Welcome to the Cottage.

The Tiny Canal Cottage® is a 1920's Craftsman-style house by the Venice Beach Canals in Southern California. This <400 sqft home/office is the full-time residence of Creative Director Whitney Leigh Morris, her husband, their son, and two rescue beagles.

Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part 1)

Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part 1)

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.


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.


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.


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

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

Healthy Home, Healthy Planet

Healthy Home, Healthy Planet

Summer Dining in a Small Outdoor Space