Design

This Family’s Downsized Dream Home Is Full of Surprises

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Four years ago, designer Shavonda Gardner and her wife Naomi decided to downsize from their large house to a 1940s-era bungalow in Sacramento. Moving into a two-bedroom, one-bathroom was a challenge for the self-described maximalists (and their two kids) but Shavonda and her family have made this their dream home. Here, she gives us a look around, as well as some killer storage hacks…

LIVING ROOM:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Sofa: SixPenny. Eames lounge chair: Craigslist. White juju hat: Thorn & Burrow, similar.

On making the call to go small: Our first home together was larger — your basic tract house. It had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and was about 2,400 square feet. We were in it for three years, and one day I just said to my wife, Naomi, ‘You know honey, we’re only really living in half of this house.’ There were a couple rooms we rarely went in — a formal dining room, a formal living room. I wanted to downsize into something smaller and simplify our lives. It was a great decision for us — but it is a shock to the system. Most of us grow up believing that bigger is better. We’re taught that you start out in a small house and then the next one gets bigger, and so on. It can be very challenging to set aside that mindset.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Paint: Martha Stewart Paint (discontinued), similar. Pouf ottoman: Thorn & Burrow. Coffee table: West Elm. Vase: Ikea. Rug: RugsUSA. Blinds: Blindster. Accent chair: Uttermost. Mirrored table: Varaluz.

On black walls: The first thing people say about living small is, ‘You’ve gotta paint the walls white. It’ll make it look so much bigger and bring in so much light.’ But your space is what it is. There is no color that’ll change the size, so paint it whatever color your want. I’m really inspired by British interiors — all those bold, moody colors like smoky gray, deep plum and black. When I walk into an all-white room, it makes me feel anxious, like it’s not finished. At first, we painted these walls in a dark teal, but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling that they needed to be black. And the minute I repainted them, it felt like, ‘This is it. This is right.’

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Hanging lamp: World Market. Painting: Blayne Macauley. Eames lounge chair: Craigslist. Planter: Holistic Habitat.

On the heart of the home: For us, the living room is where everyone congregates — where we entertain, where the kids do homework, where we have game nights, everything. It needed to be spacious enough so we could fit a blow-up mattress for overnight guests or set up a larger table when we have people over for dinner. It’s also the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, so I wanted it to pack a visual punch.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Storage cabinet: Urban Outfitters. Glass bottles: Vintage. Painting: Victoria Bradley from Juniper Print Shop.

On storage: When you live in a small house, storage is key, and this cabinet gives us a LOT. We store our printer, electronics, all my work folders and paper and pens. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the house. I love natural elements, particularly in a space like this where everything else is dark. The rattan caning gives it a light feel, so it doesn’t look like a big, chunky armoire. It’s tall, it has an open bottom so we can slide baskets underneath (more storage!), and it doesn’t dominate the room.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Shoe cabinet: Ikea. Knobs: Anthropologie. Mirror: HomeGoods, similar. Floor lamp: Arhaus. Decorative hooks: HomeGoods, similar. Decorative hanging: World Market. Rug: vintage.

On the best buy ever: This is actually an Ikea shoe cabinet. It’s a fantastically useful piece, and I recommend it to everyone living in a small space. It’s narrow — eight or nine inches — and it’s where we drop our keys, mail and shoes in the entryway. I changed the basic handles out for these geode knobs from Anthropologie. It makes the piece look much more high end than it actually is!

DINING AREA:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Table: World Market, similar. Light fixture: Ikea.

On thinking outside the floor plan: The dining room was by far the most challenging space — and for me, the hardest transition to make when we moved. I love to entertain, and our old dining setup wouldn’t fit in here. And this space itself is tricky because it’s kind of a pass-through. That black door behind the table actually leads to our bedroom (which used to be the den).

MASTER BEDROOM:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Bed: Wayfair, similar. Pillow: West Elm. Bedside light: YLighting. Side table: ROSS, similar.

On turning a den into a bedroom: This room is how we’re able to make this house work. It’s a true two-bedroom and the children got the actual bedrooms, whereas we sleep in the former den. That tapestry is a suzani (a type of hand-woven textile, traditional in Central Asia), which belonged to a dear friend of mine. She knew I’d been looking for one for years, and she contacted me one day and said, ‘I have a beautiful one, and I think it belongs in your house.’ I was astonished. It’s one of my most treasured possessions, and I wanted it to be displayed in a very special way.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Full length mirror: Ikea. Juju hat: Thorn & Burrow, similar. Shoe storage: Ikea.

On maximalism in minimal space: I’m not a minimalist, and neither is my wife. (This is her dedicated shoe storage, by the way.) We felt that just because we were downsizing that didn’t mean we had to get rid of everything we owned. I’m a bit of a collector and I like to be surrounded by the things I love. So, we found ways to create storage spaces and to display the things we love.

KITCHEN:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Pot rack: Hayneedle. Hanging baskets: World Market. Island: Target. Rug: vintage.

On a tricky kitchen: This was the one room we took down to the studs when we moved in. I loved that it looked like a little cottage kitchen, but it was not functional. I decided to keep the original checker floor and the corner window, and customized the space around those elements — as inexpensively as possible. Ikea to the rescue! I got this marble-top island at a Black Friday sale at Target, and it gives us both storage and an extra work surface.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

On a game-changing swap: We have lots of large pans, stock pots, cast-iron cookware and other things that need to be hand-washed. So, we downsized our dishwasher and upsized our sink. Our small 18-inch dishwasher is the perfect size for all our daily dishes, forks, cups, etc. And I really wanted a classic farmhouse sink, but my wife was not a fan of the white porcelain. So, I found one that was stainless steel and felt a bit more modern. It was a great compromise: I got my big farm sink and she got one that didn’t look farm-style.

DAUGHTER’S ROOM:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Bed: West Elm. Ceiling light: Lamps Plus. Hanging bulb: Ikea. Dresser: Ikea. Light-up sign: Bright Lite Tribe.

On colorful ceilings: I always remind people not to forget about the ceiling. It’s a great way to make a space fun, without all your walls being covered in color. Both kids chose the paint for their ceilings, and my daughter really wanted this pale blue. She then got that tapestry on Woot. It was hanging on her wall at first, but one day we were hanging out in her room and I said, ‘Hey, what if we hung this over your bed and made a canopy?’ She was immediately like, ‘Oh my god, Mom, I love it! Let’s do it!’

