Market Friday

Today was a particularly successful one for me at the Venice Farmer's Market. Look at this pokeweed! EPIC. (Folks with kids and pets-- be careful if you put this branch in/around your home, as it's toxic. Luckily our pups aren't interested in trying to eat it.) This is my favorite branch to use in the house-- it's full and leafy, yet simple to cut and arrange. Plus it doesn't shed. The subdued plum-rose tone of the vines adds a pop of color without being too noisy for those of us who lean towards neutral tones. 

I love to liven up our home with market greenery, as it allows me to change up the look as frequently as I want, without causing clutter, creating waste or costing much money. These branches were $10 total, and will last for at least a week.

I also stocked up on fresh produce for the weekend. At nearly 31 weeks pregnant, the baby and I are craving citrus, watermelon and peaches these days. There was no need to buy berries-- as you can see, we have PLENTY of grapes growing in our tiny garden right now! 

Cozy in the Cottage

I decided to take a few weeks away from the blog in mid/late July and just stay calm and cozy in the Cottage. But as the month is somehow already over, we're back! August will be fairly crazy for both my creative firm and my personal brand, so I felt like it was wise to rest up before-hand (especially since I was particularly wiped during the transition into my third trimester). This post recaps a bit of what we were up to these past weeks. While I was still running my creative firm from my home-office, I took a significant amount of time to declutter in anticipation of the baby's arrival, relax when possible, and organize the little things that I'm sure we won't have time to tackle once our son is here.

PUPPY LOVE |  First and foremost, we took time to overly-smother our pups with love. Everyone says that pets get neglected when a new baby arrives. We hope that won't be the case for us, but we wanted to give Stanlee (10 yrs old) and Sophee (1 yr old) as much attention and affection as possible, just in case:

We also had another health scare with Sophee a couple weeks back, and we were terrified that she wasn't going to pull through this time. Luckily this little adopted beagle is one hell of a fighter, and she is nearly fully back to her normal "Menace of Venice" behavior already. 

Above: Sophee upon returning from emergency treatment at the pet hospital.

Above: Sophee upon returning from emergency treatment at the pet hospital.

DECLUTTERING | While you can't see most of the decluttering we did, we certainly did a TON. We donated several car loads of clothing, shoes, home goods, dishware, and books. It feels good to see the surface of the Cottage looking so simple, and to know that simplicity is echoed behind every cabinet and within every drawer:

ENTERTAINING | We did some very low-key entertaining at home. I didn't feel much like going out (just too damn tired), but several of our amazing friends were sweet enough to make the trek to Venice to hang out at the Cottage:

Above: Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow, Erica Reitman, and Jennifer Harrison of Flea Market Fab having dinner at the Cottage.

Above: Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow, Erica Reitman, and Jennifer Harrison of Flea Market Fab having dinner at the Cottage.

Above: Lindsay Hollinger of Casa Joshua Tree (with Adam, Sophee and Stanlee's stub-tail) in the Cottage garden.

Above: Lindsay Hollinger of Casa Joshua Tree (with Adam, Sophee and Stanlee's stub-tail) in the Cottage garden.

Above: My life-long bestie Nell (also pregnant!) and her husband Chandler visited the Cottage and canals for a summer movie night along the water. Nell officiated our home wedding and co-hosted my bride tribe gathering back in May.

Above: My life-long bestie Nell (also pregnant!) and her husband Chandler visited the Cottage and canals for a summer movie night along the water. Nell officiated our home wedding and co-hosted my bride tribe gathering back in May.

HOSTING | We hosted some video and photo shoots here throughout the month. Once those wrapped, we spent time messing the house back up with my three year-old Nephew Finn and his infant brother, Digby. We enjoyed the outdoor section of the nursery with Digby, and started harvesting the grapes off the Cottage vine with Finn: 

EVENTS | I did manage to make it out of the house for a few events, my favorite being this tastemaker dinner at Rolling Greens. How dreamy is this set-up at their LA location? (And how easy is it to pick out the giant 6'-tall preggo in the photo below?)

Despite all the sickness-- both Sophee's and my own-- it was a wonderful, peaceful month. I feel so grateful and so damn lucky to be surrounded by so much love and beauty. 

I'll leave you with this-- my favorite Boomerang thus far. Here is our 10 yr-old adopted beagle-mix, Stanlee, leaping up onto the dishwasher while trying to scare a squirrel through the window. It makes me smile every time I see it... 

Basics Don't Have to be Boring

I'm obviously a fan of keeping things simple. From color palettes to every-day goods and clothing, "the basics" help me save space and money, without sacrificing versatility or creative expression. Here's how.

DECOR - In small spaces, I've found that it's usually best to functionally decorate with neutral + white tones. They reflect light and allow a space to feel bigger than it truly is. Once you have the key items in place (in your cohesive color palette), liven things up and keep yourself from getting bored with your surroundings by using throws and market florals. You don't have to buy an entirely new coffee table to switch up the look and feel of your small living room-- just clip some fresh greenery from around the neighborhood and swap out your pillow covers and/or throw blankets on your sofa, and voila! It's amazing what a difference this can make, and all for a very low cost. (There are dozens of examples of this on my Instagram account.) Donate your old blankets to a local non-profit or a disaster relief organization-- they can always use the goods, and you won't need to find a place to store your old stuff.

