Country-Cottage Kitchen Ideas

Choose your colours carefully
When designing a country kitchen, homeowners will often opt for white as a focus colour. This can make the room look more spacious, but if you want to add some real style and personality to your kitchen, use brighter colours — but just make sure you're restrained.
Use patterns to add interest
Plaid blankets and tweed might come to mind at the mention of country style, but there are far more patterns that can be included in the design of your new kitchen. Stripes, florals, and woodland and farm animal prints will all look delightful against a rustic backdrop.
Add antique details
If you don't want your country kitchen to have too much of a modern look, adding some antique details will give it a more traditional and lived-in feel.
Choose your colours carefully
When designing a country kitchen, homeowners will often opt for white as a focus colour. This can make the room look more spacious, but if you want to add some real style and personality to your kitchen, use brighter colours — but just make sure you're restrained.

Country-Cottage Bathroom Ideas

Natural Materials
The soapstone countertop, wood paneled walls, and antique sink all work together this give the bathroom in this beautiful house a less refined look and feel.
Country White
The texture of the tongue-and-groove planks in this 161-year-old Wisconsin grain mill keeps the all-white palette from feeling too crisp or cold.
Upcycled Pieces
In the master bath of this family's country dream home, a claw-foot tub sits on wood blocks. The vanity is simply an old work bench with a new vessel sink, while a simple salvaged doorknob became a smart substitute for a plain old nail.
Antique Touches
A new master bathroom looks original, thanks to its apron-front sink with toile skirt; old record cabinets provide storage.

Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.

One of the most popular cottage style bathroom ideas is converting vintage furniture pieces into vanities. This is a way to bring the past into a modern bathroom without sacrificing convenience.
Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.
Utilise your space fully
Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.
Look up
Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.
Opt for cool colours
Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.
Or on the flipside
Warm, welcoming and comfortable - the country kitchen makes the heart of your home as cozy as possible.
Incorporate rustic details

This blog post was sponsored by Miracle-Gro. As always, the imagery and words are my own. Any images with the pups and/or our son were taken as they interacted under adult supervision in their own natural ways.

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Here at our small home-office, we are so lucky to have a compact yet highly usable outdoor space. The yard was one of the reasons why Adam and I picked the cottage to be our first house together. But every other tiny apartment I rented in the past had no garden. 

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From my <200 sqft beach studio, to my 300 sqft East Village walk-up, to my shared spaces in DC, Florida, and Upstate NY, I always longed to tend to my own lil’ garden indoors. I know I wasn’t alone in my frustration. Many readers of this blog / my Instagram account who live in compact spaces with no yard and limited natural lighting have written to express similar sentiments. 

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For that reason (and for others that I’ll discuss later in this post,) we decided to try the Miracle-Gro® Twelve™ Indoor Growing...

A lil’ video from the Cottage is on CNN today in a feature entitled, “Living big and eco-friendly in a small space.”

View the video below, or click here to watch via CNN’s IMPACT YOUR WORLD page.

"I'm a huge fan of small-space living because it forces us to do what larger spaces often discourage: Minimize. It's been proven that America has more self-storage facilities than all U.S. Starbucks and McDonald's combined, and that Americans waste 55 minutes a day just looking for things (that's 3000 hours or 30 days per year). Having less space means we are hopefully buying fewer, better items, using fewer precious resources (including our own time and sanity), and being gentler over all on the planet."
- Ashlee Piper (for The Tiny Canal Cottage)
Author: Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.

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Oddly enough, as much as I’ve discussed the steps we’re taking to live more sustainably, I’ve somehow failed to discuss outright the general, eco-friendly benefits of small space living itself. 

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As the planet becomes more and more populated, and as swaths of land become uninhabitable due to climate change, it’s reasonable to predict that small space living will only become more relevant to increasingly larger groups of people.

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  • dwell: 10 Tiny Home Dwellers You Should Follow on Instagram Right Now

  • Jungalow: Less is Morris

  • Domino: Designers Share Their First Apartment Mistakes

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You’re likely pressed for usable inches in your tiny home or apartment. Consider these alternatives to your everyday household items to help reclaim stretches of open space on your countertops, shelves, in your closet, and more. There are over 200 more suggestions in my book, Small Space Style: Because You Don’t Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully.

Doors
Traditional doors can be headaches in tight quarters. Accordion doors are economical, construction-free alternatives to pocket doors.Or, if you have wall space to spare, a sliding barn door might work for you as well. (See my full post on this topic here.)