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

On a tough transition: My daughter was 11 when we moved, and she was NOT on board at first. In her mind, downsizing meant something was wrong. Like, ‘Why would my parents decide to leave our big, beautiful house in our neighborhood with all our friends, to live somewhere much smaller?’ She’s all good now, but it took time. There were a few high school options in our new area, so when she finished middle school we let her decide which one she wanted to go to. I think it helped to give her some sense of control. After that, everything got better. She loves her school and has great friends.

SON’S ROOM:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Bed: Wayfair. Tapestry: Lauren Williams. Light fixture: Ikea. Carpet tiles: Flor. Comforter: Target, similar. Lights: Bright Lab Lights. Bedside lamp: Target.

On kid-friendly carpeting: The flooring in my son’s room is actually Flor carpet tiles. These are perfect for a child or teenager’s room — or any kind of play space. Messes mean nothing. He can spill whatever, and they’re so easy to clean. If one of them gets truly damaged, we can pop it out and replace it with another tile. They’re fantastic.

BATHROOM:
Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

Wallpaper: Milton and King, similar. Mirror: Varaluz. Sconce: Hudson Valley Lighting. Sink: Moreno Bath.

On #BathroomGoals: I had very specific goals for the shared bathroom. First, I was like, ‘I need some color in here.’ Another priority was natural light. It’s an interior bathroom, so there was nowhere to put a window. So I thought: skylight. I’m so grateful we were able to make it work. It feels like the world opened up.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

On one bathroom for a family of four: The most pressing issue was, of course, storage. So, we built these little niches into the shower, into the tub, and into this wall that was otherwise not being used. Now we have room to store our hand towels and daily toiletries. I mean, we’re a house with two women, a teenage girl, and an adolescent boy. We have things.

Small Downsizing House Tour with Shavonda Gardner

On the upsides of downsizing: Living small is a true lifestyle change, and it takes effort, but it was such a wonderful decision for us. I love how manageable this house is, and how easy it is to keep clean (and that no one has to spend their days off tidying). Things like heating and cooling are so much less expensive! We also spend a lot of time together now, and proximity plays a big role in that. After making this move, it feels like we have less house and more life! When guests come over, they notice it, too: Our home feels like a big hug.

Thank you so much, Shavonda!

P.S. More beautiful home tours, including a book-filled home in Denmark and a single woman’s dream pad in Brooklyn.

(Photos by Lena Corwin for Cup of Jo.)

  1. This is amazing! This is the kind of design I’ve always dreamed of having–a mix of a little bit of everything. I love the drama, but also the little details, the coziness, the pure fun that this home exudes.

  2. Kristiana says...

    Oh my gosh YES! Thank you for not posting a cookie cutter mid century modern/minimalist/all white home. LOVE this and absolutely adore this home! WOW! Best home tour I’ve seen in a long time.

  3. Nicole says...

    Visually stunning and functionally brilliant! As a lover of all things design, this home tour lit me up! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Rita says...

    This is the most beautiful and inspiring house tour – and I don’t even relate to some of the decoration choices! It’s just the vibe of the house and the family itself, and the perception of space and realizing what size/kind of house you need for your family. Beautiful family, amazing home.

  5. Nina says...

    Beautiful home with tons of personality!

  6. SK says...

    Beautiful home! We moved from a two bedroom/two bath town house back into a one bedroom apartment with our toddler due to financial reasons and I’m loving it! (We stored extra stuff that we would’ve kept in a closet in a storage facility). It makes us interact more, means less running from room to room and up and down floors, and is easier to clean (which means it’s still hard to keep clean with a toddler and a busy life, but easier!), and it is nice not being so tight on money. I realized what’s best for everyone is different housing wise and to follow what’s best for me.

  7. Wendela says...

    Love this! Beautiful home, beautiful family—all very inspiring!

  8. Barb says...

    Lovely!

  9. Kathryn says...

    What a great post! My wife and I are currently renovating a 900 sq ft house. It’s wonderful to see another lesbian couple in a small, gorgeous space. I also really liked reading about how Shavonda and Naomi brought their kids into the design process.

  10. Pam says...

    Just another huge Shavonda fan here to say YAY! I love her colorful, beautiful spaces. She makes me more proud to be a Sacramentan too.

  11. Sara Dill says...

    Favorite house tour yet.

  12. Laura J says...

    Thank you Shavonda for sharing your stunning home and lovely family! Loved every bit of it.

  13. Karin says...

    I love all the creativity in this house. That bathroom!!! The kitchen!!! Who would have thought of downsizing your dishwasher? This is such a great reminder not to accept how things are “supposed” to be done And do what works for you.

  14. Jennifer says...

    Love this house and am keeping it bookmarked. But one question… where does that giant Great Dane sleep!?

    • Sasha L says...

      Lol, wherever he wants, right??

  15. Sam says...

    This is such a beautiful home…I mean, that dining room: wow. As a Sacramentan, I can’t believe I haven’t come across Shavonda before. Now I’ll just hope I run into her around town so we can become best friends.

  16. Kia says...

    HOUSE GOALS!!!!Gorgeous home and family. I have a 900sq ft., two bedroom ,1.5 baths and 3 little girls. This post makes me love my space again and helps me dream up different ways to beautify it. I’m going to keep coming back to this post for inspiration.

  17. Carpet tiles! Love that idea (for my 2-cat cabin) – thank you!

  18. Sam says...

    This is the most gorgeous home – that dining room: wow. As a Sacramentan, I can’t believe I haven’t found Shavonda’s work before. Now I’m just going to hope I run into her around town so we can become best friends.

  19. I Love Shavonda! Her decor and style are uniquely her and she always gives off the best vibes. I’ve literally said to my husband “well Shavonda said….!” Her IG stories are the best. I’m so happy to see her & her home featured on COJ! Bravo to her and to the Sacramento region getting some love!

    Xo Lendy

  20. Sophia says...

    I LOVE this home tour <3

  21. Olivia says...

    Lovely use of the space and awesome wallpaper!

