Before + After

This 500-Square-Foot Los Angeles Garage Became a “Moroccan Industrial” Studio

Hema Persad combined her two favorite influences for a distinct look

AFTER: Hema leans against her Boos Block work table, which she originally purchased for displaying jewelry and accessories. Now, she uses it to review tiles and fabrics.


When Hema Persad began converting her unfinished Burbank, California, garage into a home office, she was working as a stylist for celebrities like Kate Hudson and Madonna. She imagined hosting glamorous fittings in the 500-square-foot unit, so she maximized it for oversized mirrors and racks of couture clothing. But as the project was completed, Hema’s interior design hobby went viral. She was suddenly overwhelmed with requests, so she decided to leave fashion and become a full-time decorator.

Fortunately, the new studio functions just as well for designing homes as it (briefly) did for dressing the stars. With a neutral backdrop that’s ideal for comparing samples and extensive shelving where Hema can experiment with styling vintage treasures, it seems like the space was always intended for this purpose. “Everything I’ve ever needed for this next step [in my career] has already been there, so I definitely feel that it’s a meant-to-be thing,” she muses.

BEFORE: “We basically took it from a 500-square-foot, no-electrical garage to a fully functioning workspace,” Hema says.

AFTER: “The wall unit was all custom-built, and I got my inspiration from a Scandinavian home on Pinterest,” Hema says. “I wanted to be able to move the shelves up and down as necessary. I chose a warmer-toned wood and the black tracks to go with the ceiling.”


Serendipity was certainly in play, but Hema’s atelier easily adapted to her job switch because it was expertly crafted in the first place. She thoughtfully transformed the unfinished structure—which once had a dirt floor and no electricity—with an open plan, high-quality materials, and a “Moroccan industrial” aesthetic. “I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but I was trying to figure out how I could marry the two,” Hema admits.

The unexpected hybrid of influences offers a flawless balance of utilitarianism and cozy character. Clean white walls, a black slatted ceiling, and durable concrete floors are juxtaposed with soulful bohemian rugs and an aged brass light fixture. Meanwhile, a sleek modular storage system is filled with thrifted art, clay pots, and lots of greenery. “I’m a major plant person,” Hema says. “They just add that warm, lived-in, welcoming feeling.”

BEFORE: Hema had a blank slate to create her ideal studio.

AFTER: “The counter is matte porcelain, which most clients never want to use because they’re afraid of it,” Hema explains. “In my dream space, I don’t care about what the most practical material is. And by the way, porcelain is really practical—it’s just a tough install, so people get scared. But I didn’t want to take the safe route. I wanted what I wanted.”


In the kitchenette, veined porcelain surfaces look striking next to mushroom-hued cupboards, woven stools from Morocco, and a Boos Block work table made of maple and stainless steel. “I wanted a statement area because I wanted to feel inspired,” Hema explains. “So I spent more money to do a really dramatic countertop and backsplash, and I picked a cabinetry color that just made me happy.”

AFTER: Hema had always admired this sculptural Soho Home chandelier and finally bought it for this project.


The living area is primed for productivity breaks and occasional overnight guests, with a wall-mounted TV, a set of BassamFellows Petal chairs that Hema snagged at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and a comfortable Article sleeper couch. “I’ve always wanted a white sofa, but with kids that’s just not possible,” she reasons. “So I felt like if I could do it anywhere, it would be in here.”

Hema spends the majority of her days in front of her computer, seated in a cantilevered leather chair at her midcentury-modern West Elm desk. Though it’s the simplest section of her studio, it’s where she gets the most work done. “I just wanted to look out the window at my backyard and have a corner that I enjoy sitting in,” she says. Of course, she made it happen.

AFTER: A large Crate & Barrel mirror, originally intended for fittings, adds dimension to the space.