Toys (+ Toy Storage) for Tiny Homes

While we aren't minimalists, our overarching goal at the Cottage is to minimize our possessions without sacrificing comfort, style or experiences. When it comes to our son's book and toy collection, we've stayed in this mindset and only acquired items that he seems to genuinely enjoy, and that we believe to be beneficial to his development-- and, of course, we try to find pieces that we actually enjoy seeing scattered all over the floor, whenever possible.

In our small space, it's been helpful to find the following types of toys and containers: 

  • Collapsible
  • Travel-Sized
  •  Self-Contained
  • Scalable (for longevity)
  • Woven, wood, leather, or hanging baskets/boxes (to suit the style of our home)

As long as everything West enjoys regularly has a dedicated space that's easily accessible (and can be contained in a way that makes our home still feel uncluttered and organized), it works for us. Here are some visual examples of our everyday, ever-evolving storage methods:

A Handmade hanging basket on A magnetic hook Holds west's magnetic letters and numbers on the fridge or dishwasher

A Handmade hanging basket on A magnetic hook Holds west's magnetic letters and numbers on the fridge or dishwasher

Wire mesh hanging baskets hold small toys high up in the nursery

Wire mesh hanging baskets hold small toys high up in the nursery

An oversized Knotted string hamper basket contains miscellaneous toys that west enjoys daily

An oversized Knotted string hamper basket contains miscellaneous toys that west enjoys daily

a mix of Toys contained via similarly-toned boxes and suitcases

a mix of Toys contained via similarly-toned boxes and suitcases

the large Built-in trundle storage bin beneath our bed

the large Built-in trundle storage bin beneath our bed

Here are some of our favorite types of toys at West's current stage, along with the reasons why we love them:

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The above sampling of West's toys demonstrates the types of items that work well in our small home. Our son uses all of these regularly, and we can store them easily. The small train breaks down into segments for simple clean up. The leaf puzzle slides onto the bookshelf at night.  The wooden book is pocket-sized, and travels everywhere with us. The alphabet books entertain West endlessly, and are self-contained in a small box. The geometric star is pliable and can fit almost anywhere. The handmade magnetic fishing set has small (yet safe) parts that we quickly stash away in a drawstring linen bag.

I want my son to have access to a diverse array of colors, shapes, materials, and activities that make him happy and stimulate his growth. I look forward to seeing how his preferences and styles differ from my own. Having said that, I take joy in analyzing everything we bring into our home, and if we can make select items work for all of us (at this stage), then why not. Everyone wins!

Year 1 as a Family of 5

It's been a full year since we first brought baby West home to the Cottage. We celebrated our son by hosting a cozy little gathering at the house.

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(I deliberately kept my camera and phone tucked away as much as possible, focusing on the moment more than the documentation of the moment. But I'm glad I caught this photo. We decorated minimally, with faux vines instead of traditional birthday bunting. We topped the cake table with light-up letters, which remind us of the famous Venice Sign not far from our home.)

Our families visited for the happy occasion. Rather than packing our weekend together with events and to-dos, we decided to relax. We strolled the canals and visited the farmers market with West, and in the evening we sat outside and chatted for hours. We lit a sparkler candle and sang happy birthday to our boy in the main room of the cottage, then watched as he happily destroyed a sliver of carrot cake AND a helping of chocolate cake (both from Gjusta) on the porch.

We gave West his first bike-- a Venice necessity-- and he's aaaaalmost tall enough to start using it comfortably. (He already wants to climb on it constantly, but his toes are still a few centimeters from the floor when he's on the seat.) I selected a Wishbone Design Bike, because it can transform as the months go by. It starts as a baby walker, and can then be adapted into a toddler trike, and then later into a balance bike until West is ready for pedals.

We also got a collapsible wagon-- admittedly as much for us as for West. At 12 months old, he wants to explore EVERYTHING around him, and the wagon allows him to see and move around more than the stroller as we walk through the neighborhood. It also provides ample space for his blanket, a few books, and our market groceries. I looooove the wagon, as does West. The model we selected has an optional sun canopy, and cup/bottle holders. And to make it workable for small space living, it folds up easily under its cover, and tucks up tightly against our stoop. (Although in my mind, I pretend it looks more like this.)

