Small-Spaces

Tour the Pint-Size Bungalow of Whitney Leigh Morris

Tour the Pint-Size Bungalow of Whitney Leigh Morris
Filed Under:

Beautifying small spaces is just part of the job for Whitney Leigh Morris, who’s often called in to help people organize and declutter. And the designer and creative director definitely lives by the advice she dishes out, putting her less-is-more design ethos to work every day in the quaint 362-square-feet home she shares with fiancé, Adam Winkleman.

Morris and Winkleman looked at more than 30 houses before falling for this 1924 Craftsman-style cottage three-and-a-half years ago. “It was so darling we couldn’t pass it up,” Morris says. “We stumbled on a space and fell in love.” Though petite, the L.A. bungalow has some obvious perks: It’s situated between the Venice canals and Abbot Kinney, a buzzy hub of amazing shops and restaurants. Plus, the house is always bathed in bright sunlight thanks to skylights, windows, and glass-paned doors all around.

We first spotted the “tiny canal cottage” (as Morris calls it) on her inspiring Instagram account and couldn’t wait to take in its light-kissed rooms and plant-filled terraces.

In Morris’s living room, her L-shape built-in sof, covered in foutas, hides storage cubbies where she stashes shoes and photo equipment.

In Morris’s living room, her L-shape built-in sof, covered in foutas, hides storage cubbies where she stashes shoes and photo equipment.

It Takes Two

Though Morris and her fiancé have different design aesthetics (he goes for modern furnishings in primary colors, she for earthy neutrals), the two never disagreed on how to furnish the home. “What works for the space is obvious!” she says. And for her living room sofa, that means off-white pillows in a variety of subtle patterns. In the winter, she works in richer textiles and metallic accents.

In her open kitchen, Morris opts for functional decor, putting her white dishware on display. Behind the cabinet doors? Drinking glasses fill out the open shelves nicely.

In her open kitchen, Morris opts for functional decor, putting her white dishware on display. Behind the cabinet doors? Drinking glasses fill out the open shelves nicely.

Personal Touches

Rounding out the white dishware, a handful of thoughtfully chosen accents decorate the kitchen, including a piece of coral over the sink—a reminder of Florida, Morris’s home state. The photograph behind the hanging mugs shows the Washington Pier, which is a short walk from Morris’s current home. In case of culinary messes, Morris sticks to art that’s easy to wipe down or rinse off.

Don’t love your countertops? Make like Morris and use cutting boards to cleverly cover up and neutralize.

Don’t love your countertops? Make like Morris and use cutting boards to cleverly cover up and neutralize.

Easy Accents

Morris doesn’t buy artwork that requires framing, since earthquakes are common in the area. Instead, nearly every piece of art in her home hangs on simple bulldog clips. She also prefers to decorate with leafy green branches over fussy flowers. “They tend to last longer, make less of a mess, and have a way of making spaces look simple yet wild at the same time,” Morris says.

A smart idea for storage and entertaining: Morris keeps plates and mugs organized in metal baskets. No throw-away plates get used by this eco-friendly designer.

A smart idea for storage and entertaining: Morris keeps plates and mugs organized in metal baskets. No throw-away plates get used by this eco-friendly designer.

For parties, Morris moves her computer to make the desk a buffet table. Beyond it, a hat rests on catalogs she found on a trip to the Marsh Library in Dublin.

For parties, Morris moves her computer to make the desk a buffet table. Beyond it, a hat rests on catalogs she found on a trip to the Marsh Library in Dublin.

Work/Life Balance

Morris’s desk is tucked into a corner of the living room, right off the kitchen. Because the room has to serve multiple functions, she selected a thin metal-and-wood chair “to prevent it from taking up too much visual space.” A sizable wall mirror also makes the room appear larger. “Whenever we take it down to clean it, we realize what a difference it makes,” she says. A collector of driftwood, Morris shops Etsy and beachside vendors in search of the naturally rugged material. The corner is decorated with a twine-driftwood display.

Morris and her BFF (best furry friend), Stanlee, cozy up on the couch, one of Stanlee’s favorite spots, as his fondness for snuggling in pillows is unmatched.

Morris and her BFF (best furry friend), Stanlee, cozy up on the couch, one of Stanlee’s favorite spots, as his fondness for snuggling in pillows is unmatched.

We always want the focus of our home to be the people in it or the neighborhood around it. Here, we have this amazing beach community and each other—and Stanlee.

— Whitney Leigh Morris
The built-in bookshelves in the bedroom were a huge selling point for Morris. If you look closely, you’ll spot cutouts between bed and nightstand that Morris calls genius for the easy access they give to a book or a glass of water.

The built-in bookshelves in the bedroom were a huge selling point for Morris. If you look closely, you’ll spot cutouts between bed and nightstand that Morris calls genius for the easy access they give to a book or a glass of water.

