Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part III)

While it's great to share stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in small spaces, I think it’s just as important to discuss the things that we can happily live WITHOUT. After all, making a home of a small space isn’t mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters— it’s about experiencing more by owning less. The following is just a very small sampling of everyday items you might want to reconsider. (Click to view Part I or Part II of this series.)

As always, before we jump on in, here’s a lil’ disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items might be easy for easy for some folks to forego, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone. 

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Pet Beds
I am all for showering animals with love. StanLee and Sophee are some of the greatest joys of my life. But if we didn’t have our garden space, I would’ve given up on buying pet beds long ago. (Hear me out— I’ll explain.) If you’re tight on space and looking for ways to reduce the larger items in your home and/or save money, simply repurpose some washable items from around the house. A spare bathmat, fluffy towel, outdoor seat cushion, or miscellaneous thicker linens could possibly work just fine. It might take a few tries to find what your pet likes best. 

We have two pet beds that we keep outside, day and night. Our pups love them, as do I. But are they NEEDED? No. (Hell, StanLee sometimes likes to nap in a pile of rocks. Does he really require a lofted, K9, wicker daybed?) Sophee sleeps at our feet on our mattress, while StanLee chooses to sleep in the narrow corridor between my side of the bed and the wall. At night, I place a machine-washable, cushioned toddler-sized comforter over the hardwood, and our senior is quite content to lounge on that throughout the night.

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Desktop Gear
I feel as though we’re blissfully beyond the era of receiving randomly customized photo and logoed mousepads… but perhaps that’s just because I’m so far removed from traditional office environments. Either way, if you’re looking for ways to simplify your home-office, keep in mind that you don’t need a desk protector or a mousepad. My Magic Mouse leaves marks on my white, wooden desktop, so I simply slide a leather laptop case under it throughout the day while working. Books, catalogues, or a thousand other items would work just as well. 

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A Hamper
For years, we kept our dirty clothes in a built-in oversized drawer under our bed. It worked flawlessly, as hampers can be really tough to accommodate in a tiny home, regardless of whether they’re hanging or foldable. Everyone’s needs vary, but depending on your situation you might be able to repurpose a larger drawer, cubby or shelf in your closet, bath or bedroom for gathering the garments that need to be washed. No empty drawer to spare? Bonus points for giving away enough items to free one up!

Ironing Board + Full-Sized Drying Rack
While this won’t work for everyone, it might work for you: can you live without an ironing board and a full-sized iron and drying rack?

For little things like burp cloths, napkins, and other items that need to dry before stashed in the to-do laundry, a suction-cup, swing-arm drying rack can be extremely helpful.

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For larger items that need to dry after a proper swim or wash, a no-frills clothesline made of twine, tacks and clothespins could be all you need, indoors or out.

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Use your bed, couch or a table as your ironing board, and let a “travel” iron/steamer do the rest of the work for you. 

Upright Vacuum  
I’ve posted on this before, as we test a lot of these products as part of my job. Gone are the days of needing a massive upright vacuum. An iRobot Roomba, a collapsible / combo cordless design, a combo mop-vacuum, or even a handheld vacuum might be better options for your small space. 

Serving Platters
If your kitchen is compact, skip the oversized entertaining platters and plates. Cutting boards and misc trays from around the house can pull double-duty as serving surfaces. Just add a layer of of reusable beeswax wrap to make them “food safe.” Or, if your surface spaces are also cramped, use a collection of smaller plates dispersed around your available countertops, or add wax paper or beeswax wrap directly to your table. I honestly believe these clever workarounds usually make for more interesting and beautiful hosting setups than most traditional formats. 

A Full Grill
If you only grill on very rare, special occasions, consider a single-use, 100% natural, biodegradable, portable grill. (If you take it camping, simply toss it in the bonfire when you're done.) See photos of one in use at the Cottage, here.

Picnic Set
I’m a sucker for a beautiful picnic. But dedicated gear takes up a lot of space, and is nowhere near essential to our lives. Make your own picnic set when the occasion arises. A myriad of baskets, reusable shopping bags, or even a suitcase will help you tote food and accessories. Have you made an eco-friendly to-go + take-out dining pouch? USE IT. And remember, you don’t need a “picnic blanket.” Any linens that are machine-washable will suffice, as will lightweight outdoor mats. Need some shade for the meal? Try a table runner suspended from a tree branch or pegged to any sort of makeshift poles. Look around. Challenge yourself. Have some fun CREATING. You most likely have everything you need already— don’t waste your precious storage space and funds on a comprehensive set if you’re trying to save money, reduce your environmental footprint, and/or declutter. 

Summer Grilling in the Tiny Garden

This post was sponsored by La Brea Bakery. All images, words, and opinions are my own.

Since West entered into our lives, Adam and I have found that our small space entertaining style has changed greatly. 

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Our beachside summers in Venice were once spent hosting cocktail gatherings of up to 60 people here at our tiny home and yard. These days we are much more content to host easy, healthy, low-key meals in the garden with a few friends at a time. 

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In years past, we shared a giant grill with our neighbor across the porch. Over time it slowly fell apart and he decided to get rid of it. Adam and I never acquired a replacement. We usually grill at a friend’s house— it’s always nice to have little adventures beyond the cottage, and I delight in avoiding having to purchase more objects for our home. But every now and again we still grill in the garden, embracing the tiny life with the help of a biodegradable, 100% natural mini grill. (I’m still pretty much a disaster in the kitchen and on the grill, but luckily Adam is a wonderful cook.)

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We changed our dietary habits not too long ago, and we’ve since been enjoying more greens and fruit, as well as indulging in our love of bread. 

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Adam tried our first pescatarian-friendly meal prepared on a grill, and it turned out to be easy and light— the perfect meal for a warm, relaxing summer evening. 

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Our family tries to get most of our food from the Friday farmers market just off the canals. 

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However, we stopped buying our weekly supply of bread from the market a while back. It would either go stale before we could finish it, or we ended up eating way too much of it immediately in order to avoid wasting food. 

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We found our balance with La Brea Bakery’s Take & Bake breads

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They’re easy to prep fresh for any meal, and they’re completely yummy. 

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For our lil’ al fresco meal, Adam made us a grilled peach salad with fruit, honey, cheese and arugula from the farmers market, rounded off with two Take & Bake French Baguettes from La Brea Bakery. 

