Two People, Two Dogs & A Baby Live In This 362-Square-Foot Cottage

If you enjoy the occasional scroll through a design blog, you know about the tiny-home trend. These are the minuscule houses (we're talking less than 400 square feet) that are quickly becoming as covetable as mega-mansions once were. But as we see photo after photo of small, sparingly appointed spaces posted by bloggers, we have one question: Do they actually live in them?

Whitney Leigh Morris
does. She shares a 362-square-foot cottage in L.A. with her husband, newborn baby, and two dogs. Morris says the beautiful life she documents on Instagram is 100% real, and after visiting her home, we believe her. The popularity of sizing down is growing fast for reasons ranging from the environment to personal finance — and with new vehicle models like the Ford mini SUV EcoSport, the movement is clearly not just for houses.

Ahead, we talk to Morris about her home and how living in such close quarters has actually increased her productivity, strengthened her relationship, and made co-parenting easier. Prepare to see your own tiny sublet in a whole new way.
Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
How did you decide to move into such a tiny home?
"My husband Adam and I found the space about five years ago, when we were first looking to move in together. We weren’t seeking out a tiny house, necessarily — that trend hadn’t even started yet — but we knew the minute we walked in that it was the place for us. We wanted to stay in Venice, we needed a place with a backyard for our dog, and we fell in love with the Canal District, which typically houses very expensive real estate. We’re still constantly excited that we found this property, because the market is tough."
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Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Did you worry about living in such cramped quarters?
"I realized I actually preferred 'living small' way before we moved in. It happened when I split up with a partner of about 10 years and I moved to a little studio on the beach, leaving my ex with all of our furniture and shared belongings. I loved that I wasn't weighed down by any of the stuff we had accumulated."

Given you and your husband were combining your belongings for the first time, how much downsizing did you do?
"Well, neither of our beds fit into the new bedroom, so we had to saw a piece of Adam's mattress off with a bread knife just to have a place to sleep! I also ended up getting rid of a lot of clothing as well as kitchen stuff we realized was totally unnecessary. I quickly learned that you don't need a big coffee machine or a toaster oven when you've got a pour-over and a stove."

Did you have to buy new furniture?
"Yes, but we waited about six months before choosing, because I wanted to feel out how we navigated the space. In the end, what surprised me the most was that you don’t actually need to buy smaller pieces for a small space. It’s actually better to just have a few full-sized pieces, like a functional desk and couch."

How has sharing this space shaped your relationship?
"If you spend a lot of time with someone, you either grow together or grow apart. This space really helped us do the former, because we have to operate in tandem and be teammates. You can’t really live in a cottage this small with someone you don’t communicate with or feel comfortable with. We had to learn how to create routines that kept us from stepping on each other's feet. Now, for example, we wake up and make the bed together every morning. We've also created a morning ritual that means we're not both trying to get ready and use the bathroom at the same time."

Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
When you found out you were having a baby, did you consider moving?
"We knew as soon as we started planning for baby West that we didn't want to move. So many people warned us it was going to be terrible, but — knock on wood — we’re taking it on together, and it’s really been fun so far. Because the space is very small, neither one of us is ever going through the act of parenting alone. It’s all teamwork."

Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
You also run your creative firm out of your home. How do you switch into and out of work mode?
"During my work hours, I let my desk and living room get as messy as they need to be and never worry about keeping things in their proper place. That way, I'm literally surrounded by my work, meaning I can't procrastinate. At the end of the day, I close out my work session by packing everything back into its proper place out of sight. It's like a totally different space when everything is put away, so when Adam and I are hanging out in the living room in the evening, I don't feel like dipping back into my job."

Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Earlier this year, you were married in the backyard of your home. How do you manage hosting large groups — or anyone for that matter?
"We use our space and furniture in a really fluid way, so we can easily accommodate everything from small dinners to parties for basically 50 people, like our wedding. We’ve even had overnight guests here for up to three weeks! The key is investing in multifunctional pieces that you can move around and drag both indoors and outdoors. Moving the party outside practically doubles our space."

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Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
Photographed by Kat Borchart at I Heart Reps.
If you want a closer look at exactly how Whitney pulls off big parties in her small space, check out the behind-the-scenes footage of the dinner party she threw with her stylish friends Mary Lauren, Sara Forte, Justina Blakeney, and Audrey Woollen.
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