Today is an exciting day! Let's take a peek inside the charming townhouse of an equally charming Canadian couple, Trenton and Cambria. Located in a quaint town just 20 minutes outside of Calgary, Alberta, you will find this darling and minimal home, full of bright light, airy spaces and crisp white walls that really allow their handmade furniture pieces to shine. Plus, they share some tips and tricks into how they live this perfectly simple and minimal life. Enjoy!
The mid-morning light shining in gives the living room space a cheerful and airy atmosphere. Grey Chair: Lowe's | Green Chair: Thrifted | Couch: West Elm | Rug: Crate & Barrel | Floor Lamp: Nineteen Ten Home Boutique | Floating Console + Coffee Table: Handmade by Trenton | Geometric Vase: Anthropologie | Mirror: H&M Home
1. The living room is so bright and beautiful! You can really tell that a lot of thought went into you choosing each and every piece for this cozy space. How did you go about deciding on furniture and finding that balance with having "stuff" but still maintaining that minimal look?
Thanks, we love how bright it is! Since leaving our basement suite, we were really looking forward to having natural light, and to enhance that, we decided to paint everything a bright, neutral white. With our furniture, we wanted to create an open feel, and since our living space isn’t huge, we had to be intentional with our furniture. In order to not over crowd the room, we decided not to pair our full couch with a love seat, but have one-seater chairs instead. To help create an open feel, most of the furniture we choose have legs so that there is visible space between the furniture and the floor. Trenton has also made some floating shelves, again, to create more open space. We make sure that there is wall-space between furniture, and we fight the temptation to have something hanging on every wall. All these things add up to make our living room feel bigger. A big part of how we balance functional furniture and keeping a minimal look has been sticking to simplicity in style. For example, our couch and floating shelves all have clean simple lines, and are neutral in color. We try to think long term, in that right now we like the simplicity and small pops of color, but in the future if our tastes change, it would be easy to decorate very differently while keeping our same simply styled furniture. And when it comes to decoration, we try to do less pattern and color, and focus more on textures to add variety.
2. What do you love the most about this space?
I really love the light that comes in from our windows… but I probably most love how the natural wood and green from our plants pop against our white walls. Although we prefer a bit of a modern look, the wood and greenery warms up the room for me. It feels fresh and peaceful, and I love spending time in here because of it.
3. How do you keep this space so organized? Any tricks you'd like to share?
I would say there are two main things that guide us in terms of organizing. First, we aim for quality over quantity. If we go on a trip, we try to buy one or two meaningful or handcrafted things, rather than a collection of knick-knacks. It is sometimes hard to be picky, but I find that we appreciate our things we’ve collected over time more when we think critically before buying. The second mindset we use is to give everything a “home”. We try to be intentional about the things that tend to just lie around, and give it a place to be stored. Each drawer, or closet shelf should have a category so it makes logical sense, and is prioritized in terms of how often you use something. If tidying up is something you like to avoid, this really helps to make it a much less tedious task. When cleaning up, I already know where everything should go, so it is a quick and mindless task for me to be putting things away throughout the week. Having organizers (boxes, baskets, dividers) in storage space makes this a fairly simple job; just put like things together.
One more tip I will add, and this is the most challenging one for me, is to try to get rid of something when you buy something. The idea of replacing something you have rather than adding to it, or requiring yourself to donate one or two items for every one item you buy can really save your home from collecting clutter. We also appreciate that it challenges us to be open handed with our stuff, and fights against a materialistic mindset. I most often use this method with my clothes, but it can work for decorations or other household items as well. It is a discipline that becomes easier as you practice it regularly. And don’t necessarily wait until you are about to buy something new to look critically through your house and decide on things to purge! I am very sentimental and attach memories to physical things, so it is definitely not easy for me. I find that I sometimes need a transition step before the actual act of getting rid of something. For example, if I know that it is time to purge, and there’s nothing that I’m especially ready to get rid of, I’ll pick one that I’m undecided about, and “hide” it somewhere. I’ll stick it in the basement for a certain amount of time (a week or a month; but give yourself a time limit or you’ll just accumulate another pile of junk that you’ve forgotten about), and if I haven’t missed it horribly, then I know I’m ready to let go.
The warm and neutral tones make for a cozy and welcoming kitchen/dining space. Table + Chairs: Thrifted | Floating Shelves: Handmade by Trenton | Ceramic Canisters: Crate & Barrel | Tea Jar: Home Sense | Tea Kettle: Garden Trading | Cutting Board: Handmade by Cambria's dad
4. I know when you guys first moved in, the kitchen was in need of a makeover in a bad way. Did you have any inspiration for how you wanted your kitchen to look after renovations? It feels so clean, modern and simple.
Thank you! It was so much fun being able to pick out things like the backsplash and counters. I actually had a job cleaning newly constructed homes at the time we were looking to buy, so I gathered lots of inspiration from the houses I was cleaning. Obviously, those homes were a lot more high-end than ours, but we were able to make some of those cosmetic ideas work on a budget by picking some more economical options. We chose the color scheme keeping in mind that it is not the largest, most open kitchen. We knew if we kept it bright, simple and fresh, it would lighten up the space and help it feel more open. We opted for new cabinet doors rather than tearing it all out- everything is still functional, but there is a definite face lift. For counters, we were happy with the pattern options that laminate counters offered, so we saved a lot doing that. Real marble would be nice, but I find ours still gives that classy, airy feel that we were looking for, and it ties our cabinets and backsplash nicely. I knew I wanted a contrast between our white cabinets and the backsplash, and we wanted to do something fun. Instead of choosing bright colors, we decided on a herringbone pattern, which I was obsessing over at the time, to make our kitchen stand out a bit. We find that this really updates our whole house, and gives it a young feel, without beings so out-there that we would have trouble re-selling down the road.