Wearing the SANCHEZ LONG OPEN WEAVE COTTON PONCHO from Monserat De Lucca 

Wearing the SANCHEZ LONG OPEN WEAVE COTTON PONCHO from Monserat De Lucca 

West's birthday weekend went exactly as we'd hoped. Everything was simple, sweet, and close to home. And most importantly, our son was surrounded by family, and oh so much love.

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Tiny Nursery Evolution - An Unexpected Change

West’s first birthday is just around the corner, which means we’ve had our tiny house nursery (adapted from our bedroom closet) for well over a year now. It has been my favorite part of the cottage that entire time. The space is practical. It’s functional. It’s adorable. And it brings me joy when it’s sparkling clean AND when it’s disastrously messy. Our son enjoys the items we’d hoped he would, along with several others we’d never anticipated him even noticing. The pups play and pace protectively around it. And it’s the first thing Adam and I see when we wake up every morning.

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A couple months ago, I was almost ready to post our plans for adapting the nursery to accommodate West’s growth and needs. 

We’d planned on collapsing the mini-crib and stowing it in the built-in storage space beneath our bed. In it’s place, we were going to build a very low, folding platform. When closed, it would resemble a child-sized built-in tabletop. When unfolded, it would extend a couple of feet into the bedroom (over the area rug), and serve as West’s bed. Initially, we would’ve used the Dock-a-Tot Grand as his mattress. Then, as West grew into being a toddler, we’d either upsize to a custom-cut memory foam mattress, or add temporary, removable rails to our built-in couch as his next bed.

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And then, the same week we started to cut the materials for the built-in table/bed, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity.

Our wonderful neighbor, who has the front tiny cottage on our shared property, offered Adam and me the chance to take over his house as renters. (Some of you might recall that we discussed this possibility with our neighbor a few years ago, too, but we couldn’t quite work out the timing of the arrangement back then, so we scrapped the plan.)

Our cottage on the left, the "new" neighboring tiny cottage on the right.

Our cottage on the left, the "new" neighboring tiny cottage on the right.

Adam and I debated, weighing out the pros and cons:

Do we need the extra space? 
- Truthfully, no. Not right now.

Would it be nice to have an “external” office nearby, along with a place for West’s grandparents to stay when they visit from Florida, and other needs?
- Yes, absolutely.  

Is it worth the money?
- We still aren’t quite sure...

Is it worth the adventure?
- We decided that yes, it is. 
(At least for now.)

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So we pumped the breaks on the nursery adaptation plan. Because, in November, our home/office will grow from under 400 sqft to just under 800 sqft. We'll re-approach West's nursery expansion according to this new development. (More on that soon.)

Overall, I’m looking forward to this change. We’ve lived at the Cottage for over 6.5 years, and the idea of outfitting the entire property for our little family excites me. (Note: Other than the nursery, our existing home will remain the same.)

But here’s the thing that bothers me: I don’t want people who have looked to the Cottage as inspiration for small space living with a baby to believe that it can’t be done. I’m being completely honest when I say that we don’t need the extra space right now. But, at our age, and with our lives being where and what they are, Adam and I don’t love the idea of sharing the property with a new neighbor, when we could instead secure the front house for our families, and for special events. So that is actually the main reason why we’re expanding.

The front stoop of our home. "New" neighoring cottage in background.

The front stoop of our home. "New" neighoring cottage in background.

So, a month from now, our lives will shift to include TWO tiny houses! 🏡 🏡  I look forward to sharing our plans and evolving experience with you very soon.