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(I may or may not have put a few pieces of arugula on the bread and topped it with a cheesy peach and eaten it like an open-face sandwich rather than a salad.) It was simple and delicious. 

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Here’s to slowing down this summer and enjoying healthy, happy meals with the ones we love. 

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INGREDIENTS
(Note: This served 4 of us, and took 40 minutes on the mini grill.)
4 Large Fresh, Ripe Peaches (Halved) // 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil // 2 Sticks of Honey (or 1/4 cup) of Honey // Chopped blocks of herbed Cheese // 1/2 lb Arugula // 3 Tbsp. Softened Butter // Grilled French Baguettes // Pine Nuts (which we got, but then totally forgot to use) // Salt & Pepper

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You can find more summer recipes here!

A Look Inside, Entry 1: Kitchen Storage

Lately I've received numerous requests to show the inside of our cabinets and drawers on social media and the blog. I'll do a gradual tour-- today, I'm starting with our biggest kitchen cabinet. Here are the contents and sources for most of the items. I hope this helps! 

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Get Organized-- But Stop Buying Organizers 

One of my favorite ways to outfit our Cottage is by using vintage, handmade, or hand-me-down items in unexpected ways. It’s a wonderful way to uniquely dress up your space and tackle organizational issues while putting sentimental items to use, and without contributing to the rapidly increasing environmental problems due to mass production and waste. If you’re interested in testing the waters, I’d suggest starting with your “junk drawer.” Notoriously messy, these makeshift homes for frequently used, nomadic items are the perfect place to start. 

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You don’t need a custom-crafted or store-bought drawer organizer— just look around your space and consider what you already have available to you. Are there items stashed about that you want to keep for sentimental reasons (or others), but aren’t regularly using? If so, can they be either permanently or temporarily repurposed as a petite storage vessel? 

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Consider items such as used packing materials, compact baskets, chooses, mugs, votive holders, food containers, shells, old iPhone boxes, etc. Depending on the size of your drawer(s) and the dimensions of the objects in need of wrangling, you might have some ideal solutions already at your fingertips. 

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Our shallow “junk” drawer, which is at the end of our kitchen, holds matches, rechargeable batteries, chalk, infrequently used keys, string, tape, eyeglass repair instruments, and more. We access these little odds-and-ends every day, so the drawer can get really messy really fast. In lieu of purchasing a new plastic or bamboo divider, and instead of spending time scouring Etsy for a properly-sized vintage option, I saved time and money by putting some miscellaneous collections of ours to additional use. 

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For example, we have a few jars and recycled tealight cups that we use for candles, but they’re only out on special occasions. By giving them the extra responsibility of keeping our drawer tidy, we’ve eliminated the need to find a dedicated storage space to house them in their downtime. 

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Similarly, Adam and I had a random mix of old mugs that mean something to us, but that we don’t actually use for tea or coffee. Rather than stashing them in the back of the cabinets  (where they’ll consume valuable inches) or donating them, we now see and enjoy them again in this practical, purposeful way.

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This concept doesn’t only apply to drawer dividers, of course. I keep office supplies and handbag contents in vine baskets that are actually vase covers, and many of my little accessories around the house are stashed in woven drinking glass sleeves. And my business documents are filed in old picnic baskets, rather than file boxes

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I know this is a 101 task and concept, but it can be surprisingly helpful in tiny and/or cramped spaces! Start small, and test out how your first attempt looks, feels and functions. If you’re pleased with the results, then tackle more zones. This can actually be a delightful, creative challenge.

Minimizing Mess: Dog Toys

I savor signs of LIFE in a home— wild branches shedding leaves, tabletops primed for working, creating or dining, worn floors, and books and games in various stages of use. While I love organized spaces, pristine spaces generally don’t sing to me. 

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The two tricks that make "mess" work for me in our tiny house are: 1) We don’t own much stuff to begin with, so there’s only so much chaos to be generated. 2) Most of the items here I find to be both useful and visually-appealing, so I don’t mind when they’re left out of place for a while.

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These concepts come into play even with the toys we make or buy for our dogs, StanLee and Sophee. 

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Since dog toys primarily exist to be torn to shreds within seconds, I’m reluctant to spend money on them. When I visit boutique pet shops, I can’t help but gawk at the price tags— $19 for a plush doll that Soph will burst through instantly? That’s neither doable nor sensible to me.

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Adam and I either upcycle worn-out, everyday items into games for the pups, or we buy new toys for special occasions via a discount retailer nearby.

UPCYCLING
I’ve seen some great DIY dog activities online that don’t require anything new. My favorite find was a cupcake tin filled with tennis balls, with a nibble hiding under (or within) one of the orbs. This clever little game will give your best friend a fun challenge to tackle before devouring his or her treat. (Although I myself have never tried it, as I’ve never owned a cupcake tin.) 

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Here, we frequently opt for a basic water-soaked cloth left in the freezer and transformed into a cold, soft chew. This is particularly effective in cooling down the pups while also keeping them entertained during the hotter summer months.

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Another go-to for us is the bottle-in-the-sock toy. We eliminated plastic bottles from our lives, but they still randomly surface every now and then, whether via a guest or some unexpected occasion. When that happens, we insert the empty bottles into a clean but tired old sock that needs to be retired, and this simple toy can keep one or both of our dogs occupied for a while.

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Ultimately, the bottle goes in the recycling bin. But keep in mind that only 14% of plastic is collected for recycling! I think of the likelihood of the bottle being dumped in a landfill and shudder.

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Sometimes I wrap parts of older dog toys or balls into a worn kitchen cloth and knot it off, then shred and braid the ends to create a solid tug toy that will outlast a typical plush. And since our old towels or undershirts tend to work well with the aesthetic of our home, these makeshift toys fit in quite well.

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BUYING
To purchase new toys for the pups, we bike to the local Ross, where we can find the same $19 toys I’ve seen at the boutique shops for just $3.99. (Despite the low price tag, we only do this about 4x/year to help cut back on material waste.)

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We scan the inventory to find styles that we know StanLee and Sophee will enjoy. From there we select the models that come in textures and/or tones that match our interior.

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This helps minimize the “mess” within our Cottage throughout the day. There are constantly dog toys left all over the place, but I hardly even notice them since they blend right in. (These photos were taken right after I brought home a round of new goodies for our beagles. When they're not scattered around the house, the dog toys are stashed in a built-in drawer on my side of the bed, as shown here.)

