Sarah is a staff writer at Apartment Therapy. She completed her MA in journalism at the University of Missouri and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stops include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several outlets local to her hometown, Columbia, Missouri.
Buckingham Palace is going through some major changes in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s recent death, as the newly crowned King Charles III is expected to move into the royals’ most famous home along with his Queen Consort, Camilla Parker Bowles.
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While the London-based, famously private Buckingham Palace attracts hundreds of visitors each day, royalists might be curious about the new king’s other residences. In that case, Google Arts & Culture has you covered. To commemorate Charles’ 70th birthday in 2018, the online platform created virtual tours of his former main residence, Clarence House, as well as the gardens of Highgrove House, his private residence.
Based in London, the four-story Clarence House was previously home to Queen Elizabeth herself, who lived there from 1953 to 2002. Now that Charles and Camilla are presumably leaving the residence, Prince William and his family may inherit it.
The tour also includes a look into the Lancaster Room, a waiting room for visitors that features eight watercolors of Windsor Castle dating back to the early 1940s. Next up is the Morning Room, which you may recognize from Prince George and Prince Louis’ Christening photographs.
Other highlights include the library (in which royals have historically hosted Heads of State for tea), the dining room (which features another portrait of the Queen Mother and is used for large meetings), and the garden room (which looks out onto the garden and features musical instruments like a golden harp and grand piano).
Google Arts & Culture also offers a tour of Highgrove, which long served as King Charles’ private residence. It’s based in Gloucestershire, and although the tour doesn’t take you inside the house itself, visitors can explore the estate’s impressive gardens.
Transforming the Highgrove Garden has been a passion project for the new king for some time, as he transformed the neglected grounds into one of the most innovative gardens in the UK today. Members of the public can tour Highgrove Gardens on select dates from February to October, taking in all the spring blooms and fall foliage that the grounds have to offer.
Housing in America takes many forms: apartments, condos, single-family homes, multi-family developments, multi-generational living, tiny homes, mobile homes, RVs, and more.
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But traditional housing in America typically focuses on owning a single family home. As someone who has personally taken a different approach to housing — our family of five lives in an 1,100-square-foot mobile home — I wanted to see how others were transforming their ideas of housing in today’s market. I talked with four people who rethought the traditional model in favor of focusing on what works for their family’s unique situation.
They saw downsizing as a challenge — and a way to rethink their habits.
Brandi Berg and her family have progressively downsized over the last few years. At the same time, the size of her family has grown. “We sold our home in the country with five acres and moved into our 1,100-square-foot apartment to pursue my husband’s business a year before buying our little home,” she says. “So we were at a great point to ‘try it out,’ especially while our two kiddos were young.”
After this stint of apartment living, they bought a 650-square-foot one-bedroom house and added a second bedroom — and two more kids — making their home 750 square feet total. This shift has helped Berg focus on being intentional with what comes into the home. “Straying from the traditional home allowed our family to prioritize our time,” she says. “With owning two businesses, we were swamped and constantly running, and then when home we were weighed down with all the home tasks. We had a chance to reset our thinking and create new habits.”
Berg found that the biggest change she experienced “really came down to what we bring into our home.” This extended from her children’s clothes — each child has one drawer — to the groceries they buy. “Living small, you are limited to cabinet space, and I’m not one who likes having dry goods on the counter or top of the fridge, therefore I had to be strategic about what we brought into our home, really thinking about what would be consumed until our next grocery pick up.”
As a designer, this experience showed Berg a different way to look at housing. “I realized through living small that we build large houses here and we need to start rethinking how we construct our new buildings,” she says. “The footprint on earth we use doesn’t need to be wide. Maybe we just go taller, or maybe we spend more time planning how we use our spaces and create a home that fits our lifestyles, while eliminating unused space. I am not saying we all need to live small by any means, but I do think we need to build our spaces with intention.”
Thinking about the past has helped Berg look forward to the future as she designs her home. “Through the years, our ancestors lived differently,” she says, “and when we take a moment to understand why they created homes the way they did, we can incorporate what works for our families, while adding in modern ways of living.” Soon, the Berg family will begin another housing journey: renovating a larger Victorian house that will fit their needs in their next phase of life.
