Anyone who has ever gone through the roommate search has heard the same horror story. You know, the one where your best friend’s cousin’s brother moved in with a seemingly normal stranger they found on Craigslist only to find out two weeks later that they host exorcisms in the dining room on the side?
Okay, so maybe we haven’t heard that exact story, but familiar tales of rancid dorm halls and haunted hostels have made their rounds. Luckily, one clever company is making it its mission to squash our roommate fears—and it’s doing it in style.
Since its launch three years ago, Common, a co-living startup with over 20 residences in seven cities, has made a name for itself as a fashionable alternative to traditional apartments. Not quite a hostel and not quite a studio, the company considers itself to be a transition home for single residents who are over the Craigslist hunt but aren’t quite ready to move to the burbs. On December 22, the company opened their first home in Los Angeles: Common Melrose.
“We know that living in a beautiful and highly functioning space can impact quality of life in a big way and also enhance the mood and attitude within a shared home,” says Sophie Wilkinson, head of design and construction for Common. “Los Angeles is such a lifestyle city, and Common is all about creating [an] excellent lifestyle and living in a meaningful community.”
Taking a cue from the West Coast’s laidback frame of mind, Common Melrose captures the quintessence of California-cool with a communal twist. Filled with breezy artwork, leafy greenery, and modern furnishings, its ultra-chic lodging will convince even the most introverted homebody that sharing actually is caring.
Located along Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, the bungalow-style house spans 8,800 square feet with a total of 24 bedrooms. As with all of Common’s 21 residences, the bedrooms are private, while the living and dining spaces and, in this case, a stellar roof deck with sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills are shared.
“Because co-living homes are intended to be shared, we consider creating space for informal, spontaneous interactions, [say], around an island bench or across a comfy sofa,” explains Wilkinson.
Thoughtful and textural details like the stucco walls, mixed wood accents, and decorative cement tiling make the shared house feel as personal as a permanent home.
“I’ve always been attracted to L.A. interiors; they’re laid back, comfortable, and often center around access to outdoors,” says Cait Gury, associate director of interior design for Common.
A soothing mix of white linens, camel leathers, and matte black fixtures serve as the basis for the color palette, while jute rugs and live-edge tables introduce organic texture.
“Layering in minimal abstract art, California landscapes, and real plants creates a home that makes you want to kick off your shoes and let out a deep exhale,” adds Gury.
Avoiding the stuffy, corporate furniture one might find in a hotel or office lobby, Gury approached each of the pre-furnished rooms with one rule in mind: Don’t buy the set. “I always stay away from furniture deals that come with a lounge chair to match the sofa to match the coffee table and, oh hey, it comes with matching throw pillows too!” she laughs.
While there are a time and place for symmetry and matchy-matchy prints, committing to identical pieces of furniture can be a recipe for a cold and uninviting space.
“If my sofa is a soft upholstery, I buy a chair in a contrasting material, like leather,” suggests Gury. “If my coffee table is rectangular, I buy a chair with a rounded back. Variation creates spaces that feel eclectic, curated, and thus super inviting and cozy.”
Designed to minimize clutter and increase functionality, each of the kitchens at Common Melrose boasts concealed trash cans, under-the-sink storage bins, and a spacious breakfast bar for socializing. While there might always be a lingering fear that someone will raid your secret snack stash, floor-to-ceiling windows, industrial island lighting, and ample counter space make it a happy place to gather.
Of course, every resident is privy to their own personal slice of privacy. Each bedroom at Common Melrose comes with a built-in closet, balcony, locally sourced artwork, and sleek furnishings. Ahead, we snagged Gury’s top three tips for a happier dwelling.
Get serious about storage
“But in a thoughtful way,” says Gury. “Look in your closet, under the bed, and over the doors. Utilize all possible space to smartly store your possessions. A decluttered space creates a decluttered mind, which is exactly what you need before bed.”
Rearrange and reassess regularly
“About once every three months, I edit my clothes, knickknacks, decor, and more. I ask myself, have I worn this, this past year? Does this object make me feel good? If not, I put it in a donate pile. It feels good to pare down your possessions,” says the designer.
Most importantly, make your space your own
“When you’re in a transient phase in your life, it feels rewarding to add personal touches to your private space to remind yourself of the things you love, the places you’ve been, and what makes you happy. Take time to hang some personal art, display the vase you picked up on your last holiday, and pin up that sweet note from a loved one,” suggests Gury.
With rent starting at $1,550 per month for a 12-month lease, Common Melrose offers an affordable alternative to a traditional studio apartment, which would cost anywhere between 15% to 25% more, according to the company.
If drinking your morning coffee alongside new friends, not spending a small fortune on a new living room sofa, and always having someone to go to yoga with are on your must-have list, forget the expensive studio: Co-living is the next best thing to happen to renters.
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