This basic approach has helped me learn how to stop searching for "the next thing" and just be happy with what I have here at home. I've accumulated fewer belongings, and have found a wonderful level of contentment in the present. It's also why I'm so obsessed with my Friday morning market missions-- they've become a creative outlet / little weekly art project that helps me refresh and continually enjoy our tiny home:

WARDROBE - Applying the same technique to my wardrobe has made sharing a (small) closet with Adam an easy task (images & info on our clothing storage here). By sticking to the basics and using a few bright accessories to layer and liven up my look, I never get tired of my clothing-- and I don't have to routinely buy new articles that I'll then have to store. (Did you read the wonderful write-up in The New York Times  by Carl Richards about this cyclical issue? I highly recommend it: "New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine")

I will admit, one of the things that I really DO need storage for is my collection of market baskets, all of which I use on a weekly basis for the aforementioned purposes, and for carting botanicals to-and-from photo shoots. Luckily I found this vintage basket rack on Everything But The House, and I love it. It's simple, pretty, practical, and it brings me joy every day when I see it. (Sophee chewed through the plant that was there for the past 5 years anyway, so it was time to find a beautiful and useful replacement piece.) 

So I challenge you to liven things up in your home & closet by paring your belongings down!

The Cottage Wedding on Domino, HouseBeautiful, Huffington Post, CB2, and Country Living!

Photos and tips from our tiny house wedding are now up on Domino! Additionally, we are thrilled to say that our home ceremony was also featured by HouseBeautiful, Huffington Post, CB2, and Country Living! WHOA! Sincere thanks to everyone who has shared the story, and left kind comments about our "big" day!

Full wedding blog post here. Wedding video here.

Small Spaces + Pregnancy (Week 26)

This weekend marks the 26th week of my pregnancy! We've made numerous behind-the-scenes changes around here in preparation for our baby boy's arrival in October. Thus far it's been a lot of simplifying and decluttering. We will tackle the majority of the nursery makeover in August and September, and I'll be sure to share photos, tips and resources when that time comes.

But before we consider the more pin-worthy projects (such as wallpaper, specialty cribs and multi-functional nursery goods,) we should address an obvious obstacle when it comes to small spaces and pregnancy: how do you handle the inevitable wardrobe transformation when you barely have any closet space to begin with? As your belly balloons outward, where do you keep the newly acquired maternity and/or pregnancy-friendly clothing and personal care items? 

First, it's important to start with the fundamentals of downsizing. Nobody likes to hear the following, but I've found that these are truly the two handiest tricks when it comes to dealing with clutter and storage, regardless of your square-footage:

1. JUST GET RID OF IT. This is the single best tip for living well in a small space. You don't need to devise clever storage solutions when you don't have much crap to store in the first place.

2. ONLY BUY WHAT YOU REALLY NEED. Controlling what you bring into your home is the best way to avoid accumulating clutter. 

So! What do you NEED when it comes to maternity clothing? My jeans stopped fitting midway through my first trimester, yet these are the only new items I've truly needed in order to dress comfortably every day thus far:

1. Storq Basics Bundle 
I layer the items from this beautiful, simple Storq pack with my "normal" clothes for daytime outfits and evening wear. There are 4 products in this pouch (which itself is so easy to store-- photo below). I love that the pieces in this bundle create a simple foundation for endless maternity outfit possibilities when paired with your usual layers and accessories.

2. Over-The-Bump Jeans
My opinion: Don't waste your time with the demi-panel maternity jeans. They're uncomfortable and you outgrow them quickly. Get a pair of the over-the-bump jeans, and easily store them by donating  1-2 other clothing items you no longer love. 

3.  T-Shirt Dress
Ideal for lounging, sleeping, running quick errands, etc.

I even decided to downsize and declutter my toiletries. My skin changed a great deal when I reached my mid-thirties, and pregnancy has changed it even more drastically. So I got rid of my old skincare and makeup items, and simplified my routine and medicine cabinet. I decided to stick with a small selection of products from Glossier, Kate Somerville, Naked (by Urban Decay), Foreo, and Aesop. Nearly everything else went into the recycling bin. It always feels so good to get the bottle clutter under control. (Read more about our bathroom storage here.)

The biggest changes wardrobe-management changes will come in August and September, as we begin to clear out our closet in order to transform it into our son's nursery. In the meantime, we've been able to make do with the storage we have, which is pictured below:

1. Bathroom Shelving (read more about our bathroom storage here)
2. Whitney's Under-the-Couch Shoe Storage
3. Adam's Under-the-Couch Shoe Storage
4. The Closet (soon to be turned into the nursery)
5. The Bed Built-In Hamper (cameo by StanleeStubs)
6. The Bed Built-In Clothing Bin (photo by James Tse for "The Knot" Magazine)

Pregnant or not, small-space living can be frustrating if you have too much stuff. What I love about our home is that it reminds us to keep things simple, and requires us to routinely downsize our belongings. Since we've adopted this lifestyle, we've discovered that we have more energy and time to devote to one another, and to the things that matter most in our lives. 

Disclaimer: All brands mentioned above are ones that I genuinely love to use as described. I have received compensation in the form of product for some of those mentioned in this post, but all opinions expressed are my own, regardless of compensation. 

Tiny Cottage Wedding Video & Refinery29 Story

Back in May, Adam and I got married here at our tiny cottage. We've lived together in this home for 5+ years, and knew it would be the perfect setting for our mini-wedding. 

View my full wedding post here.

Today, I'm excited to share a portion of our wedding video with you (below), along with Refinery29's Real Wedding coverage of our "big" day.