    I will say as a former child of a small house, I absolutely hated it growing up. It felt like everyone was on top of each other and we had no room to spread out, except bedrooms, which felt isolating. I also had a tv in my room which I’d never do now (for me or kids). I was always so jealous of people who had stairs in their house.

    I firmly believe a home (for me) needs two living spaces, so people can congregate and chill where they choose. That said, we don’t have a single thing in our second living room because it’s just the two of us and baby-to-be for now! But it’ll be her playroom :)

  22. I love Shavonda! If you don’t follow her IG stories—it’s a must! Her whole vibe is open and uniquely her which is fantastic. So many homes on IG/Blogs/Mags have the same decor elements but Shavonda has her own style! I also love that she is helping shine a light on the Sacramento region. Way to go!

    Xo Lendy

  23. Cyndi says...

    This is a truly beautiful home with some very cleaver storage solutions! THere’s a lot of inspiration here!

  24. A says...

    What an AMAZING house!! Can I move in? She is right, it looks like a house that is a big hug <3

  25. Eva says...

    What a lovely home!

    Any chance we can find out where Shavonda’s daughter’s comforter is from? It looks so cozy and I love the color!

  26. Lin says...

    Shavonda’s daughter, and her room, are so joyful! How beautiful her soul must be!

  27. Charlotte says...

    Yay! We bought our house in Sacramento two years ago but due to a career change we’re currently in the process of moving out of state. I just have to say, Sacramento tends to get a bad rap but it’s actually a pretty awesome place. It’s cultural diversity makes it dynamic like a big city but it’s lack of pretension also gives it homey small town vibes. It’s nice to see Sacramento being represented on COJ by such a beautiful family! I’m looking forward to new adventures but Sacto will always hold a special place in my heart.

  28. Jacqueline (jacleen23) says...

    I’ve been following Shavonda’s I/g for about a year so none of these photos are new to me. It THRILLS me that she’s received so many incredibly positive comments because man, she deserves it. She’s got an incredible eye and vision AND is the sweetest, most down to earth person on that platform (IMHO). I never tire of seeing her home and today, viewed it again like everyone else did…oohing and ahhing right along with you. Now that you’ve read their story, GO FOLLOW HER for more visual treats. ♥️ you, Shavonda!

    • Meredith says...

      She is SO NICE whenever I DM to ask a question (which is a lot bc hello, she has amazing style). And I love how she uses her platform to start hilarious, eye opening conversations with her followers. I love seeing her get great PR like this!!

  29. Karen T. says...

    LOVE!!!!

  30. Clare says...

    This is, hands down, the coolest damn house I’ve ever seen.

  31. Nan says...

    I had never thought about black walls in a small house or small rooms but this tour shows how elegant, dramatic AND cozy it can be, all at once – it’s really alluring. The beautiful wood floors really come to life and the furniture and plants are set off elegantly. I also really like their kitchen and bathroom – their house looks like a joy to live in!

  32. Kelly says...

    Absolutely gorgeous house…and what an incredibly beautiful family! This is my first introduction to this talented designer. This home has so much personality and just looks like it is loved! I love walls painted in black and that wallpaper in the bathroom makes me weak in the knees. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible home with us, and thanks CoJ team for these wonderful home tours. I love every single one, but this one has particularly inspired me!

  33. C says...

    Beautiful home!
    Family of 4 in a house this size w/one bathroom. Mostly I love it but sometimes I dream of a few more rooms. Rooms for many children to run around, room for a formal dining area, room for a dog, a yoga mat, an art area. And an amazing carpenter to create more space!
    A friend said it best the other day when I commented how I admired her for always having people and kids over in her teeny tiny home..she said it’s the getting together that matters, not the space.
    Perspective and creativity and hopefully a tiny bit of outdoor space make all the difference.

  34. Kara says...

    Obsessed with this home tour, like reading multiple times obsessed. It feels so real and livable yet beautiful. I love the fact that they downsized! I think the more small homes are featured in popular media, the more people will realize it’s normal and feasible. I also love that Shavonda clearly let’s her kids make their space their own. Now off to obsess over her Instagram account…

  35. Julia says...

    This home is SO lovely and gave me a much-needed boost about my own smaller home. I love my home, but with a 10-month-old, a probable second child in the future, and two dogs, my husband and I have thought we’ll probably upgrade in a few years. But I need to appreciate the great things about our current setup! Will definitely be coming back to this post for continued inspiration.

  36. Lynn says...

    This is divine in every way possible. Can we please learn about lighting such a dark interior? Especially as I get older, I find I need so much more lighting. What’s the trick to having such soulful moody rooms and still being able to play games and see your food? I’m guessing the interior was professionally lit by the photographer; how is it illuminated for daily living?

  37. tanja vaillancourt says...

    Bravo ! Bravo ! Bravo !
    Makes me want to redecorate and personalize my rooms a little more;)

  38. CS says...

    Stunning family and home! I love the bathroom wallpaper.

  39. Lynne says...

    This is the first COJ post I’ve ever commented on but I can’t look at these photos, read about the thoughtful approach to living well, and just move on. Such a beautiful, personalized, practical, smart house designed top to bottom, end to end, to comfort and accommodate the entire family — with style and panache. Bravo!

  40. MariaE. says...

    I really like this family and the house. However, I have to say I had to see/read this posting twice because I didn’t like too much black in the walls and furniture, at first. My second reading gave me a new and positive point of view about the house!! My only ‘but’ is the just one-bathroom house concept for more than one person. I think all houses, apartments, condos should have at least 1.5 bathrooms.

    • Christine says...

      Yes, that extra .5 is key (says someone who lived happily with 5 roommates in a 1.5 bathroom house for a few years). Beautiful home and family!

  41. Nicole says...

    I grew up just outside of Sac :) This home is absolutely beautiful!!

  42. K says...

    What a beautiful kitchen! I loved this tour!

  43. Nina says...

    I love what they have done. I love that so many of the items are at places I shop (and can afford too). Thanks for opening your home. I love that – it feels like a hug.

  44. Lauren E. says...

    I AM SO INTO THIS. I felt like I stared at every photo for a solid three minutes – there’s just so much to see.

