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Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio

by Sofia Tuovinen

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

Setbacks in life can be huge lessons. The battles that push us to our limits can make us stronger, teach us patience and determination and keep us focused on bravely moving on when we finally come out on the other side. Anh Luu, a copywriter and part-time lifestyle blogger, knows that we shouldn’t take things — like having a job or a beautiful home — for granted.

A couple of years ago, she went through a very difficult period in life, both emotionally and financially. “You completely lose your sense of self-confidence, security, and worth,“ she explains. Eventually, pieces of her life started to fall into place. For Anh, it was always her faith that kept her going. In 2014, she founded her blog, Girl and the Word, as a creative way to share her thoughts with others. “I am honestly most thankful to God because He helped me out of such a tough emotional and financial disaster,” she explains. “[He] gave me a great job, and enabled me to support myself and have a comfortable roof over my head.”

Eight months ago, Anh moved into the 600-square-foot Los Angeles studio she now calls home. When she first walked in, she instantly fell in love. The space was a complete blank canvas, but Anh knew precisely what she could do to make it her personal haven. “I had a clear vision of exactly what I wanted the studio to look like, and I absolutely fell in love with that vision. I couldn’t let it go!” she says. Anh soon began sharing her decorating process and DIY projects on her blog and social media. It didn’t take long before thousands of new followers began flocking to her accounts for design inspiration!

From the start, Anh wanted to create an industrial-boho feel that she couldn’t quite find anywhere else. She designed her entire home to complement the kitchen, which lends itself perfectly to the industrial look. To make the studio feel more like a warehouse loft, Anh has played around with wallpaper to create beautiful trompe-l’œil effects — the walls that look like real exposed brick, concrete and subway tile are in fact all wallpapered! The wall textures may be illusions, but for Anh the project was very concrete. “It took me months to put up those different wallpapers by myself. To me, they are just as real as the real thing because [of] the time and sweat I poured into these projects.”

After overcoming her struggles, Anh is more thankful for her blessings than ever. She shares, “having come out of that mess and earning a decently large following on Instagram for having a beautiful space… well, I’m still quite speechless as to how all that has happened.” Scroll down to see how Anh has incorporated her personal touches to the once plain studio space! — Sofia

Photography by Anh Luu / @girlandtheword

Image above: Anh used wallpaper to create an exposed brick effect on the back wall of her studio. When the brick wallpaper arrived, Anh realized that it wasn’t of the renter-friendly peel and stick kind. “After doing some research, I figured out a fun way to make the wallpaper completely removable. I made a blog post out of that discovery and it turned out to be quite helpful for other renters!” she shares.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

To complete her vision for the studio, Anh wanted to mount a bike on the wall. “It turned out that lifting [it] took tremendous effort because the different parts kept moving around while I was trying to balance on my piano,” she explains. Not a technique to be tried out alone!

Trompe-L’œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

During the daytime, the bed serves as a lounging area. “I borrowed that guitar from my boyfriend in hopes of learning it, but all I did that entire week was use it as an accent piece to enhance my studio… whoops!” Anh confesses.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

Anh’s Yamaha piano stands next to the bed and has become an instrumental part of her studio.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

“I just love the natural light that floods into my room. It makes the entire space feel so heavenly – even in real life!” Anh shares. She used wallpaper to create an illusion of both exposed brick and concrete.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

“My favorite thing to do in the morning is to drink honey green tea and read the scriptures in my little sanctuary. I feel like it’s one of the greatest luxuries ever.”

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

A view of the monochrome kitchen from bed. “It’s funny because I’m not big on cooking at all, but the kitchen is actually my favorite part of my apartment,” Anh adds.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

Anh has poured her heart into her studio, sharing each step of the decorating process on her blog. “I still can’t believe what a remarkable journey it’s been to share my tiny studio with the world!” she exclaims.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

The island separates the kitchen from the rest of the studio, and is perfect for entertaining guests. The concrete wallpaper adds to the industrial look that Anh wanted to achieve.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

A brass bar cart from Target is one of the most noticeable pieces in Anh’s studio. “When I first spotted it online, I knew I had to get it. I don’t even drink wine that often! It just adds such a charming feel to my room.”

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

“This is where I do all of my unwinding, planning, and praying. I’m so blessed to have a warm bed, a roof over my head, and a boy who constantly refills these mason jars with new blooms,” Anh shares.

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

“I consider coziness to be one of the most important aspects of a home,” Anh explains. “I love my home because it emanates warmth – literally and figuratively. It’s so well insulated that even at the peak of LA winter it was still warm enough in my apartment to walk around without socks.”

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

You’d never guess it without looking close enough, but the subway tile in the bathroom is also trompe-l’œil wallpaper!

Trompe-L’Œil Effects in a Los Angeles Studio | Design*Sponge

“My little 600-square-foot studio isn’t large or extravagant by any means, but it offers me everything I need to keep being inspired. It’s my personal art studio,” Anh shares.


Living Area / Bedroom

Exposed brick wallpaper – Etsy
Concrete wallpaper – Etsy
Cactus prints – Etsy
Floor Lamp – Target
Bed frame – Wayfair
Laptop desk – Amazon
Bedding – CStudio Home
Rug – eSaleRugs
Hanging egg chair – Amazon

Bar cart – Target
Vinyl floor tiles – Etsy
Planters – Target
Stools – Amazon

Subway tile wallpaper – Target



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