Whitney Leigh Morris on Living with Less
Are you self-isolating in a small space? So is Whitney Leigh Morris of The Tiny Canal Cottage. Whitney, her husband, their son, and two pups live in a 400 square foot home in the Venice Canals. If anyone is an expert on making the most of a small space, it’s her (it’s quite literally what she does for a living.) Whitney’s home isn’t just functional though. It’s thoughtfully styled, beautifully curated, and just has a happy feel to it. Whitney shared with us all about her space, her tips for getting organized, and the most common mistakes she sees when people are trying to live with less.
You have a blog ‘Tiny Canal Cottage’ and wrote a book ‘Small Space Style’. Tell us about that and how you got started!
The cottage blog and book both came about the same way my small space consulting business did— by spending all day every day answering questions regarding comfortable, stylish small space living from people all over the world. I’d been running my own creative business for years, but it veered distinctly into small space living several years ago, and I’m so grateful that it did. This is work is so deeply precious to me.
You live on the Venice Canal in LA. What is one of your favorite things about living there?
This neighborhood is like no other. The mix of homes and gardens, the wildlife (despite the fact that we’re in Los Angeles and mere miles from LAX), and the history are all so interesting. Our entire family— including the pups — goes for rides along the waterways and under the footbridges in our old hand-me-down canoe, and those moments are some of my favorites in my life.
How are you staying sane in your small home while sheltering in place?
While the virus outbreak is devastating and extremely upsetting on so many levels, the “Safer at Home” order has changed very little for our family in terms of our day-to-day routine. While our hearts are aching for communities across the globe and our minds are racing from current events, our schedule and practices here at home are largely unchanged, since Adam and I both work from our tiny house and our son is here with us for the majority of the week. But we do miss hugging our friends and neighbors, visiting our local library and beach, and connecting with local small businesses.
You must have to be so organized! What are some of your best tips, regardless of the size of the home.
This isn’t the most popular response, but my number one tip for order is not to seek out organizational tools— it’s simply to have fewer belongings. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to navigate your day— especially in a small space. (At least that’s my opinion!)
What are some common mistakes you see when people are trying to live with less?
I often see folks opting for compact versions of items like furnishings, accessories and household goods, but sometimes it can be more effective to invest in one larger piece rather than several smaller pieces. This can often help make a small space more comfortable and look less cluttered.
You prove that it’s possible to have a beautiful home with a small footprint. How would you describe your personal design style?
Thank you! I’m such a fan of functional decor, which is a direct result of living in small spaces for so long. I’m drawn to simple (but not minimal) design, as well as muted tones, diverse textures, natural fibers and organic materials.
What are three things you cannot live without?
Sunshine, family and good food.
Luckily this tiny house gives me all three! An abundance of light, a place where all 5 of us can happily coexist 24/7, and even enough room for space-savvy produce grow towers!
What’s next for you and Tiny Canal Cottage?
We’ve been focused heavily on greener living in recent years. Sustainable small space living is not only my job— it’s a fierce passion of mine, and I look forward to learning and sharing how individuals, couples and families can live in — and with — a smaller footprint during this unprecedented and crucial decade for our planet.
Photography povided by Whitney Leigh Morris