Dear Jojo: Small Space Ideas, 2020 Design Trends & More!

I’m so excited to share my first Q&A post of 2020… and with an all new series name: Dear Jojo. Like Dear Abby, but me instead. I thought it was cheeky, cute, and silly. What do you think of it? Anyways, the “ask a question” feature on Instagram is honestly my favorite. I love being able to answer your specific questions in real time. As I was thinking about what I wanted to blog about this week, I realized that it had been a while. So today I am answering your questions making your home smell great, small space ideas, and more!

You Asked, I Answered: Your Questions about Wall Art, Small Space Ideas, & More!

How did you cope with living with worn out fittings until you had money to renovate?

UGH, I know a lot about this topic. When I first moved into the tiny bungalow, the bathroom sink barely worked. Water only trickled out of the faucet, the drainage wasn’t good, the vanity was very low (probably because it was so old??). It was not a good scene. Eventually, I stopped using it and did everything in the kitchen sink — where the faucet leaked like crazy when it was on! I was constantly debating whether to keep saving money for the renovation materials I actually wanted OR to put some money toward a quick fix until I could actually renovate.

But it turns out there was another way: find a re-use store! Admittedly, we got really lucky and found a pedestal sink on a parking strip in our neighborhood marked for trash pickup. So we quickly loaded that into my truck and brought it home… and it worked! I still needed a faucet, so I went to our local re-use store and got one for a fraction of the price. Since then, I’ve always perused Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc. for used items that would work until I could afford to renovate. It definitely saves money AND helps to get your home back to being fully functional in the meantime.

Is there anything many small space dwellers do that you’re not into?

Eeeeeek, I really try not to be too negative about anyone’s lifestyle and home choices, so this is a tough one to answer. I actually almost didn’t include this question! But it felt like an opportunity to get on my soapbox a bit more. After posting this small space squad home tour, I took some heat for sharing a home that some considered not to be a small space. I addressed it in the post, but it bears repeating: there is no ‘official’ square footage that is defined as a small space!

To me, I classify something as a ‘small space’ when people knowingly reduce their carbon footprint, get their finances under control, and downsize — no matter the size of the home. For example, if a family of 4 decides to go from a 4,000 sqft home to a 1,200 sqft home THAT is small space living in my book. To me, it’s all about awareness and consideration of the impact on the planet. Maybe I should write a full on blog post about this??

Also, any new small space ideas lately that you’re excited about?

Right now, I am very interested in finding a way to squeeze a tiny home office into our 640 square foot home. Some of you may not know, but I gave up my studio space back in September because I wanted to save the money instead. Since then, my beloved standing desk has migrated from our living room to Sean’s dad’s dining room… and none of those scenarios have been ideal.

Having a designated office space feels SO important to me, but I’m really struggling with where to put it. I really enjoy working from our home, especially because it means I can meal prep, do laundry, and NAP whenever I need to. But I also really cherish separation of home life and work life… so having a giant desk in our living room just didn’t work for me.

I’m researching ways to incorporate a tiny desk somewhere… just not sure where yet! So I’ve been scouring the internet, looking for small space ideas to inspire that.

I love your leather chairs. Where are they from?

They are from Lamps Plus! I’m working on a “Shop My House” section of my new website so that it will be easy to find all the sources of our home decor in the future.

As an influencer in a small space, do you feel pressure to continue to buy stuff you don’t need?

This is something I used to acutely feel when I wanted to share fashion posts with you guys. I never felt fashionable enough, cute enough, stylish enough… and then I realized that it was a deeper issue than just wanting to have current product to shill. I came to realize that it was actually about my need to feel like ENOUGH in general and to feel accepted by the online community. And that realization didn’t sit well with me. I firmly believe that what keeps readers like you coming back for more is the fact that I am ME… and no one else. Sometimes I buy things because I’m excited to try them out… sometimes I share something that’s been around for ages. This blog will always be about me and what inspires me, no matter when it was bought.

How do I build a bed frame in my room when my bed is taking up the whole room?

This question definitely made me LOL. I’d suggest tipping your mattress on it’s side and leaning it against the wall. Then build the frame and lower the mattress onto it. I hope that helps and I’m not missing something more complicated in your question!

Best tips on keeping your home clean and air fresh with pets?

The struggle is REAL. We have 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 5 chickens (who sometimes come inside), but I don’t want my home to smell like it. Aside from bring religious about cleaning the litter box, I’m also fanatical about overall scent in our home. If we’re chilling on the couch or entertaining, I always have a candle lit. I also love love LOVE our Aera because it takes the work out of making your home smell great. And for those “omg what is that smell” moments, I use our DIY Essential Oil Room Sprays!

Here are some posts I’ve shared in the past to help:

What’s your favorite celebrity home?

Mandy Moore’s home that was designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel.

What design trends are you excited about?

I was stoked when Pantone announced a rich shade of navy blue as the color of the year! I mean, you know how much I adore blue… also, I’m excited to see more and more companies improve their corporate responsibility, use more sustainable materials, and focus on ethical practices. And, of course, I am always looking for new small space ideas!

Close to kitchen bedroom proximity: what are your tips for keeping cooking smells out?

I FEEL THIS SO MUCH. Our bedroom door is about 4.5′ feet from our stove (I measured). Every time I cook, I make sure that the bedroom door is closed. Also, when we renovated the kitchen I chose a hood that was very powerful — and changed the venting to actually go outside of our house! We also put in a new window that opens so I can easily air things out, too. But I’m not gonna lie: if I make something especially stinky (like calamari), I cook it outside on our deck!

How would you create an entry, living, and dining room all in one small space/room?

Without being in your space and seeing the specifics of it, it’s hard to answer this. That being said, I’d urge you to draw out your room’s total footprint with a tool like Homestyler. From there, you can drop in pieces of furniture and adjust those measurements based on items you might want to buy or include in the space. This tool has become invaluable for every single one of my makeovers — and it’s free! It’s really helped me flesh out tons of my small space ideas and to see what will work and what won’t.

Paint walls first or install floors first, then paint?

Floors first, then paint because installing flooring can be messyyyyy. And you don’t want to add a long list of paint touch ups to your renovation, right?

What are your thoughts about placing an area rug over carpeting to define a space?

Do it! This is one of my favorite small space ideas and design tips. Wall-to-wall carpeting can be such a drag, but you can still make it work by layering rugs over it, especially to define spaces. I suggest making sure that the color palette is cohesive and even looking for rugs that are a different texture than your carpet so that it feels more intentional.

Where do you purchase wall art from?

I have SO many favorite sources for wall art! I just shared my secret source for vintage art, but here are a few more options as well:

I get a lot of visitors: sleeper sofa or blow up mattress?

To me, the answer to this question depends on your budget. Sleeper sofas are a bit pricier, but in the long run could pay off since you get lots of guests. We recently upgraded to a sleeper sofa, but used a blow up mattress for years. I definitely think guests appreciate a ‘real’ bed though, so I vote sleeper sofa!

BTW don’t miss my previous Q&A posts… there are quite a few:

To submit more questions about interior design and small spaces, leave them in a comment on this post, shoot me an email, or DM me on Instagram!

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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