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Interiorssneak peeks

A Tiny Home for Two Designers in Wales

by Lauren Chorpening Day

TV shows about real estate like to focus on the logistical side of housing, but a home’s character and design can be just as influential in a house search as the location and size. The decision comes down to what people need to feel inspired by, and what they’re willing to sacrifice. When Belinda and Joe got married in 2013, they started searching for a rental. The couple assumed they would find one of a decent size, but a place without much else to offer as homes in their neighborhood tend to be cookie-cutter new-builds. When they came upon this 500-square-foot home with quirky features in Cardiff, Wales, they instantly knew that sacrificing space for charm was important to them.

Belinda Love Lee, graphic designer and illustrator, and Joe Stratford, furniture designer and set builder, knew that they’d need to make some lifestyle and furniture changes for their home. They’ve since embraced those changes and are loving their space. “Our house is fairly small, so our living room (also dining room and kitchen) needed to be maximized in space simply because we’d wouldn’t have room otherwise. Since I work from home it was of even more importance to us that we made the rooms work for our needs, not the other way around,” Belinda says. “I’m literally at home 24/7, so I need for the space to inspire me, instead of it feeling like the walls are caving in on me.” Belinda and Joe have chosen to use small-in-scale and minimal-in-quantity pieces to furnish their little home.

Some of the pieces in their space were designed and made by Joe. “I think the best part about us making home together, is that we literally made it ourselves. Joe being a furniture designer is obviously a huge plus, as we get to make pieces [to] fit our 500-square-foot home,” Belinda says. “As we’re both creatives, when making home, the aesthetics and designing choice matter most to us. We want our home to reflect our own personalities and design styles. Thankfully, we’ve made home on a budget, with Joe’s [handiwork] we can pretty much custom-make any furniture to fit our tiny home.” And all of that custom work is well worth it — the couple’s airy and ideally quaint home inspires both Belinda and Joe’s professions with its simple beauty. –Lauren

Photography by Belinda Love Lee

 

SOURCES

Living Room

Live edge table from Kerf CollectionPillows from Ikea
Ladder Shelf from Rose and Grey
Drop leaf table from Dunelm
Frames from Nkuku

Kitchen

Bowl and Chopping boards from Kerf Collection
Ceramic cup from Speck and Stone

Bedroom

Mirror from Ikea

Pillows from Dunelm

Table and shelf from Kerf Collection
Rose and Grey Interior

Paper organizers from Ikea
Clothing rail from Ziito

 

A Tiny Home for Two Designers in Wales | Design*Sponge
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The majority of the main floor is an open living area that combines the living room, kitchen and dining room. Belinda and Joe love the rare architectural interest in their home. They have selected and built pieces of furniture that work perfectly with the scale of the space.
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Belinda, Joe and their dog, Dash, in their favorite room of the house, the attic bedroom.
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Rustic wood is seen throughout the house. Glass bottles are a common decorative element in Belinda and Joe's home - keeping things cohesive and light in form. "I think when you first get married, [there's] so much more to learn about your spouse. Besides picking up each other’s annoying little habits, we are learning to grow and develop as a couple together in life and design style," Belinda says. "Thankfully, our vision for our home was fairly similar, making it much easier of a process to make home. We wanted a rustic industrial touch, while keeping it fairly minimal and clutter-free, with a little bit of an indoor urban jungle."
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"We’re especially fond of our map wall. We’ve managed to find three maps of our home cities from around the world. All of them are real antique maps dating back to 1850s. They’re all color-coded in light pinks and blues, which makes them look even more of a collection together," Belinda says.
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Plants make this small space feel lush and homey.
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"We optimized space by getting a drop leaf table that can extend to a full four-sitter if needed," Belinda says. "Honestly, I think that’s a huge player in helping us make the most of our space. Without this gadget we wouldn’t be able to fit in a coffee table as well in this room."
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Quirky frame styling makes an impact on a mostly empty wall above the table.
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The small living area is used strategically. Nothing is too cluttered, large or colorful which helps make the space feel as large as possible.
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"Because of the lack of shelving and wall space to display decorations, we’ve maximized our space by decorating our windowsills with plants and glass bottles," Belinda says.
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The kitchen is located to the right of the couch. The updated finishes help the open space feel modern and well cared for.
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The kitchen is small but very functional and practical. The cabinets are designed around the unique slope of the ceiling and create visual height to the room.
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The clothing rack in the study is a catchall for the house.
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Belinda works from home on her illustration business. Her study is decorated with natural wood tones and industrial elements. "A view of the desk and shelf that Joe made for me. I get spoiled with quality furniture. We made the desks out of secondhand scaffolding boards and recycled steel."
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The stairs up to the bedroom on the second floor. "When you come up the stairs to our bedroom, there’s [a] super awkward triangle space. I think we’ve done a pretty great job making it a detailed decoration point instead of just wasted space," Belinda says.
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The skylights in the attic bedroom flood the space with sun. "I love how our ceiling tilts, and the exposed wooden beams of the original build show through. We’ve maximized this space by hanging our clothes in this awkward space here," Belinda says.
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"Even before looking, we knew that we wanted to make home in a unique and quirky space instead of just your regular cookie-cutter house. We came across this house pretty quickly, on our second attempt out. What convinced us to move in was when we saw the attic bedroom! We instantly knew it was the space we’d been looking for."
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The pitched roof and small footprint make this space feel like a cozy hideout from the rest of the world.
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The wooden beams and simple bed styling give the bedroom the sense of a retreat. It is a peaceful area where Belinda and Joe love to be.
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Belinda and Joe's floor plan.
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"We’re most thankful that we found this unusual space and we’ve made it work for us," Belinda says.

