October 1, 2009

A REALLY itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny apartment

200 flickr Before we get to today’s post, just a quick little bit of horn-tooting — we hit post #200 this week :-) YAY!! (And no, that isn’t V or me on the scale!!)

Thanks to all our blog buddies and everyone who’s come by to check out DesignTies over the last 10 months :-) We’re having lots of fun sharing our decorating projects, ideas, and inspiration. And we’re  just amazed by all the wonderfully talented, creative, and kind people we’ve met (both virtually and in real life) through our blog :-)

award AND, we’d like to thank Struggler at Struggling to be Stylish for giving us the Attitude of Gratitude Award :-) Because we’re feeling an attitude of gratitude towards all of you who have made blogging so much fun for us, we’re passing this award to all of you!! (OK, that’s not really how the rules of accepting and sharing the award are supposed to work, but now that it’s in our hands, we’re in control!!! Wahahahaha!!)

OK, those are the formalities for today…

This week at DesignTies, we’ve been featuring small spaces:

To wrap up our look at small spaces, let’s go check out a seriously itsy-bitsy teeny weeny apartment in Toronto. Is everyone in Toronto small?? ;-) Well, actually, Tommy Smythe is!! If you’re a Sarah Richardson fan, you know her sidekick, Tommy:


It’s no secret that Tommy’s a small guy. On an episode of Design Inc., he told Sarah that he’s 5’6” as he proceeded to lay down on a table so they could figure out the length of the table top without a measuring tape : –) And his apartment is small too — a teeny-tiny 180 square feet!!tommy floorplan

What can you squeeze into a home that small?? Actually, quite a bit!!

tommy sitting

Because Tommy moved from a large house into a tiny apartment, he had to learn to pare down to the essentials. Even though his apartment is small, it has everything he needs. And being a self-proclaimed maximalist, what he needs is probably more than what most people would have in such a small space!! But Tommy says that if the apartment was sparsely decorated, it would feel like a prison cell.

tommy books

He’s decorated his small apartment the same way he would decorate a room in a five-bedroom house. The walls are a colour called Off-Black. The dark, rich charcoal colour gives the room depth and drama. Most of the time, Tommy is in his apartment at night. He has candles & great lighting throughout the apartment to make it feel beautiful at night time.


The apartment has a tiny kitchen area, but Tommy has closed it off with black curtains. He doesn’t cook—Tommy says that in such a small space, everything would smell like food—so he uses the kitchen for storage. “Excuse my while I get my blazer out of the pantry” ;-)

tommy kitchen

Tommy says that living in his small apartment is similar to living in a hotel room. He buys the occasional luxury item, which helps to enhance the luxury hotel living experience. They’re pieces that he’ll have forever, so they’re worth the investment. Like this Cartier clock…

tommy clocktommy cartier clock

The only thing Tommy misses about his former large home is the entertaining aspect. Only a couple of guests at a time can fit comfortably into his apartment — unless they really, really, REALLY like each other!! ;-)

tommy kitchen table

The most important thing for Tommy when it comes to decorating his apartment is surrounding himself with things that remind him of people he loves and places he’s been. His sister made the checkered blanket draped over the foot board of his bed, the gold chandelier above the bed was his grandmother’s, and the red & white quilt is an antique.

tommy blanket

Tommy’s Tips for small space survival

1. Find a great storage facility nearby. Ideally, look for a storage place that’s open 24 hours a day, is well-lit, climate controlled, and big enough to hold all the stuff that doesn’t fit in your home. Then you can change things up whenever the mood hits by rotating stuff out of storage and into your space, and from your space into storage.

2. Buy things you love and store them for the future. Unless you plan to live in a small space forever, you don’t want to deprive yourself of something you love or need. When you move into a larger space later, you’ll be able to furnish it with items you already have.

3. Be realistic about furniture. Maximum of two large-scale pieces to anchor a small space. Look for pieces with good lines and that work double- or triple-duty. This antique table beside the bed does triple-duty as a dining table, night table, and desk.

tommy table

4. Invest in small luxuries. A few luxury items will make a small space feel special — almost like living in a luxury hotel. And you’ll have the pieces forever.