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Details such as these can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of a tiny home, and help us all embrace (and even love) a lil' mess.

Smart Updates to Our Little Live/Work Space

This post was sponsored by Pottery Barn / PB Apartment. All opinions are my own.

Our tiny home has experienced so many alterations in the past 2 years, keeping pace with our growing son and our evolving practices. The one area of our cottage that remained the same the entire time was my workspace, despite the fact that my work routines and methods have changed drastically since West was born. This area of the cottage is my full-time office, but it's also our living room, dining room, guest room, and a general play space. As such, I didn’t want to rush my workspace update, and was determined to wait until I found the perfect solutions for the little spot from which I run my business. 

I knew that I wanted a place to work while standing, and a place to work while sitting. I couldn’t accommodate 2 pieces of furniture, nor could I comfortably fit an optional, add-on riser that would lift my computer. I explored convertible desks, but every one I saw offered decent utility, but was far from stylish. And nearly all the options seemed better suited for a traditional office space, rather than a compact home.

When I discovered the Petaluma Lift Desk from PB Apartment, the bell went off. It was EXACTLY what I needed— from the color, to the size, to the functionality, to the design details. I am SO excited to share this piece, as it’s by far and away my favorite new addition to the cottage since we replaced our kitchen countertops. 

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In it’s first position, the desk is a standard table height. The entire desktop can also extend upward into a second position, smoothly converting the desk into a standing workspace within a few seconds.

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The hardware for lifting and lowering the surface of the desk functions gently and easily, but is still strong. I’m never worried that the top is going to collapse, nor do I have to physically struggle when converting between the two modes. When the top is lowered, I simply use any desk or dining chair. When the top is raised, I can stand and enjoy working on the entire desktop (as opposed to a mere section, as with a computer riser).

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The color lightens up the office wall, which in turn appears to enlarge the room. The finish is ever-so-slightly weathered, which is a look that sings to me. It helps conceal inevitable wear-and-tear, while still looking bright and beautiful.

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The drawer is a convenient size for the basics, such as a compact shredder, select hardware, and small office supplies. But the ledge around the desktop is the best bonus. It keeps items from rolling off at a great height when in standing mode, but also keeps toddler hands from pulling down every item on the surface that’s within reach when the table is lowered.

And on the topic of toddlers— West is the real reason why I wanted this office update. I spend several hours sitting at the computer at night or when West is out of the house, but I spend just as much time working while my son is playing here at home. I wanted to be ready to pivot on the spot and run around with him whenever he’s nearby. And this design works perfectly for that without cluttering up our home. It’s funny how little design changes like this can make a sizable impact on your day.

(Also pictured: Small Daytrip Lidded Basket + Throw Blanket)

I also upgraded our laundry set-up with the Galvanized Rolling Cart. Thanks to our indoor/outdoor lifestyle, the sand from the beach, two pups that shed, and our cloth diapering system, we spend a lot of time doing laundry these days and wanted to make that routine more comfortable. (I’m almost 6’ tall, and Adam is 6’2”, so hunching over various laundry piles was getting old.) 

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This clever cart is on casters, allowing it to tuck into our closet or into the bathroom with ease when not in use. It has two removable laundry bins, and a lift-top work surface / lid for easy access to the compartments below.

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When we’re ready to sort, fold, or spot-treat, we simply roll the cart out into the bedroom or stoop. 

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I'm reluctant to admit it, but I’ll be honest… I actually kind of enjoy doing our laundry these days. Although seeing the numbers on West’s clothing tags increase every few months still astonishes me… sigh. I truly appreciate how these small yet significant home changes are enabling me to work more efficiently, providing me with precious extra minutes to share with my rapidly growing son.

(Also pictured: Small Daytrip Lidded Basket + Throw Blanket)

Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part II)

I tend to post stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in our little house, but I think it’s just as important to share information about the everyday items that we happily live WITHOUT. After all, making a home of a small space isn’t mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters— it’s about experiencing more by owning less.

The following is just a very small sampling of everyday items that you can probably make do just fine without. (Explore Part I of this series here.)

Before we jump on in, here’s a lil’ disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items don’t work for me, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best, folks. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone. 

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Random Sets
From office supplies to hair accessories, lots of smaller goods tend to come in sets. Unless you’re buying packs of supplies for an entire staff, I expect that one or two mindfully-crafted, beautiful versions of whatever you’re seeking will probably suffice. 

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For example, I haven’t bought a pack of pens in years. I now have three handmade pens on my desk, and a few handpicked color markers in my desk drawer. Because I chose these deliberately, and selected versions I thought to be beautiful and practical, I’m more careful with where I leave them. (If you have an excess of office supplies that you want to offload, I'd recommend donating them to a local school. Teachers often end up buying school supplies out-of-pocket, and your contribution could save them time and money, and help their students.)

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Similarly, do we require 100 hair ties at a time? I’ve had long, thick hair my entire life, and I frequently wear it pulled back-- but that's no excuse to buy a million elastics and pins. Since paying closer attention to my consumer habits, I’ve stopped absent-mindedly grabbing packs of clips or bands at once, and have managed to keep track of a small handful of these tools instead. By being more careful with how I use them and where I store them, I've been able to keep the same ones for years. 

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Vases & Candle Holders
I appreciate that so many homewares are works of art. If you have a collection of vases or candle holders that you love, that’s great— show them off and enjoy them often. But if you’re just starting out or looking to reduce your inventory at home, consider upcycling an ever-changing assortment of glass jars and other similar containers for tealight candles and/or vases if and when you need them. After they’ve lived out their second life, they can either be tucked away in a cabinet for future use, or dropped in the recycling bin.

 Photo from the Cottage in 2014 by Monica Wang

Photo from the Cottage in 2014 by Monica Wang

Frames
I worked closely with art galleries and museum collections for over a decade. I appreciate the need for a protective frame for a piece of fine art, and genuinely enjoy the process of picking out moldings, mats and fillets that compliment original works when designing a supporting frame. But if you’re hanging posters, personal photos, textiles, or inexpensive prints that you anticipate wanting to regularly switch up, try skipping the frames. Bulldog clips with flat thumbtacks will cost you about $1 total, save about an inch (or more) of space on your walls, and won’t go to waste if and when you want to change your walls or artwork.

