A SMALL CHAT: Fleur of Phunk Lab

Posted on: October 26th, 2009 by rebecca




This week’s A SMALL CHAT comes all the way from Australia with talented artist, Fleur of Phunk Lab. I spotted and posted Fleur’s work last summer. I loved the look of her designs and thought her prints would be a great focal point for a wall space. Let’s see what she has to say about her home and how she is inspired by her own city.

Tell us about your home – how big (or small) is it and how long have you lived there?
We fell in love with a 2 bedroom house on a small 506m2 block of land. Although it was smaller than we wanted for our first home it’s really close to everything and we’re learning to make the most of every square meter! We’ve been here for nearly a year now and although we’ve done a lot of the garden (my fiance Jeff has a landscaping business) we still have a lot to do as far as decorating is concerned.

I posted about your artwork, Phunk Lab, a year ago and love it! How do you feel art inspires home design? How can art influence or change the look of a space?

I think you can really use art to inject your personality into a home. Personally I’ve found that art in our home has been like icing on a cake – we’ve spent the last year finding the right furniture to suit the structural layout and now I’m starting to collect art and textiles that fit in with our personal style and surroundings. I think you can’t go wrong if you choose pieces you love or ones that have a personal meaning to you. I had a friend who did a round the world trip and picked out a print from every city she visited.
Something as simple as a frame can influence the look of a space too. You can instantly create more of a dramatic look with a large ornate frame and contrast matting or use the same simple frames grouped to pull an array of different prints together to make somewhat of an inspiration wall.

What is your best small space tip when it comes to displaying art?

I have two :) 1. If you want to display a piece of art in a certain area but you’re worried about it looking cluttered use a piece that either has a background or frame and matting color that is the same as the wall you’re placing it on and 2. You can peg small prints, photographs and ACEO cards along a piece of Ikea curtain wire either vertically or horizontally for some instant personality in a small space.

How has your city inspired your home design?

We live on the Gold Coast in Queensland which is know for its warm weather and beaches. Luckily there were lovely big palms and a pool when we bought the place so our main objective was to make the most of the outdoor living. Now we’re focusing on increasing the flow from the house through to the garden with french doors and bi-folds. We’re planning on having our small wedding here next year so we have a good incentive to get everything done asap!

Thanks, Fleur!! Check out Fleur’s blog right here and the Phunk Lab etsy shop right here.

Check out more A SMALL CHAT interviews with these small space dwellers:

A SMALL CHATViv of Ish and Chi

Posted on: October 8th, 2009 by rebecca

I am so excited about today’s a small chat interview with insanely talented Viv of ish and chi. She makes original fabric artwork (see her etsy shop here) and is an all-around creative person, showcasing her design inspirations on her lovely blog. Sharing her love of design plus tours of her own space (you have to go see!!), Viv’s space is cheery, super stylish yet completely comfy. Yes! Let’s hear what she has to say about small space dwelling.

You live in a cottage-style house (it’s so lovely!) and are passionate about decorating and design. How did you design your space while keeping your creative design style in tact while utilizing the best use of the space?

Thank you! My husband and I had a lot of the interior stripped out including the old canary yellow kitchen, built-in wall-to-wall cupboard in the living and built-in study desks in each bedroom. Along with a structural change, opening a wall leading into the kitchen, we were left with a great blank canvas to work with, much more space and a better ‘flow’ in the house. From there it was a matter of keeping the interior simple, white and bright and hoping our existing furniture fit! I always knew we could add colour later with accessories and other accents. I wasn’t in a hurry to finish each room and over time it is slowly evolving and changing.

You create handmade fabrics and artwork and sell them in your Etsy shop, Ish and Chi. They are colorful, vibrant and graphic. How do you feel color works best in small spaces? How have you integrated color into your home while keeping the smaller space feeling open?

I try to either have one stand-out colourful piece in a room (for example the artwork in the study) and to keep the rest of the room neutral/white or to have a grouping of colourful pieces (for example the wallpaper frames in the bedroom). Whenever I try adding any more colour to a room I end up pairing back because, for me, it feels too much.

