Jonathan's "What I Did Last Summer" Rental on a Budget

Jonathan's "What I Did Last Summer" Rental on a Budget

Abby Stone
Oct 10, 2013

Name: Jonathan Lo of Happy Mundane
Location: Solana Beach, California
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

Last year, Jonathan Lo circled back around to his fondest childhood memories and rented a place in Solana Beach for long summer weekend escapes. Of course, since it was only going to be used in summer and because the space was temporary, cost was a primary consideration.

When costs need to be kept low, turn to imagination to keep the final look high. Whether you're putting together a summer retreat or winter abode, Jonathan's space is inspiration for furnishing a home simply, chicly and cheaply, mixing thrift store finds, IKEA standards and DIY ingenuity for a timeless and stylish retreat that works in winter and summer.

The jumping off point for the home's color scheme was a vintage painting that Jonathan picked up at a thrift store. Lush tones of blue and green intermingle with the deep red pattern of the subject's skirt. Set against a neutral background, the combination, when translated to decor, is masculine yet unexpected. In the living room, the angularity of a white sofa balances a curvy deep teal blue slipper chair and a vintage lamp. Nature's greens bring summer indoors, and a glass topped table with a metal base adds a note of glamour that is always welcome.
Downstairs, in the guest bedroom, orange and red patterns are made extra playful with a yellow side table while, in the master bedroom, weathered wood accents give oceanic shades a nautical cast. Many pieces — the nightstands, bookcase, desk and headboard in the master bedroom, the white cubist art in the living room — received Jonathan's DIY touch. Luckily, Jonathan is as generous as he is creative, and he's shared many of his tricks with us here and on his blog.

Apartment Therapy Survey

MY Style: Graphic and modern, with a nod to mid century retro and filtered through the lens of the relaxed lifestyle of Southern California.

Inspiration: I was really inspired by being by the ocean, and also looking through a ton of décor books and magazines from the 1960’s and early 70s.

Favorite Element: The light in the main living room area from the wall of windows was what sold me on the space. I spent many peaceful afternoons there just enjoying the view.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was not so much with the house itself, but more with just trying to not invest too much into the home since it was just a temporary rental. So keeping an eye on the bottom line was the biggest hurdle!

What Friends Say: "Wow” (when they see the view) and “It’s not what I expected" (when they step inside).

Biggest Embarrassment: The bed in the guest bedroom is actually an air mattress and the kitchen counter tile is pretty ugly (hence no photos!).

Proudest DIY: The faux “weathered wood” headboard. It was a bit of a science experiment with steel wool and vinegar, but it was pretty painless and I really liked the end result.

Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive thing in the house was the bed. I don’t think you can go wrong with investing in a a good mattress. A good night's sleep is completely worth it (especially in a weekend home, where the point is relaxation and rest).

Best Advice: Designer Todd Oldham once said, “If you love it, then it’s perfect.” That line has always stuck with me and keeps me from second guessing myself too much.

Dream Sources: If money were no object, then my dream source would be ABC Home & Carpet in NY.

Resources of Note:


  • Blue Paint: Behr Ultra “Starless Night” UL230-1


  • Couch: IKEA KIVIK
  • Media consoles: Pier 1 Imports
  • Dining table: IKEA
  • Chairs: Stuff Furniture and Consignments, San Diego (//
  • Rug: West Elm (Souk)
  • Corner chair: Cost Plus


  • Desk: IKEA MICKE
  • Whale: HomeGoods
  • Night Stands: Consignment Classics, Encinatas
  • Chair: West Elm
  • Headboard: DIY. For instructions, click here.

Thanks, Jonathan!

(Images: Laure Joliet)

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