I’m just catching my breath from my latest SpeedDesign, which I’m honored and excited to have done on Good Morning America! The show offered me a challenge: turn a ho-hum Airbnb space into a wow—with a week-or-less timeline and a $500 budget. Love before-and-afters? Read on…
First off, if you found me because you caught the segment, thank you for watching and welcome! I’m Kimba Hills, a design expert who got her start many moons ago in the art department of Francis Ford Coppola’s studio, Zoetrope. You know about “Hollywood magic”? That was me. So making fast changes for big impact are my specialty. Today, from my bungalow office in gorgeous Santa Monica, California, I offer SpeedDesign, which is a lot like interior decorating…if it were done ultra fast and without such a big price tag. I’m also a lifelong vintage shopper with a keen eye for treasures, so I have an inventory of goodies I can draw on as part of my design transformations. Finally, I run a shop called rumba where I sell beautiful things for the home.
That brings me to my latest SpeedDesign job: an Airbnb studio in Oceanside, California, about 40 miles outside San Diego. Its owner, Betsy Hall, is an energy engineer supporting the U.S. Marine Corps. She converted her garage into an Airbnb bungalow, but it lacked the cozy, inviting look she really wanted it to have. Enter: me.
Located within walking distance of shops, restaurants and the beach, this spot could be a budget traveler’s dream. But the cement block coffee table, bare floor and simple sofa weren’t so inviting.
Now, this looks more like a cozy getaway! Here’s how I made it happen…
- Gave it the slip. The sofa needed a cover. No upholstery necessary! I had a roll of off-white cotton fabric, and draped the sofa with it in lieu of a slip cover.
- Floored ’em. The striking black-and-white wool rug was one of the bigger investments—about $200 at IKEA—but it became the focal point around which I built the room. I think it really pulls the space together, plus it feels cozy underfoot.
- Got screen-ready. The screen, which is also from IKEA, masks a coat rack and linens area. By sectioning off the room, I gave the studio a more expansive feel. The café table and chairs (also from IKEA!) and the Brown Jordan coffee tables turn the bungalow into a mixed-use space where guests can each find their own favorite spot.
- Colored in details. I added a shot of green throughout, for interest: the green chair and throw pillows (from rumba), and the mid-century ceramic pots in the kitchen (from an antiques mall in Palm Springs).
- Got the picture. Wall space is prime property in small spaces like this one. Adding pictures under the loft makes it feel more like a living room, while the international time zone clocks (IKEA!) suggest a sense of travel and adventure.
Betsy was thrilled with the way her Airbnb turned out, and I bet her guests will be, too. From pretty linens to cute cookware, now, it’s a real home away from home. So if you’re ever in Oceanside, look her up!
Is there something you see in the photos that I haven’t mentioned here? Seeking a product source? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll fill you in!