    Also thank you thank you for acknowledging that people have stuff. Every time I see a home tour of a “small” space, I always wonder, “But where is your stuff?!” This family has just seamlessly integrated stuff and made their space look gorgeous and uncluttered at the same time. Gorgeous.

  45. Katie says...

    Well, that was an unexpected treat. I love everything about this home, including the black walls, painted ceilings and small dishwasher, all things that would never have occurred to me. Thank you so much for letting us all in!

  46. Katherine says...

    absolutely love this, and love the focus on queer POC spaces

  47. AJ says...

    That kitchen is sublime!

  48. Anne says...

    L O V E this! And love that you have had two home tours recently (this one and Caroline’s apartment) that have been moody and dramatic. I want to live in a clean, modernist space but really… that’s not me/my life/ my family/ our stuff. Glad to see you guys embracing some other looks!

  49. WOW – this is one of my most favorite house tours of all. I looove all the dark walls! The black table and chairs…so sexy. And then the bright bedroom! Impressive and inspiring to take bigger risks within decor. Great post!

  50. JMarie says...

    I love Shavonda and her house. Her colorful home is such a welcome relief from all of the white walls that seem to be everywhere these days. Plus she is so.dang.fun to follow on Instagram. Things don’t feel fake or contrived–just uniquely her.

    • Ali says...

      Hers is one of my very favorite accounts on Instagram – she’s clever and talented and smart as a whip and speaks her mind. Love, love Shavonda!

  51. Lizzie says...

    I LOVE the moody vibe of this house! And that wallpaper in the bathroom is perfection. <3

  52. Brooke says...

    I love Shavonda and follow her on IG! Her home is so rich & interesting! So happy to see her and her family here on CoJ!

  53. Alison Cooper-Mullin says...

    Echoing everyone here on the dark walls! Did I miss where the sofa is from?

  54. gfy says...

    Wild! I just surfed over to her site last week and read through her whole site and was blown away by her sense of balance (and THAT BATHROOM – I will probably need to reproduce it for myself because I love it) and now she’s here! You guys have excellent taste AND team Shavonda is ON IT!
    The way she made a black interior work is actually genius. It’s so good. Her son’s bedroom is so elegant, the tiny dishwasher – LOVE – been thinking about doing it myself and seeing her do it means I was thinking along the right lines.

    Lastly, she is just glowing with happiness in that last photo and it is SO GOOD to see that!

  55. Beck says...

    On this feature about about downsizing, I love that they have a Great Dane of all dogs too! :)

  56. Temme says...

    This was such an exciting house tour. The thing that stood out most to me was their use of plants. Each color and texture and hanging of plants was so well positioned in each room! Secondly, I love that they fully committed to the overall mood of each room using the wall color as a guide. And lastly, those big sculptures of the “see/hear/speak no evil monkeys” in the living room- wow! I would not have thought that big sculptures like that in a smaller space would look so fantastic but they actually fit the room perfectly. Really well done job all around!

  57. Heather says...

    I love Shavonda (been following her on Instagram and she’s in the process of designing her garden! Can’t wait!!).

    When my husband and I first moved in together we shared
    A tiny one bedroom apartment (the kind where the bathroom door couldn’t open because it would hit the toilet). One weekend we were house sitting for a colleague whose house had an upstairs and a downstairs!!! When we got back to our apartment on Sunday we both thought, that house was so big it feels like I haven’t seen you all weekend! We now have a tiny house that’s perfect for us (with no upstairs).

    I would love some tips on finding comfy, affordable furniture that works for small living :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, heather:)

  58. Steph says...

    All your wallpaper is DIVINE. I love the big palm prints.

  59. Don says...

    Good lord, this house is gorgeous.

  60. Tanya says...

    I love so much about this house and this family. Such an inspiring tour!! ♥️

  61. Maia says...

    House goals to the max. Just wow!

  62. Nathalie says...

    I love this home and I’m now feeling inspired to put some colour on the ceiling!

  63. sara says...

    coolest home ever!!!!

  64. Kim says...

    I wholeheartedly agree. When my husband, daughter and I moved into our 1200 sq. ft., 2 bedroom, 1 bath house, it was with the full intention of building an addition to add a bedroom and bathroom, or moving out and sizing up eventually. After living in it for 7 years now, we’ve totally changed our minds, realizing that we do not need the extra space. We use the whole house, and it really does bring the family closer. I’ve realized that I could live here forever because someday my daughter will leave the nest. It’s also reassuring to know that I will make the same mortgage payment for the next 23 years. I am a huge believer in getting a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (or 15 if you can afford it); don’t mess around with adjustable rate mortgages. You never know how long you’ll stay in a space due to the economy or other factors. Many people I know have decided to remain in their smaller “starter” homes, and feel good about the stability a lower mortgage payment brings. It’s all about peace of mind.

    • Lilly says...

      Thank you so much for articulating this! We’re just starting to look at our first buy and eeeeew mortgages are intimidating.

    • Sasha L says...

      Oh goodness, couldn’t agree more. Adjustable rate mortgages arE serious gambling. If you DO have more money in the future, think of everything else you could spend it on vs the same house you’re already in : a new house, new cars, kids, trips, paying down other debts, SAVING. Imho, adjustable rate mortgages are for folks who can’t actually afford what they are buying. Living UNDER your means will always result in less stress and anxiety.

    • Elena says...

      Yes to the fifteen year mortgage, if you can. My husband I are doing it right now and it’s definitely worth the sacrifice. We’ve been at it for a bit now, and those first few months were almost shocking, but it’s normal now… we don’t even think about it. Our house will be paid off while our daughter is in middle school. Just the thought of no mortgage payment in the not so far future brings a smile to my face.

    • Trish O says...

      This was so us. We bought our “first home” almost 20 years ago. It has about 1700 sq feet. At the time (I grew-up in a large suburban home) I thought it was small. two boys later, we are still here. The boys are now teens. It did feel a little tight when they were about 4, but as they have grown, the house has felt larger again. Soon, they will be gone and it will just be me and my husband. I really don’t see us moving. We LOVE our neighbors, LOVE our neighborhood, and the house. We also now own the house outright. Turns out, the house feels big now as my boys are gone doing their thing so much of the time. I love where we live.

  65. celeste says...

