Simple Living

The Simple List: Holiday Hygge Edition + Mini-Gift Guide

Hello dear ones! I feel like I blinked the week before Thanksgiving, and now we're galloping towards Christmas. What happened?

Well one thing that happened was I won NaNoWriMo! It was my first time making it to the finish line, and I feel so good about completing a (very) rough draft of a fictional work for the first time. The plot holes are a mile wide, but that's what revision is for, right!?

Christmas at the Biltmore

I just rounded up some hygge holiday links and a mini-gift guide for my newsletter subscribers (are you on the list?), but since I haven’t had a chance to post here in a while, I thought I would share it in this space as well. First up is a short list of 5 cozy holiday favorites, including cookie baking tips, gorgeous Christmas lights, cozy bookish art freebies and a very hygge Pinterest board. Scroll a bit further down & I’ve also shared an assortment of highly giftable goodies for all of the people on your list. Enjoy!

1. The Biltmore at Christmas looks magical.

2. My recent writings on Houzz: 15 essentials for bakers24 simple pleasures + treats for your holiday countdown10 times to hire an architect.

3. The secrets to easier cookie baking. (Smitten Kitchen)

4. Freebie alert! Super cozy bookish art + bookmark printable. (The House That Lars Built)

5. Latest Pinterest board: Winter Hygge, oh yessss....

Pinecone Necklace

Mini-Gift Guide 2018

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed sharing it! 
xo Laura

Cozy Minimalism

Hello dear ones! I’m just popping in quickly to wish you a happy Friday, and also to share a peek inside a brand new book I just adore…

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

The book is Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith, aka The Nester, and I count myself very lucky to have gotten a beautiful advance copy to review. I enjoyed Myquillyn’s first book, but it hasn’t made it into my permanent library. This book feels different. If you’ve been looking for a decorating book that has actual real-life helpful tips that you can apply right away, this is your book.

I saved it for a weekend so I could read it from cover to cover all cozied up in bed with a cup of hot tea, and I was not disappointed!

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

Evidence: I can’t remember the last time I pulled out my tin of book darts to use in a decorating book. Hah! Chapter five (about quieting your space), and chapter seven (on the decorating trinity) are totally worth the entry price on their own. Myquillyn does an excellent job of walking us through the nuts-and-bolts essentials of decorating in a relatable, authentic way. These are not the words of a professional interior designer issuing proclamations about how you should decorate your home — these are the words of an imperfect woman who can get sucked in by those Target end-cap displays just like the rest of us.

The concept of cozy minimalism feels like just the thing many of us are craving right now. Minimalism alone can feel restrictive and, frankly, no fun. But having too much stuff simply adds to our stress and overwhelm. Cozy minimalism, on the other hand, feels like hygge to me: it’s about focusing on what matters, clearing away what doesn’t, and connecting with the people and things you deeply love.

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

If you order a copy by Saturday, October 27, at midnight (or if you’ve already ordered one) enter your purchase details at the Cozy Minimalist Home website, and you can take Myquillyn’s 4 Seasons Cozy course for free. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

xo Laura

5 Gorgeous Tiny Homes You Can Stay The Night In

Last week I shared a tiny farmhouse tour, which got me thinking about how awesome it would be to get a taste of tiny house living without committing full-time. If you're curious too, let me spark your imagination with these five tiny Airbnb homes from across the United States. They all look like so much fun, it makes me want to go on a tiny house cross-country tour! Come take a peek...

Tiny house Airbnb in North Carolina
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — gorgeous bedroom
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — Love the reading nook window seat!
Tiny House Airbnb in North Carolina — window seat

No. 1: Asheville, North Carolina

First up is this delightful tiny home located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Forest. Coming in at 110 square feet, this is a truly tiny home, to be sure, but it manages to look and feel quite spacious thanks to the smart layout, ample windows, and crisp white paint. If you go, you should know that the bathroom is in a common area that is shared with another tiny guesthouse. I've heard such wonderful things about Asheville, this would be high on my list to visit!