Ash Trays and Palo Santo Holders
If you’re not a regular smoker of any kind, chances are you’ll never need an ash tray. Just use an upturned metal cap, a shallow glass jar, or a petite ceramic plate instead. They can all be washed and reused for their original purposes and beyond. (As always, please use your brain and keep safety at the top of mind when it comes to fire and ash.)

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Changing Table and Accessories
We had a changing table that doubled as a baby bath (our sinks wouldn't have worked for bathing an infant), and storage space. But now, in retrospect, I can see that we didn’t NEED it. I am glad we had it for that initial year with our first child, but we ultimately gave the unit to friends who we're expecting. I hope that they too passed it on when the time came. A Gathre Mat or portable changing roll work just fine as a surface for diapering your baby. (I prefer the Gathre Mat because it comes in an array of larger sizes, which can help when you're cleaning a squirmy little kiddo.) 

Wipe warmers and diaper stackers are even more unnecessary. Your hands can warm up a wipe if needed. And if you want a neat stack of diapers, an organizer can easily be made out of a spare basket turned on its side and nailed to the wall or placed on the floor.

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A Top Sheet
I recently got a new round of my favorite bedding from Parachute to replace the linens we’d worn out over years of co-sleeping, and realized that we didn’t actually need a top sheet. It took some getting used to over the first few nights, but now we don’t miss it at all. In fact, it’s a mini relief not to have the displaced fabric bunching down around our legs at night as it always inevitably did. Plus the lack of a top sheet speeds up the time it takes to make our bed in the morning, and cuts back on laundry, as well as the need for more storage if you have a spare set.

Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part I)

I tend to post stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in our little house, but I think it’s just as important to share information about the everyday items that we happily live WITHOUT. After all, making a home of a small space isn’t mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters— it’s about experiencing more by owning less. 

The following is just a very small sampling of everyday homewares that make me face-palm, as we definitely do not need them. But before we jump on in, here’s a lil’ disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items don’t work for me, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best, folks. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone-- you do you.

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Bath Accessory Sets
Bath sets almost always make me cringe. These bundles are usually made up of components such as soap dishes, lotion dispensers, toothbrush holders, drinking cups, tissue box covers, cotton swab containers, and q-tip jars. That’s an insane amount of stuff for limited surface space, plus most of these items are flat-out unnecessary. Even if you do manage to cram all those items into your bathroom, you’ll probably not have the space left over to navigate through your rituals. When I visit a hotel or vacation rental that has all these items, I usually find myself relocating them into an empty drawer so I actually have room for my family's toiletries. 

Repurposed glass jars are more eco-friendly, come in sizes that require far less space, and can be recycled or reimagined when no longer needed. As for the other items— look around your home and see what sorts of things you already own and want to keep, and can repurpose to serve more than one function. 

And why do we think we need tissue box covers? As a matter of fact, we might not even need tissues. A single, machine-washable handkerchief made from sustainable materials for each member of the family might be enough. Voila. No waste. No need for tissues. And, thus, no need for a tissue box cover.

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Beach Towels and Toys
If you’re a serious beachgoer or beach athlete, then that’s one thing. But for most of us, the occasional outing— or even weekly visit— to the beach doesn’t have to require its own set of goods. Turkish towels or linen throws are incredibly versatile. They can be used as spare towels when your primary set is in the wash, when you’re hosting overnight guests, and when you visit the pool or beach. Great news— they can also double as tablecloths, throws for chilly evenings outdoors, and fort toppers for your kid(s). They fold up smaller than standard bath or beach towels, dry quickly, and only get more beautiful with every wash.

 Above: A mop bucket holds all of our spare towels for the beach, guests, and more. The pail itself becomes a toy for West when we visit our local beach.

Above: A mop bucket holds all of our spare towels for the beach, guests, and more. The pail itself becomes a toy for West when we visit our local beach.

Similarly, you probably don’t need a set of dedicated beach toys for your kids. Bowls, pails (if safe for little hands) from around the house, and oversized spoons can be just as fun. In fact, it might spark a bit more creativity from your child if he or she is challenged to find rocks, shells, leaves, and/or seaweed with which to decorate their sand creations.

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Napkin Rings
I'll admit that I have it out for napkin rings. They’re just another set of things to spend money on, find storage for, and have to set out or clean up around mealtime. I much prefer to twist our napkins into a knot and thread our silverware through the tie. Clipped soft vines or reusable twine will also decorate your cutlery rolls just as effectively. 

Having said that, one of my closest friends uses napkin rings in a brilliant way in her home in Pennsylvania. Her family is huge, and everyone uses a single, distinct ring (rather than a ring from a matching set) to keep track of of which reusable napkin is theirs. (Think of it as a wine stem ID tag, but for their table linens. Genius.)

Full Printer/Scanner
This definitely isn’t for everyone, but it worked for us: We recently donated our printer/scanner. We realized that we only used it a few times per month, so we now walk or bike up to the nearest shipping store whenever we need to print anything out. My mini scanner, which sits on a rack attached to the back of my desktop computer, can accommodate all the scanning necessary for our home and small business. 

 Photo of the Cottage kitchen taken by Lily Glass for  SFGirlbyBay

Photo of the Cottage kitchen taken by Lily Glass for SFGirlbyBay

Fruit Bowls
We have limited counter space, so rather than keeping a fruit bowl in the kitchen we simply store/display our fruit in our saucepan on the stove-- clearly only when it’s off.

Fly Swatter
Nope.

Bookends
Skip the objet— simply put a few books in a horizontal stack at the end of your upright titles to keep everything in place.

Summer Dining in a Small Outdoor Space

I'm over on the Garnet Hill blog today, sharing some tips for hosting summer meals in a small outdoor space. A few excerpts are below-- the full post with additional images can be viewed here. Thank you, Garnet Hill!

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Reduce Waste with Natural Decor
Rather than adding sculptural pieces or elaborate vases to your tabletop, decorate with clipped greenery from your garden. Repurposed glass jars can serve as temporary water vessels for stems, and then be recycled at the end of the gathering. 

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Create Visual Interest Without Overcrowding
Use lush greenery that’s also low in profile, such as creeping vines. This will add a dynamic touch to your tablescape without consuming your limited surface space, and without obscuring your view of guests across the table. Buds in spice jars can lend pops of color without cluttering the table. 