I love your design studio makeover – seriously – it’s amazing! You described it in your blog and I’d love to hear more about how you used small space solutions, color and design to make this space over? (p.s. I need that butterfly mobile for my own home – where can I get it?)

Thanks so much! For the studio I started by trying to fit in as much desk space as I could. From there I added storage solutions with the sideboard and armoire and used as much of the wall as possible by installing shelving, hanging clipboards and a wallpaper panel to hang some of my work and other art I love. I’ve basically used up every inch of space in this room but it doesn’t feel cluttered when you are in the room because there is still plenty of floor space. I let myself have fun with colour in this room without thinking about whether ‘this’ matches ‘that’. I just went with my instinct and added things that I love looking at and am inspired by. (The butterfly mobile was bought from Adairs in Sydney but I think I’ve seen online that you can buy one similar from Pottery Barn unless I’m mistaken?)

I see in your shelves off your kitchen, you used a wallpaper accent to give color and dimension (one of my fave uses for wallpaper is just this!) What are your favorite tips for adding accents to small spaces without breaking the bank?

Use wallpaper off-cuts if they are available for purchase. The wallpaper I used in the kitchen is usually $350 for a 10m roll. I bought 2 rolls of offcuts, enough for this cabinet, for $80. Also lately I have been buying wallpaper from ebay which is very cheap!

Small space dwellers often use the same room for a few functions. Your dining/living room makeover really opened up the space – it’s much bigger and it’s gorgeous! What was your main goal for this space and how did you concept the open floor plan?

Because the house didn’t have a dining room it was a matter of either ditching the 8-seat dining table we already owned for a small table that fit 2 people (as the previous owners had) or try to make it work in this combined space. Removing the build-in cabinet in the living room gave us more floor space and we were lucky that the furniture fit (just). The original plan was to swap the dining and living room furniture around but, even though I had measured the floor space and drawn up a plan, we found that we didn’t have as much room to move through the space and into the kitchen so we switched the furniture around to where it is now. Opening the wall between the kitchen and living/dining was the best decision we made. It really opened up the space. What I love most about it is that if we have guests over, I can prepare coffees etc and not feel as though I am missing out of conversations.

Thanks, Viv!! Click here to enjoy the ish and chi blog and click here to support and buy up all of Viv’s etsy goods.

Enjoy more small space dweller interviews from the a small chat series….

A SMALL CHAT Laure Joliet of At Home At Home, Dwell & Apartment Therapy

Posted on: September 28th, 2009 by rebecca

This week’s A SMALL CHAT is with the lovely Laure Joliet, fellow Apartment Therapy writer, Dwell contributor, blogger for her own design blog, At Home At Home and photographer and owner of Laure Joliet Photography. To say Laure has an amazing eye is an understatement. Her design style is vintage meets elegant simplicity and you can tell she really cares about her home and enjoys living in it. Enjoy this little interview with Laure and her small space style. And click here to see Laure’s incredible portfolio and to contact her for any photo projects.

You have shared your Venice home on Apartment Therapy and it’s full of family heirlooms, vintage style and modern touches. Your space really feels big even though the footprint is small. What small space ideas went into designing a layout that was comfortable, functional and stylish?

I like to block out spaces so that each area is defined. For the studio there were three areas downstairs: dining room/office anchored with the dining table and the credenza, living room anchored with the danish love seat and chair and the kitchen which is separated by the standing kitchen island. It’s important to zone your space otherwise you end up pushing furniture against walls and cramming too much in.
I also edited my belongings by going through everything and donating books, clothes and just stuff. I knew I would love having space more than having stuff. This way I could keep everything in the 2 credenzas and the overhead storage and it didn’t have to be out and in the way cluttering up visual space.
It’s also important to consider your color palette: if you keep a palette going throughout a space then it feels larger because the eye sees the space as a whole. I love having plenty of empty white space on walls with pops of blue, green and orange around.