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Utensil Caddy
If you only have a sliver of a kitchen, skip as many unnecessary countertop items as possible so you always have some room at-the-ready to prep your food. Perhaps use a hanging herb rack to suspend your cooking utensils, rather than keeping them in a valuable drawer or in a standard caddy. 

Above images via Pinterest

Above images via Pinterest

Hangers
Don’t let hardware and accessories consume...

Our little Cottage is nearly 100 years old-- naturally it’s going to suffer the aches and pains of age. With hot, dry summers, obnoxious termites (they seems to be everywhere in Venice), and wet winters, the wood here has been through quite a bit. So it was no shock to us when we recently discovered some structural damage in the wall of our bedroom. 

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After we cleared the hurdles of assessing for mold (luckily there was hardly any,) and talking with West’s physicians about  potential negative health impacts from exposure by proximity (thankfully they determined that there was nothing to worry about), we settled in for weeks of camping in the main room of our tiny house while the repairs took place in the bedroom. 

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While I don’t want to live in an even smaller space, it was actually fascinating to experiment with 2/3 of the square footage to which we’re accustomed. We definitely still needed our closet, but we found ourselves doing just fine without the bookshelf and the dedicated bedroom.

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We’re not big on screens for entertainment here— we don’t even have a television. Adam and I do, of course, stream shows or movies from time to time on the computer, but that’s about it. I didn’t have much access to TV when I was younger, as my family lived in the middle of nowhere and there were only 3 channels. So sitting for hours in front of the tube has never felt natural for me. As such, my son has extremely limited screen time. 

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I want to offer up-front that screen time is a personal decision based on a multitude of factors. I’m neither judging, nor on a soap box— I’m simply sharing our reality. Adam and I work from home and have only have 1 child, and all three of us are healthy and able-bodied. As such, it has been easy for us to stick to our plan as far as screen time is concerned. This is certainly not the case for many families. To each his/her/their own— we are all trying to do our best! 

West is never allowed a device in the car. If he gets upset, we pull over. By his carseat, he has a divided basket of books, window clings, and soft toys that he can access on his own as he chooses.

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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— particularly during the holidays, when “stuff” just of all sorts just seems to swell. 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. 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. Habits shift, tastes change, lives and practices evolve. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone! The following is just a small sampling of travel items you may want to reconsider. (View all the entries in this series here.)

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The Overzealous Skincare Routine
At home and on-the-go, I used to use an obnoxious (and expensive + space-space-consuming) number of products: makeup remover, face wipes,...

Ah, storage. While I believe that we should strive for fewer belongings (as opposed to more containment methods), stylish and space-savvy storage is undeniably something we can’t entirely do without. As a result, I have a mild love-hate feeling about crates, baskets, buckets, and bins (of which I admittedly have several).

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With the new year around the corner, folks are forming lifestyle resolutions and establishing fresh habits in their homes. The urge to tidy, downsize and start anew is widely shared at the close of the holidays, so curbing clutter while beatifying the home will undoubtedly lead many to seek out organizational/storage accents. For those living in limited square-footage, operating with a tight budget, and trying to be more environmentally-minded with their purchases, the options narrow.

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Well-designed storage can get fairly pricy, and pieces are often made of synthetic materials. And some moments in life require more storage than others, but then there’s no place to stash typical containers in a small home or apartment...

In less than 400 square feet, we’re lucky to have, not one, but two beautiful skylights. The window over the main room (which is the space that serves as our living room, kitchen, office, dining room, playroom, guest room, entryway, and more,) is generously sized, and is the unsung hero of our lil’ home. It permits the SoCal sunlight to pour abundantly into nearly every area within the Cottage.

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I can’t imagine our house without this skylight, but during the winter months it poses a bit of a challenge for my workspace. The sun moves in a path that lands smack on my monitor for about two crucial hours of the workday (10-12), meaning that I can’t shoot, adjust photos, or edit videos at my desk during that time.

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Obviously this is a great problem to have, and clearly there are several easy work-arounds, such as moving the iMac or using the laptop. But more often than not, I end up jumping up on the roof and throwing an old tablecloth over the window so I can continue my work uninterrupted.

I took to Instagram Stories to make fun of myself...

You wouldn’t know it upon first glance, but the main room of our cottage is filled with a reasonable amount of books and toys— they’re simply hidden in plain sight.

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Rather than opting for traditional “toy storage,” we simply use items from around the house, or pieces we’ve found locally or via Etsy that suit our aesthetic while being easy for West to open and close.

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By breaking the storage up throughout the space where possible, we’ve eliminated the need for bulky, dedicated playroom trunks and similar storage furnishings.

Above: Baskets from  Kembali collective , tin from muji. vintage coffee table from  super marché .