    Shavonda! She is one of my favorite people on Instagram because she is just. so. intentional. I love that she uses so much color and boldness in her designs. So glad you featured her today! <3

  66. Abesha1 says...

    CofJ, everything about this post is awesome.
    Thanks. :)

  67. Alida says...

    What a beautiful home! I’ve been wanting to spring for that Urban Outfitters rattan cabinet FOREVER but the reviews are really rough. Specifically about assembly and quality. Can Shavonda or anyone else who owns it weigh in?

    • Kristina says...

      Go for it! I’ve had it for over a year now and I love it so much. (Honestly, since it’s UO, the reviewers are probably younger and not as accustomed to putting stuff together so I wouldn’t lean into those reviews too much…) It’s a great quality piece, but it does take a little tweaking to get it assembled just right. We found that we needed an extra brace under the main shelf because it was sagging. So! If you have a drill and a couple extra pieces of trim you can totally make it work : )

    • Shavonda says...

      Hi there! I can assure you the assembly was just fine. If you can weather through IKEA furniture assembly you can definitely do this one. I did it by myself in about 2 hours…while drinking wine and watching TV lol. I have absolutely ZERO regrets!

  68. Sarah says...

    I have a 2bd 1 bath, one kid and one on the way, and this makes me feel so much more confident that we do NOT need more space. I love everything and have one question – is there a shower curtain? I don’t see a rod for it.

    • Meaghan says...

      As a follower of Shavonda’s on Instagram (she’s great!), what you can’t see from these bathroom photos is that the tub and shower are separate. So there’s no curtain for the tub nook.

  69. Molly says...

    Big fan of the smaller house. We had to sell our bungalow for a bigger house (3 growing kids), and I miss our old house, but 3 kid friendly it was not.

  70. Katherine says...

    A home that feels like a hug: what a perfect description! I’m going to make that a goal for how I want my home to feel, even though it’s a rental. Loved this tour and how much personality the home has!

  71. megs283 says...

    Wow. Each room is somehow better than the next. I felt like a little kid finding a magical place as I scrolled down.

    We added a big addition to our house, taking it from 1400 or so to 2000 sq. I love having the extra space, but I do feel I spend so much more time on the kitchen alone when cleaning up at night. At those times I miss our cozy little Cape!

  72. Lena says...

    Shavonda and her family make magic happen in their GORGEOUS Bungalow. I LOVE how she debunks the myth that wall should be painted white in a smaller space. I ADORE IT ALL.

  73. Kim says...

    I love everything. The dark walls, the patterned wallpaper. Everything looks so intentional.

  74. anne says...

    Love all these ideas!! I wonder how many of our walls could be pushed in a little for some of those storage nooks they have… We also moved from 2400 sq ft tract house to a 2bed 1 bath (no den:/) with 3 kids.. my oldest was almost 11 too and it was ROUGh. I was so excited about the minimalism and the kids were like where’s the carpeted stairs??! lol. Thanks for a beautiful tour, I’m bookmarking it…

    • Judy says...

      Don’t push in your walls! Just use the dead space between the studs. For deeper shelves, the shelves can be extended beyond the wall as shown in the bathroom pic. Good luck!

  75. Julia says...

    So gorgeous! I remember years ago hearing about downsized homes with beautiful furnishings being called “jewel boxes” – this is certainly a jewel box home. Shavonda is incredibly talented, she uses tons of affordable pieces, but makes them look so luxe and stylish! Saving this tour for inspiration!

  76. Lisa T says...

    I love your home! My favorite part, besides the paint color, is the kitchen sink! It is so beautiful and functional. I wish you and your family many happy years in your home.

  77. KL says...

    Love the creativity behind the tapestry in her daughter’s room and rug tiles in her son’s room!

  78. Kate says...

    This is my favorite one yet!! Yes to skylights! Yes to only cleaning one bathroom! And hell yes to that Ikea shoe cabinet!

    We have friends who say things like “well, you’ll be in a bigger house someday,” and my husband and I are like, “um, never, please.” We have enough space for privacy but we can deep clean the whole shebang in one day, thank you.

    p.s. I love how the TV blends into the black walls!! What a great way to still have a good size screen that doesn’t dominate the entire room.

  79. Cynthia says...

    I’ve really enjoyed this post. I grew up in a post WWII bungalow. When my brother and I were getting too old to share a room, my dad finished off the unfinished attic so I could have my own room. We only had one bathroom, but we made it work. We didn’t have a dishwasher, either. In later years, she was glad she didn’t have a big house to keep clean. We have a 1939 Cape Cod, and being empty nesters, we have all the house we need. It’s about 1600 square feet. Fortunately, we do have two bathrooms.

  80. Justine says...

    This home is sooooo awesome! I love the black walls; something I would be so afraid to do, but looks incredible.

  81. AG says...

    Wow, this home (and family) is GORGEOUS!

  82. Elle says...

    AWESOME! I’m a follower of Shavonda on IG! It’s so great seeing her and her beautiful home here!

  83. Alexandra Haslam says...

    I am OBSESSED with every bit of this post – beautiful family and beautiful home. I never knew what I wanted my home to feel like until Shavonda said, “Our home feels like a big hug.” Off to go, you know, change everything in my home.

  84. JC says...

    I love everything about this home. Never thought how black painted walls would work but it really works so well and so put together. Even the robin egg blue ceiling – such a beautiful way to make a room pop in an unusual way. Beautiful home and family. Great job, CoJ.

  85. Julie says...

    The design in this house is next level AMAZING

  86. katie says...

    THIS HOUSE! I love it so much!

  87. Katie Erin says...

    What a gorgeous space! I can’t stop scrolling back through the pictures. Definitely saving the kitchen (that sink!) and bathroom (those light fixtures!) shots for inspiration I’m my own house.

  88. This post makes my heart feel full! And it inspires me to work in my own space and make it wonderful. Thank you for the inspiration!

  89. Sam says...

    What a warm, soulful home! I really like the play between the dark paint/wallpaper and natural textures and colors, like the bathroom vanity and woven cabinet. How endearing that Shavonda’s son’s lovey is on his bed…so sweet to see.

    • Shavonda says...

