We live in houses large and small, but how use the space we’ve got has never felt more crucial. If you’re refreshing the space you’re spending more time in than ever before or are looking for clever solutions to keep your living-working-schooling spaces as functional and uplifted as possible, we’ve got several ideas for you from a designer who knows the challenge well.
Best friends and business partners Aly Morford and Leigh Lincoln are the co-founders of Pure Salt Interiors. Aly has transformed a small bungalow into a spacious and functional family home we love and we asked the duo to share a few tips with the rest of us to help us achieve more of the same…
“When we purchased our home in 2019 we only had three kids and didn’t mind the charm of a bungalow with a cute guest house in the back where my mother-in-law would live. In fact it seemed perfect. When we looked at it for the first time, I was uber pregnant with my third child and full of emotion but I just knew I had to have this house and immediately developed a vision for what it could be. As they say, the house had great bones, but was in need of some serious updates both on the interiors and the exteriors.
Over the past year I’ve reimagined every room and surface of our sweet bungalow adding a ‘Pure Salt’ touch to the entire home.
The home is now exactly as I had dreamt it would be. Cozy, calm, and the backdrop for a very full and joyful family life that now includes three kids under the age of 9 and Bailee, our 10 year old black lab. My favorite thing about this property is that it demonstrates that you don’t have to have a huge estate to make a big design impact. Anything is possible if you apply the tips we share below for creating a functional, joyful and family friendly home.” — Aly Morford
Tip # 1
When working with a smaller footprint (square footage and lot size) MAXIMIZE every inch of usable real estate both indoors and outdoors.
Small doesn’t have to mean small in impact or wow factor.
Tip # 2
Create a space that evokes the right feeling – in my case I wanted a space that exudes calm.
I used some of the key Pure Salt tenants to achieve this in our charming bungalow. I chose a neutral palette, I minimized clutter, and I brought nature in through a beautiful mix of live house plants and trees (the horticulturist in me can’t live without them!). We believe plants add such a layer of life and warmth and help detoxify the air and are shown to improve the quality of our lives.
Tip # 3
Pay attention to lighting – it’s one of the most important elements of a Pure Salt Home. We believe in layers of light and suggest overhead, ambient, and task lighting when possible. Lighting helps set and/or create a mood.
For outdoor spaces, add bistro lights to the yard and oversized woven pendants to a dining area for a punch of personality. Dim the lights, light a candle, and cue the music — now you’ve got the recipe for a great environment — whether entertaining or relaxing.
Tip # 4
Create little escapes in your home that are reminiscent of a favorite boutique hotel.
How many times have you experienced a moment of magic while on vacation and filed it away in your mind as something you must do at home? Now’s the time, create little escapes where possible that create a feeling of pure bliss.
I was able to accomplish this in a few places but my absolute favorite is in the front yard under the pomegranate tree. I’ve got our beautiful Zulu Daybed, perfect for an afternoon nap or reading a book and at night I’ve got lanterns and string lights that make this a romantic destination to share a glass of wine with my husband.
Tip # 4
Simplify and Amplify.
We all tend to have things that are passed down such as antiques or family heirlooms which we love to incorporate into our homes — but we recommend selecting a few to really amplify the ones that have great character. This allows you to really see the piece and appreciate it in your day to day life. I’d say this also goes for the architecture of an old home, simplify things that may feel dated, and amplify the parts that really speak to the home’s history and character.
Tip # 5
Don’t neglect the landscaping.
Take a critical look at the landscaping to see if it feels right for the type of environment you are trying to create. Many times overgrowth is taking over key real estate and creating visual clutter. Clean it up, pare it back, and create visual calm in your outdoor spaces. In California, we spend our time equally between the interior and exterior of our home so we want both to inspire and function well.
In our home, the landscaping was overgrown and too dominant for such a charming bungalow. By trimming it back and putting in fresh lawn in the front and backyard we got so much more usable space for our family. Given that we live in Southern California, our weather allows us to truly embody a year-round indoor/outdoor lifestyle, so why not use all of the space we have for our family of five?
Choose the right size and scale for the space.
Many people often assume that because a home is small you have to pick small furnishings. That’s not always the case. In our home, we actually chose full size pieces in our living room to maximize seating and fill it with fewer and larger pieces to create that visual calm we crave. Nearly everyone comments on how much bigger the space feels with this set up!
In our guest house, we were told we couldn’t put a kitchen in as it was just too small — not true, we simply had to choose apartment-sized appliances and we were able to achieve our goal of a functional kitchen in the guest house. The right scale is everything!
Tip # 7
Make choices that are more timeless than trendy.
At Pure Salt we believe timeless is the way to go, but if there is a trendy piece that you just can’t live without, we like to bring them in as accent pieces or some unique decor. The foundational pieces of the home (like a couch and coffee table) tend to be your biggest investments, so we always suggest going with more of a timeless look so that it can shift with ever changing trends as well as your personal taste that will evolve over time.
Tip # 8
Design your outdoor spaces just like they were an indoor space – meaning choose furnishings, lighting and decorative accessories that are complete and evoke a feeling. In Aly’s case, a feeling of calm.
One of our favorite things to do as a family is to dine outside and the reason is, we have a beautiful dedicated space to do just that. When I was envisioning this space, I had to see past all the overgrown landscaping and envision a cozy little nook where our family could gather. I wanted it to be simple, yet well appointed and I accomplished that with the woven Mila pendants that hang over the dining table. We have made so many memories here as a family and all it took was a dedicated space and a little TLC.
Tip # 9
Think about functionality and space-saving design.
We pride ourselves on designing functional spaces for families. Especially now in the times we are living through we need our homes to be very versatile. By thinking of these two key principles, a kitchen dining area can easily function as a remote school as well. Although not ideal, it is totally possible!