The Tiny Canal Cottage’s Whitney Leigh Morris shares her creative approaches to guests, gifts, decor and more

How to Handle the Holidays in a Small Space.

If you live in a 362-square-foot cottage with your husband, toddler and two beagles, do you have to gather with the clan around someone else’s table every Thanksgiving and instantly regift everything you get for Christmas? As a mother of three grown children who is thinking about drastically downsizing with the hubby from a suburban house 10 times that size (and crammed with 20 years of memories) to a small city condo, I wanted to know.

So I asked small-space lifestyle blogger and consultant Whitney Leigh Morris — who lives and works in the aforementioned cottage, aka The Tiny Canal Cottage in the Venice area of Los Angeles — how she navigates the holidays with husband Adam Winkleman and their son, West. Her first book, Small Space Style.

Decorate Your Bathroom On A Low Budget

Are you having a little difficulty decorating your bathroom without spending too much? Fret no more because I am just about to share some ways on how to do so without spending chunks of money.

First of all, consider what and how you like your bathroom to look like. Do you visualize a clean and sleek look? What about a feminine and relaxed style? Or perhaps, an eco-friendly design? This way decorating your bathroom will no longer be as hard as it should be because you have the foundation to work on.

Now that you have picked your choice, next step is to start being more creative. Putting in some small pots of plants does not only demonstrate an eco-friendly look, but it’s also a nice décor to achieve a spa-like ambiance. Couple the look with some small candle holders with scented candles and you likely created a spa-like ambiance in your bathroom. Meanwhile, if you are off to this idea, get a nice-looking vase and put some fresh flower on it. They are surely going to be a nice sight to place in one corner of the area.

You may also put a small but nice-looking art wall décor to transform a boring wall to a livelier one. If you love traveling, check out the souvenirs shops in places for some small tokens you can buy and make use as an accessory to hang on your wall. Again, this doesn’t have to be a hundred-worth of painting because it will only defeat the purpose of bathroom decoration at a low budget. Think cheap in price, but beautiful in quality!

Modern Bathroom Ideas

Chic and stylish are seldom the first words that come to mind when you think of your bathroom. For most people, bathrooms are more functional than aesthetic—after all, you don’t use it as much as your bedroom or living room. But modern design is slowly changing all that.

Modern bathrooms have evolved from the basic shower-and-toilet setup to luxury rooms where you can relax for hours. Think of it as a luxury spa, except that it’s right in your own home. But the best news is that it’s not as lavish as it sounds. Here are some trendy touches that can take your bathroom from drab and dated to stylishly modern.

Vessel sinks

Vessel sinks are placed completely above the counter so that they look like separate pieces. This is a fresh change from traditional sinks, which are often built or integrated into the countertop. The modern look of vessel sinks comes from their sleek designs and bold colors. Look for bright colors that match other elements in your bathroom, such as shower curtains and area rugs. Modern materials such as glass and stone offer excellent wear and will last years of constant use.

Matching faucets

Set off your sink with a matching bathroom faucet. Modern design is about combining function and style, so look for one that’s both stylish and easy to use. The taps that come with most sinks are usually of low quality. Look for one that can withstand everyday abuse. Metals such as brass, copper, and stainless steel are fairly durable and will fit in with the modern theme.

Recessed lighting

Traditional bathrooms use overhead lighting, or a single large bulb that lights the entire room. While this is certainly convenient, it doesn’t do much in terms of aesthetics. Modern bathrooms favor subtle lights that work on smaller parts of the room. Use a separate light for your vanity, tub, and shower areas. This makes for a more relaxing mood and a more flattering reflection. Use yellow or white area rugs to help disperse the light.


The vanity is an important element in modern bathroom design. What was once a simple dressing table is now a personal armoire complete with a sink, counter, shelves, mirrors, and carefully planned lighting—all matching a single theme. Vanity sets are available from most home supply stores, but you can save money by putting your own set together. Pick a modern countertop as your base and let it set the theme for the rest of your setup.