They took advantage of the housing market and downsized to an apartment.
Ashley Calderwood and her husband sold their home last year and decided to downsize while they waited for building prices to come down to build on their lot. They live in a two bedroom, 1,400-square-foot apartment along with their eight year-old daughter.
When they decided to sell their home and build new, they considered staying in their house until the new one was built, but “in the end, we took advantage of the housing market and the appreciation of the value of our home and decided to sell prior to building,” Calderwood says. “This also was a crucial step as we needed the money from our current home to put into the new home build.”
Calderwood explains that apartment living hasn’t been ideal. With an eight-year-old who loves to play outside, “we’ve had to rely solely on traveling to parks in order to enjoy time outdoors.” And downsizing from a 3,300-square-foot house to a 1,400-square-foot apartment meant “we had to sell a lot of our larger furniture and we currently rent a monthly storage unit.” She also says that while renting is less than the cost of their mortgage and home upkeep, “our monthly housing payment is now a ‘bill’ instead of an equity investment.”
Renting also has its advantages. “It is a relief to know that if something in our apartment needs repair, it’s not our responsibility,” she says. They also enjoy the building’s amenities like “heated underground parking which is a lifesaver in the cold winter months.” That plus a private movie theater and large community room for large gatherings help balance the negatives.
After nine months in the apartment, Calderwood says, ”despite its benefits, apartment living has not been ideal for us as a family, and I am looking forward to having additional space, privacy, home equity, and a yard again.”
They moved in with family while they built their new home — and rode out part of the pandemic.
“Not many people willingly move back in with their parents in their 30s,” says Kat Boogaard, a freelance writer in Wisconsin. And it wasn’t just her — she brought her husband, four-month-old son, and two dogs. “It was a lot of living creatures under one roof,” she adds.
At the start of the pandemic, they knew they wanted to build in the near future, and the housing market was getting really hot. So, they decided to sell their home, but needed somewhere to go while they waited for their new home to be finished.
“My parents had plenty of space and were kind and gracious enough to welcome us in without a second thought,” she says. “I know not everybody has that option or privilege, so I felt really lucky that we had such a comfortable place to crash.”
Their timeline partially lined up with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, which gave them extra help and a sense of community when the world seemed like it was turned upside down.
Among the benefits, which she says far outweighed any downsides, were that her parents got to spend lots of time with their grandson. “They still share such a special bond with him, and I think a lot of that is because they had near-constant exposure to him during the first year or so of his life,” Boogaard says. She now firmly believes that “four adults to one child is the ideal child-raising ratio!”
In addition to help with their son, they all pitched in to help around the house. “There are more people to take the dog out,” she points out, “or unload the dishwasher. Or run an errand. In all honesty, life felt a lot less stressful.”
“As for the drawbacks,” she says, “there weren’t too many.” Even though most people groan when she tells them they lived with her parents, they “seriously enjoyed it and look back at that time fondly — almost with a sense of homesickness.” But privacy and alone time were at a premium, and getting used to other people’s habits took some adjustment.
They had always planned on multi-generational living.
Dr. Sid Khurana, a psychiatrist in Las Vegas, Nevada, had always planned on his parents living with his family as they got older. While this setup is considered non-traditional in Western cultures, he says “in many other cultures, it is quite common for housing to be multi-generational.” In fact, multi-generational households are on the rise, and “especially since the COVID pandemic, more and more people are choosing this option, considering the ultra high cost of living and housing.”
Khurana valued his upbringing and saw the sacrifices his parents made so he and his siblings could have the best possible life and education. His wife had a similar experience growing up and “thus completely saw the value of multi-generational living for the support, the companionship, and the aspect of giving back.”
He notes the various benefits he sees for his children, and thinks back to when his son was four and was asked to draw his family for a school assignment. “It was interesting to see that he drew our nuclear family as well as my parents,” he says, “so he had internalized the concept that paternal grandparents are part of his own family, and not just extended family visiting us.” The kids also get to learn about their family’s food, culture, and traditions, and get closer to their roots.
As with Boogaard, the benefits of living with extended family far outweigh any drawbacks. But they are conscious of managing boundaries, and “we all remain committed to making it work, and thus maintain communication and stay solution focused.” They are all aware of the value of the right set up and space so that boundaries can be maintained.