Launch the Refinery29 "Tiny Wedding" Coverage
Related: The Tiny Canal Cottage Home Tour via Refinery29

Our wedding was so relaxed, simple and delightful, which I think is evident from this light-hearted and personal footage. (Also evident is the fact that I spent the majority of our ceremony trying to not cry my face off.) Heart-felt shout-out to the people and businesses who helped us create our perfect lil' wedding day-- particularly TaskRabbit,  lensman Jean Marc Cloutier, our dear friend +  officiant Nell, and our generous and loving families.

Photo by Monica Wang Photography. Wedding video by Jean Marc Cloutier.

Travel Gear for Small Spaces

Now that summer is here and travel stories and products are popping up around the web, I've been receiving more questions about where and how we store our luggage here at the Cottage. 

We actually have quite a few pieces of travel gear in our tiny home, but we don't just use them when leaving town. Many of our on-the-go accessories are constantly in use here on a daily basis as home-organization tools. By selecting multi-functional items that work well both inside AND outside the house, we've solved most of the storage issues that so many small-space dwellers face when it comes to finding a suitable place to put their luggage and travel accessories.

Here is nearly all of my globe-trotting gear. I obviously don't use all of these pieces on each trip-- I pick and choose depending on context:

Since I use most of these pieces while at home, they're generally floating around between my handbag, office and bedside. But when I need to stash some items out of sight, I simply pack them within my suitcase, which is a carry-on rolling bag by Steamline Luggage that looks like a small old-fashioned trunk. I picked this piece for its function AND its beauty, because I knew it would frequently be left out in the open at home. Since I love the way it looks, I don't mind having the luggage out and using it as an accent surface when needed. I can also slide it into the storage cubby that's built-in beneath our bed. Adam uses a leather Weekender Bag by Combatant Gentlemen, which is really versatile and also can fit under our bed.

The items I use every day include my Mod Laptop 2 + Tech Dopp Kit + Mod Tablet 2 by This Is Ground, along with my Rachel Wallet by Hobo (I've had it for years and years), and a leather notebook organizer. When I'm traveling on shorter trips, I pop my "dopp kit insert" into my Mod Tablet and it becomes a handy overnight beauty tool.

For longer trips, I switch it up a bit. I use a truly wonderful Mac Cosmetics travel bag, which organizes EVERYTHING. I also bring my Ona Clifton Backpack, which safely holds my laptop and camera equipment. 

All the aforementioned items help me keep the house decluttered and organized, and have been ideal for my trips, whether they've lasted a single night or an entire month. With the baby coming in October, we're going to be making some adjustments to our luggage, of course. (But more on that later! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite past travel-gear images, with cameos by #StubsandSoph.)

Tiny Garden Tips

Do you have a tiny yard? Or perhaps just a stoop or fire escape? Don't overlook the possibilities-- even small outdoor spaces can be beautiful and functional! Below are a few helpful mini-garden tips that routinely come in handy here at the Cottage.

Photo of the Cottage garden by James Tse for THE NEST / THE KNOT Magazines.

Photo of the Cottage garden by James Tse for THE NEST / THE KNOT Magazines.

1. GO VERTICAL - This is the best piece of advice I can offer folks living in small spaces. Be creative, while always remembering to please be safe and smart when getting crafty with your vertical decor. Hanging trays, suspended starter beds, and "gutter gardens" are a great way to begin growing your greenery, and they function particularly well in window frames, and on external walls.

For our home wedding last month, we gifted a mix of Grow Kits from Terrain to all of our guests. We loved the tagline from the kits: "Grow Happiness in Small Spaces." (How perfect is THAT?) The kits are all made in the USA, and are simple, pretty and eco-friendly. We kept two for ourselves ("Grow Herbs" & "Grow Sunflowers") so we could continue to expand our garden. Rather than keeping the egg crates inside the house, we strung them from our back gate, along with our gardening tools.

2. SEMI-CIRCULAR DESIGNS - Another handy concept for small outdoor spaces are half-circle tables and accents, like this planter along our fence:

We have two of these planters, which we move around the property depending on the occasion and season:

3. LATTICE GARDEN - One of our favorite outdoor areas here at home is the porch, where we have an 8'-wide lattice garden. Balcony planters and pots hung with "S" hooks enable us to switch up the plants and their placement regularly. The vertical, potted garden offers some additional privacy from the neighboring house, while also beautifying our lounge area:

Photo of the Cottage porch by Monica Wang

Photo of the Cottage porch by Monica Wang

Photo of the Cottage garden by James Tse for THE NEST / THE KNOT Magazines.

Photo of the Cottage garden by James Tse for THE NEST / THE KNOT Magazines.

4. MULTI-TIERED CARTS - No room to go up? Try layering plants on a compact, vertical, multi-tiered rolling / bar cart:

Photo of the Cottage porch by Monica Wang

Photo of the Cottage porch by Monica Wang

And don't forget: plants, cafe lights, outdoor textiles, and patio rugs can transform even the smallest, shabbiest spot into a lush getaway in your own backyard!

Here are a few more ideas we love for displaying your clippings and small plants: A garden chandelier (read more), yard stakes, wall vases and miscellaneous hanging planters:

Mini-Moon in Ojai

We decided to take a (very) mini-moon to Ojai this week. Between the pregnancy (the first trimester was rough for me) and the wedding, I hadn't spent a night away from the Cottage in months. Ojai is a gorgeous town, located about 80+ miles from LA, so it's one of our favorite quick getaways. Since we wouldn't have much time, we wanted a place where we could just drop the car keys and relax in one place for the duration of the trip. We opted to stay at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

Linus bikes for the Picnic & Pedal program at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

Linus bikes for the Picnic & Pedal program at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

OUR PRIVATE CABANA AT THE NEW INDIGO POOL.