As a writer for AT and Dwell and your own blog, At Home At Home, you’ve covered some pretty amazing small homes and design ideas. What are your best tips for small space dwelling? And what mistakes do you see being made?

I’ll tackle the mistakes first. Honestly I think the biggest issue is that people have furniture that’s the wrong scale. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a large sofa or dining table, but it needs to be balanced with space. You need 3 feet for a comfortable walkway or a space between a table and a wall. So have a nice big dining table but then don’t cram in the credenza. And the second one is: don’t be afraid of color. A lot of times a small space looks larger once you add texture and pattern to it. It gives your eyes something to look at, instead of how small the room is. Paint a wall a bright color, line one with bookshelves, overlap some rugs or cluster artwork on a wall. When you have a focal point or accent it anchors the space and the the small stuff looks organized and not like clutter. So don’t be afraid to have stuff in a small space, just make sure it’s balanced with some blank space too.

You’ve been doing interior design and really have created some pretty and functional spaces. What tips have you learned from designing and staging interiors that translates well to designing a home?

I’ve resisted this for a long time but it really, truly helps to start with a floor plan and then a mood board. Putting the time in upfront to determine what you have room for and what overall direction you want to go in saves so much time later. It’s tempting to just jump in and start buying accessories, lamps, pillows and start pushing furniture around (and trust me I still do) but you’ll be happier with the result if you have a gameplan to follow and help keep you focused.
I’ve also noticed that when we do staging the rooms really come together with the accessories. With the big blocks of furniture the rooms might look empty and boring and a little sad. But adding a cluster of vases, some art, plants, mementos, rugs and throw pillows (keeping a palette in mind and also mixing up textures: wood, glass, paint, linen, pattern, etc) actually brings life into the space.
And finally lighting. Having lots of lamps in a space makes it feel warm and inviting. At home I shoot for at least 3 points of light in a room, but when we stage it’s more than that. We pair them on credenzas, add them to consoles and have them on either side of every bed. In a studio we just completed, there were 6 lamps. It helped define areas and kept it feeling light and warm.

You have great taste and really have mixed vintage gems into your home decor. What are your best tips for scouting flea markets to discover great vintage finds for small space?

The Rose Bowl can be daunting, but not if you go often. You start to notice what stuff you’re drawn to and then later on when you’re looking at magazine spreads you’ll notice similar items used in different ways. It gets your imagination working and thinking about objects and furniture differently. Never be afraid to combine different eras. A shabby chic chest with a danish modern table with a lucite lamp can work, just make sure you’re buying things that you love or that make you smile.
I have a salvation army near me that I check out pretty often. Things are cheap so I feel freer to take risks on things I wouldn’t normally consider. I comb through artwork, accessories and furniture and I consider what I can paint, what would look good as a multiple (like a bunch of blue glass jars that might look like clutter if there’s just one or two, but 5 of them looks like it’s on purpose) and I almost always find a good lamp (I have way too many lamps).

Thanks, Laure!

A SMALL CHAT: Morgan of The Brick House

Posted on: September 14th, 2009 by rebecca


I am excited to share a new series on loving. living. small. called a small chat. for this interview series, i am inviting some lovely bloggers, designers and stylemakers to share their thoughts on small space dwelling. The first interview is with Morgan of The Brick House. Morgan’s blog follows the renovation and design layout of her home, yes, a brick house. Her style of modern and vintage hi/low decor is inspiring and pretty. read what she has to say about designing and living in a smaller space.

Your blog, The Brick House, chronicles your renovation and your love of vintage finds. As you’ve been designing your space, how had you’ve utilized your space while keeping your design style in tact?

I’ve been trying to go slowly and discover how we use each space on a day to day basis. I’m a collector and I love vintage, so I’ll scour our surrounding areas for great deals. Most of the pieces I bring into the house are a bit of a surprise. Thrifting allows me to save money but doesn’t allow me to pre-plan how a space will come together. Most things I bring home initially have an intended area or purpose, but somehow end up somewhere else entirely. I’m trying to be extremely flexible when it comes to utilizing space and have developed my design style through tons of failure as well as trial and error.