Above: Baskets from Kembali collective, tin from muji. vintage coffee table from super marché.

It only takes a few minutes for our home to turn into a disaster zone. But, luckily, one joy of a tiny house is that it only takes about takes about 3-10 minutes to put everything back together again.

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While we strive to only...

I moved West’s folding table from the porch back into the Cottage today, as he hadn’t been using the setup too often lately. Thanks to the minor change of scenery, he suddenly fell in love with the table again, and played here for hours.

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One of my goals for 2019 is to reinvent/repair/repurpose far more, so this has been the perfect way to spend the first evenings of the new year.

When he outgrows this piece, we can fold it away and stash it in the back of the closet when it’s not needed, but still continue to use it regularly in other ways around the house and on adventures.

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Here’s to making it work with what we’ve got. It is better for our wallets, better for the planet, and can even spark a lil’ creativity. 

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From a mini-crib, to a Dock-a-Tot, to bed-sharing, we’ve tried a few different sleep environments on for size here to see what works best for our lil’ family and space. I wrote a comprehensive post on that topic here, in which I explain why (and when) we made the decisions we did. Now that West is 2y3mo old, we feel as though it’s time to get him comfortable with his own bed, even though we’re not fully shutting the door on bed-sharing.

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For a while, we debated: Do we craft a mini-Murphy bed in the closet? Do we create a daybed-style built-in? Do we make a fold-out platform at the foot of the bed? Ultimately we decided on the simplest course of action— a bumper pillow for the couch.

While this particular move won’t land us in any decor magazines (what— no picturesque telescoping guard-rail or accordion extension on the build-ins?!), it is easy, affordable and practical. And while it’s admittedly not the most aesthetically-rewarding choice, it’s not an eyesore either. Plus it’s easy to for others to recreate in their own small homes or apartments, without requiring extra inches or big budgets.

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Now that West is sleeping in his “big kid bed,” Adam and I figured it was time to address a few issues we’ve been having around the couch, starting with aspects of the built-in shelving. As such, we outfitted the exposed cubbies in our main room with custom drawers that allow us to use the entire height, width and depth of the cavity. (This is what these ledges looked like for 7+ years prior to this lil’ update. I very much liked the relaxed, natural look, but it just wasn’t the most efficient use of the interior space.)

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I intended to add drawer pulls of some sort (probably vegetable-tanned leather) to the front, but West has had so much fun putting pebbled and crayons in the finger outlets recently that I haven’t had the heart to change them quite yet. Plus they match the holes in the under-sofa storage doors, and they are most likely keeping our son from pulling the drawers out onto the floor (and onto his adorable feet). Meh, I’m in no rush.

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I am so accustomed to seeing the old baskets there that these white, squared-off drawers make...

I’m over on the Garnet Hill blog today sharing some thoughts on longevity, quality and sustainability in our clothing and our homes. A preview is below— click here for the full post on Threads.

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This post was sponsored by Garnet Hill. As always, the opinions are my own.

’Tis the time of year to get sick… repeatedly, apparently. Adam, West and I all got our first colds of the season on our trip home from the East Coast after Thanksgiving, and none of us have quite gotten back to 100% since. This week, West and I caught a new round of something— his was symptomatic of a rude stomach bug, whereas mine was an epic assault on my sinuses. 

When possible, our family prefers to stick with natural approaches to healing. (However, we’re not opposed to taking prescribed medications when necessary— for example, we all have our flu shots.) Since our tools for soothing and healing are rarely contained in a pharmaceutical pill bottle, they could quickly overrun sections of our small home if weren’t deliberate with them. 

However, when you’re sick it’s tough to summon the energy to pick up a sock, let alone clean up larger messes after they’re made. But it’s obviously unhealthy to leave certain items sitting around when you’re sharing a tiny petri dish of a home-office as a sniffling, sleepless family. So, as I sit here, bleary-eyed with my hot water and lemon at 4am, I figured I might as well share a roundup of the items we have, and why they work for our...

Recently, I consulted with Domino Mag about ways to elevate your string lights, and why this form of lighting is so great for spaces of all sizes. You can view the interview here.

Additionally, we did a shoot and interview earlier this winter with One More Thing. The images and story are live here, and a preview is below. (Photos were taken by Angi Welsch, courtesy of One More Thing.)

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This blog post was sponsored by Grove Collaborative. As always, the opinions and imagery from the Cottage are my own.

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I didn’t watch much television when I was growing up, but I do remember seeing ads for toilet paper and feminine products wondering every time: Was the Talent being compensated more for being the faces of such delicate topics on camera? Were they embarrassed? Did the crew feel awkward?