OUR PRIVATE CABANA AT THE NEW INDIGO POOL.

We kept giggling about our guest room, because it was nearly twice the size of our entire Cottage. And while we usually prefer to live small, it was definitely a joy to have an oversized tub (I am 5'11", and Adam is 6'2"), along with a fire place and an epic balcony available to us for our lil' stay. Thank you, Ojai-- we love you and cannot wait to return with the pups... and our son!

To the guest room...

To the guest room...

Adam's luggage: The Weekender Bag • Whitney's suitcase: The Diplomat

Our Tiny Wedding at the Cottage

On May 21st, Adam and I got married here at our tiny canal cottage. We've lived together in this home for 5+ years, and agreed that it would be the perfect setting for our lil' wedding. We said "I Do" on the front stoop, as our close friend Nell officiated the ceremony.

Handmade dress by Coralie Beatrix via Etsy • Suit by Combatant Gentlemen • Fresh garland by Viva Voce • Photo by Monica Wang

Handmade dress by Coralie Beatrix via Etsy • Suit by Combatant Gentlemen • Fresh garland by Viva Voce • Photo by Monica Wang

We'd been engaged for over 2 years, but kept putting the wedding off for a variety of external reasons. Initially we had planned on getting married in the tiny medieval village of Belcastel in southern France, where I've lived on-and-off for 10 years. I love the Aveyron region-- it's my home away from home. But over time it became clear that it just wasn't quite the right fit. Adam and I really wanted our celebration to be simple, accessible and intimate. We wanted to be able to truly focus on our friends, family and each other without being distracted by unnecessary details. Basically we wanted our wedding to be exactly like our home life: uncluttered by stuff, while overflowing with love. Luckily, it all turned out exactly as we'd hoped and planned.

As straightforward as we kept the event, it was still a DIY home wedding-- meaning it required a lot of work. But we started 6 months in advance, and had generous help from our families, friends and collaborators. We had a pretty tight budget (especially compared to the average cost of a wedding in Los Angeles), and we did not hire a wedding coordinator, nor an event planning company.

My ring-- an heirloom from adam's maternal grandmother • PHOTO BY MONICA WANG

My ring-- an heirloom from adam's maternal grandmother • PHOTO BY MONICA WANG

THE VENUES
CEREMONY - Once we chose our date, we arranged to book the house next door, which is also around 360 square feet. We did this so we could have a 2nd bathroom and backup kitchen, and wouldn't have to bring in any portable equipment. While we wanted our "big day" to remain small, we certainly didn't want our guests and event staff to be uncomfortable within the space. 

RECEPTION - We wanted the reception to be a no fuss situation, so we committed to renting out The Butcher's Daughter in Venice. The owner and designer is a good friend of mine, and the restaurant is one of my clients. Their Abbot Kinney location is less than a mile from our home, and basically looks like a large version of the cottage. (Photos below.)

IN LIEU OF A REHEARSAL DINNER - We decided to skip the rehearsal dinner. It costs so much money to secure a venue and menu, and takes nearly as much coordination as the wedding itself. (Plus we personally cringe at the idea of toasts and prolonged attention.) Instead, we opted for a casual brunch stroll the morning after the wedding, beginning at our cottage and meandering through the canals. This gave us the opportunity to show off the neighborhood to our guests.

INVITATIONS
For the ceremony (held at our cottage), we invited 60 of our closest family members and immediate friends. We invited an additional 60 guests to the reception (held at The Butcher's Daughter), and ended up with about 95 total attendees at the restaurant. We opted for digital invitations. I know digital isn't for everyone, but we LOVED it. About 80% of our guests replied almost immediately, and could simply click on our website upon receipt for additional information. No wasted materials, no time allocated for printing and addressing, no money spent on postage or stationary, and no paper clutter for our guests.

HOME + GARDEN PREP
Since we hosted the ceremony and brunch at our home, we started preparing well in advance. Adam and I both have full-time jobs (he works at a digital advertising agency, and I run a small creative firm from home), so I needed help getting the space ready. I worked with TaskRabbit for such to-dos, and they were completely amazing. Taskers helped me prepare the cottage in ahead of time by painting our new fence and assisting with gardening. Additionally, Rolling Greens helped me select new plants for the interior and exterior, which is something I'd been meaning to do for months anyway. It ended up being a wonderful and effective team that was super easy to coordinate. And there were no budget surprises-- everything was clear-cut, and cost only a fraction of what a traditional wedding/event planning team would have. 

FURNITURE
We didn't require any rental furniture. We simply put out some of our regular folding patio seating for guests who needed to sit during our brief ceremony. We waited until 10 minutes before our vows to set up the chairs, because the garden and home are too small for those to have been in place the entire time. We said our vows "in the round," with guests on all sides (within the house and outside in the garden). 

The only new piece of furnishing we acquired for the wedding was this garden bar, which was part of the sale I curated with Joss & Main earlier this year. Adam and I used a potting bench as a bar for years, but we liked the more vertical design of this set, as well as its ample storage. It was the perfect spot for the ceremony bartender from TaskRabbit named Ryan, who we adored. 

