The Secret to a Festive Tiny Home (From a Tiny Home Dweller)


Whitney Leigh Morris of Tiny Canal Cottage knows a thing or two about exercising restraint when it comes to furnishing a space. After all, she lives with her husband Adam, baby son West and two dogs in a less than 400-square-foot house affectionately dubbed “the Cottage.” But that doesn’t mean she can’t have fun and get festive at home when fall rolls around (or other holidays, for that matter.) She’s perfected the art of adding seasonal touches to her decor without bringing a ton of extra stuff into the equation. So minimalists, studio dwellers and Marie Kondo fanatics alike, this one’s for you. Here, how to get your fall on in a small space.

Take the autumnal touches outdoors if you can

Living in California, Whitney is lucky enough to be able to entertain outdoors year-round and add fall flourishes there, starting with furnishing seating areas with autumnal throws and pillows.

Lighting is also key for creating a warm fall glow. “Bistro lights work for any season and add a special sparkle to anything you do after hours,” says Whitney. If you live in a colder climate, consider adding a firepit to help extend the outdoor season a little longer. Above-ground units can be relatively cheap, and they bring both light and warmth, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Rather than buying new tabletop decor, upcycle items that feel seasonal

Think of a clever way to repurpose something you already own that looks and feels like fall. For Whitney, it’s dark Hendrick’s Gin bottles. “We happen to really like Hendrick’s Gin, so when we finish a bottle, I just peel off the labels and turn them into candleholders,” says Whitney. “They’re the perfect size for tapers, and they’re this deep, dark shade that looks great on a table at this time of year.” When dinner’s over or she’s ready for a change, Whitney just recycles the bottles instead of holding on to them like she would other candleholders. So festiveness sans storage (and without spending extra cash) is clearly the advantage here, which is a win-win for any small space dweller.

Swap out daily essentials for seasonal versions

Instead of wasting space on purely decorative items, Whitney likes festive accents that serve a purpose in your everyday life. “It sounds so simple, but a cozy throw here or a plaid pillow there can really make a space feel more festive,” Whitney says. She even upgraded baby West’s changing table with a leaf and foliage patterned blanket this fall, as seen in this snap from her Instagram.

Trade bright greens for moodier fall florals

“I love muted, gray-green eucalyptus because it’s the perfect neutral background for fall flowers in reds, oranges and golds,” says Whitney. She’s also game to splurge on a striking bloom or two. Her favorites include protea and banksia ashbyi. “They’re both in that harvesty palette,” says Whitney. “They cost a little more up front, but if you take care of them, they can last up to two weeks.”

Another trick is using wreaths on a fall table setting. “Often, I put them around glass hurricanes as my centerpiece, and you can even garnish your plates with sprigs,” says Whitney. “They’re super pretty and then you can hang them later or even give them to your dinner guests as favors.”

Work your vertical space

Though Whitney doesn’t bring purely decorative festive objects into the Cottage, she thinks it’s possible for tiny home dwellers to do so, as long as they focus on things that can be mounted or displayed on walls. “You can definitely create a little Halloween or Thanksgiving-y vignette on a wall-mounted shelf,” says Whitney.

You can also suspend your pumpkins, which Whitney does in her yard using trays hung from trees. You could probably do this indoors as well with smaller pumpkins. “We usually have lanterns on the trays, but around Halloween, we sub in the pumpkins,” she says. “And you don’t even have to carve if you don’t want to. We keep a small collection of glasses and other accessories for pumpkins that we bought on Etsy, and with them, you can transform a plain pumpkin into something fun or silly instantly.”

So there you have it. It is possible to be festive and practical at the same time. Take these space-saving fall decorating tips and put them into practice, people!

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