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Welcome, Simone

by Grace Bonney

Hi hi hi!

My name is Simone, and I’ll be guest blogging for Design*Sponge from here at Tiny-Ass Apartment. A few years ago, I was back on the ol’ apartment hunt. I wanted a space that was all my own, and I couldn’t afford much, so I ended up in a 300ish square foot studio in Hollywood. It wasn’t much bigger than my dorm in college (hey, at least I didn’t have to share the bathroom with the whole floor). Still, I was determined make my apartment a place I’d be happy to come home to, and proud to have guests in. (Oh yes – even with almost no space I still had some awesome “Lost” viewing parties.) I’d been interested in interior design and decor for years, but I quickly realized that most of what’s floating around is aspirational; lots of stuff for people with big spaces and big budgets. If they mentioned small spaces at all, it’d be a one-off post here or there. I needed a place to find design inspiration and products that suited my specific needs, and I knew there were plenty of other people just as broke and cramped as me. Might as well do it myself – and so, Tiny-Ass Apartment was born.

The very first incarnation of my TAA, not long after moving in – I stood on my bed to shoot the couch

I think that small-space living has gained popularity in the past few years, both intentionally and unintentionally. We’re becoming aware of our impact on the planet, and people are striving to minimize those footprints. Living in a small place takes up fewer resources, and makes room for the growing population. Small space living is also a result of the downsizing (ba-dum-dum) of the economy. We just can’t afford those McMansions anymore, let alone all the stuff that we need to buy to fill them up.

Living in a tiny-ass apartment makes “stuff management” even more crucial. I can’t stand clutter, personally, and nothing will shrink your space faster than a lot of crap you don’t need. And so, a few words about editing your belongings.

Some of my favorite examples of well-curated vignettes (that just happen to be in small rooms). Click the pic for the link.

If you’re living in a tiny-ass studio, you’re probably broke. You’re going to be tempted to take home anything you can get for free. It’s like when you were in college and you’d show up to any event where there’d be free food. Sure, you’d save money, but in the end you’re still eating slices of pizza long after you’re full. That’s a good way to earn those Freshman 15, just as accepting every free tchotchke is a good way to end up on “Hoarders.”

My hero, Tim Gunn, says to edit, edit, edit. (And “make it work.” And “carry on.” And “that looks like a pink pterodactyl in a Gay Pride parade.” But his quotes are not always applicable.) You’ve got to look at your things with a critical eye, and ruthlessly get rid of the stuff that doesn’t work.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. I couldn’t agree more with Jamie Drake’s advice: “Take every last loose piece on every surface — photos, vases, candlesticks, books, magazines — whatever is cluttering up your vision and chances are you no longer even see. Put them on a counter in the kitchen, then redeploy in new arrangements.” Jamie suggests using only half of the objects you once used. I also suggest doing some dusting while you’re at it. The top of your bookshelf is getting kind of gnarly.

2. Decide where you’re going to put your vignettes. The center of the dining table, an end table, the coffee table, a bookshelf, and/or your entryway table are common places to create your “little moments.” Even in the smallest of spaces, you still have room to make a place for your eye to linger.

3. Make a conscious decision of whether you’re going symmetrical or not. Remember, symmetrical is more formal and old-school (like the first pic above from Metropolitain Home), asymmetrical is more playful (like the second pic from CasaSugar). If you’re going asymmetrical, arrange your objets d’art in groups of three.

4. Play! Play with scale; have a few tall pieces, a few squat. Play with material; have a few natural pieces, like seashells or branches or a plant, as well as something contrasting, like metal or ceramic. Play with texture, play with color, just play!

For some more reading on paring down your stuff and creating eye-catching vignettes, check out these links:

Apartment Therapy: Los Angeles – Create a Good-Looking Vignette in 6 Steps

Apartment Therapy: Boston – 10 Tips for a Grown-Up Home

Apartment Therapy: DC – How to Create a Visual Vignette

CasaSugar – Show Us Your Vignettes!

CNN – Top Causes of Clutter

Big thanks to Grace for giving me the opportunity to yammer on here at Design*Sponge! I’ll be back tomorrow with tips on organizing your space for those of you not fortunate enough to have fancy things like “bedrooms” or “walls.”

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  • Thank You!…for reminding me that it is time to reevaluate the disaster that is my teeny weeny workroom and be a big girl already. (I dont want to end up on Craft-Hoarders)

  • Awesome post! I have been cleaning out “stuff” all weekend and trying to re-organize. Its a very liberating feeling, which is why I do it about every other month! Can’t wait to read more.

  • Thanks for the awesome guest blogger! I am soon going to be downgrading to a studio (apartments seem to be overpriced even right now) and it’s good to have to fuel for the fire! I feel inspired to take on a tiny-ass apartment of my own… Again…

  • I loved this post, Simone! We recently moved into our very own TAA (scaled down from a house in the suburbs). I especially appreciated the tip about taking all of the knickknacks (vases, etc.) out of the way, and then creating new vignettes with just half of the items. Great idea!

  • Welcome! I loved your post so much, I added your blog to my reader. I’m sorry to say I haven’t heard of you before, but I’m thrilled that I’m in the know now!

  • So exciting! I love that when you say tiny, you mean tiny! My girlfriend & I (& her music studio) share a 400sq. foot apartment, and I always get a good laugh out of the “Small Homes” features in magazines: oh, no! only 1,200sq. feet!

  • Thanks, guys!

    I gotta admit, I was afraid of using “Tiny-Ass Apartment” as a title. It was how I always described my place, but there was a little voice in my head (it sounded like my mother) telling me that it wasn’t in good taste. In the end, I figured that I write like I talk, and there’s bound to be a naughty word in my posts eventually, so might as well let it all hang out there!

    And I agree with you, Tess — actual small home features are hard to come by. Since when is 1200 sq. ft. small? Let me play the world’s tiniest violin for your not-really-tiny house.

  • Holy Canoli I’m so excited that I stumbled upon this post! I live in a studio so I will take any advice I can get! Love the blog name, totally following now :)

  • Makes me wish I had a tiny ass apartment. I have 2 daughters that do… sent them the link. I want that white collapsible dining table for my studio.

  • I love the overall philosophy of less is more and doing amazing things with smaller, petit spaces!! We recently completed a wonderful project just outside of Atlanta, where the owners downsized from a 6,000 sq. foot custom historic home to their guest house–1,200 sq. ft. It was so wonderful to shrink the footprint with out compromising design. Love this post!!

  • What an apt blog post. I am in the process of de-cluttering in preparation to move from London to Helsinki. i need all the help and ideas I can get to clear and reorganise. Thank you.

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