5. Learn to be a great guest and a different kind of host. When you go to a friend’s place for dinner or a party, bring a fun hostess gift and a great bottle of wine. When it’s your turn to host, invite a few people over to your place for a glass of wine and then take them out to a restaurant for dinner. Which may end up actually costing less than cooking a meal, plus there’s no prep work or clean-up required :-)

You can watch Tommy talk about his tiny apartment at House and Home.

tommy video

Tommy says that decorating and living in a small space has been a learning experience for him as both a designer and a human being.

Now we’d like to know…

  • What have you learned about small space living this week??
  • Could you live in a small space?? And if so, how small could you go??
  • Have you lived in a small space before?? If yes, we’d love to hear about it :-)

Be sure to check out the BIG list of Hooked on Fridays participants over at Hooked on Houses and see what everyone else is hooked on this week :-)

sig new

All information and pictures of Tommy’s apartment from House and Home


Between you, me and the Fencepost said...

I wonder . . If my husband and I sell the house and move into a tiny space . . . will the kids move out at long last?

A great use of a small space. Impressive.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Well, Congrats to you and Victoria for hitting 200 ~ posts, that is! Tommy's place is too small for me, although I am the same height as him, so we have something in common.

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...


This space may be small, but gorgeous! I agree -invest in small luxuries!


Things That Inspire said...

I always knew Tommy was fabulous, but this apartment - wow. He is so talented.

Terry said...

I don't think I could live there. But if it's in a super location, maybe as a pied-à-terre?

Sara said...

Oh I love to see clever uses of space in tiny homes - thanks!

Fifi Flowers said...

FAB tiny apartment!!! You have me singing the itsy bitsy spider song in my head now... thanks a lot!
Congrats on 200 posts!!! You are doing a GREAT job!
Bon week-end mon amies!!!

Maya said...

The apartment is a gem. I couldn't give up the kitchen though.

Tracy Watier said...

I love that Tommy has a lot of "stuff" in his small space. I really think that's the key to making a small space less small feeling. Color on the walls, lots of things to look at blurs the boundaries. That said though, I'd need at least two rooms. And and an actual kitchen!

Anonymous said...

Oh ... My ... Goodness ...

That is one SMALL apartment! I can't believe he has a sleigh bed!?! It'd rather a futon that can do double duty.

Crazy, but beautiful though. Thanks for sharing!

Pauline Wiles said...

Wow, that's outrageously small. I don't think I'd have quite such a huge bed if I was in that space; or maybe I'd be tempted by a loft bed type arrangement. And I would definitely need a tea kettle, toaster and small fridge! The black walls seem a very strong choice too; nothing against rich colors, but surely this must feel like a cave? said...

Yeah, it's pretty small, practically the size of a European hotel room. We like what he did with it though.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on 200! What a well designed small space. Not sure I would want to live in a space that small, but love what he's done with it.
pk @ room remix

Tricia said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog today!I hope you'll keep coming back for more!

Love your post, such an amazing tiny space. Beautifully decorated, and I think those black walls help the space look bigger, the walls seem to go on past the furniture.

Oh, and I love tip #2 "buy things you love and store for the future"....this is something that I definitely agree with, and do!

Gayle said...

I'm not sure how small I could go. My husband and my first house was small, about 900 sq. ft. That was good for us and our oldest son, who was still a baby, and our very large dog at the time. We moved to our current, larger house before my daughter was born.

Kelly said...

Amazing space but I do think that eliminating the kitchen is not practical for most but he makes the space suit his lifestyle and that's what is most important. Love the dark dramatic color.

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Neat post about small spaces. I smiled about Tommy using his height to measure a table; I'm 5'4", and I use my own eye level all the time to hang pictures at around the 60"-off-the-ground point :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hello!


Janis @ An Inspired Life said...

Congrats on hitting the BIG 200!!!!!
What a fantastic post on small spaces.....and I LOVE Tommy!!! Wonder when he'll get his own show????

PS: Kelly I checked out the new HS's HUGE....and wouldn't you know "my chairs" were the first thing I saw when I walked thru the doors ;-)

ABC Dragoo said...

I love the daring dark walls in such a small space - Brilliant -!-

I am also so happy to see there are other maximalists out there (tagline of my blog "A maximalist of sorts. Never messy, just full. Very, very full."

So happy to have "found" your blog through the comment you left on mine! : )

ABC Dragoo

Jill@housewears said...

That was an awesome post on Tommy!
I had the opportunity to interview him last spring, and he was genuinely really sweet - a wee man with a ton of talent and personality! Thanks for always peeking in on me!


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