The garden bar (from joss & Main), styled for the wedding events. i used live plants to decorate most areas, but also mixed in some clippings from the flower market. instead of buying event vases, i used bottles and glasses from the companies whose beverages we were serving: small batch oola liquor, santa monica brew works local beer, plus champagne and a selection of wines. Bartending by TaskRabbit.

The garden bar (from joss & Main), styled for the wedding events. i used live plants to decorate most areas, but also mixed in some clippings from the flower market. instead of buying event vases, i used bottles and glasses from the companies whose beverages we were serving: small batch oola liquor, santa monica brew works local beer, plus champagne and a selection of wines. Bartending by TaskRabbit.

GIFTING
I'm not going to lie-- I completely broke my simplicity rule when it came to the gifting. While we normally prefer to take a "less is more" approach here, I totally admit that gifting carefully selected goods to our guests was important to us. This was a way for us to thank our loved ones, while giving us a chance to introduce them to the items that we love and use daily at the cottage. Plus it was a great way to share information on Venice, along with a sampling of local art and eats.

We gifted to five groups. (Click on a category to see the full gift posts.)
1. Bride Tribe (I didn't have "bridesmaids," but I still wanted to show my girls some love!)
2. Groom's Guys (Adam didn't have "groomsmen," but he still wanted to offer a token of thanks to his close friends.)
3. Hosts (Something extra for the hosts of the bachelorette evening and wedding reception.)
4. Out of Town Guests
5. Reception Attendees (Every party got a little bundle of items, including grow kits from Shop Terrain. The tagline on the planting box reads, "Grow Happiness in Small Spaces"... how perfect is that?!)

MENUS
I'm not much of a foodie, but we had the best time selecting our meals and beverage for the wedding events. The tasting at The Butcher's Daughter was wonderful, despite the fact that I had to pass on all the alcoholic beverages due to the pregnancy. (But Adam left feeling goooood.)

For the ceremony, Gjusta provided light bites, and we used our own small-space friendly CB2 dishes and glassware for the buffet and bar. For the cottage brunch, we had DIY mimosa stations (click here for the full story and images) in the garden, with bubbly from Winc, whose L.A. branch shares a building with Adam's office. TaskRabbit came to the rescue yet again by being our only resource for bartenders, servers, busers, cleaners, and last-minute delivery drivers. 

We translated aspects of the menu into upcycled decor, which helped save us a bit of money. Instead of buying event vases, I used bottles and glassware from the companies whose beverages we were serving to display florals. We chose small batch liquor from OOLA, and local beer from Santa Monica Brew Works. (Bar tip: have a Soda Stream handy! It cuts back on tons of extra bottles.)

DECOR
The two decor elements we hired professionals for were the doorway garland and the photo backdrop. The fresh, natural garland was 26 ft long, and was created and installed by Viva Voce. It looked wild, alive and absolutely gorgeous. It was exactly what we wanted:

The hand-painted photo backdrop, created by Art Design Surface, was also perfect for the setting.  It was a custom 4' x 6' canvas featuring Silver Philodendron, a plant we have inside the house and throughout the garden. (We'll certainly be using this canvas in photos for years to come.)

We didn't have too much decorating to do specifically for the event, as we wanted to keep everything uncomplicated and natural. Other than styling up the bar, we simply did what we do normally, and filled our usual glassware with clippings and market finds. In order to save money, Adam and I opted to make our own arrangements, and we visited the Los Angeles Farmers Market in Downtown LA to get all of our flowers and branches. We spent about $150 at the market-- and that greenery was used for gifting, decorating the cottage, and filling all the vessels at The Butcher's Daughter. (And we still had leftovers!)

We used beaker vases from cb2 (paired with farmers market clippings) to liven up the blank exterior walls at a minimal cost.

We used beaker vases from cb2 (paired with farmers market clippings) to liven up the blank exterior walls at a minimal cost.

ATTIRE
Adam and I took an informal approach to the wedding overall. We didn't have an aisle walk, and we were present to greet our attendees upon their arrival at our home. We informed our guests via the website that the attire was "Festive Casual"... which basically meant, "Wear Whatever You'd Like." In keeping with the relaxed vibe, we wanted to wear comfortable clothing that upheld the sense of occasion without being too serious or too delicate.

I found my dress almost immediately via Etsy. I thought it would be a tricky hunt, seeing as how I'm 5'11" and pregnant. But it was truly one of the easiest clothing purchases I've ever made. I selected a versatile "octopus" dress from Coralie Beatrix, a family-run, California-based small business. Katie, the designer and maker, was extremely helpful throughout the entire process, and my dress ended up being so perfect that I didn't require one single adjustment, despite my ever-changing preggo body. I selected the Tulip Cut Lace Satin Octopus Wrap Dress in Abalone with off-white lace, and my friends wrapped the sashes into sleeves, and then down around my waist. I paired the dress with a matching off-white lace tube top bandeau for a little extra coverage on my sides and back.

I accessorized with a live succulent ring from We Are the Makers (local via Etsy), and nude wedges. I also had (and wore) a backup pair of handmade flats by Shop Painted Bird (also local makers). While getting ready, I wore the Texas Kimono in Ivory by my friends and neighbors over at Show Me Your Mumu.

Adam chose his suit from Combatant Gentlemen-- the same company that made the ties he gave to his buddies during his bachelor party. We liked the Summit Royal Blue Sharkskin Slim Fit Suit, which he wore without a tie. 