Area rugs

Flooring has evolved more than any part of the bathroom over the years. If you’re still using ceramic tile, consider updating by using modular carpets, cork, or even hardwood. Use area rugs to protect your floors from damage and provide warmth in the cold season. Just avoid natural materials such as wool area rugs and jute area rugs, as they won’t hold up well to moisture. If you have a small floor space, use kids area rugs—they’re smaller and add a more welcoming look to the room.

Decorate With Color – White on White Décor

Anyone who thinks that white doesn’t “count” as a color hasn’t spent much time exploring the possibilities of using white on white decor. And anyone who thinks there is only one shade of white hasn’t been in a paint store lately, where you can find hundreds – literally, hundreds – of shades.

So what tips can we give you about white on white décor?

First, recognize that whites come in a wide range of shades and tones. There is a bright, flat white that you find often on walls, and a bright, glossy white that is often used for trim to contrast against a bright or dark wall color.

There are eggshells and creams and off-whites.

The best way to get a handle on white on white décor is by simply going to the paint store and getting a fistful of white paint swatches. Bring these home and tape them to the wall, and you’ll see how wide the range of whites there really is. Try looking at the swatches under different lights, from a bright overhead light to natural window light, to a faint light coming in the window at light. You’ll see not only how many different whites there are, but also how they change depending on the light.

Here, let’s look first at this all-white bedroom. This is an example of using one shade of bright white. Note how flat everything appears here; you can barely make out the line between the wall and the ceiling. The only color in this room is the doorknob and the edge of the dresser, and the room looks anything but inviting.

What could we do with a room like this? Even without painting the walls, an off-white spread on the bed would help, and then piling on pillows in various whites would also change the whole look.

The trick with using a lot of white on white décor in a room is to make sure you have a variety of tones, shades, and textures. A room with a a woven white rag rug, white ceramic lamps with handmade paper shades and slipper chair in brocade eggshell with a throw pillow in raw silk cream gives a room enough variety so that it looks elegant, not stark.

Take a look at this living room, which is done mostly in whites. The draperies have plenty of heft to them, creating folds which add interest. They contrast nicely with the smooth white rug, and the detailing on the mantel adds interest as well. The tones of this white on white decor blend nicely together, and yet they are slightly different from one another.

Having an all-white room also allows you to really make a statement with the color you do have in the room. Here, the potted tree and the piano are real eye-catchers. Any time you want to draw attention to something with color, such as a work of art or a special chair, just create an all-white room around it, and it will really stand out.

Of course, white living rooms must be reserved for people who can take meticulous care of keeping everything clean. Even with advances in stain-resistant fabrics and cleaning solutions, white furnishings will indeed show the strain of living with children and pets.

Decorate With Color – White Decorating Ideas: Decorating Your Stairs

When you are redecorating a room with a staircase, consider white decorating ideas for the stairs themselves. White is the perfect contrast color for wall paint and complements many design themes.


Give your main stairs or the staircase banisters a new coat of pure white paint. This will create a really strong contrast to the surrounding area and will provide definition to the stairs. This is an easy and quick decoration idea which will spice up the appearance of your stairs.


Many of us have pictures and accessories around a staircase as a way of providing an focal point. Consider putting a white frame around any pictures you have hanging over the staircase. This will push the image forward as the frame recede into the background.

Fabric or Carpet

Installing fabric or carpet over your stairs adds comfort during cold winter months. Although this will cost much more than other design ideas, a luxurious white carpet will provide tone and appeal to the staircase.

White Candle

Consider putting a large white candle on the banister at the top and bottom of the stairs. This will provide a warm and comforting ambiance.

COLOR Frequently asked questions

How do colors effect room size?
Generally, warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows close in a space. Blues, greens, and violets tend to make a room look larger. Dark colors have a diminishing effect. Whites are always a good choice for making a room look larger.

My room has a chair rail and I am using two colors….?
This depends on the look you want to achieve. If you want an open, airy look, always paint the portion of the wall below the chair rail darker allowing the lighter color to dominate.

Should trim work be painted the same color as the walls…?
Use the same color to hide trim work, use a lighter or darker color to bring out the trim work and add highlights.