In the subsequent years, I grew up and became comfortable with such household realities— nothing will sober you up to the unmentionables in life like cleaning up after pets, changing diapers, dealing physically with childbirth + recovery, and assisting unwell loved ones. 

I began searching for greener alternatives to widely marketed, everyday household products— both for my family, and for the readers of this blog. (I receive numerous direct messages via Instagram inquiring about what sort of pet waste bags and trash bags we use here, along with questions about everything from eco-friendly feminine products to composting options in...

Now that West is accustomed to sleeping in his “big kid bed(wail!), Adam and I felt like it was time for a refresh of our built-in bed. All of the linens here weather a daily storm of heavy use— in part due to the realities of life with a toddler and two pups, but also due to the small size of our home. As inches decrease, use of each and every space increases. As such, the bed takes on numerous roles throughout the day before being slept in all night, so our bedding has to be durable as well as beautiful.

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Additionally, we strive to use ethically-produced and natural products as often as possible, so we also wanted to modify our bedding with this in mind.

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In our search for the perfect fit for our needs and preferences, we decided to upgrade our bedding with Rough Linen.

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I’ve purchased a few items from Rough Linen in the recent past. After years of using the same two traditional bath towels, Adam and I finally needed replacements, so we purchased and fell in love...

One of the questions I’m asked the most often is: what is the plan for when West gets older and wants more privacy, and if we decide to have a second child?

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While these are topics that Adam and I discuss at times, we’re still so content here in our lil’ home that we don’t see the need to leave until/unless the need actually presents itself. 

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While there are obvious realities for which we need to plan (retirement, West’s education, emergency situations, etc.), I don’t feel the need to adjust our living situation in anticipation of whatever the future might hold. 

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The same sort of questions popped up time and time again when I was pregnant with West— everyone asked us when and where we’d be moving. But we took things day-by-day, and it all worked out better than we could’ve ever imagined. That’s how I want to live— planning wisely for the fairly standard “givens” in life, but also allowing the future to unfold naturally as we enjoy the present. That way, when the time...

This blog post was sponsored by The Home Depot. As always, the imagery and words are my own.

When Adam and I were planning our home-wedding 3 years ago, one of the obstacles we had to tackle was our garden. We’d stopped watering our grass long ago due to the California drought, so the grass went from lush to patchy to non-existent. Most of the yard was a giant dirt-patch, surrounded by ficus trees, bougainvillea, and a single succulent barrel (which we’d planted with my mother upon moving into our home several years prior). 

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We didn’t want our guests standing in a dusty (or muddy) pit. So, in an effort to find a quick, budget-strict solution for the garden floor, we opted to cover the surface with faux grass. 

The design of artificial grass has come a loooong way, but despite the more subdued color of the green and the higher, denser blades, I was never comfortable with the concept of glorified turf. (To each her/his own! That’s just me— I’m a North Florida girl at heart, so artificial greenery in general just isn’t my thing.) But the grass served its purpose for our wedding, and for that I’m grateful.

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When I’m out helping clients and friends declutter, organize, streamline, simplify, and/or make their homes more eco-friendly, I’m pretty terrible about taking before/after photos to share here and/or on Instagram. I either forget because we’re so deeply into the process, or I don’t want to invade their privacy. (Understandably, most folks aren’t keen on having the personal contents of their overflowing drawers broadcast to the world.)

My latest on-site was no exception. I worked with a friend (and former client from when I used to operate my creative firm,) to help streamline elements of her small bungalow here in Venice, and naturally we got so wrapped up in chatting and troubleshooting that my camera sat neglected on her couch throughout both of my visits. But there were some quick and inexpensive adjustments that we applied to her space that I believe could be helpful to share, regardless of the lack of adequate visuals. 

Some background on Eloisa: She lives in an 800 sqft house with her husband (Anderson), their toddler, and their two large rescue dogs. Eloisa is the founder of The Wolf Nest, and runs much of the business from her home. (Tour the space and learn more about...

Our cottage is located in Venice, which is part of Los Angeles County. Our location provides us access to the largest residential curbside recycling program in the United States, which gathers a variety of recyclables from over 750,000 households each week. Among these materials are those that can be tossed in the city’s “Green Bins.” These outdoor containers are reserved for yard clippings, branches, flowers, a variety of grasses, leaves, and fruits / vegetables from any source that have NOT been prepared for consumption and have NOT been partially consumed. But here at our tiny home/office, we still have so much waste left over that can’t be dropped in the bins… but it can be composted. So, when we started our garden makeover earlier this year, one of the things we knew we wanted to have out in the yard was a compact compost tumbler.

