This Sleek ADU in Los Angeles Makes the Case For Small-Space Living

It’s a pretty regular occurrence that we come across a space and think, “Hey, how’d you do that?” From custom built-ins to expert styling to genius pattern combinations, pros in the interior design business know just what to do to make a room or a home or even a coffee table stand out. So with this series, we’re asking them how to let us in on their secrets in the hope we can take our own spaces to the next level.

Today, we’re talking with jewelry designer and ceramicist Kathleen Whitaker, a true master of minimalism, who made her mark—designed, furnished, and appointed—on this tiny ADU in Los Angeles. The finished interior product maximizes efficiency and space but also includes comfortable, classic, and lux elements. Here’s how she did it:

Clever: What’s most important to you when designing a space?

Kathleen: As is the standard for so many tucked-away spots in Los Angeles, the hilltop views and light do all the work in this tiny space. With sliding doors and windows on three sides of this box, the immediate objective was to maximize the outdoor spaces and orient the layout to take in the views.

How do you approach a new concept or design? What do you do first?

I think a neutral, easy palette with scaled furniture pieces makes for a flexible and modular layout. The space is too small for a cacophony of color, so a mix of textures and materials in a muted palette is what suited the space. I also selected pieces that can easily move around for a variety of layouts—for the restless amongst us who like to change it up!

Open shelving isn’t for everyone, but if you love beautiful ceramics or want an excuse to buy more, this is a great reason to go that route. Show off your collection and make your space shine.


“In such a small space, it’s paramount to make every inch purposeful but integrated and concealed, because there is really no room for visual noise,” says Kathleen.


What’s your favorite detail of this space?

Wherever possible, I tried to incorporate hidden functionality and efficiency. So, a lot of the elements in the room are multitaskers: a kitchen cupboard houses a tiny dishwasher; a space above the under-counter refrigerator accommodates a retractable span of extra counter top. Two side-by-side IKEA cabinets were wall-mounted and topped with ply for continuity with the kitchen counter. With outlets on the interior of those cabinets, they house all manner of electronics, tech, and small appliances. But with the addition of a simple, customized plywood board, these cabinets convert to a standing desk. There is a void under the couch bench cushion that houses low-profile storage bins for infrequently used items.

The bed is a major multitasker, as its drawer-filled base serves as a wardrobe.


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