Small Space Living Feature & Video on Disney's Babble

We're so happy that the cottage was featured on Babble today! Click here to read the story, browse the photos, and play the video

Image courtesy of Babble © Disney

Image courtesy of Babble © Disney

Excerpt: “We’ve loved this first year with West in the cottage so very much,” Morris tells Babble. “It’s tough to articulate, but somehow our proximity makes every moment feel that much more special and intimate." Additionally, Morris believes their tiny canal cottage has improved her relationship. “We function in tandem with one another — as parents, as a couple, and as co-workers,” Morris describes to Babble.  “I believe I’m a better and more considerate partner now, thanks to our experiences in our little home.”

Image courtesy of Babble © Disney

Image courtesy of Babble © Disney

Exerpt: Now, as a master of optimizing space, Morris recommends this to anyone living small: “Go vertical. Get rid of excess. And, whenever possible, select multi-functional pieces that serve more than one purpose.” (Something we could all afford to do, actually, regardless of square footage.) - Click here to read the full story.  Thank you, Babble + Disney!

Shopping Handmade

I'm not much of a shopper. I'm not sure whether it's because we live in a tiny home and thus don't need (or want) much stuff, or because it's just not in my nature. Either way, I rarely look forward to searching for and buying goods online or in brick-and-mortars. Having said that, I LOVE shopping handmade and vintage items via Etsy. (Loooooove.)

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Etsy has obviously been around for years, and yet so many people tell me that they don't know "how to shop" the site. They're overwhelmed by the diverse array of offerings, both in the vintage and handmade categories. But for me, Etsy is not only easy, it's fun. As such, I figured I'd share a few of my Etsy shopping habits here on the blog, since so many of the items from our Cottage were discovered via Etsy vendors and makers. (Please note that this isn't a step-by-step of how to use the site-- there are plenty of those online already. This is simply an overview of how I use the site to help make the Cottage look and feel the way it does.)

To visually demonstrate how I integrate vintage and handmade goods into our home, here are some miscellaneous items I found on Etsy that appear regularly in my Instagram feed and on my blog photos:

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First off, I only shop for pieces that I need. I don't just browse aimlessly, or on impulse. For me, the key is to search for the general function I need an item to serve, rather than search by a item's name directly. For example, when I need linens that can serve as towels, tablecloths, couch covers, and shoulder wraps, I just search for "linen throw" and explore the results from there, selecting a piece that appeals to my aesthetic, our home, and can serve these multiple functions at once. I don't search for and buy each of these items individually-- that would take four times as long, cost four times as much, and require four times the storage space in our home.

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Similarly, when I wanted to find an alternative to traditional, modern file boxes, I searched by function and material, rather than specifically for a "file box." By searching for "vintage" + "rattan" + "box", I realized that small picnic baskets could be upcycled into beautiful file storage solutions.

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I even found my wedding dress on Etsy. And because it was made for my measurements, it fit flawlessly upon arrival. (Even at 25 weeks pregnant!) Rather than going down the internet rabbit hole by searching for a "wedding dress," I browsed instead for "handmade" + "custom" + "white" + "dress". I found my dress within 1 hour, and never looked back. It was perfect for me.

By searching for items via detail and function, I discover creative and unique homewares, clothes, and toys that serve the purposes my family needs, in formats I might not have previously considered. This is one of the traits that makes our lil' home so personal and special to us!

Create & Cultivate Seattle

Adam and I took a quick trip to Seattle this past weekend to participate in the latest Create & Cultivate conference at the Microsoft Headquarters. It was a joy to speak on the panel: Detail Oriented: An Inside Look at the Business of Design.

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I was honored to be part of such an incredible group of women. The panel included Kate Arends (of Wit and Delight), Anne Sage (of Light Lab), Christina Martinez (of New Darlings), Anne Alo (of  Creative House Int'l), Amanda Manna (of Lowes Innovation Labs), and was moderated by Jessica Anderson (of Elle Decor).

Photo © New Darlings: newdarlings.com

Photo © New Darlings: newdarlings.com

Adam and I stayed at the Thompson Hotel, which is beautifully designed and perfectly situated in the city. Since it was our first time in Seattle, we did the touristy things, like visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. We also spent hours in the MoPOP. We enjoyed many of their installations, but we went specifically for the Jim Henson Exhibition, organized by the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. I loved the Henson collection so much that Adam practically had to drag me away from it...

