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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.

Before + After: Back Garden Sofa

Before + After: Back Garden Sofa

Our lil’ back garden suddenly looks twice its actual size thanks to a new custom sofa + mirror set (made here in LA with reclaimed materials) by our friends at Tumbleweed & Dandelion!

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When we first moved into our tiny home 8 years ago (photo below), we wanted to redo the wall that runs the length of this outdoor space, which is the back of the ramshackle shed we share with our neighbor— it holds our washer/dryer, bikes, and lots of his camping gear. But that makeover has simply never been within our financial means.

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Over the years we added plants and furnishings that were mainly run-off products from various shoots and client projects. But nothing was ever just right for our space.

Recently we were hosting some friends for a little catch-up session, and I realized that our friend Jeff was basically sitting with his head in a plant the entire time. I’d put the plant there to cover up part of an unsightly, unused garden door. It was meant to be a placeholder, but it ended up living there for years.

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Poor Jeff.

The next day, I called Lizzie of Tumbleweed & Dandelion to request her help in creating something more practical for our space. Lizzie is very accustomed to designing, furnishing and styling small spaces. For example, in her shop, which is located in a small, original Venice bungalow, she has giant mirrored panels that help enlarge her porch and garden while brightening up the beautifully tree-covered areas. I asked her if we could bring the same look-and-feel to our yard, but in a more compact footprint.

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This wasn’t our first time working with Lizzie— she also created the accordion bench/bed in the West Cottage for the 6 months we rented it. For this particular project, she came up with a simple yet brilliant idea: to mount mirrors to the back of the narrow couch, saving inches without putting weight on the walls of the old shed.

The results are better than I could’ve ever hoped for. We now have a cozy EIGHT FOOT LONG sofa, which is ideal for our tall family. It’s shallow enough that it doesn’t jut out too far from the wall, and yet it’s still deep enough for comfortable lounging. Lizzie kept the arms wide so that we can rest beverages and phones within arm’s reach without requiring accent tables. Best of all, the couch is backed by a set of 3 mirrors that brighten and enlarge the entire space.

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The mirrors also make our bedroom feel bigger. Since the back garden is located just off the bedroom stoop, we can see the reflection of the cottage and the outdoor shower through the French doors. It makes everything feel even more open and airy than it was to begin with— all without taking up any extra square-footage.

Here are some detailed shots showing the seams of the sofa components, and the reclaimed wood that Lizzie used throughout the design:

We also added a little dining spot off to the side, with chairs I found at Serena & Lily:

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Thanks to the wires that Big Red Sun strung between the shed, fence and Cottage, we now have a natural overhead canopy of green to help shade the entire space throughout the day.

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I also added an outdoor, white bistro table to match. Its pedestal legs make it easy for tall folks like us to sit down for a snack without smashing our knees against any crossbars.

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Tumbleweed made the custom, weather-proof cushions for the sofa. I added some decorative outdoor throws in white, grey and natural/tan from Serena and Lily for texture and interest:

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The redesign provided us with more space for our compost tumbler, which is nestled in a nice shady spot under the ficus trees. Now that this zone is no longer our lounge or dining area, we’re not constantly cleaning up leaves. We just scoop a handful now and then and toss them in the composter.

The sofa and shower feel like built-ins, so they’re more fitting for our Cottage, which is almost entirely furnished with wooden, built-in designs.

This summer we’re trying to cut back on our air travel for environmental purposes. As such, it feels nice to have a special “new” place right here at home where all 5 of us can play and relax during our region’s hottest months.

Thank you, Tumbleweed & Dandelion and Big Red Sun for helping us create this happy, healthy lil’ outdoor extension of our home. We absolutely love it.

Video: Tiny Takeaways (Ep.2)

Video: Tiny Takeaways (Ep.2)

Before + After: Living Garden Wall

Before + After: Living Garden Wall