      Thank you so much! He still sleeps with it after all these years and I know I’ll be full of tears the day he stops. I just fully believe kids spaces should be theirs…so let them have their spaces to create their own havens. :)

  90. Tovah Close says...

    I love this so much! Gorgeous style!

  91. Rachel says...

    This is so lovely! I am a white-walls-minimalist to my core, but I noticed a lot of items I have in my house (lamps, baskets, furniture pieces) in this tour, looking so totally different in this gorgeous dark house!

  92. Lissa says...

    Love her style! Will return to this post for inspiration!

  93. Kris says...

    This house is so awesome and so are the people living in it! As a black woman and long time COJ reader I was THRILLED when I saw a black family featured!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!

  94. MA says...

    Loved this tour so much. I really admire Shavonda’s style and her design decisions in her home. My daughter asked what “bold” means yesterday and I wish I had a picture of Shavonda’s living room. Those black walls – beautifully bold! I live in a similar sized home with one bathroom and 12- and 9-year old kids and can relate to Shavonda’s statement: “We have things.” e.g., my son’s hair gel collection. But I love how quick it is to clean our house and keep it tidy. However, on snow days it feels approximately 2000 square feet too small. Just kidding! sorta…

  95. Jean says...

    Love this house tour. I’m currently looking to move to a smaller house, but struggling to find the right one, but I loved reading about how they make a smaller home work for their family. Thank you Shavonda and your beautiful family.

  96. Steph says...

    Such an inspiration! We upsized about 4 years ago from 1200 to 2600 and all I ever do is clean. There’s so much wasted space too, as she mentions as well. Once the kids graduate (9 more years!), we plan to downsize. They love the neighbors and schools and it really does take a village. I’m not willing to give mine up just yet!

  97. Oh my gosh, this house is GORGEOUS!! I would looove a week of outfits of Shavonda’s wife! (cause: the sneakers. so jealous.)

  98. I love this tour! I’m stealing so many of these ideas- the ceiling painting is genius to let kids paint their own space without EVERYTHING BEING PINK (or whatever). Love the mindset too. Lovely inspiration for today.

  99. E says...

    A suzani is embroidered, not woven.

  100. Elena says...

    Hear hear for small spaces! Less stuff, less mess… all good! It’s taken me time, but over the years I’ve come to embrace it. Love to see others enjoy it as well!

  101. Maire says...

    This house is all my design dreams come true. Especially the bathroom and the black walls in the living room and dining room. Also, yay for Sacramento! I lived there for a summer years ago and have always thought it to be such a great town.

  102. Emily L says...

    Love this home! One comment/suggestion – when you say profession, can you be more specific? “Designer” is SO broad! You can be a fashion designer, interiors, architecture, landscape architecture (me!), graphics, etc.

  103. Shannon Marvin says...

    How did you profile Gardner and NOT highlight her laundry room (which is next-level cool)!? I saw that you do have a photo of her in the room (it’s the last shot of the series), but you’d never know that’s the kind of attention she pays to every detail. I’m obviously a fan – have been stalking her on IG for a while now. Thanks for showcasing her bold style – I’m not as confident in my design choices but I take inspiration from her every decorating move.

  104. Sarah says...

    Shavonda on Cup of Jo!!!!!! My brain is exploding!!!!!!!

    I live in approx 1000 sq ft with my husband and we’re talking about having our first child. Everyone we know is like, “ so are you moving to a bigger place” and I’m like, “No?!”. I think it’s so weird that it’s assumed that that’s our plan. Shavonda is an inspiration!!

    • Ellen says...

      You can do it! When I was growing up, my best friend’s family of 9 lived in a little 3- bed/1 bath house. Eileen’s folks had their room, the four boys had two bunks in their room, and the three girls — bunk and a twin (they did add a 1/2 bath in the basement!). They always friends over, and peanut butter sandwiches, and a ton of games. They were (and are) a happy, connected, amazing family.
      So, when we raised our two kids in our 1080 sq ft, three bed/1bath house (not as knockout gorgeous as Shavonda’s, but that is a HIGH bar indeed) I always reminded myself that we had plenty of space comparatively. As Jo mentioned in her comment, there is a real togetherness which is so sweet.

    • Abesha1 says...

      We raised our first child in 900sq feet and it was great. Less space= less to clean, less stuff to own.

    • Sarah says...

      Thanks Ellen and Abeshai! It really gives me confidence to hear other people’s positive experiences. We love our house and, just as importantly, our neighborhood. (Plus we are lucky enough to have two bathrooms — albeit tiny ones!)

    • Ellen your friend’s family sounds lovely!

    • Taylor says...

      We had our first in under 500 square feet, for 16 months. You can do it!

  105. Katherine says...

    This house is gorgeous, and so is the family! I love everything about this post – thanks so much for sharing!

  106. amy says...

    Stunning!

  107. Ellen W. says...

    What a beautiful yet attainable home inhabited by a lovely family.

  108. C says...

    I have a very small house and still feel like I spend A LOT of time cleaning and decluttering. What is everyone else in small spaces doing right that I’m doing wrong?! Does no one else have pets? Do you all not get piles on piles of junk mail that you can’t be bothered to deal with at the end of a long day? I’m like having an existential crisis here: am I, an organized person who likes things tidy actually a total disorganized mess?! :)

    • Emily says...

      I lived in a larger house and now live in a smaller home. I found it easier to keep the larger house tidy because there was space for everything, lots of storage however it took me much longer to vacuum and dust etc.

    • MA says...

      I’m right there with you. Its constant. I think in a small space, you just have to deal with stuff immediately. There is no throwing it out in your “back 40” to deal with later. There is no back 40! Junk mail is making me crazy lately.

    • Jen says...

      C – you are not alone! One thing I’ve gotten from Marie Kondo (the book – I haven’t watched the show yet) is to not invite junk into your home. I try to be intentional about what I let in and what I keep. I try to mail-sort daily, but sometimes it’s weekly. It truly is harder when you have a small house – the clutter shows quickly! Big houses are more forgiving when you have a lot of stuff (there’s always a basket or a drawer or a closet to shove things into) but I prefer my tiny house for just that reason. :) And moral of the story, I am still actually a total disorganized mess.

    • Sasha L says...