Will the paint I choose look lighter or darker on the wall?
Larger surfaces make the paint appear darker. As a general rule, always choose colors that are a shade or two lighter than what you want. Do keep in mind that colors can also appear lighter or darker depending on surrounding colors and lighting.

What is the best way to decide which color is best for my room?
Take color chips home to determine the color of your room. A nice technique is to hold the color chips in the daylight and at night so you will see how lighting will effect your color choices.

What color should I paint my ceiling?
White or off-white colors will create the illusion of having a higher ceiling and more open space. Whereas medium to dark colors will create the illusion of lowering the ceiling. Customarily, white or off-white tend to be used.

Will the paint actually match the color chip?
As a general rule, paint on a color chip will appear slightly lighter than when applied in a room. Always take into account the sheen of the paint, the lighting in the room, and other colors that are in the room.

Decorate With Color – White Bedroom Decorating: The Zen-like Approach

To create a tranquil and peaceful space in which to begin and end your day try white bedroom decorating. When you choose a monochromatic white color palette to decorate your room you aren’t tied down to matching furniture or accessories. By painting everything white you will create a uniform look that is zen-like in its simplicity.

Paint, Paint, Then Paint Some More

Paint everything in your existing room white. Start with your walls and windowsills, and then move on to your furniture. Your headboard, dresser, nightstands, and entertainment center should all be white. Even if your furniture is crafted in several different styles or if it comes from different design schemes painting everything white will tie it all together. Do not leave a surface unpainted. When you are finished your room will look like a fresh canvass.

Minimal is Best

In a zen-like environment minimalism is best. Don’t overdo it with pictures and knick-knacks. Instead, consider green aspects and tranquil pieces. A small water feature adds a peaceful ambiance. In addition, plants such as bamboo give an open and inviting appearance. Use small pieces to decorate your room, but keep the choices you make vibrant. Small splashes of color will refresh your room while allowing you to rest peacefully.

Painting tips & tricks

Rub petroleum jelly on the hinges and door knobs before you start to paint a door. If you get paint on them, they will wipe off easily.

To keep white paint from yellowing, add 2 drops of black paint to each Gallon of white.

When painting ceilings, cut a child’s rubber ball in half and put your paint brush in one of the halves to catch the drips.

An old pair of swimming goggles will protect your eyes from paint splatters and drips when painting ceilings.

When painting, protect your hands and face with moisturizer. Cleanup will be easier and the moisturizer will prevent paint from seeping into the pores.

To stop paint from dripping, punch a few holes in the rim of the paint can. When the brush is wiped against the edge, the paint flows back into the can. The lid covers the holes so the paint won’t dry out.

Before pouring paint from a can, cover the rim with masking tape. After pouring, remove the tape — the rim will be clean and the cover will fit tightly.

To remove lumps from paint: Cut a piece of screen to fit the inside of the paint can. Set it on top of the paint and let it float down to the bottom of the can. It will take all the lumps with it, trapping them at the bottom of the can.

When painting a room, dip a small card into the paint so that you have the exact colour with you and can match accessories in store.

When painting inside corners, trim the paint brush bristles to a V to save strokes and spread paint more easily.

When you poke a paint brush into corners or allow it to rest on the bottom of the paint can, the bristles curl and stray. To straighten natural bristles (not synthetics), try wrapping the brush in a couple of thicknesses of damp cloth and press gently with an iron. The steam and cloth binding do the job. Only light pressure is needed. Let the bristles cool before you unwrap the brush.

When painting old woodwork fill in the holes or cracks with a mixture of flour and some of the paint you are using. It hardens like cement and matches perfectly.

Decorate With Color – White Bedroom Decorating: Daybed Furniture

Daybeds are not only practical, they can be used as a feature in a bedroom. If the color of the room is white, deciding on the daybed style will be easier if the room is themed. Daybeds come in all types of materials to suit the budget and to cater to individual tastes.


Wooden daybeds are very solid and usually come in styles to suit bedroom designs of older times. If the look is country, antique, art nouveau, or art deco, wood is ideal. Wooden daybeds start at around $400.00.


