Sara DeCou had never lived in a loft before—her first apartment had rooms aplenty—but she knew she really, really wanted to. "I’ve always liked open spaces," she says. So, she looked . . . and looked . . . and looked. All the lofts in L.A. seemed to be in congested Downtown. But then! "This little place came up after I'd been constantly looking on real estate apps like a crazy person," Sara remembers. "It had an open house with only 30 minutes left—and I was at the nail salon." A coat of quick-dry polish saved the day. "I immediately fell in love with it," she says. After all that, when Sara moved into her new Frogtown loft—right near a bike path and with charming views of the cleaned-up L.A. River—she knew exactly what to do.
Sara is all smiles in her loft.Photo: James Bailey
"Figuring out how to configure and live in a loft space coming from living in a place with a bedroom was actually kind of fun," she says. "I was able to see it pretty quickly." Rather than use paint or actual room dividers, Sara placed furniture and plants in just the right spots to differentiate the wide-open unit into a living area, eat-in kitchen, and "bedroom." This way, the place still feels relaxed and easy. "I make my space so Zen because my everyday life is so chaotic," Sara explains. (She has the inarguably intense job of cofounder of Brud, an AI and robotics company.) "It’s nice to come home and feel like you're at a spa." One look at her apartment had us craving that same feeling—and that's not all we took away from her space. Here are five design lessons from Sara's loft worth writing down somewhere:
You don't need a TV to watch all the Netflix shows your heart desires
No one particularly enjoys the look of a giant flat screen, including Sara. "I don’t want the first thing people gravitate toward to be the TV," she says. Instead, she rigged a projector to beam movies onto the wall. It means artwork can't go there, but Sara's okay with that. "Plants create art without having to hang anything."
"I think linen and white and wood and concrete is a comfortable neutral base that’s easily changeable."Photo: James Bailey
Sometimes, you've got to treat furniture shopping like a part-time job
"I obsess over one thing till I find it," Sara says. Once she has an idea of what she wants, she'll stalk sites like and and check with her favorite flea market vendors on Instagram (she loves ). "You can’t really go out and buy whatever because you need it," she explains. "If you really want to feel comfortable in your space, you have to be patient." Yeah, her searches are hard-core, but they've paid off big time. Sara found her giant 7-by-16-foot vintage rug for $400 and the Cesca cane chairs for just $50 apiece.
The loft's kitchen came with open shelving. "I realized everyone was going to see what I kept in cupboards," Sara says. "I ended up cleaning up and getting rid of things. It forced me to not hang on to things that didn’t have value in my life."Photo: James Bailey
A tall mirror leaned against the wall opens up a space-challenged corner.Photo: James Bailey
Go round in tight spaces
"Since everything in the loft is pretty square and modular, I went with a round dining table that keeps the flow of the room going and doesn’t really interrupt anything," Sara says. "And then I went with a tulip base to give it even more room."
Sara only kept a few things from her old place: her bed frame, a little entryway table, and her pottery collection. "A lot of pieces that are in here are stuff I did myself. My work is very high-octane, so that’s why I love making pottery."Photo: James Bailey
Who said a credenza can't be a headboard?
Sara's bed essentially floats in one corner of the loft, so she positioned a credenza at one end to act as headboard, dresser, and visual divider between the bedroom and living area. That's some serious multi-functionality.
"My mom was always a gardener; we grew up with a huge garden and she was always teaching me how to care for things," says Sara. "I didn’t think I’d be into it when I was older, but instead of getting art, plants are my art."Photo: James Bailey
Sara asked her dad to build simple plywood boxes to act as both side tables and storage. Each has an open back that can be hidden against a wall or turned to face the room if she wants to display, say, a stack of blankets. This one in the bathroom hides shoes.Photo: James Bailey
White is beloved by everyone for a reason
Sara had a cool green velvet sofa in her old apartment, but in the loft, she knew it would be too dark. Enter the which Sara snagged from an . Combined with white bed linens and white walls, the place is as serene as it gets. "I like things to feel open and airy, and I really like things to be clean. A lot of this stuff can just be bleached," she says. "White helps the room flow better. If there was a lot of color, it would seem really overwhelming."