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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.

Remaining Clutter-Free for the Long Run

Remaining Clutter-Free for the Long Run

This weekend I conducted a “Living with Less” workshop at Create & Cultivate. Several of the attendees shared that they’d gone through the cathartic (albeit tedious) process of decluttering and downsizing, only to find themselves slipping back into an overstuffed life a few months down the road. This is something I hear repeatedly. So here are some tips for remaining clutter-free for the long run. 

Photo by Smith House Photo for Create &amp; Cultivate

Photo by Smith House Photo for Create & Cultivate

Avoid Triggers
Identify your more reckless spending triggers, then take care to avoid them. For example, do you find yourself buying items off social media links or major retail sites when you’re bored, stressed or unable to sleep? Tuck the phone away and pick up a book, meet a friend, or take a walk instead. Do you buy junk at the airport during layovers? Bring your own snacks, bottles and entertainment with you, and don’t even step foot in the shops within the terminal.

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Pause Before Purchasing
When online shopping, challenge yourself to wait at least 24 hours before checking out. Chances are you’ll realize that you don’t actually need all (or any) of the items in your cart. 

Get One, Give Two
If you get something new, give away two items in its place. And do so immediately. (We have a designated donation bag that we slowly fill as the days pass, then drop off once per month.)

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Reduce Opportunities for Impulse Purchases
Once you’ve swapped your common disposable goods (such as paper towels, cotton rounds, cleaning supplies, diapers, and tampons) for reusable options, you’ll have far less shopping to do. And with fewer trips to the store, you’ll have fewer opportunities to make impulse purchases.  

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Decline Freebies
You don’t need to accept every free item and bit of SWAG dangled in front of you. Just walk away, or use the magic words: “No thank you.” If you still somehow end up with freebies of wellness products or clothing that can be of use to communities and organizations in need, leave the goods sealed/unopened and donate them as soon as possible.

Donating Gifts
If someone gives you a gift you can’t use and/or don’t like, shake off the guilt and donate it immediately. It doesn’t do anyone any good for the thing to rot away in a box under your bed. Pay their generosity forward by regifting the item(s) to a fitting non-profit. 

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Ask Qualifying Questions
Before you purchase a new object, ask yourself the following questions— you might be surprised by how few items actually clear these hurdles to earn a coveted place in your home:

  • Do I already own something that serves the same purpose as this new item?

  • Was this product produced ethically and with sustainability in mind?

  • Can this piece multitask? (Of course this question doesn’t apply to all goods, but it can apply to many. Multi-functional pieces will reduce the number of items you need in your home, saving you money and reducing your footprint.) 

  • Where will this item be stored when NOT in use? And do I have the space for it?

  • Lastly, if the piece(s) you’re considering pass all of the questions above, then ask yourself: Is there a vintage or handmade option of this item that I can find locally instead? 

Let’s do this— for our sanity, for our wallets, for our homes, for our busy schedules, and, above all, for the planet.

Where to Donate After Decluttering

Where to Donate After Decluttering

Sustainable Small Space Styling Feature

Sustainable Small Space Styling Feature