I deliberately left my camera in my purse the majority of the time, focusing instead on meeting the participants and attendees of the conference. But I snapped a few iPhone photos for Instagram Stories, below:

Thank you, Jaclyn R. Johnson and Create & Cultivate for including me in such an epic, informative and inspiring event.

Santa Monica Staycation

Recently, while a TV show was being shot at the Cottage for a few days, we decided to relocate to Santa Monica for a lil' working staycation:

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We stayed at the Palihouse, and absolutely loved it. Our suite was probably around 600 sqft-- compared to our tiny cottage, we basically felt like we were in a palace. West scooted all over the place, and it was the perfect spot for keeping him safely entertained while I worked. 

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With the full kitchen in our room, along with the incredibly comfortable and cozy work/lounge areas in the lobby and gardens, we felt like we were staying in a friends gorgeous, sprawling home.

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I loved how intimate the Palihouse felt. It's not quite a typical hotel, and we liked that about it.

We held a few meetings, caught up with some friends, watched the GOT season finale (which was fun-- we don't have a TV at the cottage), and strolled along the beach. It felt good to be there, and, of course, it felt wonderful to return home afterwards.

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Unfortunately we discovered a lot of damage to the cottage when we got back. (That'll happen when you have a production crew of 40 people in under 400 sqft for three days straight, I guess.) But the great thing about a tiny house is that we got it all back under control within a few hours. (And hurricane Harvey put things into perspective for us.)

Now on to September!

Guesthouse Getaway in Santa Barbara

Last week, Adam and I felt the overwhelming need to be with our family, and to surround baby West with love. We decided to take a quick getaway to Adam's brother and sister-in-law's home in Santa Barbara. We stayed in their guest unit, which is the dreamiest and most comfortable little house. (Even though it's a small studio-style home, it's still probably about 3x the size of our cottage!)

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I hadn't intended on taking many photos during our visit-- I wanted to my eyes focused on my family, not my phone. But I couldn't keep myself from snapping a few images here and there, as the interiors and grounds were just too gorgeous to resist. (Alas, it's not an Airbnb, folks. Sigh!) 

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I hope you enjoy a glimpse of the details from this incredible property, which is one of my main design and decor inspirations.

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At 10+ months old, West zoomed all over this cozy casita. He even picked and ate oranges from the garden. We took him on a few visits into town and to the beach, and relished the immense beauty of the California coast at the end of summer. 

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Click the images below to see what we packed, what we saw, and why we are counting down the days until our next visit.

For the Pups

Many of you wrote us to inquire about the indoor/outdoor dog beds we added to the cottage recently. Here are some more views, along with some of our other favorite pet gear:

Small Space Highchairs

Baby West is now ten (TEN!) months old. As such, he's at a point where he's feeding himself, and drinking from sippy cups and glass bottles. This means that mealtimes are a complete and total mess-- but they're also (honestly) a complete and total joy. A few items have proven themselves to be extremely practical for feeding our son in our tiny home, and on-the-go.

This is ridiculous, but we actually have TWO highchairs here at the Cottage-- the reason being that they were gifted to us, and we decided to hold on to both for an upcoming project we're working on (and excited to share in the near future). We like each chair for different reasons. Perhaps one might be right for you, depending on your particular needs and space.

We have: The folding NANO highchair from Bloom. We like it because it folds up, and sits slenderly against our Dutch Door when not in use. It also comes with everything needed (safety harness, removable, machine-washable tray, seat cover, and foot rest), so it's nearly ready-to-go out of the box. The downside is that it's a bit tricky to deep-clean in certain spots, but we still use it daily. It's the perfect counter-height, so we pull it up to our breakfast bar and enjoy meals there alongside our son. I recommend it to anyone living in a standard small space.