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Create Beauty Through Simplicity
With our environment in mind, consider a home water carbonator in lieu of purchasing sparkling water. In the end, it will save you time, money, space, effort, and cut back on waste. Recycled-glass drinking glasses are beautiful when paired with earth-toned stoneware plates and unfussy linens. Similarly, skip the name plates and napkin rings. Tying napkins in a knot and threading silverware through the loop is a great way to save space on your table, and cut back on an unnecessary accessory without undermining your display.

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Mind You Own Comfort
When hosting, we’re frequently on our feet, running around and getting our body temperatures up a bit. It helps to remember to take a deep breath and just enjoy the experience, and to consider our own comfort as much as that of our guests. Sustainable linen is the  ideal fabric to wear when hosting in the summer. It’s versatile, strong yet airy, naturally antibacterial, and grows softer with time.

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Daily Efforts to Reduce Waste

I received so many follow-up questions and comments on our recent eco-friendly stories (“Reusable Goods to Carry Daily” + “Reusable Bags” + “Cloth Diapering”) that I wanted to follow up with further details about the items we use in the cottage and on the go to help reduce waste and/or curb our dependency on plastic. This blog entry encompasses a bit of everything, from recycled toys to feminine care. 

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Some of our efforts to reduce our footprint have been more substantial commitments, such as cloth diapering, dietary changes, and getting rid of one car and replacing it with a cargo bike. Others have been simpler, like using stainless steel drinking and snack cups instead of their plastic counterparts. Either way, everything was worth evaluating and adjusting, as our Earth needs some love, and she needs it now

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Not too long ago, we had an old mattress hauled away from our house by an LADWP bulky items truck. When the driver arrived, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind also taking a collapsed but oversized and thick cardboard box that was proving to be a challenge for the recycling bin. The driver kindly told me that he would take the box, but that he strongly recommended I find a way to break it down myself since it wouldn’t end up in the recycling center if he hauled it away-- it would instead go to a landfill. It was sobering to hear him reveal just how bad the trash situation is here. I appreciated his advice and honestly. (Later, Adam and I quickly spritzed the box with the hose and then drove our little car over it a few times to soften it up enough for us to fold it further and cut it down for our recycling bin.)

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The point is this— I think many of us make consumer and lifestyle decisions based on immediate convenience at the expense of the longterm ramifications. So, from our morning cup of coffee to West's diaper wipes, we’re sharing some of the efforts we've made to reduce the waste coming out of the Cottage. Hopefully this list will continue to evolve and expand.

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TOYS
I'll admit that West has a set of tiny plastic trucks he loves, as well as a few plastic tub squirt toys for his folding bath/water table. But otherwise, we've tried to stick with wooden, handmade, and/or recycled toys. Our two favorite sources are ETSY and GreenToys. You can find so many beautiful and wonderful handmade wooden items for kids of all ages on ETSY. And GreenToys makes their non-toxic plastic toys here in the USA out of 100% recycled milk jugs. (The two trucks in the image below are from GreenToys.) 

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PUP SUPPLIES
This isn't the prettiest topic, but let's get right to it. Poop/litter scoop bags. (Ugh.) After doing some research on the topic, I discovered that many pet waste bags can print claims that they're eco-friendly, when perhaps they're not entirely. We tried using old newspaper and repurposing old packaging to clean up after our dogs, but it was just too messy. Now we use BioBag, which is derived from plant and vegetable based materials that make them 100% compostable and biodegradable. We opt for standard packaging rather than the rolls to avoid that little plastic tubing that comes in the center of the roll.

We've found healthy and ethically-produced dog food that our pups really enjoy, but the packaging is a concern for us. So we're still on the hunt! We might start prepping food fresh for the pups, depending on the economics. I'll report back soon...

GETTING AROUND
About 2 years after moving into the Cottage, Adam and I decided to donate his SUV (via KCRW), and we now share our little 2009 Honda Fit for longer distance trips. If possible, we opt to ride the LA Metro-- particularly if we're visiting a museum, attending a rally, or going to a concert. 

It's liberating to avoid the extra cost and responsibility of a second car. We simply use our cargo bike or other bikes for local errands and adventures-- it's better for our bodies, and far more enjoyable than sitting in a car in LA traffic.

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DINING IN AND ON-THE-GO
I have a tiny bag that's packed with the reusable goods we carry daily-- from straws to produce bags to napkins to to-go containers-- view the roundup here. At various markets and shops, we've been able to offer our tupperware or stainless containers to fill in lieu of plastic packages. When items get dirty from use when we're out, we drop them into a leak-proof BPA-free bag and wash everything at home later.

We've also been reducing our dependency on plastics within the Cottage. West uses these beautiful handmade wooden plates by Timberchild, and stainless steel snack cups + drinking cups + sippy cups. Munchkin has some great hybrid designs, and Pura Stainless has fantastic, adaptable Earth-friendly items for all ages from infants to adults.

Instead of getting plastic plates, bowls or utensils for West, we have wood or metal versions of everything. They hold up just as well to being tossed around, and they're easy to care for.

As far as beverages are concerned, we go through a ton of carbonated water. Instead of buying bottles and cans, we use a Soda Stream here at home, which cuts back on cost and eliminates bottle waste. For coffee, we now have a mini Keurig with a reusable pod so there's zero waste (not even a basic filter) beyond the compostable coffee grounds.

As for West, he was exclusively breast-fed for the first 6 months, and then fed with breastmilk in tandem with his food for another year beyond that point. He now drinks water or milk from stainless steel containers, or paper cartons if we're in a pinch out the door. When we buy milk, we try to select paper cartons that have no plastic components.

We never use disposable cups, nor do we use disposable plates or napkins. We never use cling wrap, and opt instead for beeswax wrap.

Lastly, Adam and I recently adopted a pescatarian diet-- both for environmental reasons, and out of concern for animal cruetly. 

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CLOTHES / LINENS
We have a reusable/cloth diapering system, which we love. You can read about it here. While we do use baby wipes if needed, we also have reusable cloth wipes, which we use during every changing.

When possible, we skip the dryer (which we share with our neighbor) to save energy, and use a makeshift clothesline that runs between our cottage and a ficus tree. I have some work to do on this topic though. I do still use the dryer for linens that have notable amounts of dog hair on them, since the dryer is basically a magical pet hair remover. We use a Seventh Generation detergent that comes in compostable and recyclable brown packaging.