Making decisions that benefit you and your family can look different from what others are doing. While “traditional” housing has its place, there are lots of other options that can allow you the space to change the way you live. The bottom line? Do what works for you.
Blair is Apartment Therapy’s Style Shopping Editor, where she covers the latest brand launches, need-to-buys, and anything related to her two unofficial beats — cane and rattan. Whenever she’s not perusing for the latest home finds (a rarity), you’ll probably find her reading, watching a horror film, or on the hunt for the best tacos in New York (recs are encouraged).
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Barbiecore is here to stay. Partially inspired by next year’s “Barbie movie,” the nostalgic hot pink trend has infiltrated everything from clothing to home decor. And with Barbie’s Dreamhouse turning 60 this year, it’s just getting started.
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In honor of that 60th anniversary, Mattel and its iconic doll collaborated with furniture brand Joybird to launch nine limited-edition furniture pieces to help you bring your very own Dreamhouse to life.
Since Joybird specializes in brightly colored, mid-century modern style pieces, it’s no wonder that the brand naturally aligned with Barbie’s original ‘60s Dreamhouse (which was full of the era’s trademark pastel, mid-century modern decor). The company is also based in California, befitting everyone’s favorite Malibu girl.
“The Barbiecore aesthetic truly aligns with Joybird’s love of color and creating bold and aspirational spaces that bring joy and empowerment to our customers,” Joybird’s director of merchandising, Gifty Walker, said in a release. “This collection has many of the Barbiecore hallmarks — think brave contrasting colors, chic marble, golden accents, curved lines, and endless style possibilities.”
Indeed, the Joybird x Barbie collaboration is so much more than just hot pink. It also takes plenty of inspiration from mid-century and art deco trends, providing an entry point for Barbiecore novices.
Known for their colorful sofas, it’s only fitting that Joybird is currently offering two Dreamhouse-inspired sofas: The Dreamhouse Lewis sofa ($1,875), which boasts roomy, pillow-topped cushions, and the Dreamhouse Chelsea sofa ($2,335), which sports gold capped legs and a tufted back. Both sofas are available in three jewel-toned colors: Rose Quartz, Ruby, and Topaz Teal.
If you’re looking for a conversation starter, consider the Dreamhouse Nikki Accent Chair ($1,289). Featuring a swivel base and tubular silhouette, the chair comes in a neutral Hampton Cream color fit for any number of home decor aesthetics.
And don’t worry — you can also bring the Barbiecore aesthetic to the bedroom with the Dreamhouse Camille Bed ($1,856-$2,156), a tufted, art deco-approved piece designed with beauty sleep in mind. It comes in Queen, Cal King, and Eastern King sizes.
You can view the full Joybird x Barbie collection here.
Ashley Abramson is a writer-mom hybrid. Her work, mostly focused on health, psychology, and parenting, has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Allure, and more. She lives in the Milwaukee suburbs with her husband and two young sons.
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I’m a travel writer who doesn’t fly, so in May, I took Cunard’s Queen Mary II on a transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton, England. As a Black woman, my experience on board wasn’t ideal, but as a travel writer, I always learn important lessons from every experience. And the most unexpected thing I learned on the QM2 was actually about small space living.
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On any cruise liner, you’re going to have a reduction in space. The Queen Mary II has rooms in a variety of sizes, ranging from fairly huge (The Queen’s Grille suites), about the size of a small studio apartment or average hotel room (Princess Grille Suites, where I was) and super small and windowless (Britannia Inside). I took a tour through all Cunard’s different types of rooms to see what I could take from this experience and apply to small-space living in a studio apartment.
Go outside — or bring the outside in.
Passengers that stayed in steerage — smaller rooms with no windows — admitted to me that they were going a little stir-crazy. And even in the Princess Suite, with its gorgeous balcony, I found myself feeling cooped up. But when you’re staying in a small space, you have to make it a discipline to prioritize going outside. The people with smaller rooms with no windows that seemed to be doing the best were people that often walked out on the deck or hung out by the pool. And for me, since I didn’t feel super comfortable in the common spaces on the ship, going outside of my small space meant utilizing my balcony and breathing in fresh ocean air on the deck. On land, that might look like an evening walk after dinner through the park. And while not every apartment can have a balcony, you can also look for ways to bring the outside in like plants or fountains, to set a nice atmosphere.