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Per the EPA, food waste is the largest component within landfills in the USA. We’re hoping that by composting here at the Cottage (and sharing our journey as newcomers to the process) that we can do our part to help divert organic materials from landfills, and cut back on the...

I turned 38 this month. I’m not sure what my younger self envisioned I’d be doing by this point in life, but I know I never expected for it to be THIS.

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Living and working in a tiny house with a lil’ family.

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Sharing an office (in the living room) and a 10 year-old car with my husband and loving it that way.

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Finding new grays and lines regularly without being bothered by them (yet). Running a small business that — for better or worse— is all my own. Listening to my child (I have a child! I still can’t believe it!) casually say things like, “I love you too, Mommy,” as he confidently steps out the front door with his father.

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Rejoicing at how lucky I am to still have my beloved best friend, StanLee, curled up by my desk during the day, and perched below my side of the bed at night— often with Sophee enjoying him as a pillow.

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The cottage blog has been a bit quieter in recent weeks, as I’ve been focusing on work offline. We’ve been diving into several new projects and I’m eager to post the details of those soon. Today I’m introducing one that’s particularly precious to me— an office space for a production company here in Los Angeles. 

I don’t usually handle many larger interiors from scratch. I tend to prefer troubleshooting small or tricky spaces, as well as working with existing layouts to make them more efficient, eco-friendly, and/or versatile. But I said yes to this gig without hesitation. Here’s why.

In January, I got an unexpected call from a friend. We rarely chat on the phone, so the first thing I asked her when I picked up was whether or not she’d pocket-dialed me. Luckily for me the call was intentional, and she offered up a delightful challenge: Could I take her newly rented, modern office space in Beverly Hills and make it feel like our old tiny Cottage?

I had hoped and planned to start the new year by tackling a more diverse body of work, so her ask was perfectly timed. I accepted, and we got right to work.

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I often talk about the concept of “functional decor.” With the planet suffering from the effects of our overconsumption and staggering waste, it’s more important than ever that we cut back in general. I aim to avoid purchasing new, mass produced, unsentimental, decorative tchotchkes for the sake of decor. Instead, I try to enrich our home with sustainable, ethically-produced, practical goods that can serve a function while delighting our senses. 

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When it comes to toys, I usually prefer hand-me-downs— particularly with items such as LEGOs, things-that-go, and magnetic tiles. They cost very little (if anything), and since they’ve already been produced, transported and purchased, there’s no point in dooming them to a landfill or storage after they’ve been used by a single household. We might as well pass these items down the line as long as possible, especially since most are made of plastic that won’t biodegrade. 

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West’s toy collection is also largely made up of handmade wooden designs that we enjoy using (and seeing… and stepping over)...

This post was sponsored by The Home Depot. All opinions and images are my own. All photos including our son and/or the pups were taken as they happily interacted in their own, natural ways. 

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Clearly I love our tiny home. Very rarely do I long for material items or major changes— I’m usually extremely content with what we have, and aim for our belongings to last us a lifetime. One glaring exception to this has, for YEARS, been our major kitchen appliances. 

Our refrigerator, range and dishwasher fit our space quite well, but they weren’t the right fit for our style and needs. The fridge had a massive back-coil that consumed several inches of its counter-depth design, rendering the interior smaller than one would expect by looking at it from the outside. And the exterior was black on both sides, which stood in stark contrast to the rest of our airy lil’ home. 

Immediately next to the fridge is the dishwasher, which sits about 6’ or so from my desk, and it was so loud that I never wanted to run it. Plus I disliked that the stainless steel cover and large front-panel of buttons were the first details I noticed...

For years, Adam and I have been meaning to dedicate time to preparing our home and family for an emergency. Since we've lived in the Cottage, California wildfires have become increasingly frequent and ferocious, Venice has been issued two tsunami advisories, and, on the East Coast, our friends and family have been displaced more than once due to powerful storms. Our homes are precious places because of the lives within them— it’s our responsibility and privilege to keep our families as safe as possible. 

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According to NASA, the Southwest region of the US can expect increased heat and wildfires, drought, and insect outbreaks in our immediate future, all of which are directly linked to climate change. Plus we're overdue for a major earthquake, and Venice is located in a Tsunami zone. So I reached out to folks at The Earthquake Bag to get my family and our home better prepared, and to inquire if they’d help me with this post. They’re knowledgeable about what folks should do (and have) in the case of an emergency. They generously replied, supplying both information and products so that I could plan for my family,...