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Comments

  • What a wonderfully put together little sanctuary. I especially love their wee quote at the end – so true! By the way I’m in love with the blue cushion in photo one – who is this by and where can I find it?

  • I like what they’ve done with the triangle space in the stairwell. Love the desk in the study/office.

  • Absolutely gorgeous. I do have one concern, though, that the skylight might cause their clothes to fade, especially along the tops/shoulders. When we bought our house, there was a window in our master bedroom closet and I cut a piece of foamboard to fit snugly inside the window frame for that reason. In Belinda and Joe’s house, maybe some ultraviolet blocking film that sticks to the window might work; it would still let in light.

    • Hey Carol, trueee, I actually never thought of that but it completely makes sense! Will definitely look into seeing if there’s ultraviolet films around, which won’t effect the overall look of the window. Wouldn’t want a tinted window look!

  • Oh gosh what a lovely little place, that loft is to die for! Was wondering where the ladder shelf in the living room is from? Absolutely love it.

  • I’m with Monica, would love to know where the ladder is from?! I also loved that the plants really gave depth to the house, it really enhance the rooms.

  • Such a cute little hideaway! I love those frames over the dining table, how can i get/make some??

    • Oh gosh I wish we made them! They’re from this gorgeous eco friendly online store here in the UK called nkuku.com. We absolutely love ours!

      Thank you Em!

  • Well done on limiting the clutter! But I can’t help but wonder why they put the sofa right next to the kitchen, instead of the dining table?

    • Hey Iz,

      Thank you, clutter is a no go, cause we just don’t have the space!

      Hmmm, now that you bring it up, it does make sense aha! I think the reason why we kept it this way around was because the couch fit perfectly in the nook between the kitchen counter and the wall!

      But now you’ve got me thinking, might need to do a switch around, lol.

  • Your attic bedroom is an inspiration to me because my own house has a very similar space–but it’s not nearly as nice. I also have hanging clothes up there under a skylight, but rather than cover this window which is a major source of light for the room, I cover the clothes rack with a drape made from light blocking fabric that is normally used to line curtains. I just made the fabric fit over the top of the hangers–nothing fancy but I think it works to keep direct light off the clothes., and we still have that wonderful view of the tree tops.

    • Hi Jen O!

      Oh yay to also having an attic coveted bedroom, I just love how cozy they are. At the beginning when we first moved in, as much as we liked our bedroom, practically speaking it’s not the easiest to work with. It’s pitched roof caused for us to hit our heads constantly, there’s not cabinet space really, etc. But the one thing that really helped us begin to really like our room was when we moved our bed from the centre of the room to the very far corner! Aesthetically speaking it’s not as symmetrical, but since moving its opened up our room so so much more. We can finally stand up straight (hah) and it’s even given us space for our huge mirror. Don’t know what the situation of your bed is in, in relation to the room, but perhaps thinking of ways to re-jig it and make the furniture fit the nooks better!

      Thanks so much for the advice on the clothing covers, such a genius idea that I’ll definitely look into into getting that sorted!

      So glad we can exchange attic bedroom advice!

  • Such a beautiful airy space! And in Cardiff (swoon).

    Did you make the wardrobe unit in the study? It’s gorgeous!