Metal daybeds, including brass and iron, can accommodate many themes from antique to modern. Lighter than wood and a little less expensive, metal is good as a money saving option. Metal daybeds can be found for a couple of hundred dollars.

Leather & Vinyl

Leather and vinyl are the most expensive daybeds. They’re available for $600.00 as a minimum. Choose leather or vinyl for the most luxurious feel to a room. Designs are varied and can suit many themes.


Before purchasing a daybed, research styles and pricing online. Many retailers have catalogs on their websites, so be sure to check out any sales. Consider buying from online stores, sometimes it’s worth paying higher shipping costs in order to find a bargain.

Decorate With Color – Versatile White

In the grand and splashy world of color, what place does white have? Is it even thinkable to address white as a color? To the eye and mind, white isn’t a “color”; technically, it’s the absence of a unique spectral reflection. But, when you’re using it in decorating, white’s more than nothing, more than the lack of specific shading, because in the presence of white, you can feel the presence of light itself. It’s more than a fresh blank canvas waiting for a brush stroke.

We know that the meaning of color varies from one culture to another, and a color can take on a new shade depending on where you are. For example, brides in China are married in red for luck, but in America red means stop, warning you to stay away.

White is no exception to this. In contemporary Western culture, we associate white with purity, saying someone is “pure as the driven snow,” and our brides are most often married in white, as a symbol of their purity. In many other cultures, white is a traditional color of mourning, and this rings true, because white gives you room; you can stretch out and think in white. You can contemplate things. You can, perhaps, rest in peace without having to leave this world.

How can you make use of the properties white offers in your home? White was, for a long time, used as a neutral, and it still is. Landlords insist on a tenant re-painting in white, and white’s the default for many people when it comes to walls or sheets or even dishes.

But you can take control of white, and use it to your interior’s advantage.

Look at this room that’s all done up in white. It may seem sterile, or more appropriate for a hospital than a home, but imagine how you could play with color in there: a cluster of orange pillows and a pitcher of sunflowers on a nightstand, or a blue coverlet and blue alarm clock. Each color that you place in this room of white will not only stand out, but it will also change the mood of the room.

With an all-white room, or even one that’s just heavily reliant on white, you can play with color. Red one day, seafoam green the next. You can bring in a simple bowl full of water with gray-green stones and see how it stands out. Toss a couple of throw pillows on a white sofa in a white room and watch the room change before your eyes. And an all-white room is perfect for a goldfish bowl.

Anything that would get lost in the distracting colors of a room will get your full attention in a room that’s all white.

Even if you just decide to have more white in your home accessories, it can provide a calming effect. White dishes, like this cup and saucer, don’t detract from the beauty of the food you’re serving, whether it’s just a cup of dark coffee or a plate with carefully arranged salmon and asparagus. Your white dishes can provide a clean slate to play with just as your white room can, and you can dress them up or down with colorful table linens, food, and flowers.

White isn’t just the absence of color; it’s a backdrop against which color is free to play and reflect, soothing our hearts and calming our minds.

Decorate With Color – Decorating With White

When considering colors for home decor, there is not only a rainbow from which to choose – there’s a whole palette of shades to consider, shades that hover between the colors of the rainbow, a panoply of tones and hues with which to play.

And yet, sometimes the most helpful – and even the most exciting – exercise is to go back to the basics of interior design, striping out all color in order to start with a clean slate; sometimes the most interesting and surprising thing you can do is to go back to good old white.

As many interior decorators know, white isn’t just one shade; there’s off-white, eggshell, ice white, snow white and bright white – and that’s just for starters. Just look at this all-white room: the sheets on the bed are a slightly different shade than the walls, and the walls aren’t exactly the same as the ceiling fan. The pattern on the spread stands out, and the light from the window will change the tones of white throughout the day.

This is the first caution in using white, whether it’s choosing wall paint, a carpet, or fabric for a sofa: not all whites are the same, so you have to be just as careful in matching white to white or to another color as you would matching mauve, sky blue, or emerald.