This week's Farmers Market Friday in photos:

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Lately, one of the greatest ways we’ve found to save money, reduce waste (both material and food), and beautify another area within the Cottage is via flax linen Ambrosia Produce Storage Bags. I stumbled upon them at Erewhon one morning, and they’re a great example of how a smart lil’ product can actually be a real life changer. Not only are Ambrosia Bags sustainable, eco-friendly, and lovely to see and touch, but they preserve the life and freshness of fruit, veggies, and herbs. This means we save money by buying less food, as we no longer accidentally waste fruits and veggies that have gone bad. (Read more about the amazing benefits of these lovely bags here.)

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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, Part II or Part III 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. 

 Photos from various gatherings at the Cottage. Over the years, we've used a mix of rental, repurposed, and/or everyday glassware and dishes. The setting doesn't need to be "fancy" to be beautiful &amp;&nbsp;enjoyable.&nbsp;(Select photos by Monica Wang and Justina Blakeney.)

Photos from various gatherings at the Cottage. Over the years, we've used a mix of rental, repurposed, and/or everyday glassware and dishes. The setting doesn't need to be "fancy" to be beautiful & enjoyable. (Select photos by Monica Wang and Justina Blakeney.)

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In a paragraph from a recent blog post concerning items you can most likely make-do without, I called out numerous, dedicated towel sets as items to consider:

"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."

I've received numerous requests to show the types of towels we have, since they're used so versatilely here and stored in compact and/or decorative ways. We've had all of these textiles for years. 

ALL-IN-ONE TOWELS:
(spare towels / guest towels / beach towels / decor / tablecloths / throw blankets)

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I found two of these handmade,...

When I was pregnant with West 2 years ago, one of the comments I heard at least once per day was something along the lines of: "When are you going to move? You'll need a bigger house." I tried to take a deep breath every time such words were slung my way, and remind myself that most people were trying in their own way to help.

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The thing is, folks here in LA and all around the globe raise children in all manner of structures, and much of the population doesn't have the financial luxury of expanding their living quarters if and when their family grows. Adam and I knew it was possible to stay in our Cottage, which we genuinely wanted to do. We also looked forward to the process of adapting our space to suit our needs whenever necessary. Most of the time when I shared this positive outlook with others, they seemed to write it off as me attempting to preserve my blogging business. (Sigh. No.) That wasn't the case either. People change. Situations evolve. And I expect to be excited for the next adventure after our Tiny Canal Cottage when the time comes, and I hope that the readers of this site are too.

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We’re often asked how we manage to accommodate food for 2 adults, 1 toddler and 2 dogs in our tiny, full-time home/office. This post explains how we do it. It’s a setup that works well for how we cook and how we shop, which are factors that obviously vary wildly from household to household.

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Adam and I keep our dry goods in the double-door cabinet above the stove. We make very little from scratch, so the ingredients we need to have on-hand are limited. Other everyday food is either in the fridge or placed in various food storage containers on the countertops. We replenish our groceries every few days (rather than, say, once per week,) because here in Venice we have exceptional access to farmers markets. We don’t buy in large quantities, and go out to get what we need, when we need it.

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There are four different farmers markets nearby, and they take place on staggered days of the week, all within walking or biking distance of the Cottage. There’s a wonderful organic grocery store just a short stroll away, too. As such, we buy locally and...

This is entry no.3 from a three-part wedding registry series, sponsored by Macy’s in partnership with MyDomaine. (View part one here and part two here.)

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I’m pleased to partner with Macy’s to share some space-savvy home goods that are perfect for wedding registries. You might not have much room at home for gifts, but remember: wedding guests are genuinely happy to give newlyweds presents as a gesture of support and celebration. Help them find the items that work for YOU and your unique floor plan by crafting a mindfully curated wishlist that will make the process more enjoyable and practical for everyone involved.

PREPARING FOOD
Personally, my favorite time to dine alfresco is during the transition from summer to fall. The weather is juuuuust right, and gatherings naturally feel a bit cozier. But this time of year is also when social events seem to start popping up and gaining speed for the coming months, so there seems to be a bit of a time crunch. Luckily there are numerous wonderful small appliances at Macy’s that help make food and beverage prep fast and simple. There is also a wide selection of dining sets...

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, Part II, Part III, and Part IV 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. Plus habits shift, and tastes change. Design and decor should be different (and enjoyable) for everyone. 

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Pots for Every Houseplant
Ah, plants. They breathe life into our homes, they clean our air, and they beautify everything. It’s good to give back to them, and provide them with an adequate vessel and some TLC. But some plants don’t necessarily...

