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A Sworn New Yorker Makes a Funny, Sentimental Home in Venice Beach

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After 13 years in NYC, LA native Marika moved back West in California style

All photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Marika and her small, senior chihuahua have been living in their adorable, 850-square-foot house on a walk street in Venice for only about three months (following 13 years in New York), but the place looks very settled into already. Marika's filled the space with many of the items she collected over the years and displayed in her New York apartment, but they appear in her Venice home with a California twist, woven in with new elements intended to reflect the more "earthy" feelings the native Westsider gets from being back in Los Angeles.

Who lives here?

Marika, fashion merchandising/interior design, age 37

Ruby, my chihuahua!, age 13

What are the stats?

2 br, 1 ba, garage, front and back yard, 850 sq ft bungalow, 3,600 sq ft lot

What’s the rent?

$4,995

How long have you been here?

3 months

What’s the best feature?

The amazing front yard! I grew up in LA and just moved back here after 13 years in New York City, so my must have in a house was a real yard. I love to entertain so I immediately envisioned a big farm house table with tea lights and lanterns and lots of friends, wine, and food filling up the space.

The actual house is quite small (smaller than my NYC apartment!), but I prefer to live in a small space that feels cozy and warm and where I know i’m using every room in the house. I hate the idea of unused or purely "decorative" space. So the combination of expansive outdoor space with a small bungalow house was the perfect fit for me.

A stove-paved yard with fashionable wood patio furniture and a large farm table as the centerpiece.
Marika commissioned the farm table from a craftsman in the Midwest she found on Etsy. It shipped in multiple pieces, so she had to put it together, but she says it was worth it and very cost-effective.

What’s the worst feature?

The lack of closet space! I’ve worked in fashion for over a decade so I’ve accumulated a lot of clothes and shoes, but when I moved here I forced myself to give away a lot of stuff to make it fit. As painful as that was, it was actually a great way to start off a new life back on the West Coast.

Now I have space to hang up my wet suit. And granted I’ve taken half of my "office" and turned it into a dressing area, because there was no way I was giving up any of my jewelry!

The only other feature I don’t love is the low ceiling. I’m 5’11" and I can change the light bulbs without standing on a ladder.

Over the last couple of years when I would come back to visit family and friends I noticed a real shift in the city. It seems to have embraced more of a creative, innovative, and diverse vibe.

What do you love or hate about the neighborhood?

When I first decided to move to LA, I dreamed of living on the Venice walk streets. My mother lives in the Venice canals, so when I would visit her over the years we’d take walks through the walk streets and I absolutely fell in love with the charm and coziness of the neighborhood. It was so opposite from what I loved about New York, but exactly the change I was looking for. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how friendly and welcoming my neighbors have been.

Built-in bookcases hold a collection of books, photos, and framed art pieces. A small white chihuahua sits on a large patterned pillow on the floor.

I also love that I’m walking distance to great shops, restaurants, even the beach. My LA friends think I’m crazy because that often means a 15-20 minute walk but that’s nothing as a New Yorker!

The only thing I don’t like about the neighborhood is that Lincoln isn’t more developed. I would love to have more bars, restaurants, coffee shops, etc close walking distance from my house. I think Lincoln is going to get there—there are already some great spots, but can’t quite live up to Abbot Kinney or Rose just yet.

What’s your approach to decorating?

Too much is never enough! My friends and family would tell you that this is my approach to decorating and pretty much anything else in my life. I love to mix modern elements with more earthy and global pieces. And layering of all those elements is key.

Like the pom-poms hanging over my dining table. I found those from a little street stand in Sayulita, Mexico, and bought them on a whim before I even had this house. And because it’s a rental I can’t put in my own light fixtures, so I needed something removable to liven up that space. I loved the idea of having a dinner party and forcing my friends to have conversation through puffs of rainbow madness.

A sofa with a bright patterned blanket in the background of this photo of a living room. A lucite coffee table is the focus of the shot.
Marika's grandmother's lucite coffee table.

Every piece in my home has a personal story—for example, the lucite coffee table was my grandmother’s and we grew up not being able to touch it in the formal living room of her house. Now it’s one of the centerpieces of my home, and probably way more beat up than when she had it, but lived in with spills and dents and the scars of great moments with friends around that table.

Now I have space to hang up my wet suit.

And in my office I blew up an old contact sheet from my grandmother’s modeling days in the 50’s. It’s a great piece of my history and makes so much more of an impact on that large scale. And I have tons more stories like that.

I also clearly believe in a bit of a sense of humor in decorating—like one of my favorite pillows—Baron Von Fancy’s "tell me why we shouldn’t". And by what I affectionately call the "70’s porn nook" in the living room.

All the layering in my home is also about gathering memories from travels, experiences, people, and important moments in my life. My father is from India and my mother’s family is from the Southwest so I am very influenced by those cultures. What looks like chaos or clutter to many people actually gives me a sense of inspiration.

To be surrounded by pieces that tell the story of your life and remind you of the people and places that are important to you is the greatest gift of decorating your home. It’s the same thing I say when people ask me for fashion advice: throw rules out the window, only buy pieces that you absolutely love, and experiment!

A room with large wall-hanging art, including a vintage circus banner advertising the "Queen of Tattoo."
On the left in the office/dressing room is the enlarged contact sheet from Marika's grandmother's modeling days. On the right, a giant vintage circus banner advertising the "Queen of Tattoo." It was a gift from Marika's parents. "This is a big deal because they hate my tattoos," she said.

Any crazy/interesting stories about your place?

I haven’t lived here long enough to have those stories yet! But come back in a year and I promise I’ll have some good tales by then.

How did you end up here?

I was a sworn lifelong New Yorker for over a decade. I grew up in LA, but never really felt like it was the right place for me, so I left after high school and have been in NYC ever since. Then over the last couple of years when I would come back to visit family and friends I noticed a real shift in the city. It seems to have embraced more of a creative, innovative, and diverse vibe.

And even though I still loved New York, I needed a lifestyle change and finally felt like I could find that energy I loved about New York in LA. Most of my friends and family are on the Westside, and I always loved Venice growing up, so knew I wanted to be here. I was originally looking to buy, not rent, but after a couple of deals fell through at the last minute in this crazy market, I decided to rent instead and this was one of the first houses I saw. And as soon as I walked into that front yard I was sold.

A dining area, with a minimalist table and a bright orange buffet table supporting a colorful array of books.
The art piece over the orange buffet table is all hand-cut from one giant piece of paper. Marika picked it up at a show in New York.

How’s your landlord?

He’s awesome! I think he’s owned the house for over 30 years.

If you could have any living situation in la, what would it be?

I would love to have a great Venice bungalow right near the beach as well as a big Mid-Century Modern house near Echo Park or Silverlake with an amazing view of the city. I love the architecture and culture of the east side, but also the chill creative vibe and proximity to the beach of the west side, so hoping at some point I won’t have to choose between the two! Oh and did I mention maybe a big ranch up in Ojai as well?

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