This isn’t the first time we’ve featured this Bay Area apartment — but you’ve never seen it like this before. The transformation of the home has been huge — from a monochromatic workspace to a layered retreat with plenty of old-world charm. It makes sense that the design would change frequently — one of California’s top interior stylists calls it home, so there’s always room for new ideas and decor tricks. Over the years, Bianca Sotelo has slowly and intently turned her apartment from a “starter home” to a thoughtful reflection of her aesthetic. She’s ripped up carpet, painted and repainted, and brought home treasures from around the globe. We wanted to know more about the process and spoke with the tastemaker to learn more:
We’ve featured your home before. Tell us a bit about the evolution of the apartment!
It’s safe to say it looks completely different now! It took a few years to build up layers in the space and, for me to discover what my style really is. I decided I liked color — who knew from my years of black and white — so the walls got a splash of teal and french blue paint. I rearranged a million and one times and after a lot of trial and error, I finally landed on a layout that feels right for the tricky, small apartment.
How would you describe your style?
I once knew how to describe my style in words and now, I think it’s less of a particular “style” and more, just me. I love antiques and vintage finds so my style definitely incorporates those. I love high contrast colors, despite my current obsession for monochromatic moments, and I always have a dose of glamour somewhere. My favorite interiors to gawk at are extremely layered and full of old world character. They don’t really have one look nor are they highly curated, but filled with magical pieces and curiosities.
That is certainly reflected here. The bathroom was recently updated right?
The bathroom was beige-brown from floor and super dated. The vanity literally was rotting and the light fixture hadn’t been dusted since 1985. I can’t believe I lived with it in that state for so long. I finally decided to put in a small investment and boy, what a difference a few bucks makes!
Making over the bathroom composed of 3 main parts: re-tiling the floor, painting the walls and installing a new vanity. I picked out super affordable tiles from Home Depot and the cheapest vanity I could find at Ikea. I customized the vanity with some beautiful lucite and brass pulls in order to elevate the look. The project only took a few days to complete — I’m lucky it’s a small bathroom, and also that my dad is a handy man! *insert ‘thankful hands’ emoji*
The bedroom is a gorgeous color! How did you decide on a palette?
It all started with an art piece (that wasn’t captured in this shoot, but still on the other bedroom wall!) and a call for a monochromatic project. I was hired to put together a monochrome editorial and instead of going for an abstract story, I thought, let’s make an entire room monochrome, and offered up my bedroom for the shoot! The art piece had beautiful green teal colors in it, so I decided to pull its darkest teal shade for the walls and decorate from there! Since that shoot, I’ve restyled a little, but the jewel tone palette is still a fave!
It sounds like your work as a stylist influences your home decor.
I’m able to experiment a lot “at work”. I play within the different styles of my clients and under the different art directions of each shoot. So instead of work being a direct influence, I think it indirectly helps me hone in on my own style. It allows me to appreciate all styles, and get my fix for modern or minimal or colorful or boho, while guiding my heart to what I really want to bring back into my home. Also, let’s be honest, I’m always out shopping so it’s hard NOT to bring a little somethin’ somethin’ back to my own home.
On that note, you have a pulse on the newest, coolest design shops and brands. What are some of your favorite resources when sourcing?
Currently, I’m constantly turning to Artfully Walls for affordable and really cool art. Etsy is a great go-to for unique, vintage or hand-made pieces. I find everything from Turkish rugs to ceramics there, and they’re all in one place, with a good search engine, which makes it convenient. Sites like EBTH and Craigslist — I could troll for hours! Estate sales and Salvation Army are my jam. Oh, and Home Goods… I wouldn’t dare let any million dollar homeowner tell me Home Goods isn’t a great place for decor! Ha.