And we obviously planned a little something for #StanleeStubs! Our first rescue beagle-mix has been by my side since he was 2 (he's nearly 10 now). I found a cute navy & coral bowtie collar via this Etsy shop, and Stubs sported it throughout the ceremony. Unfortunately our puppy Sophee wasn't with us for the wedding. She was attending a behavioral training course to help us all best prepare her for life at home with our baby come October. We missed her, but we were worried she would escape out the front gate anyway, so it was also safer for her to be in training.

REGISTRY
We used Honeyfund for our registry. We didn't want to do a registry in the first place, but everyone kept sweetly asking what to get us, and we realized that it was actually kinder to our guests if we provided them with some help, rather than continually insisting that they skip the presents. I've heard some folks say that they find non-traditional registries to be tacky, but I completely disagree. In our case, people would have ended up wasting their hard-earned money on items we can't fit in our home, or they would've gotten us gift cards to help us buy stuff that we just don't need. The Honeyfund was the perfect way for us to start our baby and travel funds-- and since those are the things that are the most important to us, our guests were completely happy to gift accordingly.

BEING FOCUSED AND PRESENT
Adam and I heard many stories about people being so stressed or in such a daze on their wedding day that they ended up forgetting most of it. We didn't want that to happen to us. Once the event started and our guests appeared (and they began arriving extra early, which apparently happens frequently with home weddings), we stopped working and started interacting. We were exhausted, of course, but we remember ever wonderful moment, and wouldn't change a single one.

PERSONAL PHOTOS
Here are some personal images of us with our family and friends. They're not the sort of pictures that I would usually share on my blog, but this occasion and post call for an exception. These photos say more about our life here at the cottage than any decor shots ever will. Adam and I wouldn't be who and where we are without having all these exceptional people in our lives:

Thank you everyone for your kindness and support. We feel it. We are so excited to bring our son into this extraordinary world so that he too can experience such incredible love.

Photos by/© Monica Wang Photography, with contributions by Whitney Leigh Morris and friends.

Starting the Outdoor Section of the Nursery

Our first child-- a boy-- is due this October! Since our home is so tiny, we won't have a traditional nursery. Instead, we're getting creative with indoor/outdoor and mobile pieces. We started the first little phase of decorating last weekend, and it made everything feel much more REAL in such a beautiful way:

View from the bedroom stoop.

View from the bedroom stoop.

Obviously we will have a (mini) crib and other necessities inside the Cottage, but there is no space to fit a glider or rocker indoors. So we decided to update the garden just off our bedroom stoop to accommodate the nursery's lounge component:

View of the back patio, showing the distance from the bedroom stoop to the garden nursery lounge. 

View of the back patio, showing the distance from the bedroom stoop to the garden nursery lounge. 

I pulled out my back while hauling everything around the house at 20 weeks pregnant during the post-wedding clean-up, but luckily my parents were visiting from their home in Florida where I grew up,  and they helped me assemble this beautiful driftwood grey rocking chair from Joss & Main:

View from the bedroom to the garden nursery lounge.

View from the bedroom to the garden nursery lounge.

It's important to note that we are very lucky here in SoCal to have fair weather most of the year, so that opens up our possibilities tremendously. We can cover larger items overnight or in the rain, and they are fine.

Sophee entering the bedroom from the garden stoop. our closet, on the right, will soon be redone as the nursery.

Sophee entering the bedroom from the garden stoop. our closet, on the right, will soon be redone as the nursery.

I added yard stakes by CB2, a throw pillow and blanket (which can easily come inside during inclement weather) from Loloi Rugs, a gorgeous handmade mobile by Sea & Glass, and a few other accessories and plants to warm up the space.

View from the garden lounge area looking into the bedroom. Our curtained closet will soon be redone to accommodate the crib and other nursery items.

View from the garden lounge area looking into the bedroom. Our curtained closet will soon be redone to accommodate the crib and other nursery items.

 in the garden (at 21 weeks pregnant) with stanlee and sophee. (Photo by adam)

 in the garden (at 21 weeks pregnant) with stanlee and sophee. (Photo by adam)

And voila-- we now have a tiny, peaceful place outside for us to rest in the grass or rocking chair with our baby boy and the pups! 

Garden Mimosas

When entertaining larger groups in small spaces, I find it helps to have mini stations (for food, beverages, a bag/coat drop, etc.) instead of one main area dedicated to this-or-that. Compact entertaining spots positioned wisely around your tiny home and/or garden will naturally break up large clumps of people, and allow folks to move around with greater ease. We did this for our wedding brunch with lil' mimosa stations: 

Garden Beverage Station: Sparkling wine for classic mimosas by WINC, H20 by Boxed Water.

Garden Beverage Station: Sparkling wine for classic mimosas by WINC, H20 by Boxed Water.

I placed a 3-tier bar cart in the shade of our bougainvillea and grapevine to hold our CB2 champagne flutes, baked goods, fresh market produce, plants, and the beverage dispenser with sparkling wine mimosas from Winc. I upcycled an old wine crate top to make a space-saving hanging shelf where we offered Boxed Water that guests could take with them when strolling the canals throughout the brunch. (As I'm midway through my pregnancy, I had to refrain from enjoying the drink stations. While it's obviously well-worth it, I gotta say that I've never been so sad to say no to a mimosa-- especially after hoofing it through a DIY home-wedding!)