For West's few pieces of clothing, we try to use ETSY as much as possible. As for me, I use Rent the Runway for special occasions, and have started wearing lots of no-fuss linen, as well as clothes by Daniella Hunter, which are made of eco-fabrics that utilize sustainable plant-based threads like hemp, silk, organic cotton and lyocell. (Meanwhile, Adam basically never gets anything new ever. He's still wearing the shirts he wore when I met him, and I love him for it.)

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PERSONAL CARE
When it comes to feminine products, menstrual cups are solid options, as there's zero waste beyond their initial packaging. If a cup doesn't work to your comfort, tampons without applicators are a mindful alternative. For example, Natracare organic tampons are naturally biodegradable and vegan.

I recently swapped out disposable cotton rounds for organic reusable/washable cotton cloths. These are available in a myriad of places, such as ETSY and Wild Minimalist. Similarly, we rarely use tissues-- even on West-- and use handkerchiefs instead. (If our skin needs a bit of softening or relief, we just apply coconut oil.)

Our razors are made from recycled plastic, but I'm not really wild about them. Our wood-handled ones fell apart years ago, so I think I'll try a Rockwell Safety model next. Hopefully that will be the last!

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CLEANING
I have a separate cleaning post in the works, so I'll pause on this topic until that entry. But I've found that reusable glass bottles filled either with homemade all-purpose cleaner or cleansers from concentrate are not only eco-friendly but space-saving. We use towels and rags rather than paper towels for all forms of cleaning. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting so many details, but I look forward to expanding upon all of these topics soon. (In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email us!)

Folding Wagon for Kids, Pets, & Shopping

We bought a folding wagon for West and the pups about a year ago, and we still receive numerous inquires about it. As such, here's a quick review with photos and product links. I would've loved to buy a previously-owned / vintage wagon, but this one navigates smoothly over wretchedly-paved roads or natural ground, is washable, and is practical for a compact home or apartment. As such, it was the right fit for our needs. We routinely use ours to wheel around our son, his friends, the pups, plants, groceries, and medium/large boxes. 

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We selected a version of the Wonderfold that comes with telescoping corners for an optional sun canopy, and I'm so glad we did. It takes about 15 seconds to apply or remove the canopy, and it functions perfectly for bright, hot days. We also added a safety seat for West when he was a bit smaller. It kept him upright, safely harnessed, and prevented him from knocking his head into the wagon's frame. (Another optional add-on is a mosquito net.)

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Most importantly, the entire wagon folds up or expands within a couple seconds, making it practical for multi-tasking folks in confined living quarters. (It also fits easily into small trunks when collapsed.)

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Some handy details include two mesh pockets on the exterior for reusable water bottles and coffee thermoses, a zippered back storage bin for medium-sized goods such as handbags, and an interior pouch for small  books, leashes, etc.

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Conveniently, the handle of the wagon doesn't crash to the ground when you release it-- it either stays put, or very slowly lowers, depending on how forcefully you release it.

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It's easy to remove the canvas of the wagon for machine washing. (I simply hang-dry the material before reinstalling it.) Ease of washing was important to me, because West regularly draws on the fabric with chalk, the pups shed on everything, and I somehow always manage to get sap and floral water all over the interior.

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I hope this helps. Here's to tiny adventures beyond our homes!

Simplified Bookshelf

As we all well know, color-coordinated bookshelves were a "thing" several years back. The trend ignited notable levels of interest from folks who either loved or hated the look. I've never really considered myself to be on one team or the other. I delight in the diverse design of book spines (the typography, the color schemes, the illustrations), but I also appreciate practical and functional decor. Art collectors spend so much time, money and effort selecting frames, mats and fillets for the 2-dimensional art that hangs on their walls-- what's the harm in being creative with the display of the publications you use, love and see daily?

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Since rearranging our bedroom library years ago, I've received lots of questions and criticism: "Oh great, so I can only read flax-colored books now?" / "If you cover your books, why keep them?" / "Won't these fall on you in an earthquake?" / "How can you tell where a particular book is located?" / "Living tiny is supposed to save time-- why invest time in something unnecessary like this?" / "Why don't you replace these with decorative objects?" (I understand all of these questions and critiques... except for the last one. Decorative objects? Bah!)

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The thing is, I LOVE our neutral-toned bookshelf. It allows our tiny bedroom to breathe, and to feel uncluttered and airy, despite being completely utilitarian. This small space carries a lot of weight and wears many hats, but it looks and feels relaxed and easy thanks to the book spines and our bed linens. 

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The process requires very little time, effort and money (if any). There's no need to buy and waste new paper to do this with your bookshelf. Here are my three favorite options for achieving the look:

  • Remove the dust jacket-- the actual spines are frequently more beautiful. 
  • Simply flip the dust jacket inside out, and hand-write the title on the clean spine.
  • Use book binding repair tape to cover the spine. 
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For me, this was well-worth the short time investment it required. I donate plenty of books and buy many titles digitally, but I've kept these books because I enjoy revisiting them, they were written by friends or colleagues, and/or because we've yet to finish them. We don't need this storage space for any thing else-- we have all the room we need throughout our home. We've simply asked our books to pull double-duty by functioning as art when they're not being read. 

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(Small) Negative Space

Recently I contributed some words to a Domino feature entitled, “What I Wish I Knew Before Living in a Small Space,” and I wanted to expand upon those thoughts. 

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The Cottage is not my first compact living situation. I’ve lived in a tiny studio by the beach (1.5 years), a tight 1-bedroom in Manhattan (2 years), a shared 1-bedroom apartment nestled within a medieval castle (1 year over the span of a decade), and two dorm rooms, both of which I split with assigned roommates (1.5 years). But I’ve lived in this tiny home by the canals for over 7 years now, and it’s the first small space I’ve experienced with my own family. And I’m 37— my style has evolved and my priorities have shifted. 

As such, I’ve learned exponentially more about efficient and mindful small space living since calling the Cottage home.

Here’s the excerpt from the Domino piece, compiled by Elly Leavitt: 

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes a great multifunctional storage find can actually be detrimental to your small space. “I wish I’d realized from the onset that the trick to small space living isn’t primarily to find storage. Instead, it’s to re-evaluate your existing belongings, analyze your future purchases, and determine what you can live without,” says Whitney Leigh Morris, whose 362-square-foot Venice Beach cottage is the stuff that dreams are made of.

She advocates donating the items you don’t actually need and being more intentional with your decorating; after all, downsizing your home means downsizing your lifestyle, too.

