newlywed dreams–living in our tiny studio

allison: The last two months have been the best kind of slow. Waking up slowly, making breakfast, jumping on emails or house-hunting or edits. Taking an afternoon break at the rock gym or working late so we can go skiing the next day. Making a home together. Building a life together.

We didn’t make a lot of plans this winter. I went to Palm Springs for a couple days and he went snowboarding with a friend in Washington, but otherwise, our life looked a LOT like this. Calm and steady. Quiet and simple. Except that most of the days I wasn’t dressed by the time we were even making lunch. (Oops.) And Johnny had to remind me more than once that I hadn’t left the house yet that day. (Oops again.) But we’ve officially been living in a 450 sq. feet studio for six months now, and living small was the best decision we could have made in this season of our lives. We’ve been cooking almost every meal, and I’ve narrowed down my closet to only essentials. And Johnny taught me how to make coffee in the chemex, so we’ve got allllll the important things covered.

I was originally a little bit stressed about the idea of moving into such limited space–what if we couldn’t have anyone over?? What if it just looked cluttered all the time?? But nope, we’ve had overnight guests and dinner guests and coffee date guests, and we manage to keep it organized most of the time (and we just plan to invite someone over on the weeks that we know we need to shape up…but I can’t be the only one who does that, amiright??).

One of my goals this slow-season was to take some time to do a self-portrait session of the two of us in our first home together. And it took me about six weeks to realize that was basically never gonna happen. So we made the wisest decision ever and hired one of our besties, Natalie Puls, to do this in-home session for us before we headed out for this month-long adventure. I’m OBSESSED. Being a photographer makes me feel so strongly about having a well-documented life, and I’m so grateful to have photos to document our first little home together.

And just because I searched high & low for tips for living in a small studio, here are some things we learned during our process of downsizing:

1) Get rid of your shiz. If we were on the fence about something, we donated it or gave it to a friend or sold it. I learned how to separate my emotions from my belongings, which I think is definitely how humans are meant to be living anyway. Getting rid of clutter made everything feel doable. Even knowing that we may move into something bigger in the future, we genuinely don’t even feel like we need more space than what we already have. (Although, we’ve realized that a guestroom to host visitors would be sooo nice…Someday!!) I used Un-Fancy to create a capsule wardrobe a couple years ago and looooved the process. If you’re wanting to downsize on your closet, it’s seriously such a good experiment to try.

2) Everything is useful for storage. There are so many ways to make things cute and clean and organized. OR…there are things like under-the-bed storage. And my keyboard is stored under our couch. And our toilet paper is stored in one of our cupboards. We have mostly open shelving in our apartment, so finding ways to have litttttle spaces to hide a few things when we don’t feel like organizing is a brain saver. I use THESE $6 storage things from ikea under the bed to keep seasonal shoes & some clothing. Six doll hairs!!

3) I LOVE OUR OPEN PANTRY!! I thought this was going to be the most unrealistic thing in the world. But having food staples out on open shelves in cute glass jars is aesthetically pleasing, for one thing. But it’s also forced us into being people who make things from scratch and buy food from the bulk sections and actually think about ingredients. It rotates a little bit but here’s what we usually have out: white flour, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, brown sugar, white sugar, rolled oats, granola, and popcorn. And guess what gets used the most? The popcorn, duh. We also use these magnetic spice jars on our fridge to save some space.

4) Moveable furniture is NICE. We have everything set up so that the space feels really open and welcoming when you walk in, but there isn’t a lot of obvious seating for guests. When we have guests over, we move around chairs and tables to make space feel more welcoming for a gathering, instead of just for our little working corners. We are soo glad we have a lightweight table and chairs (ikea ftw again), and I’m obsessed with this little storage bench we got for the foot of our bed. We usually keep it organized with games & cards, but it’s also somewhere we can stash things if someone is coming over. And it has wheels, so we move it around for seating all the time too.

5) Having a pristine-looking apartment is not more rewarding than having a space that feels like home. I can get really caught up in the aesthetics of something over having something that is actually functional. It helped a million that we were already moving into a beautifully built apartment (thanks Sam & Andrea!!), but I can also catch myself hiding Johnny’s baseball hats or moving our laundry basket into the bathroom. And having coats hanging from hooks all over the place isn’t the cutest, but we also had the coldest/longest winter ever and needed them all out. I want to balance the fact that I am someone whose entire working life revolves around being inspired by my surroundings with the fact that, well, we live here. Ultimately, I want to feel comfortable living in my space and not just looking at it.

We’re currently in Texas for a weekend full of shooting, and on Sunday we head to Paris for our month of European adventuring! I have noo idea how realistic blogging is going to be while we’re on the road, but here’s to sayin’ we’re gonna try.

CHEERS! xo, allison

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@allisonxjohnny // @allisonharp // @johnnyoehler


We are Johnny & Allison--photographers and newlyweds living in Bend, Oregon. Welcome to our little personal project, a travel journal of sorts. If you're new, start HERE. And also, hi hello hello.