It can often be tricky to find a place in a compact kitchen for smaller, miscellaneous items. This is when easily movable trays, narrow rolling carts and floating or inset shelves can be of great service.

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In our galley-style kitchen, a corner between our breakfast bar and the Dutch door is home to a handmade wooden tray that I can effortlessly relocate when needed. A vintage, collapsible file folder holds a small collection of cookbooks, while a basket from Kembali Collective keeps reusable cloth wipes ready for toddler spills and cooking messes.

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Not everything food-related lives in our kitchen. Our reusable, to-go accessories are all kept in a handmade, easy-to-clean basket/bag that keeps it’s shape so our utensils, containers and drinkware are all accessible within an instant while I’m at the market, juggling our purchases in one hand and lil’ West in the other. The tote usually sits on our couch a low stool by the door so we don’t forget to grab our eco-friendly gear on the way out.

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I’ve been keeping this a secret for a year and a half— it feels good to share with you that we have some big news from our lil’ home…

Shortly after West was born nearly 2 years ago, I was approached again about writing a book about small space living. Publishing my own book was never something on my bucket list. But it was a time of notable personal and business growth, so I decided that I might as well go all-in.  In retrospect, it was a bit of a wild move— our schedules became dizzying. 

 The book is here! Cover image shot by  Marisa Vitale .

The book is here! Cover image shot by Marisa Vitale.

West was an infant, and Adam was still at an office full-time. I never took a single day for maternity leave. (Ah, the realities of running your own business.) So this was how the next several months were spent:

  • I’d get up at 3am to write the book at a 24-hour diner. 

  • At 6am, I’d bike back to the Cottage to nurse West. 

  • At 6:30am, my husband and I would walk the dogs, eat breakfast, and then Adam would get ready for work. 

  • At 8am, I’d take calls with my East Coast clients. 

  • At 9am, Adam left for his job. 

  • All day until...

In the 7+ years that we’ve lived here in our little home, we’ve hosted dozens of overnight guests. Most stay for just a night or two, but we’ve had folks stay longer, too— anywhere from 5 nights to 3 weeks. (If we can do it, so can you!)

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It’s less about perfection than it is about consideration. It’s not likely that your visitor will be concerned about whether or not the bed is made with flawless hospital corners, but they probably will care about having a place to hang their towel, change their clothes, tuck their bag(s) out of the way, and sleep through the variations of noise and light that are inevitable when sharing a small space overnight.

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The guest room is, of course, our main room, which serves as our entryway, living room, dining room and office. Recently we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to welcome a family member for a short stay, so I snapped some photos of the “guest room” setup prior to his arrival. I’ve also included some images from a Rue Magazine story I did several years back, which was photographed by the...

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It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that reusable goods consume more space than disposables, and thus are not small space friendly. However, I find the opposite to be true! Let’s look at some quick, affordable, and effortless bathroom swaps. If you select your eco-friendly bath items carefully, not only will they take up less storage space and fewer surfaces inches, but they’ll also look better than their single-use or plastic counterparts.

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Shampoo + conditioner bars are becoming increasingly available. I found mind on Etsy, and will continue to test out various types instead of buying disposable shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles. And a simple wall-mounted, hanging or standard wooden soap dish is all one needs to accommodate these bars.

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Adam and I recently made the switch to Leaf (for me) and Rockwell (for him) razors. Up front the cost is higher, but over time they save so much money and reduce a ton of unnecessary waste. (And let’s be real— they’re far prettier on the eyes than loud plastic designs.)

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Reusable ear cleaning tips...

And just like that, the youngest resident of the Cottage turned 2.

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As with every major celebration here at home, we tried to center the events around each other and our shared experience, rather than tilting the focus towards “stuff.” However, a few days before West’s birthday, we received a beautiful, handmade, folding (and thus space-savvy) climbing ladder and board from Wiwiurka Toys, and it rightfully (and delightfully) stole the show.

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Other than enjoying the new climbing gym, we spent most of the day slowly rolling the cargo bike through the nearby, annual Abbot Kinney Festival, reading “new” library books, and paddling down the canals during sunset.

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Instead of buying new books for West and wrapping them in disposable paper, I decided to borrow a stack of books from the county library, and bundle them up in one of my scarves. This gift didn’t cost a penny, it produced no waste, and was every bit as fun for West to unwrap, discover, and dive into as a pricey gift in...

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. 

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. Habits shift, tastes change, lives and practices evolve. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone.

The following is just a small sampling of everyday items you might want to reconsider.

Microwave
How have I not discussed this one before? We don’t have a microwave in the Cottage kitchen. I didn’t have one prior to moving here, either. You can use your oven/range for pretty much everything. If the extra prep-time gets to you, try to convert those minutes of waiting into productive chunks of time by using them to water your plants, stretch and breathe...