5. Kitchens can be tricky to keep clutter-free. Do you have any organizational tips?
There isn’t always enough cabinet space to do this, but we decided to keep many of our small kitchen appliances in cabinets to allow for more counter space and less clutter. Yes, it can be a pain to take the toaster out and put it back every day, but if you have the cabinet or pantry space for it, it allows for a much more pleasing work space. The things that we keep out on the counters serve as both functional and decorative. Trenton’s coffee appliances are stainless steel like our large appliances and the cutting boards my dad made for us work with the natural wood accents throughout our house. Similarly to other parts of our home, being intentional about how you are using drawers or pantry shelves can really help to keep outer spaces simple and easy to clean. For us, it especially means using organizers in our drawers and pantry to help use the space efficiently.
6. I noticed you have all stainless steel appliances, do you have any cleaning products or tricks you love using to keep them looking so shiny and smudge-free?
I have recently been introduced to Norwex cleaning products, and I am hooked! The fact that they prioritize creating quality engineered cloths for cleaning, rather than relying on harsh chemicals, is very appealing to me, and I’ve been amazed at how well they actually work. I use their EnviroCloth and their window cloth on my stainless steel (and most everything else in the house), and I am satisfied. I know there are other products that can create a more perfect, shiny, show-home look, but for regular maintenance, these cloths really do the trick for me. These products have really simplified the amount of cleaning products I use and makes regular cleaning more time efficient.
The master bedroom has a calm and cool vibe, perfect for retreating to at the end of a long day. Dresser: Thrifted | Side Tables: IKEA hack | Head Board: Handmade by Trenton | Bedding: Anthropologie | Lamps: Crate & Barrel
7. Your master bedroom has the most color in the house! Can you tell me how you took the plunge on the color palette in this space?
Yes, we wanted to have a feature wall somewhere in our house, and we thought our bedroom would be the best place, especially to highlight the mountain headboard Trenton made for our bed. We wanted the headboard to be a focal point, and the charcoal blue seemed the perfect backdrop that was bold but still complimentary to the natural wood. When adding color, we tend to choose blues, greens and teals, probably because they are cool colors and they go so nicely with a warmer wood. Our master is still a work in progress though- our IKEA hack night stands were a lot of fun, but we are planning on phasing out the teal (to our guest room probably) and Trenton will eventually be making night stands to match our headboard!
8. You can really feel that less is more when you come into this bedroom, do you have any daily rituals that keep this space looking so fresh?
I think the most effective way we keep this space tidy is cleaning up as we go. If I let things pile up, I will get overwhelmed and I will be much more likely to avoid cleaning up. If we put away our clothes daily, the piles never get too big, and it becomes a sort of habit. And it doesn’t take long if you commit to tidying up at the beginning and end of the day, or just once a day. It’s just a matter of not leaving things over for the next day (this goes for the kitchen too). The other way of looking at it is that we are proud of this space. We have put effort into making this room a fresh haven without the clutter of our day, and this is motivation to keep it looking nice.
The two seperate working spaces are equally simple and clean, making it the perfect space to get creative and allowing the couple to work peacefully and efficiently. His Desk: Handmade by Trenton | His Stool: Thrifted | Her Desk: Handmade by Trenton | Her Chair: All Modern | His/Her Desk Lamps: Walmart
9. You are both musicians, which means you must have a lot of musical equipment. How do you keep your desks and office space so spot-free?
Our offices are definitely the most challenging spaces for us to keep clutter-free. It feels like a constant battle against that never ending stack of papers, or the classic “random stuff” drawer(s). That being said, it is good to re-visit spaces every now and then and rethink what would be the most efficient way of using or organizing that space, because as circumstances are bound to change in life, the way we set up a space ought to change to fit our lifestyle, as well. As for musical equipment, Trenton has worked really hard to build storage to contain cords and his guitar gear, and we choose to store things we use rarely in the basement. Not everything has to be on display or in a convenient location. As for my space, as a music teacher, the biggest problem is paper: sheet music, contract information…etc. I have been trying to make a binder-system work, which isn’t bad, but we are also moving towards scanning as much as we can onto our computer to beat the stack of papers. It is definitely an ongoing process, but I find that I have to take it a small project at a time. For example, instead of working on an entire room and making it perfectly organized, I take a drawer at a time. Yes, that takes a lot longer, but realistically I am much more motivated and willing to take on a drawer than facing an entire room that needs work.
10. Do you find that you need to have a clean working environment before you start your work day?
Definitely! I am one of those people whose brain mirrors my workspace; if my desk is cluttered, my brain is a mess. If I’m overwhelmed with a to-do list, the mindless task of tidying up my workspace helps calm me down, and all of a sudden I can think clearly. Tidying up can also be a procrastination technique however, so beware!
11. What little tricks help you stay focused and motivated working from home?
Most things we’ve talked about can really be applied here. The routine of tidying up helps me feel ready for the day, and having a place for everything helps categorize my tasks, as well. Setting makes a big difference for me. When I’m working from home, I try to keep my work in my office space, rather than bringing it down to the dining or living room. It’s definitely a discipline (because you know how much I love our living room), but I find that I need that balance and separation between work life and “home” life. Beyond the tidying up, it is nice to have a more pleasing ritual to help me get into work mode. For me, that is making a mug of tea, and many times lighting a pleasant candle. I think most people can agree that associating nice things with work make it a lot more appealing. The option of making my space cozy is definitely a perk of working from home.