We also have: The Stokke Steps Chair, which we use less frequently, but really love. It's a clever and streamlined system. We like it because it will grow with West, so we won't have to buy different dining chairs for him as he gets older. It's also very easy to clean, and beautifully designed. We use it when we convert the living space into a dining space for entertaining. The add-on tray is the perfect place for West's meal, or for his books and suction-cup toys. The downside is that it doesn't fold up, so we ran into it constantly when we used it full-time. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a design-savvy, adaptable highchair that they can use for years to come.

We've also used and recommend: The Lobster Portable Highchair, and the Space-Saver High Chair. These are two products we've tried elsewhere, and believe they would work particularly well for micro-space dwellers, and/or for the grandparents' house.

Another small space lifesaver is the Gathre Mat. These mats come in a variety of colors and sizes, including one design that's intended for use beneath a highchair. We ALWAYS use one under West's chair if he's eating. It prevents his food mess from getting all over the floor. They're stylish, easy to store, and only take a moment to wipe clean.

Our other favorite baby-feeding tools aren't necessarily small-space specific, but since they are always visible (whether on the drying rack or in their standard storage places when not in use), we selected them for both their look and how they function:

From Cottage to Castle

In late July, we journeyed from our tiny house in Venice to a tiny village in France for a two week vacation in Belcastel. This little medieval town is nestled in the Aveyron Valley, and has been my home-away-from-home for a decade. The Château de Belcastel, which sits atop the village, is a striking and stunning historic monument, owned by my dear friend Heidi Leigh. I usually stay in her castle during my visits, but this year I was joined by more friends and family members than ever before, so I rented us all a gîte instead. It was the best of both worlds-- we were nestled in the heart of the village, and we were also fortunate enough to have access to the gorgeous castle. (When I could find wifi, I documented the stay on Instagram via Stories, and via #FromCottageToCastle.)

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This year's trip was particularly magical for a few reasons: it was our first time in Belcastel with Baby West, it was the first time my sister visited the village, and we all got to see and celebrate an original mural that two of my close friends from LA-- Chandler Wood and Darren Le Gallo-- painted for one of the art galleries within the castle. It was extraordinary to be in one of my favorite places with so many of my favorite people:

One of the things I love most about Belcastel in summer is its Friday night market series. Artisans, bakers, wineries and more set up booths along the river and offer their specialty items to residents and visitors:

Both the village and the castle are spectacular. Adam and I are seriously considering finding a little cottage in the area... 

As for how Adam and I packed for ourselves and baby West, we took:

  • 2 carry-on pieces by AWAY - link
  • 1 leather backpack / camera bag from ONA - link
  • 1 diaper bag / changing mat backpack from FAWN + CUB - link

I wore an outfit that was super practical for traveling-- particularly with a baby who I'm still nursing. I selected a button-down one-piece from Tysa, flats by Mohinders, an ascot (so West can yank on it) from Late Sunday Afternoon, and a teething necklace from Etsy. We requested a bassinet seat from Air France, and were thrilled with the results (even though our 10-month-old West is almost too big for it). We dressed him in a one-piece from Primary, which was extremely easy to manage on board. 

Oh, Belcastel-- we all love you so much. We cannot wait to return next summer.

Coverage of our trip to Belcastel is also up on Domino! Click here to view.

The Cottage on Lonny

The Cottage is on Lonny today! Read the piece and view the images here. Thanks, Lonny!

Excerpt: Have you ever wondered what it would take to transform your personal passion into a full-time hustle? While it may seem impossible to launch a business out of your home, we chatted with two incredible women who did just that. Whitney Leigh Morris of The Tiny Canal Cottage and Erin Hiemstra of Apartment34 both started successful personal brands out of their love for design and their desire to share it with the world. So you can see what it takes to create your own hustle, we had each of these bossladies share the experiences that led to their unique careers. From making investments to achieving that elusive work/life balance, click ahead to learn their secrets. - By Shelby Wax

The Mini-Kitchen's Mini-Makeover

Our little kitchen is adorable, but has needed a makeover for YEARS. The countertops were thin slabs of black, white and grey speckled granite, the backsplash was unfinished, and the walls were patched with paint in mismatching levels of gloss. Seeing as how the Cottage is a major part of our lives and business, why on Earth would I wait so long?  