Built-in closets are your friend.
On the ship, my built-in closet kept me from having to live out of my suitcase during the crossing. The closet was actually quite tiny, but ample shelving and drawer space meant it didn’t feel that way. If you have a small closet and want to build it out for more storage, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can put in less expensive shelves or dressers, or even a thrifted vintage dresser. Bonus points if you wallpaper the closet walls to give it a colorful pop.
I often notice that people who live in studio apartments try to keep everything as beige or minimalist as possible. If that’s your style, go for it. But if you find yourself using whites and neutrals solely to make the space seem bigger, scratch that. Cunard’s design stuck to neutrals and a pop of blue or red here and there. You might be happier with color palettes and decor that match your style, rather than doing something you don’t like that much solely to make the space look bigger.
Mirrors are helpful — but not in places where you’ll see yourself all the time.
Cunard had mirrors in their drink cabinets near the foyer and it had the strange effect of making the room look bigger, but not distracting me because it was right in front of my face. Those full length mirrors of the 90s meant to widen a small space might be out of style — and windows by the bed or in the living room are so awkward — but placing mirrors in areas that won’t detract from your storage space or force you to look at yourself 24/7 are a wonderful way of making a space look bigger.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it has to be mentioned. Although there was lots of multifunctional furniture in my cabin, the one I found most useful was the desk/bookcase/dresser/vanity. There was so much space to put books, papers, my laptop, clothes, and there was also space for me to do my makeup without having to crowd myself in the bathroom. Hide your mirror somehow if it will distract you — some retract into the desk but you can also cover it with some cloth if you’re not using the mirror.
But don’t overdo it on the storage.
So much of small living advice is about packing in storage wherever you can, but on the cruise I notice that too much storage can really overwhelm the space. There wasn’t a lot of room for color or lightness in the cabin because so much of it was taken up by wooden cabinets. Remember that you also can have a design vision, that you don’t need drawers and shelves on every surface, and that sometimes the bed you love will be much prettier than a bulky storage bed. Storage is important but not at the cost of taste.
Make small moments luxurious.
What separates a cramped space from a cozy space is the intentionality in decor and experiences you create for yourself there. The rooms may have been cramped, but having space to curl up with nice lighting and read a book, or have a mini spa-day in the room by myself, or drink wine and watch movies, turned a room that might have made me feel too claustrophobic into my own retreat. Whether you’re in a huge apartment or a small studio, remember to cherish the moments you spend there.
Do you know what your neighbors are reading? Although the rise of eBooks and digital libraries has expanded bookworms’ horizons, there’s something nice about bonding over your latest reads with members of your own community. To help readers get an idea of what books are captivating their state, Grand Canyon University (GCU) set out to find the most popular 2022 fiction titles in every U.S. state.
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In terms of methodology, GCU analyzed the top five fiction books from The New York Times Best Sellers list every week from Jan. 2, 2022 to June 5, 2022. Because books are often repeated on the list from week to week, that gave GCU an initial list of 38 fiction titles. Then they ran each title through Google Trends and recorded search volume data from the past year to identify the most-searched fiction book in every state.
So which fictional stories are Americans obsessing over? BookTok-famous romance author Colleen Hoover is clearly taking readers by storm, having authored the two most popular fiction books overall: “Ugly Love” (the top book in seven states) and “It Ends With Us” (the top book in six states). Her romantic thriller “Verity” also took fourth place as the most popular fiction book in five states.
Following closely behind is Delia Owens’ mystery drama “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which is the top book in six states. The novel follows a girl named Kya, who grew up in the North Carolina wilderness and eventually finds herself at the center of a murder trial. The book was recently turned into a film starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, which undoubtedly gave the hit book a boost in popularity. The “Crawdads” movie was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana, where it also happens to be the most popular fiction title.
You can read more about GCU’s findings here. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find your next read.
Heather Bien is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer whose work has appeared on MyDomaine, The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, HelloGiggles, and more. You’ll often find her making pitstops for roadside antique shops, drooling over original hardwood floors, or perfecting her latte recipe.