What are the best accents for small spaces?

Art. Like real ART. I think it makes any space, big or small exciting and unique. I always think that’s why those spaces on TV design shows look a little bland and featureless. They usually lack art or try to make fake art to match the room. Fake art tends to look a little themed and hooky. Oh, and plants. I love plants and they are so easy to find, cheap to buy and liven interiors up the way pillows or tchotchkes can’t.


Have you ever had to give up a piece of furniture because of your footprint? On the flipside, what piece of furniture do you use the most in your small space?

I give up or sell furniture constantly because of space limitations. I have an extremely hard time passing up a great deal on quality vintage furniture and over time have switched items in and out of the house that fit better in terms of scale, quality, design (or if I just got tired of looking at something). I probably use my white couch in the den the most or the built-in desk. Our whole lives are spent in the den.

You have such a great eye for vintage and thrift finds. What are your best tips for finding decor for smaller spaces?

Hey thanks, I try really hard! I say quality first. Quality doesn’t always have to be the most expensive either. Vintage items are typically made better than the pressboard passed off as wood in a lot of current furniture, and you can find them for cheaper than Ikea stuff. Go to high end vintage stores and really look at and touch and feel quality items to get a sense of what they should be. It will help you develop your eye and instinct when your at the thrift stores, garage sales or flea markets. It gets very easy to recognize the weight, finish, and construction of quality vintage that may seem a little worse for ware but can easily be fixed up with a little danish oil rub down, sanding, and TLC. Craigslist, flea markets, thrift stores, and vintage stores are my main sources and I’ve used them to furnish every space I’ve ever lived in.

You have great a great color palette in your home. What inspires your color choices and what advice can you give small space dwellers looking to add color in their space?



Color has always been really hard for me, and I’m still trying to figure it out. I think the 30-60-10 rule is one to live by if your color challenged (which I am). I’ve really been inspired by the interiors I see in blogs or decor magazines and I work at being aware of what I respond to on an initial gut level. I’ll focus on what I like or disliked based on that initial “WOW” or “EWW” of a space. Then I’ll try and copy what I love. Figuring out your personal taste is much harder than it seems, there is just so much stuff out there to choose from. Thats why I like the limitations of being thrifty. It limits choice and forces you to be make do with what you find.


I’ve been enjoying a more neutral palette of browns, grays, blacks and whites with hits of yellow and red. I love white walls and if white or a pale neutral is your 60% color you can go a little nuts with more intense colors. I love looking at Scandinavian interiors with all those white walls and floors and then crazed colors and patterns everywhere else. If your ground is neutral then you can change details in and out really easily, like if you get sick of that fuschia rug or lime green chair just switch it out and you don’t need to worry about repainting the walls or tearing out the floors. Its great to have a more neutral base that can be changed up with the addition or subtraction of art, lights or accessories. Neutral doesn’t mean beige. I outlawed resale beige in my life, it’s just to depressing. Develop your personal taste and then trust it. Buy things you love (and not just think you kind of like or might need) and they usually fit together really well.

Thanks, Morgan! Click here to check out The Brick House and see Morgan’s space. And looking for some cool vintage finds, then click here to buy some goods from Morgan’s etsy shop, Brick House Vintage.

::Enjoy more small chats:
::Jessica Rust of Rust Designs
::Bob & Cortney Novogratz of Sixx Design

loving. living. small. chats with Jessica Rust Jessica Rust Designs Personalized Dinnerware

Posted on: June 10th, 2009 by rebecca

- Tattoo collection –

- Love Birds collection -

- Best Friends collection –

- Family Tree collection –


I have been a huge fan of Jessica Rust’s lovely personalized dinnerware for a while now. Simple yet enchanting, her passion and creativity embodies her craft. I love the idea that small details can make a big impact in a small space and using this dinnerware to dine or as a home decor accent will surely do just that. I am thrilled to have e-met her and she sweetly agreed to do a little interview with loving. living. small. Enjoy reading about some of Jessica’s inspiration and style for Rust Designs.

