Melissa and Jonny among many things created and run a natural hot sauce company (with impeccable branding) Jonny Hetherington Essentials. We have been polite neighbours for years, just a quick hello in the halls or the street but in the last couple of years our kids have fallen in love with each other so we find ourselves at each other's small homes quite often. I have always heard of apartment buildings with a sense of community and letting the kids run in the halls on rainy days or trading off looking after the other's kids for an hour or two. And now we have it! Our apartments are similar in design though, there's is slightly smaller without a bedroom and an additional storage nook or den they've creatively turned into their daughter's room. I love to see how they use their space and we often share ideas to make our spaces more functional.
It is a very vulnerable thing to share your small home publicly. I am incredibly grateful that Melissa and Jonny have trusted me to do so! They constantly inspire me to edit our space further and find creative ways to work from home. Thank you, thank you Melissa for sharing and proving once again that less is truly more.
A little about you:
My name is Melissa Mercier. I'm a photographer, a mother, a wife, and I run a food company with my husband and partner all from a 556 square foot condo in Vancouver.
How big is your home and what is the layout?
556 square foot. It's a studio with 1 small room that used to be my walk-in closet and now is Jake's room.
Who lives there?
My daughter, my husband and myself. We also both work from home with an assistant that comes in every second day.
Tell me about your choice to live small as a family. Was it a conscious decision or did it just evolve?
We bought this place over a decade ago as a live/work studio in the heart of a neighbourhood filled with young artists and entrepreneurs. The area has gentrified and matured into perhaps one of the best spots in Canada to live, work and create, not to mention get a good craft beer. I love this neighbourhood and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I never really had the dream of a big house in the suburbs - more rooms to clean, to fill with stuff we don’t really need and too much time spent commuting back to the city. I suppose I would like one extra room when life gets a bit too chaotic, but most of the time, it works perfectly well for us. What we buy, we not only need, but we also have to have space for it! It forces us to put extra thought into our purchases and honestly, we don't buy many things at all.
Is there a piece of furniture or accessory that you couldn't live without that makes living in your space easier? Certainly our wall beds. I love getting them "out of the way" in the morning to have all this breathing room back in the studio. It simply wouldn’t work without them. It turns Jake’s room into a play room and for us, it creates a large living room and kitchen.
Also, we replaced our stackable washer and dryer for a two in one European format. It freed up a ton of space above and I installed shelves and hooks to create our office and stroller storage. (ed note... we desperately want to do this too when our stackable units die. So smart!!)
What is something you love about living small?
We love that we can communicate with each other from anywhere in our home.
What is something you hate?
We hate that we can communicate with each other from anywhere in our home! (ed note. hahahaha! true.)
What are your best ways to beat the rainy Vancouver winter blues and keep from going crazy with a toddler indoors?
Rain or shine, we get out of the house. Even if it’s just a short walk, it always refreshes our mood. Rain equipment is a must!
I am amazed by all you accomplish with your business while raising your baby girl and all while in a small space. Any tips or tricks you care to share?
Coffee, coffee, coffee.
iCal I write down EVERYTHING, no matter how certain I am I won't forget. Now that I'm a mom, there's just too much going on in my head.
Delegating as much as I can. It’s so important to find people to work with that are entirely competent at what they do.
Is that a piano in your kitchen?
Yes that's a baby grand piano. It is also our dining table. Jonny wanted to start songwriting with a piano as opposed to just a guitar a while back and I couldn't stand the idea of an electric keyboard in my place with the wire sticking out... so we went shopping for used pianos and found this 100 year old baby grand from New York. It strangely had very modern straight lines, which is not common for that era. Of course it was brown so I stripped the entire thing and repainted it white. (Photos) It is also our dining table and where all our Jonny Hetherington Essentials images are created. I matched it with four original Singer stools (stripped and painted the seat white also)
As your neighbour I happen to know that your space is generally spotless (mine, not so much). What are your go to cleaning products or habits for keeping a small space clean?
Well, I'm a bit of a clean freak... I'm also very organized (or at least used to be before Jake was born...) I can't seem to concentrate or find inspiration when my place isn't spotless. And since I take photographs in my home every single day, I need to have a "clean canvas" that's always ready to go. The truth is that there's this ebb and flow constantly happening in our place. From everything in it's place to the madness of after a photoshoot and usually while we are in the middle of a food shoot, Jake will have brought out almost all of her toys. So you may never have dropped by during these moments to think our place is always spotless!
One of the reasons I started this blog was to have a positive space about living small with a family and hopefully have people let go of the shame associated with it. Thank you soooo much for being so open with your beautiful home and life here. Is there anything you would want to say to someone who wants to stay in their small space with a child/baby but are nervous or feeling external pressure not to?
Small is the new big! It's not how much space you have, it's what you do in that space that counts.
I always try to make sure that what I buy is practical to store and has a double duty. Jake’s steps fold and hide away. Our outdoor pillows also become part of our bed at night. Every desk and table must double duty for photography, etc. And lastly but perhaps most importantly, we like to surround ourselves with original art.
Thanks for reading and to Melissa and Jonny for sharing. Hopefully I will have some more small home tours to share in the future!