Journey of A Home
Whitney Leigh Morris
The making of a home—like the building of a life well-lived—takes time and intention. The miraculous sense of feeling at home doesn't just happen, it twists and turns through adventure and memory, function and feeling, work and play, solitude and celebration. We believe a home is never "done", it's a journey, forever evolving, and, like the humans in it, it tells its own beautiful story of where we have been, what we value, and how we hope to feel every step of the way.
When you step under the Spanish moss and into the airy 900 sq ft Northern Florida woodland cottage and greenhouse Whitney Leigh Morris shares with her partner, Adam, their two young children, and their joyful rescue beagles, you immediately feel the contours of their journey: a deep relationship to nature, mindfully designed objects and pieces, the lived-in feel of belonging, and gratitude for time and space to cherish family. Whitney has long been a pioneer with a thoughtful perspective on living comfortably and contentedly in—and with—a smaller footprint, and in her spaces, less truly feels like more. We sat down to chat about right-sized design, the power of taking your time, and the journey of home.
Tell us how you came to be passionate about sustainable design and small homes?
A tectonic life shift in my late 20s led me to a place where I had fewer belongings, less space, uninterrupted access to my community, and a chance to entirely restructure my responsibilities and focus. This was the greatest gift for me, as I was then able to carve out a more mindful and deliberate path for my life. From that moment on, small spaces and rightsized design became my personal and professional focus, as I was the happiest I’d ever been thanks to a life and home spaces orchestrated with intention.
You live between two beautiful places and homes, Florida and France, tell us how each came to be?
Our shared, 800 sq ft farmhouse in France was something our friends/partners and we had in mind for years. When the opportunity arose, we knew we could yet move full-time overseas. So it is our long-term home project. However, splitting time between France and California wasn’t sustainable for us. Not only could we not budget for both, but the mileage logged between the two has quite the environmental cost, not to mention that our families were all on the East coast.
We like to think each of us is a steward of nature. How important is it to you to be in nature and surround yourself with natural materials & elements?
The physical and psychological benefits of being immersed — or even within eyesight — of natural elements are well studied and documented. I believe that biophilic design is not only one avenue towards a thriving mind and body, but that it’s also a daily reminder and celebration of the natural world that we need to protect, preserve and restore. Unfortunately, access to green space and safe materials in the home are often a privilege not accessible to all folks. In order for us to remain connected with the natural world, we have to listen to marginalized voices that have been championing environmental justice and green initiatives for generations. And it’s important to me that we advocate for policies that ensure all folks have the opportunity to enjoy healthier homes and a healthier earth.
We believe a home is never done, it’s always evolving, like us. What home project are you working on or dreaming of?
I agree — we’re ever evolving! But it doesn’t mean that we constantly need to be acquiring new items and striving for the next thing. Our family and closest friends are unhurriedly tackling a very slow and mindful restoration of our 1800s farmhouse in France. We started by repairing the lauze roof by hand, and plan on decades of strengthening the residence and barn. We aim to embrace their original beauty, and creatively explore the structures’ ongoing versatility as our families age together.
We are so drawn to spaces brimming with story. What is your favorite piece or object in your home?
I am thrilled with how our bedroom floors turned out— they’re puzzled together with over 500 pieces of scrap wood, leftover from other residential and commercial projects. The wood itself was ethically river recovered from logs that sank over a century ago. So these floors are not only delightful to see and touch daily, but they have layers upon layers of history within them.
What are 3 objects you can’t live without?
Our farmstead / hydroponic grow tower has been hugely useful to our family over the years, providing us with hundreds of edible plants grown within a tiny amount of square-footage with far less water than traditional growing. Our hodgepodge collection of jars has also been infinitely useful. Throughout the home and garden they function as everything from serving vessels to storage containers to decorative accents. And lastly, our electric / rechargeable cargo bike, which has seating (and seatbelts) for both kids and both pups to all ride together at once.
What are some of your favorite Woven pieces?
The Natura sectional is SO clever. From its sustainable materials to its modular design to its simple assembly (no tools required— it takes mere seconds to assemble) it’s a versatile, family-friendly and beautiful piece. I’m also a big fan of the bar stools, and can’t wait to add a few to our new home.
“It’s always our goal to be good stewards of the land around us,
and that’s what largely shapes our design decisions”