In other words, I believe that the key to living beautifully in a small home or apartment is not figuring out how to creatively Tetris a life’s worth of “stuff” into limited square-footage. It’s about discovering what you truly need — and don’t need— in order to live comfortably and contentedly, day by day.

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Lately I’ve been enjoying the negative space in our tiny house. These empty spots are not only soothing and airy, but they bolster the design elements and decorative features nearby. Most importantly, they provide the opportunity for us to explore and embrace unstructured moments.

By moving the tray of functional decorative items off our coffee table, West suddenly has a toddler-height surface for puzzles, creative play, and reading. By wheeling the entire chest away and under the desk, we all have a place to work out, horse around with the pups, roll West's book carts around, and dance.

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By keeping our breakfast counter clear, we have a place to open the mail, prep meals, sort donations, arrange greenery, and play with watercolors. 

By leaving my desk free of traditional office organizers and paper piles, I have all the inches I need to write, bookkeep, plan, and pause to draw with West when he climbs up into my lap as I work.

By keeping my beside cubby empty and unstyled, I can accommodate the books, drinks, puzzles, and hair clips that West and I share in the evenings and mornings. 

These stretches of blank canvas throughout our home are invitations for us to move differently, think creatively, and breathe deeply. For this, we don’t require a bigger house— we simply need less clutter.

Roundup: Water Tables for Small Spaces

Numerous styles of sensory tables could work well for children living in small spaces. There are nesting versions, options that double as outdoor coffee tables, custom handmade designs, easy DIYs, and Ikea hacks galore. But as Adam and I were researching what models would work well for our son and space, we decided that we didn't want to acquire anything new. So we decided instead to use items we already have at the Cottage:

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We simply put West's folding bathtub on his outdoor collapsible table, and voila. He is entertained for hours via this setup. We swap the bathtub out for a plastic toy storage tub when our son wants to play with sand or similar materials instead.

There was no need to buy anything new, and no need to make room, or find storage space. So there's another $50 - $400 saved and allocated towards our little one's future, without shorting him of this joyful lil' experience.

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Here are some of the items we have and enjoy, as well as a few additional accessories of similar styles:

If you have the funds to spare, here are the options we bookmarked before deciding to cobble our own version together:

Roundup: Mirrored Products for Small Spaces

Mirrors are one of the most effective ways to enlarge the look and feel of a small space.

Here in the Cottage, we turned a large floor mirror on its side and mounted it to the wall above my desk in order to reflect and double the light from the neighboring wall's windows. It was extremely effective-- when we took the mirror down to paint the wall last year, the main room of our home immediately felt smaller, darker, and more cluttered. 

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In a tiny apartment, there isn't usually much interrupted wall space in which to mount a large mirror (like the one over my desk), but I've found that a cohesive collection of smaller mirrors can be just as effective, and often more stylish.

When we covered our wall heater to transform the closet side of our bedroom into West's nursery two years ago, I suspended three inexpensive framed mirrors with twine to make our funny wall hack come to life, which is did instantaneously. The set bounced light from the windows above our built-in headboard, and from the skylight above. 

Similarly, when we rented the front house on our property for some months, I used a round rattan mirror set to liven up a small, dark wall between West's closet and bathroom. 

But mirrors can be used in a myriad of other ways as well. Try reflective headboards, room dividers, and furnishings in order to brighten up tricky spots. 

Similarly, mirrors can also be used in more ways than one. There are numerous designs available with built-in storage shelves and racks, which help pieces pull double-duty. Your vanity, medicine cabinet, mantle, coat rack, sconces, wardrobe rack, backsplash, jewelry organizer, and countless other items can serve their function(s) while simultaneously brightening and beautifying your compact space.

A roundup of diverse styles and products is below-- scroll right to explore them all!

Spring Roundup: Indoor/Outdoor Garden Space

We recently did a fun little shoot with Urban Outfitters here in the back garden at the Cottage. I decided to leave the furnishings and accessories out here for a while because I love them so much! They're a mix of indoor and outdoor pieces, but thanks to this SoCal spring weather they're all holding up beautifully, and we've been enjoying them daily ever since.

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New Routines in Our Lil' Old House

It’s been a few weeks since we stopped renting the little front house, and we’ve adjusted to life back in our solo tiny cottage. The last time we lived in under 400 sqft, West was barely walking. Now, at 19 months old, he’s running everywhere, climbing everything, and reaching further and higher than we expected for his age. I always heard people say that this stage is exhausting. It is, but more than that, it’s completely dazzling. 

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As part of the shift in our living situation, we’ve been faced with some new challenges, changes to our sleep and nursing routines, and the need for modified storage and use of space.

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FRESH CHALLENGES

WORK - The adjustment back into our single tiny house hasn’t been without it’s minor hiccups, of course. For example, my home-office is great for editing photos, developing creative concepts, and doing administrative work, but I’ve had to leave the house numerous times to write at nearby restaurants. That costs a bit of money, but it’s nothing compared to renting an external office (which I’m not intersted in anyway, regardless of the price-tag). 

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RELATIONSHIP - Adam and I have gotten in more tiffs than normal, as we’re in each others faces non-stop. It’s my job 24/7 to run our small business, and financially support our family and our futures. It’s Adam’s job 24/7 to be with West. (Thankfully, those worlds overlap, and we help each other out.)  But the silver lining from those infrequent arguments is that Adam and I both feel the weight of each others’ responsibilities, which helps us to better understand and sympathize with one another. Overall, I believe it’s far more unifying than dividing. It’s just a lot, as it is for any family, regardless of the size of their home.

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MODIFIED SLEEP / NURSING ROUTINE

West has never really slept in a crib overnight. For his first year, he had a mini-crib for his frequent naps as an infant, but he slept with us via a co-sleeper while we bed-shared and I nursed him on-demand. When we set up his room in the front house, West was 13+ months old. At that stage, we felt like we’d be taking a step backwards to begin crib-training him as a toddler.  So we got a convertible bed, which could be set up as a crib, a toddler bed, or a daybed. We set it up in daybed format, and we used it for his once-daily naps, and whenever family or babysitters put him to bed at night. This encouraged a bit more independence in his sleep routines, and I began to wean him slowly. 

NURSING - Between months 15-18, I reduced West’s nursing sessions so we were just breastfeeding at night and in the mornings. Then, at 18 months, I stopped nursing him altogether. (Sob!) At that point, we also gave up the front cottage.

