Casa Stories: Tiny Apartment Living with a Partner

Words by Alice Florence OrrIn conversation with Kelly Shepherd

Breakfast for two with Mythology's Iris Tray

More of us are living in cities, where space can be a luxury that's hard to come by, especially when we live with other people. But smaller apartments don't need to cause friction or sacrifice on style. Whether we're lacking physical, personal or emotional space, there are techniques we can use to cultivate more of it — and they're simpler than you might expect. Functional furniture, good communication and healthy boundaries are just some of the ways we can gift ourselves a little more space.

Kelly's new apartment has a lot going for it, but space isn't one of those things. As our Marketplace Manager, she knows a thing or two about quality craftsmanship furniture, and when I asked her what her place was like, she answered unequivocally: "Very petite!" It goes without saying that city living means compromising square footage, and Kelly is determined to see her limited space as a design asset. I chatted to her all about making the most of her small space that she shares with her partner in London.

Graphite Black Wall Desk by Tiptoe

"The architect who designed the renovation was heavily inspired by Japandi design so every inch of the apartment is functional, yet stylish. The clinical minimalism made us fall in love with the space on first viewing — it really felt like we could make the apartment our own."

"It's a basement flat in a London townhouse with only two windows. As you can imagine, it was really important for the architect to utilise as much natural light as possible. We have a great skylight at the back of the apartment which brings in brilliant natural light. We've scattered the flat with humidifying plants to help with the humidity and we've kept the decor neutral and calm to ensure we don't make the space too busy."

Kelly knows a thing or two about maximising the space you've got, no matter where you are in your home journey. "When you're renting, it's really important to find a space that suits you at the particular life stage you and your partner are in. No space will ever be perfect, but we really wanted to find an apartment that we both loved and that felt like home."

"How you decorate your space, how you live in that space, and how you view that space will improve your daily life immeasurably. Learning what to do with a tiny space can bring out new sides of your creativity and ultimately will bring you both closer as you work to furnish the space together."

When you start cohabiting, especially with a romantic partner, the sudden proximity can be a challenge to your sense of self. It's important to make special time together, beyond the daily chores. At the same time, carving out some personal space means that you have more emotional energy to appreciate each moment.

Kelly takes these moments seriously, finding time to appreciate living together when working from home. "It's really important for us to go on a morning and lunchtime walk in the nearby park. We like to do this separately, getting some breathing time and getting our step count up while working from home."

"We tend to do food shops separately — plugging in a podcast and planning a recipe really helps you switch off. Cooking dinner for each other is a really sacred act. No matter how stressed work and life can get, we both believe that getting food on the table is special."

Many more of us are working from home these days. Hearing your partner on a work call for the first time can be a jarring experience, but Kelly has thought of a few ways to make the experience smoother and, importantly, maintain the magic of her relationship.

"I like to fill the room I'm working in with good bright lighting, especially if you're working late. We don't have much natural light, so we use key lighting to create a happy ambience. A supportive desk chair and noise-cancelling headphones are a must, or you can try a standing desk. If we're both working from home, we ensure one person is set up in the spare bedroom and the other works from the dining table. We take this in turns so one person doesn't 'commander' the only desk as their own. We think it's a bit like hot-desking."

Day to Night with Santa & Cole

Good lighting can transform a space.

I asked Kelly if she had any tips for someone who has just moved in with their partner. "These are my three golden rules: De-clutter your wardrobe before moving in. Don't let the washing up build up. And two laundry baskets can't hurt." Getting rid of emotional clutter is as important as keeping your living space organised.

"When we moved in together, we had to focus on living essentials. But very quickly I realised we needed some flourishes to make this apartment our home. We added a drinks trolley to keep us entertained on weekends. We use lots of mirrors to reflect the light, which is my best trick for creating the illusion of space."

Here at Bombinate, we are passionate about storytelling. Hearing Kelly's journey to making her little apartment a home inspires us to curate pieces for modern living by hosting brands that align with our values. We believe that products that are made with good intentions will help us all live well, which is why we only choose brands that match our four pillars.

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