GARDEN BEVERAGE STATION: SPARKLING WINE FOR CLASSIC MIMOSAS BY WINC, H20 BY BOXED WATER.

GARDEN BEVERAGE STATION: SPARKLING WINE FOR CLASSIC MIMOSAS BY WINC, H20 BY BOXED WATER.

Updating the Cottage Garden with Rolling Greens

Our tiny wedding at the Cottage took place this past weekend! Everything went exactly as we'd hoped, and we couldn't be more grateful. (Wedding photos coming soon!)

In preparing our home and garden for the festivities, I decided I wanted to decorate with live greenery in lieu of traditional floral arrangements as much as possible, so I partnered with Rolling Greens in LA to make it happen:

Above: The stoop and side garden, where we said our vows.

Above: The stoop and side garden, where we said our vows.

ABOVE: THE STOOP WHERE WE SAID OUR VOWS, and the lil' porch between our cottage and the neighboring house.

ABOVE: THE STOOP WHERE WE SAID OUR VOWS, and the lil' porch between our cottage and the neighboring house.

Above: The front garden, where we set up our small-yet-mighty bar from the recent Joss & Main daily sale, inspired by The Tiny Canal Cottage. Exceptional bartending services provided by Task Rabbit.

Above: The front garden, where we set up our small-yet-mighty bar from the recent Joss & Main daily sale, inspired by The Tiny Canal Cottage. Exceptional bartending services provided by Task Rabbit.

Above: The Cottage porch (and #StanleeStubs). Plants from Rolling Greens. Couch from CB2. Pillows by Show Me Your Mumu. Rug from Wayfair. Blanket by BEAM textiles.

Above: The Cottage porch (and #StanleeStubs). Plants from Rolling Greens. Couch from CB2. Pillows by Show Me Your Mumu. Rug from Wayfair. Blanket by BEAM textiles.

We added three potted trees to the property (which made a HUGE difference on the more barren outside walls), along with about 10 medium house plants (the Silver Philodendron are my current favorites), and about 20 small plants including tropical varieties and herbs.

Above: Bougainvillea surrounding the Cottage garden.

Above: Bougainvillea surrounding the Cottage garden.

I love wandering around Rolling Greens-- it's completely gorgeous, and feels like a hidden escape in LA. I live closer to the Culver City location, so that's the one I frequent, but there's another on Beverly Boulevard, too. The staff helped me select drought-tolerant greenery, and advised me on how to care for my existing plants as well. They delivered everything to the Cottage on the same day as my visit (which was extremely helpful, as Adam and I share one tiny car). They even provided me with a few tips on what to place where, depending on the varying levels of sunlight throughout our yard. I can't wait to share the rest of the photos with you soon!

Below: Images from my wedding-prep trip to Rolling Greens. (Click on thumbnails to enlarge.)

Gifts for Out of Town Guests

With the wedding around the corner, we've started prepping and delivering lil' gifts to our out of town guests at their hotels, Airbnbs, and One Fine Stay homes. As always, our main aim is to delight our friends and family with goodies that won't clutter up their homes (and, in this case, don't hinder their ability to travel light).

These are the main items I chose. (For various boxes, we added bubbles for kids, and ties by Combatant Gentlemen for select guests.) 

We also made little favor bundles for all parties attending our wedding reception, including the following: 

A Tiny Task

I'm genuinely excited to be working with TaskRabbit to pull off our home wedding. Taskers are helping me with so many diverse jobs surround our "big" day, such as painting the fence, assisting with #StanleeStubs during the event, doing various pick-ups / drop-offs, bartending, and more.

Coincidentally, the timing of my newly-developed love affair with TaskRabbit turned out to be perfect, as they're currently doing a 72-hour "Tiny House" construction project in Manhattan, from May 16th - May 19th:

Photo courtesy of @mishuesos via instagram

Photo courtesy of @mishuesos via instagram

TaskRabbit’s Tiny House will be auctioned off for charity with 100% of the proceeds benefitting Community Solutions, a national nonprofit helping communities take on complex social challenges through collaboration and creative problem solving. 

Learn more about this happening here: www.atinytask.com. And if you pass by the site, please Instagram DM me a photo-- I'd love to witness the progress! (Big thanks from our tiny home.)

Bride Tribe Tysa Gifting

The Cottage wedding is less than a week away! Last month, I prepped some Bride Tribe gift boxes for my nearest and dearest friends. But I needed a little extra something for the three hosts of all my wedding-related events. For this round of presents, I worked with TYSA Designs in Malibu, as I love their boho style and California roots. I wanted to give each lady something that was uniquely her own style, but that also shared a common thread with the other hosts' gifts:

These dresses ended up being PERFECT. I had to pick dresses for a tall, willowy brunette, a chameleonic red-head, and a tiny surfer-build blonde. I chose the "Gateway Sunrise" pattern for all three ladies, but there are so many other beautiful options from which to choose. 

I prefer to avoid traditional wrapping papers and supplies (why waste the packaging?), so I simply bound each dress with twine, and topped it off with fresh bougainvillea and a mini-bottle of gorgeous found glass from my friend Lynette of Sea & Glass.  

While I don't own many clothing items here at our tiny cottage, I do have numerous pieces by Tysa. Here's a look back at some of my favorites from the past year:

Big thanks to Tysa Wright of Tysa Designs for helping me select these wonderful gifts for my incredible friends.

