This 850 square-foot bungalow is the first official place that Alisha Agrellas and her fiancé called home together. “I think there’s a lot to be said for that instinctual, gut feeling you have when you enter a space,” she says. “The bungalow emulated good vibes from the moment we walked in. One of the things we immediately gravitated towards the most are its massive, westward facing windows and the abundance of bright, natural light.”

The burgeoning designer (she’s the Principal at boutique California design firm, Honné Studio) says they lucked out when they found a place that had solid bones. “The bungalow features original, restored oak wood flooring throughout, along with crown molding that gives the space an additional element of charm,” she shares. “The kitchen also received a refresh prior to being listed – and an updated kitchen is oftentimes a rarity when it comes to Santa Monica rentals.”

With that being said, she made two ‘renter-friendly’ changes immediately upon moving in: new window treatments and light fixtures. In the living and dining rooms, she installed custom Roman shades in a textured grassweave, while French linen panels in a relaxed stonewash hang in the bedroom. “For lighting, we opted for a farmhouse gooseneck fixture above the bathroom vanity and swapped out the rest of the bathroom hardware to matte black for consistency,” she explains. “A common theme with rentals tends to be a lack of overhead lighting, so we also installed an oversized, woven pendant above the seating area in the living room for some added ambiance.”

Another great element of the bungalow is the flood of natural light from the westward windows. “The bungalow is surrounded by palms and rich, green foliage so it immediately transports you away to your own little oasis,” Alisha says. “I wanted to extend that feeling of the outdoors and bring those elements of greenery in – I find they infuse life and dimension into a space –so you’ll find plants – such as the snake-plant and fiddle leaf (sourced from Rolling Greens and The Sill) layered throughout our living space for height and texture.”

The living room is home to a few of the designer’s favorite pieces: a woven, leather accent chair sourced from Bali, vintage maps passed down to her fiancé from his grandfather (with custom frames by Stuart Collective), and an abundance of ceramics and beads sourced from local boutiques, like The Garage Collective, Burro Goods, Goodies LA, and The Bead Chest SM. As a Newport Beach native, Alisha wanted to make sure that everything had that natural, lived-in feel that California is known for. “Lots of warmth, texture, and intentional layering, which is what the design work of Honné Studio has really been founded upon,” she tells us.

Alisha made a few other choices to upgrade their rental that are landlord approved. “I’m a huge believer in the power of wallpaper – it truly has made such a comeback! And it allows you to take a rental space to the next level. To infuse some extra personality into the bathroom, I choose these Etsy wall decals which, bonus, are removable and just all around incredibly easy to work with.” She also tells us to never underestimate the power of good styling. “Invest in some anchor pieces that will stand the test of time and accompany you from home to home!”

With savvy design decision and a space that embodies her design aesthetic through and through, Alisha is happy to call the rental home for many more years to come. She concludes, “We’ve been here for just about two years and often talk about how we can hold on to the property forever.”