While I’m not a minimalist, I clearly find great joy in the simplicities of living in a small space with fewer belongings. However, every now and then I fail big time and take the plunge on a grand item. (The last time I did this was when I purchased our back patio dining set, after years of sticking to folding picnic tables and chairs.) This time around, I succumbed to buying an outdoor “mud kitchen” for West in honor of him starting pre-school. (More on that below.)

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For months, we’ve been setting up a makeshift water/activity table for West. He still loves that little pop-up play station, but we decided to get him an outdoor “mud kitchen” for different reasons.

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For months now he’s been tearing up the porch planters. He’ll crouch over them for long stretches of time, sifting wood chips from toy truck to toy truck. I don’t mind happy messes, but dealing with mounds of dirt and wood chips scattered around the play porch rugs and being tracked into the house was getting tiresome.

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Many of you have asked for an unstyled look inside our drawers and cubbies here at the Cottage to show how we store our homewares. Since The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a bleak and urgent report concerning the health of our planet, I figured toady’s entry could show how we almost always stick to reusable food wraps and baggies, and how we accommodate them in our tiny house. While we don’t use any clever tactics for stashing these items, I’ll share a few no cost (or low cost) space-savvy methods towards the end of this post as well.

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We’re lucky enough to have several drawers in our kitchen. (I’ve lived in numerous apartments that had 0-2 drawers, and I know that can be a struggle.) We don’t need to stash much in terms of our baggies and wraps, so we’re able to fit everything in a shallow space between the range and refrigerator.

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We have a roll of foil (and we reuse sheets as often as possible) along with some wax paper, but other than that, all of our baggies, wraps and kitchen linens are...

In a recent questionnaire I posted on Instagram, so many folks asked me what our small space baby essentials are. Below is a little roundup of what we loved and used the most with West for the first 1-2 years, and/or products we discovered later on that we wished we’d known about from the start. (As always, please research what is best for your needs and tastes, while keeping safety in mind.)

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  • Dock-A-Tot

    • Dock-A-Tots are multi-use “docking stations” where your baby can rest, lounge, play, and cuddle. (Throw a Gathre Mat over yours and it can become a changing surface, too.) They’re portable, and come in 2 sizes. We used ours as a bed-sharing dock for a year. I suspect that if we decide to have another child, we will use the Dock-A-Tot instead of a bassinet or crib.

  • Hie Bag

    • The Hie Bag has almost everything you need for a mini or major trip, including a fold-out diaper changing pad, a cooler (as a add-on), a built-in charger, clips to become a stroller bag, backpack and shoulder carrying options, a wipe dispenser, a “kick stand” to make the bag sit upright when resting on a surface, an expandable bottle holder, a...

Some of the primary considerations when it comes to making lifestyle shifts towards reusable goods and healthier foods is, of course, economics and accessibility. Here in LA there is a seemingly never-ending list of restaurants and markets where you can buy local, fresh, organic foods, but they tend to come with a lofty price-tag. While I’ve experienced (and shared) how small homes and reusable goods can save so much money and so many resources, I need some help on the topic of food. (It seems like nearly all of the money I earn goes into our bellies, and I’m really trying to be smarter when it comes to what we eat and how much we spend on it.)

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I aim to make healthy, wallet-friendly, ethical food choices for my family, but it can be tough to check off all the boxes on this list for the majority of folks living on a tight budget in larger, fast-paced cities. By researching how to wisely feed ourselves and our families in a way that reduces waste, costs less, and is accessible to more of the population, we can better our bodies and our planet. 

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I wanted to learn more about this subject, and do so alongside youth...

I never realized how odd the tradition of Halloween is until I tried explaining it to my 2 year old child. On our daily walks, he’s suddenly seeing skeletons coming out of the ground, massive faux-webs and spiders clinging to hedges, and all sorts of strange objects hanging from stoops and trees. Some of it he likes. Some of it he doesn’t. (I feel the same way.)

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I’m sure that our level of Halloween decor will fluctuate as West grows. But for now we’re still keeping things simple and nearly waste-free. We’ve done this by focusing more on fall-related activities, rather than crowding the Cottage with temporary flair.

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Our decor consists of real pumpkins, autumnal flowers/branches from the market, and small number of die-cut paper pumpkins (which we’ve suspended with twine from the branches above our front stoop).

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Southern California doesn’t get too fall-ish, but we’ve faked it by getting overflowing Ollie Ella baskets of apples from the farmers markets, checking out...