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5 tips for small home living

Nov 15, 2017

Photography + Styling: Gather

Living in a small home can be a challenging position. Add to that children and limited storage, and you have a situation where the home can become more chaos than harmony.


Our family of five calls a small 3.5 bedroom cottage home. We have spent endless weekends searching for a property that has the ideal number of bedrooms, the storage we long for, the backyard to accommodate extended family of animals and ticks the 2 dozen other ‘must have’ inclusions we believe we’re currently missing out on. Ultimately, we come home and feel right at home as we enter our drive. We nod to the leafy street. We relax at the weathered timber verandah. And we are grateful for the nice-to-have’s that our small abode affords us.

So lets make it work. Living in this home has been a study in small living. The mantra of ‘less is more’ becomes prominent in everyday choices.

Working with clients in all manner of homes, I have observed what does and does not work in creating harmony in small homes.


Here’s my tiny living tips on what works for my clients, and has been true to our family too:



They have considerably less ‘stuff’. Every piece that comes into the home gets valued for its use, beauty or sentimental value. The first two are no brainers. Not useful, you don’t need it. Not beautiful to you, don’t keep it. The sentimental value is where people come unstuck. Just because it was gifted to you, does not mean you are bound to an object that causes you closet space for the remainder of your life. If you keep objects out of guilt instead of moving them on, you are not freeing yourself of the stuff that can lighten your lifestyle. If it’s a piece of Grandmas dinner set that has special meaning but you don’t want on display, store it properly in your small collection of sentimental pieces. Otherwise, let it go. And loose the guilt at the same time. I am yet to read the Marie Kondo sensation, Spark Joy, but from what I understand, she’s the very epitome of this concept.

Rotate toys ruthlessly.

This, at least for me, became entwined in the sentimental ‘stuff’ category. I found myself not moving on unused toys as it seemed only yesterday they were using Sophie Giraffe as a teether. Not only was I keeping loads of memory-laden toys, but I was living a little nostalgically in the past, and busting out of the kids bedrooms in the process. Toys are expensive. Pass them on to friends, give them to charity and keep only the most precious items to hand back to your baby when they are grown up. I now use this question as my measure of worthiness: ‘Would I give this back to them for their baby?’ Often times I answer ‘No.’ Only a few pieces have made it past this question and I have stored them happily. Funnily enough, as I removed more toys, the kids began to play with what they did have, and it became apparent what items were important to them and not just used because they were top of the toy box and easy to access. This was really lovely in getting to know what they value themselves.

Decorate with restraint.

I don’t necessary mean with your colour choices (although those who are reading this are probably very aware of my limited use of colour) But I do mean choose your trends wisely. Do you really need to incorporate what’s trending now on Instagram into your precious space, or can you resist the urge and let the feeling pass? Sometimes our purchases are based on what’s trending now versus what’s valuable to us. Listen carefully to your home.

Friendly clutter.

Every home needs friendly clutter. I often talk to clients about this during the concepting stages. These are the little vignettes of life throughout your home that share your travels and values. It’s the framed photo at the entry door, the key bowl carved from marble you picked up at the flea market last summer, the collection of vases in varying shades of blue you have added to from your first home. These little collections are dear to you, beautiful and serve you and your family in some way. Friendly clutter makes a home. It doesn’t bog you down with too many choices, it lightens your life and gives each space its character. When I style a home for a client, I ask them to put on the dining table the must keeps, the nice to haves and to not even show me the pile of ‘can-do-withouts’. That way I work with only the pieces that are dear to them, and they end up with collections of friendly clutter that are beautiful and inspiring.

Edit your wardrobe.

The smaller your closet space, the better. This forces you to move seasonal pieces in and out of your current space. Winter ending? Vac-pak those puffer jackets quick smart and get them outta there. Haven’t worn those tailored pants for 6 months? Gone. If you, like me, can’t bear to pass on perfectly good, still-fitting, might-wear-someday clothing, store them and next edit see if you love them as much or are ready to part ways. I usually part ways if they sit in the storage box more than two season swaps. A tiny wardrobe makes shopping so easy – you know what you have, can work new items in super quickly, and getting dressed is less stressful. Plus, there’s not much time to get bored with your trends, because you’ll edit again as the season changes. Do this for the kids wardrobes too and you’ll be out the door in no time.

Editing your home can be hard. After all, each item comes with memories. But releasing yourself of the burden of carrying so many items in your cupboards clears the path for more of the beautiful things that really matter. It makes dressing in the morning easier, it makes cleaning the house a breeze, and it keeps calm in an otherwise chaotic life x


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