Name: Juan Velasquez
Location: Highland Park — Los Angeles, California
Size: 460 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, rented
About five years ago, the house Juan shared with two friends in Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock neighborhood was sold, forcing him to move out. That’s when he stumbled upon this current apartment in Highland Park. It was at the top of his budget, and as a punk musician and record store employee at the time, he says it was out of reach because he had terrible credit. But with some extra help from his mom as a co-signer, he was on his way to acquiring his first “grown-up” apartment.
Five years later, Juan feels a bit more grounded, and continues to play music and gravitate towards the Los Angeles punk scene. His apartment shows all of the growth he’s experienced in the past few years, but remains playful, colorful, child-like, and nerdy (his words). “I really like having a place to my own to be as weird as I want decor-wise,” he says. His shelves are filled with playful knick-knacks like chatter teeth toys, skulls, Bart Simpson and Pee-wee Herman dolls, and bootleg Justin Bieber sculptures. “I’m not sure how many roommates would let me put up half the crap I have on my shelves and walls.”
Having his own apartment also means that Juan is able to pay it forward by hosting his touring musician friends. He’s toured the country with his former band Abe Vigoda (he’s in a band called Lunch Lady now), so he knows the struggle of finding a reliable place to stay after a show. “I love being able to host friends that are in touring bands, visiting town, or even just wanting to crash after a night of going out,” he says. “After years of touring and crashing on people’s floors all over the country, I can appreciate a place that is comfortable and has a nice shower, so I love being able to treat people who are traveling through.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Colorful, kitschy, child-like, nerdy, and modern.
Inspiration: Definitely Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I loved that show as a kid and really loved the set design. Later, I realized that Memphis Milano is what that style is sort of like, so I would consider that an inspiration as well. I really like children’s furniture and found that it is most aligned with my personal taste. I have found awesome Soviet-era children’s lamps, mid-century nursery side tables, and kids’ desks on Amazon! Another big one is my love of music, hence all the band posters in my room. Things don’t change much from high school, apparently.
Favorite Element: My frame collage wall. I really love the collection of stuff I have up. There is art by some really good friends — Jess Scott, Sean Solomon, Aaron Jupin, Anja Salonen, Cali Thornhill Dewitt, and Paul Morgan — as well as stuff by Johnny Ryan, Joan Cornella and Matt Groening. It’s pretty much the focal point of my apartment, I think.
Biggest Challenge: Since my place is so small, limiting the amount of knick-knacks and art I can fit on my walls is a challenge. I am by no means a minimalist, but I still don’t want to make it look too crowded with stuff. I might have failed that though!
What Friends Say: “Wow, you have a lot of plants!” and that it’s “cute” and “cozy.”
Biggest Embarrassment: I’m not super embarrassed, but I sorta hate my couch. I think it’s a really ugly color, but it is super comfortable and I have lots of friends crash here and they love it. So, I’m probably not getting a new one anytime soon.
Proudest DIY: My bookshelf. It’s made of some cheap IKEA shelves and one invisible book shelf from Urban Outfitters, but I stacked them on top of each other on an unassuming small wall, which saved me tons of space to not get a proper giant bookshelf. I think that space would have been wasted and I’m proud that I figured that out, plus I like that the books reach the ceiling.
Biggest Indulgence: All the speakers in the house. There are two in the living room and three in my bedroom. They weren’t incredibly expensive and they are by no means the most high-end audiophile quality speakers, but they are decent and also a cute bright white color. So, they fit into my apartment’s overall look. It’s hard to find audio equipment that is reasonably priced and not an eyesore.
Best Advice: As far as design goes, since I don’t really know what I’m doing, I just find things that make me happy to look at, which is probably why I have so much stuff in my apartment. Also, if you get things in all different colors, nothing has to match!
Dream Sources: If I could own any Memphis Milano furniture, it would be incredible. Unfortunately, I don’t think I am in the right tax bracket for such things! Also, an original set piece from Pee-wee’s Playhouse or some original Gary Panter art would be a dream!
Yellow writing desk — ModHaus Living via Amazon
Soviet era child’s lamp — Etsy
Southwest-themed corner shelf — Etsy
Wall Hanging Aquarium Bowl — Amazon
White speakers — Amazon
Arm/boyfriend pillow — Amazon
Large painting — Anja Salonen
Freddy Krueger drawing — Johnny Ryan
I Say No To Everything print — Cali Thornhill Dewitt
Roses animated poster — Sean Solomon
Elementary school nutritional posters — Etsy
Mini shopping cart (banana holder) — Gift
No Age, Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda tour poster — Paul Morgan
Small sculptures — Aubrey Hornor Ceramics
Balloon lamp — Yves Christin for Bilumen 1975