Oh, it’s October? Mid-October at that? Hello! That was quite a hiatus.
So many exciting things! Where to start? How about home sweet home. You have no idea who good it feels to say that. I’ve been wanting to share a post about making small spaces work, or rather making a small home work, for some time.
When Andy and I were apartment hunting for a (hopefully) final move for the foreseeable future, I found a place that was exactly what I wanted. Andy was flexible. I was nostalgic. Our first place in Chicago was itty bitty without the bells and whistles but oozing charm, character and cozy out of its crumbling brick exterior. There was something so simple about that space – that home – that we’ve been longing to return. So needless to say when we walked up to a historic brick walk-up on the corner of a quintessential Chicago block, we didn’t care the unit was less than half the space portrayed in the obvious wide-angle lens pictures (I worked for a real estate company – I know your tricks!) on the listing site. This was why we moved back to Chicago.
In my mind, I had already made this home work. We signed on the spot. And now, after settling in, this home works for us.
Making a small space work is simple.
Aesthetically, go bright and go light. It’s true what they say – open up a small space with bright walls. I have been dreaming about an all white space for years, but never had the guts to go for it. I figured this was the best time to make like the Scandanavians and brighten things up. After 5 samples, I finally gave my new friends at Home Depot’s paint counter a set of RGB values and they gave me a paint color that coordinated – Behr’s Silver Polish. The brightest white with an almost undetectable hint of of gray. Whites are so hard. Too much red looks purple. Too much blue looks fluorescent purple. Utilize samples and go crazy. Silver Polish was perfect for us. We committed and gave our yellow-y beige walls a white wash and I swear I heard angels sing.
I chose to keep my accessorizing light – and I don’t mean in color. I mean simple, and few. Too many accessories create clutter. Not to mention more edges, ledges and crevasses to dust. To cozy up our bright space, I looked for natural, raw materials and accessories with lots of texture and/or subtle patterns. I wanted to keep things modern, so I also mixed in matte white and acrylic.
Mixing in metals like bronze and antique gold brings out the warmth of raw woods. Silvers and grays keep it cool alongside white walls and marries modern with rustic. Do: throws, poufs and pillows. Don’t: match. Coordinate and contrast.
We are a candle family. No cozy, no happy. In each home we’ve lived in, I’ve created an “urban fireplace” faux mantle. This time I used a raw wood ledge with simple, clean edge glass votives from CB2 (only .95/ea!) to coordinate with my acrylic accessories while againbalancing the modern and rustic look.
Light. Bright. Fresh. And then reality. Where do we put all our stuff?
We are minimalists. A quick note about that. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean we don’t have stuff. It doesn’t mean we don’t like stuff. It means we’re conscious about “how much stuff” we really need. Simple living opened up our eyes to the happiness, peace and well being achieved from eliminating physical “stuff.” How much stuff does one need? I mean need. Just a thought.
The key to making a small home work is by eliminating some of your stuff and taking full advantage of dual purpose furniture and accessories…for the rest of your stuff. We have one closet in our bedroom, and a utility closet which serves as some storage, but mostly it’s Oliver’s litter box…
So we needed storage. We also needed a TV stand. I give you the ultimate: Ikea’s Besta system. Affordable, totally customizable and completely minimalist. I’ll spare you all the pictures, but from left to right I can tell you what’s behind each door: #1 shoes, #2 random electronic stuff, extension cords, lightbulbs, batteries and winter gear, #3 holiday decorations…and behind door #4:
Toilet paper. So glam.
Make your decor functional! Sure that basket looks cute, but it’s full of junk. I mean it. Oliver’s toys, headphones, weights, exercise bands, bills – it is a complete catch-all and I love it. The rocker is also my office chair (and of course it’s a fake – Poly + Bark, $79), but convenient and light enough to bring out into the “living” room when we need extra seating.
We ditched our china cabinet for some stainless shelves from Ikea. Not only does it save on floor space, but displaying my white china and glass beverage ware (more CB2 love for these Cantina mugs, $3.95/ea) also creates decor. Functional decor.
Our kitchen island stools are stackable, light and bright. Easy to bring out when we have guests over or want to change up where we dine (“let’s eat in the kitchen!” It’s literally a foot from our dining room nook).
I can’t recommend the Tillary sofa systems from West Elm enough. The back cushions are removable and each piece of the sectional is approximately a twin bed, pushed together a king – perfect for guests! It’s completely customizable by size, color and patterns. There is also plenty of room for storage beneath. And, it’s super good looking.
Our coffee table is actually a bit on the larger size for our space, but having an open bottom keeps the space airy, and allows for storage baskets…or Oliver’s cat bed (which yes, is technically a stuffed Euro sham)…
Speaking of Oliver. He photobombed almost every single picture I took, if you didn’t notice. You know when your cat has a favorite space, he must feel at home. Well, Oliver has about 12.
Another reason we signed on the spot?
There’s an awesome balcony. Stay tuned.
How do you make your small space home work? Do people ask you where you put your toilet paper? Yes, that is a very real question I get and proudly show what’s behind door #4.