Groom Gifting

Adam and I aren't having traditional wedding parties at our cottage ceremony, but that doesn't mean we don't want to offer tokens of thanks and love to our nearest and dearest friends! For the guys who helped orchestrate Adam's bachelor party, I put together a few little groom's gifts featuring some of my favorite goodies that I know they'll use and enjoy. As always, we strived to select items that are practical, beautiful, and won't clutter up the guys' homes: 

We picked Tech Dopp Kits by This Is Ground. They're the most practical leather organization tools, and the company is based here in LA. (I've worked with TIG several times in the past and absolutely LOVE them-- here's a recent video I shot with them at the Cottage.) We added some bites and drinks (the best items for clutter-free gifting!), including small-batch OOLA Whiskey, and locally-made chocolate by our long time friends at Nohmad Snack Co.  Lastly, we topped off the presents with ties from Combatant Gentlemen-- the company where we found Adam's wedding suit. We love how they turned out!

The Cottage Bath

Lately, we've received numerous requests for photos of the Cottage bath. While the room is actually larger than you might think, it's designed in a way that makes it tough to photograph, meaning we have very few images available:

I'm often asked how we keep the bathroom organized and uncluttered, given its small size. Here are some of my top tips:

  1. Only buy what you REALLY need:
    • I know this sounds basic, and it is. But controlling what you bring into your home is the best way to avoid accumulating clutter and wasting your money. We have ONE shampoo dispenser. ONE pet wash. ONE body wash. Etc. You don't have to come up with creative storage solutions when you don't have too much to store in the first place!
  2. Upcycle:
    • I keep my makeup in an old metal hardware drawer set that I found on ETSY (reference: photo #7). I spray-painted the box, applied liners to the base of each drawer, and used the original metal hardware organizers within the drawers to keep my palettes and tools separated and easy to find.  
  3. Functional decor:
    • If you have limited cabinet space, try organizing your must-have items (such as spare toilet paper, extra cotton, etc.) in containers that fit with your style-- that way you can keep them out on display as functional decor.  For example, we stash our extra bath goods in a white metal mop bucket from West Elm.
  4. Save counter space:
    • Limited surface space? Try organizing your jewelry in slim hardware drawers. They come in varying sizes and depths, and are easy to stash in cabinets and next to sink U-bends. I purchased one like this years ago, which I keep in the vanity in front of our spare towels and travel pouches. It not only saves us counter space, but it also saves us time. This organizer helps me expedite my out-the-door routine on a daily basis, as I rarely have to untangle chains, and I don't have to sift through pouches to find the item(s) I'm looking for.
  5. Purge:
    • Don't let expired bottles, nearly-empty beauty products, and samples you've never used clutter up your limited space. Routinely clean out your medicine cabinet and drawers. Donate extra products to your local community housing corp or homeless shelter. 
  6. DIY:
    • Save money and get creative! Try making your own racks and/or curtain rods. Instead of buying a standard metal towel rack, I opted to craft one of my own. All it required was jute twine, S hooks (to hang towels and accessories), screw eyes (to secure the unit into the ceiling), and a wooden branch I found at my sister's wedding in Idaho. My good friend Lindsay over at Casa Joshua Tree did the same thing while renovating her house in the desert, and look at how great it turned out:

Our bathroom is a little too long for a standard bathmat to cover the necessary floor space, but it's definitely too small for two throws or a larger area rug. I searched Etsy and easily found alternatives to typical bathmats that have all worked beautifully over the years.

Lastly, for some strange reason, there is a recent story circulating that claims the Cottage is a converted garage or guest unit. That is inaccurate. While our home has been updated over the decades, it has always been its own free-standing house, consisting of a main room (including a kitchen), a bedroom, and a bathroom. So no-- we did not have to add the bathroom to our home. The Cottage was one of four identical, neighboring houses built in the 1920s. Three of those four are still standing today. 

Photos by Whitney Leigh Morris & Monica Wang Photo

Cottage Fence Makeover with TaskRabbit

A few months ago, we replaced our low fence at the cottage with a higher design. We didn't want to get rid of the old set-up, but the pups kept leaping over the gate, which became problematic for numerous reasons. We opted for a higher design to help keep  #StubsandSoph safe.

Before:
(We loved this lil' old gate and bougainvillea, but they unfortunately had to be removed for safety reasons.)

After:
(Our new, taller fence. Finished & painted by TaskRabbit, primer & paint by Dunn Edwards.)

The fence was unfinished for months. I got pregnant around the same time I'd planned to paint, and my doctor advised against me tackling the task myself. But with the cottage wedding drawing nearer (we're only three weeks away), it needed to get done.

Sophee REALLY loved the brushes, but we had a feeling she'd make a lousy painter, so we hired a professional named Andrew from TaskRabbit.

It took Andrew about four hours to complete the job. First he had to sand down the rough and splintered sections of the fence, and then apply the primer. After the primer dried, he added the paint, and then replaced the hardware on the fence and gate. He was even mindful to avoid the grape leaves and budding concord clusters, which I really appreciated:

I chose "Play on Gray" paint from Dunn Edwards because I wanted a hue that worked with the cottages, without being SO white that it clashed against the old wooden fence beneath the grapevine. Andrew really did a wonderful job, and we're thrilled with how everything turned out. It's amazing what a difference the fence color makes for the overall appearance and feel of the garden.

I'm looking forward to using TaskRabbit again soon, as they're helping me do some extensive prep-work and day-of jobs for the cottage wedding... but more on that later! For now, it's time to relax in the improved garden with Adam and the pups.