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What do you get when you match a former Adidas designer, who has worked on collections for the likes of Beyoncé, with a new rental in North Hollywood? Through Victoria Adesanmi’s eyes, at least, a blank slate ready for a new vibe. The vibe, in this case, being: Vacay all day.

Photography by Michael Esho

After a trip to Tulum got canceled in 2020, the designer and founder of Aesthetics Studios decided to bring the beach to her SoCal apartment instead. And because Adesanmi sleeps best on vacation, she transformed her blank box bedroom into a tropical paradise. Mexico, in all its richly layered glory, was the perfect starting point. “I get carried away by places,” she says. “I was thinking Tulum: the neutrality, textures, natural materials, and craftsmanship detailing.”

The bedroom, before.
Courtesy of Victoria Adesanmi

Now when she walks into her bedroom, it’s like stepping into a calming oasis. “Every space you enter should evoke an emotion,” says Adesanmi. “Let that lead you. Don’t just follow a design style or trend. Instead, activate the senses.” Here’s how she brings it all home.

Broaden Your Sources

When kicking off a project, Adesanmi creates mood boards—but maybe not how you’d think. “The Internet can be a great resource,” she says, “but it all starts to look the same. I really lean into reference books. A ton of designers put their best stuff in books, so it’s not even online. I go through stacks and stacks of coffee-table books with a whole bunch of stickies.” Another pro tip: Always test out materials in person when possible. “I started in fashion doing color and material design,” she says. “I have to see a physical sample! I look at them in my space and at different times of day. That’s how I start to ideate and create.”

Don’t Copy and Paste

Though Tulum was Adesanmi’s inspiration, she didn’t want to re-create it so exactly that her room felt like an out-of-place movie set. “Pick and choose from the elements you’re drawn to,” she says. “Like I love Tulum’s monochrome hotels and how the wall finishes are executed, but I was thinking: How do I make it work for me in my actual home?” While some would be intimidated to overhaul an apartment, Adesanmi rose to the challenge. She wanted to paint, so opted for Dune Shack, a limewash from Portola Paints that creates a lived-in texture. The rental’s vertical blinds? “My biggest pet peeve,” she says. “So I added window treatments.” As a solve for the conspicuous lack of built-in ceiling lights, she suspended handwoven pendant lamps from Etsy from the ceiling.

Think in Future Tense

For every piece Adesanmi purchased, she envisioned it later living in her future place. “I wanted to make sure everything I bought was an investment,” she says, “and these pieces will be in my guest room when I purchase a home. I tell people there’s nothing wrong with IKEA—you can definitely cut costs with certain pieces there—but if you have a bunch of moves coming up and are having to disassemble and reassemble the furniture, it might have a hard time making the transition with you.”

Add Finishing Touches

“I love to support small businesses,” says Adesanmi. “I source from Etsy, the Melrose Trading Post, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and Black artists like Anthony Akinbola and Élan Byrd. When you shop small, you have a connection to the item, and it becomes like a collectible.” She also shopped small, literally: “I didn’t have a ton of room for a nightstand,” she says, “so I bought a kids’ version from Restoration Hardware! The more petite size is perfect.”