I was turned onto your pretty dinnerware by the personalized collection. I immediately fell in love with your designs. What is the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! Long walks with my dog. Gives me a chance to clear my head I don’t take a phone so I can really see what’s around me. I love nature but am not a nature girl my idea of a nice weekend in the country would be a nice big porch and someone serving wine. I use a lot of what see around me in my work. I will often take photos and go from there.

What other ways have you or do you like to see your dinnerware being used? (i.e. as an art display, etc)
I hope people will use my dinnerware, I’m not a fan of dinnerware on the wall, not that it can’t be lovely. My grandmother has the most amazing collection all over her kitchen, but I really designed it to used and incorporated into dinnerware you might already own.

Small space dwellers definitely have to consider the amount of things that can go into any space. How much “dinner ware” do you feel the average couple needs in their kitchen?
Hmm I suppose that depends on how much you like to entertain. I would say at a minimum 6 dinner plates, salad/dessert plates and bowls. More of course if you like to have friends over. That way you’re not washing dishes all the time. Of course you need mugs I never seem to have enough.

I watched your great profile on The Today Show (congrats!) I love your passion and drive. How did it feel when your product “made it”?
I’ve been asked this before and I’m not sure that I’ve made it, kind of always wanted a porsche perhaps when I can afford one I’ll feel I’ve made it.

Tell us about your work studio? Would it be considered a small space and how do you use it?
I lived in NY for too long for this to be a small space. It is a wonderful space a fabulous space. The space is a carriage house that we (my husband and I renovated) it’s not a finished space but it gets amazing light in the winter, has 16′ ceilings. It’s a bit hot in the summer with the kilns going, but I love it. The first floor of my studio is where production is done. The second floor is my office and work table where I hash out my designs.

I love the colorful designs on your newest collection, Tattoo. What are your fave color tips in a space?
Thank you. Well, first and foremost if you could see my house you would know I LOVE color. I use it a lot. Biggest tip; to not be afraid of deep or dark colors they can actually make your space feel larger. I hate hearing when people say they can’t use this really rich color because it will make the space feel too small. It is often best to paint a small space intensely. OH, and don’t be afraid to use color, you can always paint it over if you don’t like it. Take a risk it’s what life is about.

Thanks, Jessica! Click here to enjoy the Rust Designs site and buy up some of her fab wares.


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loving. living. small. chats with Sixx Design

Posted on: June 1st, 2009 by rebecca

I had the pleasure of e-meeting the design duo behind Sixx Design, Bob and Cortney Novogratz. Tackling design projects in Manhattan, the creative couple develop and design unique and eclectic spaces and turn “funky into fabulous”. With the launch of their new design book, Downtown Chic, design lovers and small space dwellers can catch a glimpse into Sixx Design’s interesting and design inspiring world of sophistication meets bohemian style.

New York is full of small space dwellers. When you are taking on small space projects, what are the main things you consider?
The key to design of small spaces is to make it as clutter free as possible yet not lose a personal style. Make sure the furniture is in scale with the room and hide as much junk as you can. Small spaces tend to be more comfortable so always keep that feel.

Your first book, Downtown Chic, was just released. {Congrats!!} How was working on this project and how did you pick the spaces to include?
The book chronicles all our big projects from our first house to last year.

What are your best tips on creating a focal point in a small space?
We love fleamarket finds! So your focal point should be something you love and no one else has. Our favorite pieces were not expensive.

What has been your craziest project? Was there a time when you considered not working on it? What inspired you to take it on?
We twice have been hired for big celebrities and walked away from the jobs …never work for someone that you have to answer to their ‘people”.

What are the things in your own house that make it a home?
Our black and white photo wall of our large extended family and relatives.

Thanks, Sixx Design! Click here to check out Downtown Chic.


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