Here's the thing about renovations in a tiny home: you can't just relocate to another part of the house while work is being done. In a small place, there's no where to go to escape the fumes and dust. Add a home-based business, kids, and pets to the mix and there never, ever seems to be a good time to tackle any larger-scale updates and repairs.  So I just kept putting it off... and years passed, as they do.

But since West is eating solid foods, we're finding ourselves spending more and more time in the kitchen together... and I started getting actively annoyed by the countertops. I could never see if they were actually clean, and I felt like they were making the space feel darker, smaller and more cramped than it actually is. As I paid more attention to the counters, the conditions of the sink, faucet, and walls all started to stab at my eyeballs, too. I knew I couldn't put it off any longer. Our neighbor agreed to let us stay at his place for 2 days while he was out of town, so we pounced on the opporunity and started planning.

Rather than exploring other kitchens online for inspiration, I pulled materials, textures and colors that inspired me. Then I decided what parts of the kitchen needed immediate attention, as we were operating under a tight timeline, and within a strict budget. Adam and I agreed that the cabinetry and appliances could wait, and that we'd focus instead on the countertops, paint, repairs, backsplash/tiling, and sink.

I was craving bright countertops, but I also wanted something with slight texture. Nothing overly marble-y, nothing speckled, and nothing too heavy in appearance. While thick countertops are lovely and certainly on-trend, we wanted something in between-- not too thin, but not so chunky that they looked out of place in our tiny kitchen. And in order to help increase the light and visual space within the room, we wanted something slightly reflective. We found the PERFECT answer to all of these requirements via Cambria's Torquay countertops. I love the characteristics of Torquay-- it's like sand and marble made a baby together:

The planning / measuring, removal of the old counters, and the installation of the new tops were a breeze. Both visits combined took under 4 hours. I can't believe I waited 6+ years for this update. It's made a HUGE difference in our home, and we LOVE it. 

Next up was the tile for the kitchen and breakfast bar counter backsplash. I knew I wanted Fireclay. I think their handmade tiles are just so gorgeous. I initially wanted to use their Picket shape, as it mirrors the fence supporting the grapevines outside. I'd also planned to go with Rosemary, which is a muted yet distinct shade of green. 

At this point, I called my incredibly talented friend, former neighbor and tiny house expert Kim Lewis for her input. While I consult on tiny home decor every day, I find that it's handy to get an outside opinion when working on the Cottage, specifically. It helps me get out of my bubble and see things differently. And Kim is the best. She knows me. She knows tiny homes. And she knows design. Kim and I decided that the Picket shape was wonderful, but just too large for this project. But neither one of us wanted a particularly modern shape, and we wanted to steer clear of subway tiling. We opted instead for a 1/6 cut. It's tiny, like our home, and rectangular like all of the built-ins and shapes throughout the house. We also updated our color selection, picking French Linen, which is a light shade of pale grey with a beige undertone. It's a perfect balance between cool and warm notes, and has a semi-reflective sheen to bounce light around our small space:

We used to hang smaller kitchen tools and accessories from the backsplash walls, since there was nothing there before. Now, with the tile in place, we moved the accessories to magnetic hooks on the refrigerator, which work just as well, and make the space look more organized and simplified.

With the new backsplash tile and countertops, it seemed silly to leave our cheap old sink and faucet in place. We upgraded to a white undermount Kohler from Wayfair, measuring about 17x18". (We installed it sideways to provide us with wider access, and more counter space for the faucet and soaps. We installed a small Purist pull-out spout faucet in vibrant polished nickel, also from Wayfair. It measures under a foot tall, so it fits well in our compact kitchen.  

