This House Might Actually Convince You to Move to L.A.

As with clothes, the way you decorate a room expresses your personality. In its most ideal form, it signals to guests how you interpret yourself. In this round of Real Cool People, Real Cool Apartments, we check out the Los Angeles home of Isadora Alvarez, the owner of California-inspired basics brand Back Beat Rags. Our intentions behind the creeping: to learn what she’s all about.


Isadora Alvarez

Neighborhood, # of rooms:

Mid-city, in a little suburbia-like village smack in the middle of Los Angeles. Our home has 2.5 rooms!

What do you do?

I own a California-inspired, environment-friendly basics brand called Back Beat Rags.

How long have you lived here?

Close to four years

1920s-inspired bar built by my husband1920s-inspired bar built by my husband

Who do you live with, animals included?

My husband Brandon and our two dogs. Mad Max is our gentle giant Doberman and Dude Man is our crazy little Chihuahua-Terrier mix.

What do you like about the neighborhood?

I like that it’s 15-20 mins away from the beach and that a lot of our neighbors have owned their homes for 30-40 years. Many of them grew up here and the houses got passed on to them, so there’s very much an “I know my neighbor feel” to the area. They know to look out for my car and warn me when it’s street-cleaning day.

What’s the best thing about your home?

It was built in 1931 so it has some art deco details but it’s also a Spanish bungalow; it’s quirky mix of styles. We have a backyard that’s big enough for the dogs to play in and for us to throw parties. We love having people over.

Do you ever work from home and if so, what’s that like? 

Yes, I technically work from home. We have a garage that was converted to a studio that I use as an office/warehouse. It’s pretty important that it’s separate from the house so I can still physically “leave” work even if it’s just five steps away. That being said, since it’s so close, I often struggle to tell myself I’m done for the day — it’s so easy to do just one more thing. I’m trying to be better about that!

What did you think about when decorating? 

Our biggest and first design piece was our kitchen. We remodeled it when we moved in, but everything else has been added along the way. My husband is the master of decorating the house and he loves changing things up.

Alex Prager’s “Mezzanine Center” which guests mistake as a frozen tv screen when they first see it.Alex Prager’s “Mezzanine Center” which guests mistake as a frozen tv screen when they first see it.

Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating? What was it and where’d you get it from?

We didn’t really have an overall vision when we started. We just liked mid-century modern furniture, clean lines and color, so we tend to gravitate towards decorating in that style. I guess it’s very much a California style of decorating.

What are your favorite home “scores” and where are they from?

We got my father-in-law’s wood speakers from the 70s; not only are they beautiful but they also actually work, so we use them with our turntable. We love art, so our recent Barry McGee purchase is one of my favorite things, along with a RETNA hand-painted multiple watercolor that is in our hallway.

For someone young and trying to nest, what are your top three tips when it comes to finding and buying items for the home?

Do not rush! Take your time picking out stuff you absolutely love. We’ve had so many rushed purchases that we ultimately ended up getting rid of. In our kitchen nook, we tried two different tables and around six months of no table at all before we found something we really loved, and we’re definitely keeping that for a very long time.

Second, buy better furniture. We made a pact when we got the house that we would buy quality furniture — even if we had wait and save up for it — because it just lasts longer and looks so much nicer. Craigslist and the flea market are your friends, it just takes time and patience.

Drought tolerant plants that my husband plantedDrought tolerant plants that my husband planted

Third, put a little art on your walls. A piece or two go a long way in making a big impact on the overall look of a space. It doesn’t even have to be expensive, just something you really like that reflects your style.

What are your favorite household goods/home decor stores — both brick-and-mortar and online?

We’re big fans of eBay, craigslist and L.A. flea markets. And we LOVE Modernica — in our dreams we own everything from that store.

Where’s your favorite place online to look for apartment inspiration?

Architectural Digest, Houzz, mid-century home accounts on Instagram, Dwell, Apartment Therapy. Larry’s List. Sooo many.

What’s the one thing every home should have?

A comfortable and inviting living room or kitchen — a space that makes people want to hang out and talk. Ours is the kitchen; we have a dining area but everyone loves to hang out in the kitchen. And invest in a good mattress. It will make your life so much better.

Photos by Jessica Isaac

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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