      Three dogs, a cat….. Yes, daily sweeping and in mud season, daily mopping. Also weekly changing out and washing of all the coverings from furniture. But little house so at least not so much to clean. But only two bathrooms and a small kitchen so just let overall to clean I think is the point. And less rooms/space just means less invitation to fill it all up with stuff, that will require cleaning.

    • Sid says...

      I can totally relate to this comment. It feels like cleaning, tidying and purging are constant in a small home. However, I feel very confident that trying to keep up my current standards would be even harder/more work in a bigger space. I think that’s what people mean when they say they have more time in a smaller home. It’s proportionate.

    • Kate says...

      My husband and I used to get so many credit card offers and other junk mail and it made me crazy, but did you know that on almost all junk mail there’s a phone number you can call to get your address off the list?? I was blown away when I found out but immediately started calling every time I got something, and we hardly get any, now!

    • Nicole says...

      I also live in a small house but it is manageable to keep it clean bc of our every other week housecleaner! :p One thing I can recommend that I did this past year with success- enroll in Paper Karma. It is an app to help you reduce junk mail- all you do is take a pic and hit unsubscribe. Cost $1.99 a month but you may only need it for a few months.

    • Claire says...

      I don’t claim to have all the answers, but do have one piece of advice for mail. It comes from my aunt, who then told my dad, who has since taught me: Open your mail over the recycling. As soon as you take the mail out of the box, beeline to the recycling bin. Quickly flip through and pull out all the junk mail and toss it in the recycling bin. Then, as you open bills, letters, etc. you can recycle the envelopes, too. Ta da, 30 seconds later: just the important stuff and it’s already ready to be filed/sorted/dealt with.

      If you live with more than one person, I think it also helps to have a designated spot where everyone’s “important stuff” goes. That way, if the mail arrives or your trying to clear the table for dinner and need to move something, you have a place to put it for your family member/roommate where it won’t be forgotten. For my dad, it was on his desk. For my mom, it was on her dresser. For my brother and me, on the stairs.

    • Claire says...

      Another idea: to unsubscribe once and for all (hopefully) from pesky marketing junk mail, you can follow the advice of this NYTimes article:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/smarter-living/how-to-cut-down-on-unwanted-junk-mail.html

      I also love the free service, UnrollMe, that helped me to unsubscribe from annoying email newsletters. Anytime you get added to a new mailing list, you have the option to unsubscribe, keep it in your inbox, or add it to your “Roll Up.” The Roll Up is a once per day newsletter of sorts that includes all of your newsletters. You can then have them all in one place and click on what’s of interest. It’s saved my life and my inbox. Bonus: it’s free and works on my phone or desktop. (Not an ad, just really love this service!)

    • gfy says...

      Getting a cleaner to come once a week from somewhere like task rabbit or care dot com will change your life. It is SO WORTH the money you would otherwise blow on starbucks or whatever. You can always cancel later or even just do it for a couple months to give yourself a breather.

  109. Lauren says...

    Beautiful home, beautiful family, and beautiful dog :)

    My husband and I have been talking a lot recently about how we have no interest in having a large home. We are expecting our first child so that could shift perspectives a bit, but more space just means you have more stuff and we don’t need more stuff! And being a pragmatist, I always think about heating and cooling costs when I see big houses – everything adds up the bigger you go!

  110. I’ve never loved a house tour post so much as I love this one. Everything from the design (those natural elements!) down to storage when you want to live in a small space AND keep your stuff–it’s all there. We’re renting a 2-bedroom house right now and as we get ready to buy a home, we keep coming back to the fact that this size house has been perfect for us. We have space for everything, a fun yard, and it’s hard enough to keep this small space clean without adding extra rooms.

  111. Jen says...

    We downsized our family home from 2000 sqft to 1050 sqft about 8 years ago and haven’t regretted it once. We have two bedrooms and one bathroom (we have one daughter) and plenty of room to entertain and cook and do everything we love doing. I love how easy it is to keep clean and organized and it’s also fun to make some decorating changes every now and then and have things feel so different. When you have a small space, it doesn’t cost much to keep it feeling fresh. :)
    We recently added a small screened porch off the kitchen and it’s amazing how much bigger it’s made our home feel in the warmer months and has become one of our favorite entertaining spaces.
    Shavonda’s home is so so lovely. My favorite part is the shared bathroom. True goals!

  112. Elisabeth says...

    As a Sacramento native, I’m always eager for content that makes my hometown seem remotely cool. But seriously, this family and this home are both SO LOVELY! BRB, need to stalk Shavonda’s Instagram….

  113. Vee says...

    Wow, I love this so much. I feel like they did such a good job of making it feel personalized, functional and inviting. That’s the dream :) and what a beautiful family as well.

  114. Mims says...

    flippin awesome! That shoe cabinet with agate pulls! The recessed vintage bottle shelf! The sink! The wallpapers! I want to live here, seriously, I will camp in the backyard.

  115. Wow. Favorite home tour! So inspired by those black walls.

  116. Amelia says...

    Whoa this is so cool! I love when design posts feature more maximalist / drama-filled looks and I loved seeing this in a smaller space.
    This also makes me think it would be cool to do a post focused on how a tween or teen kid is developing their own style within a stylish family. How cool would it be to grow up surrounded by a home so carefully and lovingly cultivated??

  117. Lee says...

    I love all the COJ house tours, but I’ve never wanted to live in one of the homes until now. Shavonda’s style is beautiful and inviting. I feel so inspired after seeing her home. Thanks to Shavonda and family for sharing their home with us!

  118. Kate says...

    I LOVE this home! The color choices are amazing.

    One question–where do they keep all of their “dog stuff”? I see a big dog in the first photo! I looked around my small apartment the other day and thought, man, if only I didn’t have so much dog stuff! Crate, toys, dog bed, food, it’s all a challenge to store in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing.

  119. This is by far one of my favorite house tours!! I want to convince my husband to downsize and I LOVE so much about this home.

  120. This is a great piece and a beautiful home. Thank you! Living small is such a gift when raising a family, which provides essential time for togetherness and for all those things that truly matter. Thanks to this family for highlighting that living small provides the opportunity to go big in so many other ways.

