I’ve been asked a few times to highlight home tours that feature living small with kids, so today’s Small Space Squad does just that! Meet the charming and cozy home of Jo Charron, aka Neat N Tiny. Jo offers really wonderful tiny living hacks and her home is just so light, bright, and airy. Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Home Tour: Inside the Bright and Airy Home of Neat N Tiny
Who: Jo Charron aka Neat N Tiny
Where: Toronto, Ontario
Number of years spent living small: 11 years, in our current home for 8 of those.
To start, tell me your story about how you ultimately ended up choosing a small space?
Because of the crazy real estate market here in Toronto, when it was time for us to buy a house, we had two options: a small place in the city or a bigger one out in the ‘burbs. Most of our family’s in Toronto and I love big city living, so moving away wasn’t really an option.
We prioritized location when house hunting and ended up with semi-detached fixer-upper on a beautiful, tree-lined street that’s a short walk from the subway.
Our house is modest, but it’s an upgrade from the little loft we shared before that, and the even tinier bachelor suite, where I first lived on my own.
What is your biggest challenge in your small space?
Having to accommodate houseguests. With limited space and just one full bathroom, it feels crowded and awkward. I think our home’s the perfect size for my husband, son, and I, but add any more people to the mix and it’s chaos when everyone needs to use the bathroom in the morning!
What is your favorite part about living small?
It hones your creativity and resourcefulness. We make our space work for more than one function and more than one person at a time. For instance, the dining table is where we eat, play board games and where I work on my blog.
We converted our spare bedroom into a family room/media room for more communal living space.
We’ve also learned to use furniture unconventionally. For instance, using a side table and an ottoman in place of a single, large, coffee table is less overwhelming, and allows for better flow in a small space.
What is your number one hack for living small?
Sneaky storage. I’ve become a master at carving out storage space in the most unlikely places. Storage bins can be hidden under and behind large pieces of furniture, like a bed or couch. We keep our Roomba’s charging center under the couch, so it’s out of sight when it’s not running. We set it to vacuum when we’re away at work. It’s like a magical fairy cleans the floors while we’re out!
Another example: I repurposed one of the kitchen’s upper cabinets into storage for my son’s art supplies: markers, glue and other implements of home destruction that we don’t want him getting his hands on unsupervised!
Finally, baskets are my favorite kind of sneaky storage; they’re great decorative elements and they keep clutter hidden. We even have a ‘quick tidy up’ basket in the living room, where we can toss any last minute clutter before guests arrive.
Do you ever feel pressure to be “minimalistic” or feel guilty about buying things you don’t “need” for your home?
I find that small space living is conducive to living more minimally. You can only have so much when space is limited.
There’s always the temptation to change things up from time to time, especially in the home decor niche. I try to satiate that urge by rearranging furniture, seeing if I can use a space more efficiently, and rotating in/out smaller accessories. I’m also trying to incorporate more vintage and locally-made goods (including artwork my 4-year-old brings home from school!).
We’ve made use of of vintage family heirlooms (like a grandfather clock from my husband’s grandma, an old, wooden army trunk from his grandpa, and a vintage chair from his aunt that we updated with new upholstery).
What have you learned about yourself by living small?
That I appreciate efficiency. Living small means owning less, which usually means spending less. This translates into not having to work as much and having more free time. There’s also less house to keep tidy, which saves even more time. Even transit between one room and another is diminished in a smaller home! If you add up the amount of time we spend making these little trips around the house each day, you might find that you’d spend an extra year of your life just commuting within a big house compared to a small one. Okay, maybe I didn’t do the math on that one…
What’s your number one storage hack?
Over-the-door hanging shoe organizers! Anyone with limited closet space should have one on the inside of every closet door. We use them to organize everything other than shoes: rolled up shirts in my son’s closet, sunglasses, hats and other accessories in our closet, and cleaning supplies in the supply closet.
Who is your biggest small space inspiration?
The Kinfolk Home and Kinfolk Magazine are a great source of inspiration for modern, minimalist design and slow, intentional living. I was also a huge fan of Apartment Therapy’s Smallest Coolest Contest. I’m sad they stopped running it.
On Instagram, my favorites are Femte.til.venstre, Scandinavian inspo, and Livingbylo, who boasts a beautiful, minimal, Parisian-style apartment in Montreal. And, of course, the Small Spaces Squad series on Jojotastic!
What do your friends and family say about your choice to live small?
Most of our friends and family are in the same boat, living small in a big city–my parents, sisters and father-in-law are all apartment dwellers. So, compared to them, we’re living relatively large. I find our American friends and family are used to much larger spaces (everything seems to be bigger in the States!). Sometimes, when they first step into our home and can see all the way to the back from the entryway, it looks like they’re thinking “is that all there is to this place???” Overall, they’re impressed with all the functionality and storage we’ve managed to cram into our small space.
You can find even more Small Space Squad Home Tours here:
- Arielle Vey
- This Thrifted Abode
- Anne Sage
- Jess Ann Kirby
- Sara Toufali
- Katrina Blair
- Crystal Ann Interiors
- Joyfully Growing
Photography by Neat N Tiny, used with permission.
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