Denim Week

How to Design a Minimalist Space That Still Feels Warm

Take it from Citizens of Humanity’s creative director, Catherine Ryu.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Tristan Kallas

When looking at the people behind some of our favorite lines in the world, it’s usually safe to assume their personal style is excellent. And “personal style” doesn’t stop at someone’s wardrobe, generally—their homes are also worth a peek.

This is certainly the case with Catherine Ryu, Citizens of Humanity’s Creative Director. Beyond her denim-filled closet (which is organized by wash and year) her home is a minimalist’s dream. And whereas most stark living spaces feel somewhat spartan and bare, Ryu’s is warm, thanks to her oak floors and lovingly collected furniture.

The denim guru gave us a tour of her Hollywood Hills home, pointing out how she keeps the open and airy loft feeling welcoming and comfortable, but still pulled together.


“The apartment is located in the foothills of Sunset Plaza, Hollywood Hills. It’s 1,450 square feet with 9-foot ceilings and an open, light-filled layout. My apartment is minimal/contemporary, but I wanted it to feel warm and livable without being too stark. Natural Belgian oak wood floors bring a lot of warmth. Most of my furniture is in the mid-century modern style, which suits condo living. I’ve been collecting pieces since I was in my mid-20s. The Knoll dining table I purchased while still living at home with my parents!”

“It’s definitely more challenging to not work with an interior designer, but as a creative person, your home is an extension of your creative outlet, and I believe in expressing my point of view. I wanted my personal taste to guide me in creating my home… It’s a work in progress!”

“I kept to the color scheme of beige and grey tones. The living room is accented with black and the raspberry color of the B&B Italia Metropolitan Swivel Arm Chairs.”

“I love the airiness of the loftlike open-floor plan. The kitchen/dining room/living room has floor-to-ceiling windows that have a view of a beautiful treetop. I purposely did not have curtains so the green treetop view became the focal point, like artwork. It rejuvenates me when I walk into my house to see nature’s work!”

“Many of the artwork or furniture pieces are things I’ve collected from Stockholm, Paris, Korea and Japan. I have many 1930s dishes from Korea and Japan, as well as commissioned pottery dish pieces from Korea.”

“Effortless, stylish and cool is what I aim for [with my style]. It’s vintage tomboy with a touch of high fashion!”

“All of the rooms in the apartment—the living room and my two bedrooms—have 9-foot ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows, which [was] important to me.”

“I have a few spots that I frequent around the world for home pieces—Rosebowl Flea Market in L.A., Portobello Roadmarket and Spitalfields in London, a few spots in NYC, and [some in] Tokyo.”

“I really wanted a home that felt peaceful, where I can decompress after work. My day is filled with color and creative disorder, so I like going home to a peaceful, serene place.”

“Denim fabric is unique in a way; from raw form, it transforms to something completely different after wash. In raw form and at first glance, the denim fabrics look like the same dark blue cloth. Then you put the fabric through the wash processes and the fabric charter comes alive, and everything varies in construction and color. The more you get to spend time with denim fabric, the more you realize all the endless shades and looks you can create.”

“Fashion is such a hectic life; we’re always chasing the clock. So it was a very welcome change, moving to L.A., where the pace is slightly more relaxed. The constant 72-degree sunshine helps. Also, by the time I had decided to move to L.A. I was pretty much committed to denim for life, and this is the only place in the world where denim is thriving. I’m so excited to be here.”

Part of the series:

Denim Week