. It will be your eyes’ initial morning investment. Start your day right.

-Established? Pull those blinds or swap out heavy drapes for an airy fabric to allow light through and still maintain privacy.

-Outside out of your hands? Line the windowsill with glass or wooden containers and fill them with low maintenance beauties like miniature succulents and sand. Border the plant-scape with white candles or empty medicine bottles to play with height.

Cool Chaos As someone self-diagnosed with city induced ADHD there are a lot of interests and memorabilia I’ve hung onto. But messy countertops and exploding drawers equal a recipe for living a grey gardens-esque nightmare, not exactly a step in the dream home direction. Walk the line, minimalist doesn’t mean you have to be shy about displaying meaningful photographs, keepsakes, crafts, and books that reflect your unique interests. Curate a designated spot in the home for these essentials, like an industrial metal console or drift wood shelving. Celebrate your memories and live in a space to enjoy the new ones.

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Mary Peffer is partner at Navy PR and a contributor to and Stylecaster. She is a fashion expert, having spent 6+ years at Saint Laurent. Find her @marypeffer.