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I’ve always been fascinated with the places where people live and work, so today I’d like to share with you a little about my space. Affectionately coined “the shoebox”, my husband and I live in pretty small quarters, 358sf to be exact. We signed the lease a few weeks before our wedding, giddy with excitement and convinced that living in a shoebox would be an excellent newlywed adventure (we were right). A few months later, I launched my own paper goods company, Soda Paper Co, and began working from home.

My favorite thing about living and working in a small space is that it’s just downright funny. The constraints of a small space lead to, shall I say, creative solutions — many of which make me roll my eyes and laugh. The shoebox has no place for a little TV, so we watch movies by rotating our couch 90 degrees and watching movies on my husband’s desktop. Our king-sized bed takes up most of the bedroom, so we have to do a goofy sideways shuffle around the bed to move across the room. There’s no space for any sort of dining table, so when we have friends over for dinner (shoebox max capacity = 5), everyone crams onto the couch plus our two desk chairs, and then we cluster our bar stools in the middle of the huddle to form a little table. But hey, it works!

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I’ve grown to love my tiny office. An old fold-down writing desk (snagged from my grandma’s basement) sits in front of our largest window, so I have a view of bamboo trees and an ivy wall outside while I work. The desk has lots of little drawers and compartments, which are brimming with my art and crafting supplies. Under the desk are stacks of simple brown storage boxes holding envelope and card inventory, and next to my desk there are fold-up cloth bins holding shipping materials and larger inventory, like art prints. Boxes of extra inventory are stashed in odd nooks throughout our apartment, like on the precarious shelf above our bedroom door. I tried to pick furniture that could double for living room and office use — a fun challenge indeed! In lieu of a normal end-table, the lamp beside our couch sits on top of a mint CB2 file cabinet alongside my printer. I use an upholstered West Elm striped chair at my desk, which looks pretty even when my desk is folded up on the weekends.

Starting work in the morning is a process of “unfolding”. I fold down my desk, unstack and open up boxes of shipping supplies, cards, and art materials. The kitchen island doubles as a work table for assembling and packaging new Soda Paper Co orders. During the workday, my whole apartment often looks like a paper goods explosion, and I secretly love it. At the end of the day, everything gets packed back up, and within ten minutes it’s a living room & kitchen again. It does take extra effort to use the same space for so many different purposes and yes, I do often get stir crazy working in my shoebox, but overall it’s a simple and nice way to work.

Maybe someday we’ll have a bigger place, but for now, I love our cozy apartment. It’s changed the way that we live for the better. We’ve trimmed down our stuff to just the things that we love and use, and it feels great. Since a tiny mess in a tiny apartment feels like a gigantic mess, we’re slowly becoming more organized and tidy people. We can only invite a few friends over at a time, which has turned out to be a wonderful way to really get to know our friends better. As for being newlyweds, living in tight quarters has only brought us closer. Thank you shoebox, for this wonderful adventure.

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Written and illustrated by Krissy Bengtson of Soda Paper Co.

Photographed by Hom Photography

Krissy is an architect-turned-paper-goods-maker. Thanks to the support of her new husband, she took the plunge and stepped away from architecture to give illustration and paper goods a real shot. Her designs encourage people to celebrate those they love and to enjoy the special moments in life, whether big or small. In her small studio she creates whimsical designs by hand with watercolor, paint, & ink. All paper products are printed and assembled in Los Angeles.