The second caution is perhaps more obvious: white shows blemishes and scars more readily than any other color, so of course you want to hold off if you have young kids, a lot of pets, or visitors who like to put their muddy feet up on the sofa. But when the kids go off to college, redecorating the living the room in white can be a wonderfully liberating way of celebrating.

Or, look at the next photo on the left. Here, you can see how the white walls, ceiling, and sofas draw the eye to the multi-paned windows, the towering plant, and, most of all, to the collection of international artwork. A white background is most often the best way to show off any stunning work of art, whether it’s a painting, a sculpture, or a piece of furniture you love. White will offer a clean background that will most enhance the viewing.

A completely monochromatic room of white, such as the one shown above on the right presents a cool airy feeling. Notice how the colors of the clothing on the person seem to “pop.”

However, you don’t have to ask white to take over the whole room. Sometimes just a bit of white here or there is all that’s needed to add an energetic, elegant splash to a room design. Notice the white tulips pictured here; the silver vase further enhances the white, as it too is reflective, making the green stems stand out even more.

In small doses, white can help brighten up any dark corner of a room. Think of a spot where you’d like to add a window or a skylight, and before you call the contractor, first try hanging a photo done in white, and held in a white frame, on the wall. Under this, place a small white table with a white pitcher, and see if that doesn’t change the whole mood of the interior.

Whether it’s white tulips in a silver vase, a bunch of white glass grapes, a white cup and saucer, or a small white slipper chair, white can add a bit of uplift to any room.

Tip: White works so well because it reflects back a great deal of light, so other colors you use with it will really stand out. Try looking at the photo of the white bedroom again. Obviously, the interior design of this room makes it not as welcoming as it could be. This time imagine infusing the room with just one color: A terrific painting over the bed in blues and a blue striped duvet cover. Or a bedspread patterned in bright yellow and white, and the door painted bright yellow. You can see how starting with an all-white room can free an interior decorator to choose and play with color.

Decorate With Color – Decorating with White: Dining Room Arraingments

When it comes to decorating with white, your home’s dining room arrangements can be a good place to start. White arrangements can give any dining room an air of delicate sophistication.

Advantages of a White Dining Room

Decorating with white can do wonders for your dining room. Adorning the area with a white table, white flooring and white chairs can be a great way to accentuate the room’s importance. Many families only use their dining rooms on special occasions and holidays, making white the perfect color stress the area’s delicate nature. As an added bonus, white tends to go well with any seasonal surroundings and meshes nicely with virtually any home’s decor.

Caring for Your White Dining Room

Decorating with white also comes with its share of risks. If you frequently host large family gatherings, you’ll need to take some precautions to protect your white dining room from stains. First off, if your dining room chairs are cushioned, it’s a good idea to place plastic covers over the seats. Additionally, you should make a point of using absorbent table cloths, particularly if a lot of food is being served. Lastly, as seating small children in white dining rooms is always a risky venture, you may want to set up a separate kids’ table in your kitchen. This will save you a lot of worry and ensure that the kids have a good time.

Decorate With Color – Decorating with White and Green: A Bright Look

If you want to punch up the decor of your home, think about white kitchen decorating for a bright look. The crispness of white against a bright green background can’t be beat for adding freshness to your kitchen.

Think Spring

Among the first colors you see on a bright spring day is the white of a spring cloud and the green of new spring grass. These are the colors you should picture in your mind when decorating with white and green. Think Spring! Grass green walls with shiny white enamel trim and doors will instantly brighten your kitchen with very little cost for paint. Your window treatment can contribute to the theme as well. White wooden blinds will contrast nicely with green walls. If you have nice window moldings another option is to not use window coverings at all, opening the room to the natural greens in your garden.

Color Schemes and Seasons

If you want to use the white in your kitchen, think watermelon and summer. This time, paint the walls with a shiny white semi gloss paint, with watermelon green woodwork and perhaps red and white check curtains hung from a black wrought iron curtain rod. Add watermelon themed accessories and you will think summer every time you enter the room.