Learning From A Room

Learning from a Room: Tori Hendrix’s Tips for Using Pattern in a Small Space

by Amy Azzarito


When stylist and event planner, Tori Hendrix of Sitting in a Tree Design, shared her San Diego home with us this fall, I was struck by how well she made this relatively small space (900 square feet) work for her, her husband, their daughter Luca, two dogs and cat. The dining room is a great example of how to use an oversize print in a tiny space. Tori says that she likes to think of small spaces as jewel boxes and try to make them feel really special. Her years of working as a stylist have given Tori a design instinct. So when she works on a room, she moves things around, pauses, and steps back and then rearranges things again until she finds what is right. She says that usually she has a light bulb momement where everything seems to come together and feels good.   –Amy

(p.s. If you missed the other posts in this new series, you can find them here and here)

All photographs by  Jamie Street

What was the biggest challenge you faced in this room?
Tori: It’s a tiny space and also serves as a walkway from our living room to our kitchen AND as a home office– so it has to function in multiple ways. This is a high traffic area! We have a printer + files hidden in a console, built ins that hold vases and craft supplies, and it is also where we sit and eat all our meals with our 2-year-old daughter. It’s a small dining room, regardless, but needing to serve double duty makes it even more crucial that we use every inch of space! The built in’s were a huge selling point when we were house hunting, for sure.

Get more of Tori’s tips after the jump!

What was your goal with this room?
Tori: The room doesn’t get a ton of natural light and is pretty small, so I wanted the space to feel cheery and pack a punch in a little bit of square footage. I love using an oversize print in a tiny space because it’s the opposite of what so many people would be inclined to do. I like to go against traditional rules and just do what feels right. Go big, or go home.

Many people are afraid of using pink in their homes but here you did it in a dining room! Why do you think it works?
Tori: The overall tones of the wallpaper and the room are neutral– beige and white. They really ground the pink in order to not overwhelm you. The pink just adds that pick me up that you need to keep it from being too boring.

What was the first piece that you picked for the room?
Tori: We had the table and chairs so I knew we were starting with a great deal of clean lines and white. That meant I could get really playful with the rest of it.

How did you make the decision to go for the wallpaper?
Tori: I had stumbled upon this paper when looking for my daughter’s room and fell in love– but it wasn’t right for her space. I’m a sucker for an oversized floral print and bright colors. I love how wallpaper and florals are normally such traditional elements and this just turns that on it’s side. As soon as I saw the scale of the floral heads in person, I was sold, and knew I wanted to use it in a tiny space– it either here or the bathroom!

Can you tell us a little bit about the artwork?
Tori: A friend of ours, Kelli Murray, is an amazing artist so we have two of her pieces hanging here– the small touches of pink and and the little deer work really well in the room (we also have a bit of an animal motif throughout our home– so that continues here).  We typed out our wedding vows and tied everything together with old white spray painted frames.  Again, grounding the wallpaper with lots of white.  On the other wall, I took an old thrift store mirror and painted it white and stick polaroids of our daughter and photo strips from our travels in it.  I like things to look a bit undone and rooms to tell a story this does that for me.  Nothing too perfect in this house!

Can you tell me a little bit about the curtains?
Tori: I just wanted a project one day and decided my boring white curtains needed a little color.  So, I dipped them in a bucket of pink dye.  I like them so much better now!  Sometimes you have to live in a space for a little bit and then you look around and think, oh, right, that’s what I should add! My home is constantly evolving in that way, and no doubt, this room is no exception.

Can you tell me about the built-in behind the table?
Tori: Our house was built in the 1930s and it’s original detail of the house. We really wanted a home with character and history. We also needed it for storage. It’s pretty AND a blessing in a small space! My husband was not so in love with it when I made him paint it all white when we moved in (the previous owner had painted it cream).

Do you have any final tips when it comes to decorating a space in your home?
I think people are so scared of commitment in their homes that sometimes they don’t really play with elements that will make them happy.  They play is safe thinking about the long run.  I like to invest in furniture and neutral pieces that will last and play with the materials that can be changed.  Wallpaper, paint, curtains– these things aren’t forever and someday, when I’m sick of it, I’ll do something else here.  For now, this space makes me happy and that’s key.  I see it everyday.

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