Learn more →

Catskills upcycled tiny house
Catskills upcycled tiny house on a farm!
Catskills upcycled tiny house on a farm!

No. 2: Upstate New York

This tiny home, located on a fiber farm in the Catskills in upstate New York, is made from an ingenious mix of recycled materials. The outdoor kitchen and long outdoor dining table mean you can spread out and enjoy the peaceful natural setting as you prepare your meals, visit the fiber farm's resident rabbits, sheep and goats, and enjoy fresh organic veggies from the garden. The property also has several other guesthouses, and runs workshops and hosts retreats for larger groups.

Learn more →

Portland, Oregon tiny house
Portland Modern Cool Tiny House.jpg

No. 3: Portland, Oregon

This stylish tiny house is situated in the Alberta Arts district of Portland, Oregon, so there's plenty to do within walking distance. Warm wood floors, fresh white paint, and colorful textiles make for an inviting vibe, and the kitchenette stocked with coffee, tea, and fresh eggs is ready for whipping up breakfast. Guests also have access to a shared backyard with a chicken coop and urban vegetable garden.

Learn more →

Portland, Oregon rustic modern tiny house exterior
Portland, Oregon rustic modern tiny house

No. 4: Portland, Oregon

Another tiny home in Portland, Oregon (is that really a surprise?), this one was hand-built by the owners, and has been featured on an episode of TIny House Nation. Coming in at 350 square feet, this tiny house manages to pack in stairs to a queen-size bed, a full kitchen, wood stove, and even a tiny clawfoot tub.

Learn more →

Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb
Olympia, Washington Tumbleweed Tiny House Airbnb

No. 5: Olympia, Washington

You can walk down a private trail to the beach from this tiny house in Olympia, Washington, or meander several miles of walking paths. This is a Tumbleweed Tiny House, like the one Dee Williams (author of The Big Tiny) built. The owner of this tiny house has done such a good job of keeping it immaculate, warm, and cozy, it seems like a great place to have a first tiny home experience. I have some dear friends who recently moved to this area, so I'm keeping this tiny house bookmarked for a potential future trip!

Learn more →

I'm fascinated by the stories of people leaving larger homes to live lighter in a tiny house. I can see how letting go of so many possessions (not to mention a substantial mortgage or rent payment each month) could feel freeing. What about you? Are you curious about what it's like to live (or at least stay) in a tiny house? Which would you choose? Tell us all about it in the comments!

5 Gorgeous Tiny Homes You Can Stay In

A Tiny Farmhouse That's Big On Style

Are you as enthralled with tiny house living as I am? If so, I think you're going to love the home we're peeking into today. Built by Perch & Nest in North Carolina for last year's Tiny House NC Street Festival, this mini-farmhouse (called the Roost 36) can sleep a family of four and — I think this is the best part — has retractable screens and a glass entry wall that can completely open up the tiny space to the great outdoors. Just look...

Perch & Nest tiny home — farmhouse style porch

Isn't this open-air dining area magnificent? Being able to have loads of windows and a fresh breeze can make a small space feel completely transformed. I could imagine spending many long summer evenings sipping sweet tea and playing games at that table.

Perch & Nest farmhouse style tiny home

Inside, the lofted ceiling, real stairs (not a ladder), and that adorable mint green Smeg fridge make the space feel cozy, comfortable, and stylish.

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse living room

Notice the big windows, window seat, and glass doors leading out to the porch beyond. Dreamy! A second loft on this side is reached by a ladder to save space.

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse bedroom

Moving into a tiny house can be an opportunity to discern what really matters in your life. There is room in a tiny house to nourish a passion, or keep up with a hobby — but there's no room for activities or things that you aren't really using. If you love to knit and read, you can certainly keep a basket with your current project and a carefully curated bookcase. If you love to paint, you can prioritize space for a folding easel, a case of paints and jar of brushes. You can have art on the walls, lovely clothes in the closet, and cute pillows on the couch. Just not too many ;-)

Perch & Nest tiny farmhouse exterior

Would you ever move into a tiny home? What would you bring, and what would you leave behind?