BED - Rather than relocate our wardrobe back out to the garden shed yet again, we decided to scrap our plan for a fold-out toddler bed / toddler workspace in the bedroom closet alcove, and simply use West’s crib mattress on the floor at night. (He naps on our bed, in the car seat, or in the stroller, depending on the events of each day.) Obviously having a mattress on the floor is not design-y. But it works perfectly, our son sleeps in it happily, and I see no reason to be dissatisfied with it. During the day, we simply prop the mattress up into our closet. (We loaned the convertible crib frame to a friend in need, in the hopes that we’ll get to use it again in the future.) 

To help West fall in love with his bed, we got a few new fitted sheets in patterns we knew he’d enjoy. It works wonderfully, and he runs to his bed with his books excitedly at night, babbling about what he sees on his bedding, and pointing out his favorite parts. 

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He’s safe, he’s content, and the process is easy. If West wakes up at night, he either soothes himself back to sleep, or he asks us to bring him into our bed (where he falls back asleep immediately). We don’t mind. This won’t last forever, and we’ll enjoy it while we can. 

Sometimes West rotates in his sleep and knocks Adam and I in our faces. Sometimes I roll into the tiny gap between our bed and the built-in bookshelf and get comically and uncomfortably wedged there. And sometimes Sophee traps some or all of our legs with her warm and floppy beagle body. But I don’t care. My greatest joy is waking up to our whole family sharing this little bedroom. (The backache always fades.)

I know that much of this will be considered unacceptable to many people— particularly in the opinionated worlds of parent blogging and home decor. But we are functioning smoothly and happily, so I’m sharing our experience publicly in case it helps anyone else who’s living tiny (or considering living tiny) with their family. There are many benefits:

  • We’re back on track to save money for retirement and for West’s education.
  • We get to live in a city and neighborhood that we love, but otherwise couldn’t afford in a big house.
  • It takes mere minutes to tidy up our entire home and garden. 
  • I believe our physical proximity to one another makes us closer emotionally.

And I gotta say— nothing is ever boring.

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UPDATED STORAGE

We didn’t have to make any adjustments to accommodate the crib mattress, but we did have to shuffle and donate some items in order to absorb West’s playroom. But that ended up being a relief anyway. We are now running more efficiently than ever, which is extremely helpful, because life has been insane lately. (Don’t get me started on April 2018… good riddance.)

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TOYS  - We gave away enough items to free up 2 of the 3 cubbies that are built-in to the side of the couch, and West’s toys now fit in there via little tubs that we bring out in shifts. 

Some of his bigger items, such as his piano, collapsible toddler tent which encloses his folding work table + chairs, along with his bike and Green Truck live out on the covered porch. (They all fit in the house, but there’s no need to bring them in— even when it’s lightly raining.)

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BOOKS - We relocated our son’s books from jute baskets to a 3-tiered rolling cart. West wheels it around— both inside and outside— throughout the day as though he’s a miniature librarian. It’s the cutest. 

So! Life feels better than ever. We know we’ll have to make some changes again in the future, but thus far we’ve had great success with living in the moment, and being optimistic about adapting to whatever tomorrow holds.

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Video from the Cottage

We were so delighted to welcome Well + Good to the Cottage for a tiny home tour earlier this spring. It's funny how fast things change here in our lil' space. Since shooting this video, our grapevines have sprouted and covered the fence line, our 8'-porch has been converted to a full play space, and we've since stopped renting the front cottage (which is shown in the video as West's nursery). But the overall gist of it is still very much the same. We love this video, and hope you do, too. Thank you, Well + Good!

Roundup: Small Space Shoe Storage

Over the six months that we rented the front cottage, West began walking. Finding a place for his shoes was not an issue-- we had tons of open storage over there. (We don't own nearly enough  to fill 800 sqft.) But now that we've given up the front house and are back to sharing under 400 sqft, I needed to find a solution for our toddler's footwear. 

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Initially we kept his footwear in a single canvas basket up on the top shelf of the closet. But West seems to enjoy picking out his own clothing and accessories, so I wanted to give him the opportunity to easily do so. I found a simple, customizable, handmade shoe storage solution for toddler shoes (and even baby shoes) via ETSY, and it works like a charm. It takes up no floor-space and no shelf-space, and we can easily relocate the strand to the closet when we prefer for it to be out-of-sight:

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Adam and I stash our shoes within the built-in cubbies under the couch. The following images are a few years old (thus the old couch cushions and overflowing throw pillows), but the concept is clear:

For those of you in need of shoe organization solutions in your small home, I've rounded up a few diverse options, below. But remember-- before you craft or buy storage, try downsizing your collection first! (Reading My Tea Leaves just posted a wonderful entry about responsible decluttering, which you can enjoy here.)

Roundup: Small Space Jewelry Storage

Over my many years of small space living, I’ve tried numerous jewelry storage solutions. I don’t have excessive amounts of jewelry, but I do have enough to warrant a proper organizer. Frustratingly, I could never seem to find a piece that fit our tiny space while holding larger items (such as my collection of ascots from Late Sunday Afternoon and my boho bangles).

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A few years back, I finally found a wonderful solution. It’s not sexy, and it’s not what I’d hoped to find (vintage, natural materials, etc.), but it works, and I imagine I’ll use it for my entire life: it's a plastic hardware organizer with clear drawers. I picked a tall, shallow design, so it can fit inside our compact bathroom vanity. Behind it, we’re able to stack the linens we use infrequently, such as rain mats and guest towels. And there’s still enough room left over to store everyday supplies such as my hairdryer and brush, our first aid kit, my makeup, toiletries, and more.

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My advice to anyone struggling to accommodate a jewelry collection in little home is to seek out pieces— from ANY product category— that offer the overall dimensions and compartment styles needed, rather looking specifically for “jewelry organizers.” It's surprising how handy a picnic basket, pill box, cutlery organizer, or hardware case can be.

Don’t forget that nearly any area within a home can be turned into jewelry storage (or storage of any sort, for that matter). Hang pieces on the wall, put shallow drawers to use, suspend organizer pockets from a curtain rod, and/or add slim cabinetry to the backs of doors. (Or, as I did, use the awkward inches in front of your sink’s u-bend.) 

Below is a quick and shopable roundup of some of the diverse styles of organizational tools that can hold jewelry in homes of varying styles and sizes.