  121. Jen says...

    This house is poetry for the eyes! There’s nothing in this house I don’t want to admire from every angle (and get for myself). It’s so refreshing and inspiring to see people who live by their own inner values, versus our culture that always tells us that newer and bigger is better. I love the mix of materials and how this does not look like an ikea+west elm+cb2 home. RIGHT ON!!!!

    ps – That dog!!!

  122. Lydia says...

    Gorgeous! I love everything about this: the colors, furniture, etc.! Bravo!! The wallpaper in the bathroom is amazing. Thanks for sharing your place with us.

  123. Alli says...

    This might be my favorite house tour yet. What a lovely, soulful space. Thanks for sharing.

  124. Sarah says...

    Lovely! I really like those straw(?) baskets underneath the Urban Outfitters storage unit. Can i ask where those are from?

    • Hilla says...

      They’re from Ikea. Called Flådis!

  125. Megan says...

    Shavonda, thank you so much for sharing your space! My husband and I live in a small house, and when we replaced our dining table the china cabinet didn’t fit in the room as well. We’re thinking about moving the cabinet to the sun porch, but is storing your wine glasses and wedding china in a sun porch too weird!? Seeing that you keep your printer and work files in an armoire in the common living area, as opposed to a home office, makes me feel free to just move the china cabinet. It may not make sense to everyone, but if it makes sense in your life and in your home then do it.

  126. Kristin says...

    Beautiful! That living room is perfect. Love the dark paint and the rattan pieces.

  127. Sasha L says...

    I really love the ending : less house more life! And home that feels like a big hug!!

    We could only afford a small house (1000 sq ft) & loved it so much we never wanted to upsize, even with two kids (who homeschooled, so lots of time in small house) and lots of pets. And now as empty nesters it’s still perfect. I’ve never wanted bigger and always been grateful we could have this. Small homes help families grow closer I think. And I love simplicity and small really helps keep clutter to a minimum.

    I love the way everything pops against dark walls. All of the art is so pretty to begin with, and set against black it’s so much more dramatic and eye catching.

    Also, could we have a whole post on shoe storage?? Is it tricky for everyone? Only two adults here and we don’t even have many shoes and I still am so challenged. I like that big Ikea shoe holder featured here but out of my price range, and the smaller one I think is too small for men’s boots??

  128. Anna says...

    I LOVE this. What a beautiful, elegant, cozy, loving home. Can’t wait to spend some time on Shavonda’s IG feed!

  129. meg says...

    So refreshing to see a beautiful house decorated with a mix of high and low end designers. Would love to see more examples of beautiful spaces on a budget!

  130. Lacey says...

    I recognize this space! Where are more photos of their amazing laundry room? I see a peak of the fun wallpaper at the very end. :)

  131. Daniela says...

    Obsessed! I used to live in Sac and miss it. This reminds me of the houses in Land Park that I love so much.

  132. valentina says...

    My favorite instagrammer on my favorite blog?! It is too much to handle!!

  133. I love this article!! What an absolutely gorgeous space.

  134. Marlena says...

    Every photo was met with an “OH. MYYYY. GOD.” over here. What a gorgeous space!

  135. Diana says...

    Stunning, I LOVE dark, moody spaces. Also love the mix of affordable pieces. Beautiful home and beautiful family!

  136. Denise says...

    I agree with commentators so far, this is the most appealing home you’ve ever shared! I love the message of togetherness makes a home, not space, not things. Mostly, I love all the color in the house!! White walls are so over rated, imo. Also, it makes this small home feel accessible. Maybe I could buy a small bungalow and make it just as beautiful in my own way.

  137. Erin says...

    Incredible space! I’m dreaming of a dramatic living room in a future home…

    Where is the painting in the master from? And the wall hanging in the final picture?

    Thanks!

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Hi Erin! Shavonda says the painting was done as a gift by a friend (who’s not a professional painter, apparently!). The hanging prayer beads are from Fredericks & Mae.

  138. Emily says...

    What a beautiful house! I’m obsessed with the kitchen and the bathroom. And I completely love the concept of downsizing and being conscious of both realizing and efficiently using the space you need.

  139. Shannon Burns says...

    This home inspires me on so many levels… awesome post!!!!

  140. Beautiful! I had no idea shoe cabinets existed and living in a small house with no entryway, this home tour may have changed my life. Thank you!

  141. Hollie says...

    I heard Shavonda describe her space on YHL’s podcast and it’s so nice to SEE it! Lovely.

  142. CaraM says...

    I absolutely love everything about this post! I’m so glad to see a family that has made the brave decision to downsize… it seems like there are so many benefits! I’m definitely digging the black walls, bold wallpaper, farmer’s sink (yay to downsizing the dishwasher), and love the concept of the Flor tiles. Such an approachable and down-to-earth aesthetic!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, the dishwasher part surprised me, but it really makes sense!

  143. Jess says...

    OBSESSED WITH THIS.

  144. Michelle says...

    What an awesome house, and a beautiful family! I love the personality in every corner…

  145. jill says...

    My jaw just dropped! This house is stunning!!!!

  146. Mónica says...

    Beautiful home and family. :) I think we may also need a Beauty Uniform feature with Shavonda. ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea!

    • Jackie says...

      Yes, please! She has such great style!

    • Aya Costantino says...

      Yes, please! A Beauty Uniform and a Week of Outfits!

  147. E E Deere says...

    This may be the most appealing home you have ever shared. It’s a genius combination of color, texture, furnishings, and design. I’d move there in a heartbeat.

  148. Sam Potatoes says...

    I love this so much!! So inspiring to see so much style in a small, family friendly and useful space. We have a little house and three little kids, and I feel the same way: a small house means you spend more time together, less time cleaning, and you have to put more thought into adding something to your home, which is a blessing, not a curse.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you can also hear each other in a way that can be so beautiful. when toby and anton were babies, we lived in a small apartment, where their bedroom door was right off the living room. so when they were falling asleep and alex and i were hanging out, we would hear them babbling, chatting and singing themselves to sleep. one of my favorite memories of their babyhood, and we would have otherwise missed it! <3 one of the perks of a smaller space.

  149. Christina says...

    BRB I AM SCREAMING AND CRYING. Love love love love love Shavonda, love to see her featured here!!!! Ok now going back up to devour the whole post.