The final step was to repaint the kitchen, and repair various damage to the walls that built up over the years. We figured that it was time to repaint the entire interior of the cottage-- including the ceilings. We moved most of our items to the laundry shed and garden for 2 days and nights while the painting was underway. (Luckily the LA weather had our backs, and nothing was damaged in the process.) 

We adjusted our wall color ever-so-slightly, and picked a slightly warmer, earthier hue than the previous yellow-tinted version. We used "Muscat Blanc" Everest paint by Dunn Edwards. We selected the Velvet finish, which is easier to clean than Flat-- an essential, given the baby and the pups. We used Flat White on the ceilings, and Semi-Gloss White for the moldings. 

We are so happy with our tiny kitchen's new appearance. I'm looking forward to sitting here with my little family for years to come.

(View Domino's post on our mini-kitchen's mini-makeover here.)

The "Company Car" - Our Cottage Cargo Tricycle

A couple years after moving into the Cottage, Adam and I realized that we didn't have to confine our downsizing efforts to just our home. At the time, we had two cars-- a compact 4-door, and an SUV. We decided to donate the SUV to our local NPR station, KCRW. The goal was to rely more on our bikes, and on public transportation. Years have passed, and we've never regretted this decision.

Shortly after West was born, we started looking for cargo tricycles. There are so many wonderful designs out there, but we fell in love with one in particular-- the Virtue Schoolbus+ from Virtue Cycles in San Diego. Not only does it have enough space for #StubsandSoph, but it also has seat belts for up to four children, and can fit West's car seat. (And coincidentally, it even matches our house.) We call it our "company car," and even added a "Tiny Canal Cottage" decal to one side of the cart.

We ride it all over the west side of Los Angeles. (We've even passed a few others at the farmers market and by the beach!) For those who are interested, here is my honest, bullet-point experience with this bike:

  • It is a wonderful size if you're regularly hauling children, pets, shopping, and/or plants.
  • It's beautiful, from it's leather accents, to its muted green hardware, to the wooden cargo hold.
  • The ride is smooth, sturdy, and steady.
  • The electric assist (an option) is EXTREMELY helpful when starting the bike, and when going up inclines.
  • The steering takes some getting used to, but after an hour or so of test-drives, Adam and I both got it down.
  • You can't stand up on the pedals while turning, nor should you take sharp turns at a high speed, as the cargo hold can actually tip. 
  • It's initially intimidating to maneuver the bike around tight, winding and/or urban spaces. Again, give it an hour or two of practice, and it's easy to master with confidence.
  • I regularly switch between my standard bike and this cargo tricycle. It's an easy transition between the two-- I never feel as though I have to relearn one or the other.

We enjoy this bike daily-- especially now that Adam works full-time at the Cottage, too. We're absolutely in love with how it has improved our lifestyle. It keeps us moving, outdoors and healthy, allows us to leave our shared car at home, and encourages us to experience new adventures with our little family here in Venice and throughout West LA. 

 (Browse all of our bike photos via the #wlmbike series on Instagram.)

Father's Day at the Cottage

This post was sponsored by Baileys. 
From the first moment we discussed the possibility of having children together, I knew my husband Adam would be a wonderful father. He has a calm and carefree way about him that encourages everyone around him to be at ease. His presence reminds me to relax and breathe— it’s a rare and valuable trait that’s so helpful in the context of becoming a parent, and raising a child in a busy world. 

For Adam’s first Father’s Day as a dad, we agreed to celebrate simply. No presents— we have everything we need already, and tiny homes function better with fewer items anyway. Instead, we’ve opted for a quiet night in Venice. 

We have lavender in our garden here at home, plus there were buckets of it at our local Farmer’s Market as well, so we decided to use it in a celebratory Baileys cocktail shake. 

We rode around town on our bikes gathering up the other groceries we needed. (West has grown up enough now that we can secure his car seat into the cargo bike, which has been amazing.) 