Shift into Neutral

Morris chose her palette carefully, opting for paint and furnishings in whites and neutrals. “A bright, consistent palette makes the space look far larger than it really is,” she says. The couple gave away some too-colorful items, painted a few others, and got creative for the rest. Case in point: their collection of multicolor books, which made the bedroom feel cramped and cluttered. Morris flipped book jackets over and wrote titles on the white sides to make the space look airier while keeping her collection intact.

The French doors in Morris’s bedroom open up to a lovely garden space. “We rarely close them,” she says, “but slide a sheer curtain across at night to keep the bugs at bay.”

The French doors in Morris’s bedroom open up to a lovely garden space. “We rarely close them,” she says, “but slide a sheer curtain across at night to keep the bugs at bay.”

This hanging shelf is Morris’s favorite piece in her home. A smart use of space, and totally in line with her cool, natural vibe, it also stars in one of her most-liked Instagram shots.

This hanging shelf is Morris’s favorite piece in her home. A smart use of space, and totally in line with her cool, natural vibe, it also stars in one of her most-liked Instagram shots.

When in Doubt, Look Up

Morris edits her space constantly, but she still had to get creative with storage. Her expert tip: “Hanging storage has been extremely helpful for us. We use hanging trays, wall ladders, and S-hooks on branches to go vertical.” Whatever you hang, Morris suggests making it functional too: “Put things up high that will be pleasant to look at and also serve some purpose.” In her bedroom, she kept the previous owner’s up-high TV shelf and filled it with plants and candles, which bounce light around the vaulted ceiling. “It looks very cool,” says Morris.

The standing metal tub beside Morris’s outdoor bed usually holds gardening tools, but for parties she fills it with ice and beer.

The standing metal tub beside Morris’s outdoor bed usually holds gardening tools, but for parties she fills it with ice and beer.

To avoid crowding her outdoor space, Morris used the trellis for hanging pots filled with herbs, berries, and succulents.

To avoid crowding her outdoor space, Morris used the trellis for hanging pots filled with herbs, berries, and succulents.

These laundry baskets are used to hold pillows and throws so that guests can get comfortable on the porch.

These laundry baskets are used to hold pillows and throws so that guests can get comfortable on the porch.

Party Planning

Morris uses the wheeled baskets at parties too. One holds clean glasses, and the other is for used glasses. She spreads them out so that guests will circulate. “I’m all about using pieces in ways that they were not intended,” Morris says.

Shop the Look

Morris creates a warm and welcoming sitting area by draping a colorful kantha throw over her One Kings Lane bench.

Morris creates a warm and welcoming sitting area by draping a colorful kantha throw over her One Kings Lane bench.

Garden Fresh

Getting the exact look you want isn’t always easy, even for a pro like Morris. “We’d tried butterfly chairs out here to create a smoking lounge, but that wasn’t working. Then we tried a white bench, but it stuck out too much from the darker colors behind it. Then I saw this [bench], and it’s a keeper,” says Morris.

These simple and classic white bistro sets are lightweight enough to move around the garden and bring indoors.

These simple and classic white bistro sets are lightweight enough to move around the garden and bring indoors.

When Morris hosts inside, the sofa area becomes a dinner table. Morris takes her bistro tables inside, covers them with tablecloth, and voilà, seating for six.

When Morris hosts inside, the sofa area becomes a dinner table. Morris takes her bistro tables inside, covers them with tablecloth, and voilà, seating for six.

Pulling Double-Duty

How to keep your space feeling open and airy? Morris’s first tip is to be careful about what you bring into your home in the first place: “Most of my belongings need to serve at least two purposes.” She also recommends reconsidering belongings after returning from a trip. If you missed it while you were away, keep it. If you forgot about something, consider letting it go. “Living out of a suitcase can be a pain, but it can also be very eye-opening when it comes to assessing material clutter,” Morris says.

Shop the Look

Looking for more Outdoor Inspiration? Shop Outdoor Accents > 

Join the Discussion

Join the Discussion

4 Responses to “Tour the Pint-Size Bungalow of Whitney Leigh Morris”

  1. Sara says:

    absolutely blown away by the ingenuity & sheer charm of this home

  2. Yamile Carpio says:

    I love the look, but I think is misleading to say that place is only 362sqft. The patio adds a lot more living space, otherwise I don’t see how 2 people and a dog could live in such tiny place

  3. It’s amazing what you can do once you set your mind to. I live in a small space and had to re decorate to accommodate space so that the walls doesn’t close in on me never in a million years have I thought I would be able to because i’m claustrophobic. So fay i’ve been living in my tiny space going on 4yrs.

  4. did I mention I have 2 dogs

Leave a Reply