(all photos: Perch & Nest)

Slow the Season: A Month-long Free Course this December

Slow the Season is a FREE month-long course running during December. The course will include lessons delivered directly to your inbox three times each week, with inspiring podcasts, meditations, a mindful gifting planner, juicy journaling prompts, and more goodies (coloring pages, anyone?).

Ideas for Warm and Cozy Gatherings with Friends

I'm an introvert, yet I also love nothing more than having a few good friends over to my house for a cozy gathering: to me, this feels so much more comfortable and fun than going out. So I was delighted to find Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring's new book out, Decorate for a Party, which recently hit the shelves.

Setting Up A Simple Nursery

I came across these photos today (which I shot ages ago for a story in Gatherings Magazine) and the memories came flooding back: the days when my baby was just arriving and all of the mad preparations we made. Oh my! We had just bought our little 1920's house when I became pregnant, and it was painted in rainbow colors (literally! each room was a different color of the rainbow, starting with blood red and working its way through the spectrum...) so we had a lot of painting to do. Both sides of our family pitched in to get everything done, and painting everything soft cream, white, and pale blue completely changed the mood. I am a big believer in the power of your home + space to affect your mood and emotions, and I feel much better surrounded by soothing hues. Soothing colors like blue, soft green, cream, and lavender are also quite soothing for babies and creates a restful environment for sleep and quiet play.

Light blue nursery with feather canvas

Also in preparation for baby we cleared out a great deal of clutter, clearing out extra space not only where you see it, but also the deep clutter hidden inside of cupboards and closets. Clutter that is crammed behind closed doors may not be readily visible, but it still creates stress. And goodness knows when you have a new little one to care for, extra stress is the last thing you need! I read the book The Peaceful Nursery, and this inspired me to be very intentional about simplifying: rather than springing for all of the "must haves" listed on baby sites, we considered what we would really use. Looking back, it's funny that we asked for a crib (a beautiful crib, seen above!) because we ended up co-sleeping almost entirely. If we have another baby, I may use it in our bedroom (our vintage cottage had very small rooms, so the crib wouldn't fit in our bedroom). As a new mom (also: breastfeeding) I couldn't imagine having to trek down the hall each time baby woke, but if it were near us, like our bassinet was when he was a newborn, I may have used it.

Organized simple nursery with upcycled changing table

For a changing table, we used a vintage chest I picked up locally and painted white. With a cushion on top and baskets nearby to hold diapering supplies, this was a very comfy little setup — and now we use it in our entry to hold shoes and mail, so there is no waste :-)

Light blue play room + nursery

A large shelf held blankets and wraps, rattles, board books, and stuffed animal friends when Bixby was a baby. As we entered the toddler years, more toys made their way into the room, along with a small play table and art supplies. It's not easy to stem the tide of toys, but keeping things simple offers great returns: when a child's room is simplified, play is calmer and more creative, cleanup is easier, and the space just feels better to be in.

Today, Bixby is in Kindergarten, we live in a different home, thousands of miles away from this one, and his toys are certainly not all wood and handmade — but with the right intentions (and regular purging) we've found it is possible to find a sweet compromise. We can follow his interests (right now: predatory dinosaurs + Transformers) while still setting limits on how much space toys take up, and keeping other favorites in regular rotation. It's easy to feel you're "treating" your child to more, more, more, when really having just a few of something makes it so much more special.

Outer Banks North Carolina beach

Simplifying, to me, means protecting your space + your time. We may not have power over much in the world, but intentionally choosing what to put in your home (and what to take out) and how to spend your time is something we can all do. You can choose to make some extra space and decide how to fill it: with creativity, with snuggles, with stories and silliness. If you are preparing to welcome a new little one, you can choose to create a simple, peaceful environment to spend those first precious weeks together.

xo Laura