This Magical L.A. Studio Apartment Has a Dome in the Middle of It

In apartment-hunting, as in job-hunting, it’s all about who you know. For clothing designer Eliana Gil Rodriguez, it was her boyfriend Patrick’s best friend who led them to their current digs. “He lived in the building, and we’d always heard stories of this mythical dome apartment,” she remembers.

“We got lucky that way because we knew about it before it was listed.” Although the apartment, located in Los Angeles’s Beachwood Canyon, is just one room, it was too good to pass up. “It’s definitely not meant for two, but we were totally in love with the place and Patrick was going to be away on tour a lot Editor’s note: Patrick is a guitarist for The Weeknd, so we made it work.”

The soaring ceiling the couple had heard about was indeed the apartment’s pièce de résistance. “Originally, it was the meditation chamber for a theosophical community called the Krotona Colony. The building was built as their headquarters in the 1910s when the Hollywood Hills were mostly farmland.

They moved to Ojai in the 1920s and the building was sold and turned into a hotel, and later into apartments. It still has the original built-in meditation seating all the way around the room and an altar in the center, under the dome,” Eliana says. Now, the space serves as simply a lounging spot for the couple, although it’s scattered with candles and a half-moon glass coffee table – nods to the dome’s spiritual roots.

“We knew that we wanted to be able to lounge and relax under the dome because it’s just so special, so that naturally became our living area,” Eliana says.

At first, the place’s incredible architecture deterred Eliana and Patrick from filling it with much, even though Eliana admits she loves to curate and arrange things. “The place always looked fabulous filled with plants and candles, even before we had any furniture,” she explains. Eventually, though, they began to add special pieces here and there. “I find objects I like at thrift shops or while traveling.” So many things had us oohing and ahing….

The beanbags for grownups: Before the pink poufs, there were Marcel Breuer Wassily chairs, “but we found we never sat in them,” says Eliana. “It felt too stiff for the space.” After switching them up for the more casual Muji beanbags, they use the space much more often. “I meditate on the beanbags under the dome and it’s pretty glorious!”

The DIY platform sofa: “When we moved in, that corner had a built-in plywood platform where the previous tenant had the bed,” says Eliana. But with their bed already on the opposite end of the loft, the couple decided to turn it into a sofa instead. They layered on carpet padding for comfort and Eliana spent two days just upholstering the base in pieces of African mud cloth. Finally, they finished it off with a few couch cushions left over from an old IKEA sofa.

The book nook: Hanging basic built-in bookcases from IKEA above the platform sofa transformed it into a cozy reading corner. Says Eliana, “We’re both pretty mindful about how much time we spend on our phones and computers, so we wanted to create a space where we could get lost in something that doesn’t have a screen.”

The rope shelf: “It’s a great way to free up valuable floor space while still having somewhere to plop your keys when you come home,” says Eliana. “You just need to make sure to anchor it with something heavy or it swings all over the place!” She and Patrick snagged it at the Long Beach Antique Market.

The makeshift kitchen island that doesn’t look makeshift: The butcher-block table was another IKEA find, same with the stools (they’re from the kids’ section!). “We have found overall that when renting, IKEA is your friend,” Eliana says. “If you really dig and get creative, they have a solution for so many design challenges, without having to invest too much in a space you don’t own.”

The dreamy monochromatic bedroom: There’s something about an all-white bed that reads ultra-luxurious, but Eliana didn’t spend a ton on the linens. “These are just the softest cotton ones I could find at Bed Bath Beyond,” she says.

Their genius storage solution: A lack of closet space was one of the apartment’s major challenges. “Because the built-in meditation seating goes all the way around the apartment, it’s impossible to put any real furniture – a wardrobe, for instance – against the walls,” says Eliana. “We’ve had to get really creative about storage, and just learn to live more minimally as well.” In their bedroom, they fashioned a hanging clothing rack out of a basic wood rod and rope from Home Depot. “It literally cost, like, ten dollars and took 15 minutes to install.”

The deck that doubles their living space: “We splurged on the wood deck,” says Eliana. “It’s a massive outdoor patio – as big as the apartment – but when we moved in it was bumpy old roofing. Outdoor space in Los Angeles is so valuable because you can really live outdoors for most of the year, so it was a good investment.”

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