Adam came up with a quick and easy concoction that we threw into the Vitamix after dinner:

    • 2oz Baileys 
    • 2oz Bulleit Whiskey
    • 2 Cups Ice
    • 1 Cup Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
    • Topped with Lavender Sprigs

Earlier this weekend, Adam installed a little shelf on our Dutch Door, which is the handiest little add-on for our tiny kitchen. We put it to good use while making our drinks, and while enjoying the porch after West fell asleep for the night.

The ingredients smelled so good that we couldn’t get Sophee to leave them alone while we were preparing the shakes. (In the end, she only knocked over one glass. Given her track record, it could’ve been worse. )

This was a laid-back and delightful way to observe a special occasion together. We wondered: why scream over each other at a restaurant, or go out and contend with LA traffic while a babysitter watches our son? For us, being in our little home with our little family is the perfect way to connect, celebrate and surround ourselves with love.

Tiny Nursery Lighting Options

When we first created baby West's nursery bay (full post here), one of the things I struggled with the most was lighting. We definitely needed a light source, but it had to be very specific for the space. Most nursery table lamps would take up too much surface space on the tiny chest of drawers, and most overhead lighting was either too bulky or would've glowed too hot in the little closet nook. I eventually found a combination of accent lighting we loved, and that can be easily moved and adjusted for safety as West grows.

The design I use most frequently is a strand of warm-hued battery-operated twinkle lights, dropped into a rattan backpack. It hangs on the wall or from a curtain rod like a lamp, and can be toted around the cottage like a glittering flashlight.

Here are some of my favorite items and/or makers, in case you too are struggling to find soothing, practical lighting for your small space.

As always, please keep safety in mind when decorating your home. Take particular care to avoid choking, strangulation, shock, and fire hazards when it comes to nursery lighting. 

The Dog Dirt Dilemma

The following post was sponsored by Bissell.

I receive numerous questions on Instagram about how we manage the dirt and hair left behind by our pups, Stanlee and Sophee. How do we deal with it all in our white home? How do we keep the place so clean? Has our patience for it changed since having baby West?  

My first answer is always that there is dog hair and dirt everywhere. (While Sophee sheds very little, Stanlee sheds so much that it's a wonder he has a coat left at all.) Then my follow-up reply is that we simply have to vacuum daily, keep removable cushion covers on the couch, and wash our bed quilt constantly. While we'd figured out how to clean up the daily dirt, we'd yet to prevent it from occurring so intensely in the first place.

Frankly, we should bathe Stanlee and Sophee far more often than we do-- especially since we regularly take them to the beach and the dog park. But the last time we had the pups groomed here in LA it cost us around $120, and mildly traumatized them. Now that Adam and I are trying to save more of our income for West (and for some exciting plans here at the Cottage in the near future), we are searching for any way to cut back on spending. And since we're now both here at the Cottage all day long, it seems ridiculous to hire someone else to tackle a job that we could accomplish ourselves. While searching for a solution, BISSELL reached out to us with a product they suggested we try-- their BarkBath:

Overview: This is a self-contained, mess-free system, so you can use it inside if you don't have an outdoor space. Compared to bathing the pups in our stand-up shower (which always results in scratches all over my body and a killer backache) or washing them with the garden hose, this is extremely easy and FAR less messy. And it effectively reduces the dirt regularly entering our home in the first place. 

Usage: At first, Sophee was skeptical of the nozzle attached to the bath. So I put a treat on the head and presented it to her, and she quickly got over her fear. Stanlee, on the other hand, didn't mind the nozzle, but he jumped at the hum of the machine itself. Luckily there's a long hose attached to the bath, and once I put some distance between him and the device, he was fine with it all and loved the feeling of the nozzle on his coat. The bath and the de-shedding brush worked perfectly, and they cost nearly same price as one trip for two dogs to the groomer. Over time, this will save us money, along with the hassle of transporting the pups, and time spent cleaning more dirt from the cottage.

Storage: As always, we are cautious about bring any product we don't absolutely need into our tiny Cottage. But this bath fits easily alongside our suitcases and slippers under our bed. Given the hassle and money this will save us in the future, we're so glad we tried it, and that we now have it at the ready.