A Glimpse into a Studio Apartment, a Downtown Condo & Rental Townhouse
Learning to maximize the space in a small home can present challenges and force decisions. Which couch to keep? How many coffee mugs are really necessary? For each of the three families featured, they enjoy the clarity resulting from limited space and have found creative ways to still reflect their passions.
Downtown Studio Apartment: Bringing Community Into a Young Couple’s Space
For Timothy and Brittannie Moroz, living in a downtown studio is both an economical choice and a way to build community.
“We love the downtown Lynchburg area,” Tim said. “We wanted a space that could fit a large amount of people and feel more connected with downtown [because] we really value community.”
When they were dating, Tim lived downtown, but once married, they moved to Forest. After a job change, however, the young couple began looking for something less expensive. Since they are heavily involved in their church and host a community group that meets in their home weekly, they needed a space that could entertain a larger group of people. Most of the downtown spaces were either too small or too expensive for their price point, until they discovered Red Star Flats, modern industrial studios next to Farmers Seed & Supply Co. Inc.
“We weren’t seriously looking at studios until we saw this one,” Brittannie said. “The kitchen was our biggest selling point.
It’s just beautiful.”
“The space is really nice,” Tim said. “They did a really good job of renovating. It felt like home right away.”
This past summer the couple traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark and then on to Sweden—known for good design—and so the trip provided a crash course in Scandinavian style. While traveling, they read a quote that has since been adopted for their home: “If something is not both beautiful and functional, it doesn’t belong in your home.”
Both of them echo that having this mindset makes it easier to live in such an open layout.
“We like our stuff, [so] we didn’t mind having it out for everyone to see,” Brittannie said. “[I was] surprised how easy it’s been to get to the bare necessities.”
“In our space, it’s all on display,” Tim said. “We liked the idea of paring down. It’s nice to go backwards a little bit. It’s not a long term solution, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Together, the Morozes have enjoyed designing a space that brings some challenges. They are not allowed to drill new holes into the original wood paneling or brick due to its historic value, so the couple has to work with the holes that already exist—which creates a random art gallery that somehow works. “We love the random mix,” Tim said. “We have to be careful about our visual real estate.”
On the one small patch of drywall they do have, they installed shelving, which houses baking supplies and cereals.
A sentimental design element the couple incorporated is a world map painted from coffee.
“We love sharing a cup of coffee with people, and we love to travel,” Brittannie said, describing the piece her sister painted.
“We try to see as much of the world as we can. It was a sweet gift she gave us.”
Downsizing from a two-bedroom apartment to a studio was a challenge, but because there are no walls dividing the home, it feels very open and is a good reminder to keep stuff clean.
“It’s been good for us to recognize we don’t have to look perfect,” Brittannie said. “It’s a good exercise for us, and we get to invite people into that. It blesses us and keeps us humble when it’s messy.”
One aspect of open-concept living the couple has embraced is how welcoming the space is. As a couple, the Morozes have tried to reflect their values and passions in the way they live, which they describe as: Jesus, family and mission. One way they emulate what they believe is by inviting people to engage as a family. Since they have many visitors in their home every week, they welcome guests to share in their most intimate spaces.
“It feels like a great big family in a tiny little box,” Brittannie said. “You get real close, real fast.”
“It has helped develop really meaningful relationships,” Tim said.
Downtown Condominium: Downsizing from an Empty Nest
Libby and Paul Fitzgerald loved their home in Boonsboro, but since none of their three adult children or six grandchildren live locally, they no longer needed all of the space with five bedrooms. So they began the two-year process of downsizing and selling their home.
Though they have lived in Lynchburg for 45 years, the family is originally from New York, and so they are more accustomed to urban living. As they began to downsize, they felt a strong draw towards the new downtown James River Place condominiums.
“We have kind of come full circle,” Libby said. “It was very freeing to get down to what we really loved, and the rest we shed. We loved [our home] all those years, but I marvel at how I have not looked back with any nostalgia. It was a great decision—a perfect fit.”
Since moving two years ago from a 5,400-sqare-foot home to a 2,200-square-foot condominium, the Fitzgeralds found downsizing to be an unburdening.
“The idea of downsizing is daunting,” Libby said. “We came to terms with the likelihood that the taste of our children is different.”
She recommends that one approach downsizing by focusing on the “essentials and [not] surrounded with a lot of stuff you don’t need. It’s a tough and tedious job, but at some point you have to do it.”
In her words, to downsize removes a burden from your children; if you sift through the artifacts of decades’ worth of stuff then “you’ve done your children [favors] with the biggest job in the world. Don’t leave that for them to do. Spare your children,” Libby said.
She added that their new home on Jefferson Street is not radically different in style but rather a variation of what they had before. As they designed their new space, Libby was tasked with the challenge of incorporating years of collections into a much smaller area than she was accustomed to. Many of their paintings and pottery have come from both their worldwide travels and from local artists. A number of paintings are from trips they took to Ireland, Venice and France. The couple has also taken bike trips to Tuscany, Italy and Provence, France, as well as Quebec and the Canadian Rockies, where they added to their very storied and traveled collection. The Fitzgeralds also appreciate local talent, including a prized piece hanging over their living room fireplace from The Little Gallery at Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Va.
“We love collecting art,” Libby said. “We [also] love pottery, from away and local.”
With three bedrooms in their condo, they utilize the extra two rooms as office space for each of them, giving them individual, private areas to call their own.
“It’s important to have your own space in a small [home],” Libby said.
When family comes to visit, grandchildren stay on roll-out beds and adult children enjoy nights at the Craddock Terry Hotel—easily accessible from the condo.
After moving, the Fitzgeralds found a slower pace of life. In fact by living in such close proximity to everything downtown, Libby said she tries to group all her errands into just one day so she can enjoy all the benefits that downtown Lynchburg offers.
“We feel like we’re on vacation,” Libby said. “The thing I love the most is I walk everywhere—to the YMCA and to church, everything I need is down here, except [a] grocery. I try very hard not to have to leave downtown in my car.”
Heather’s Takeaway Tips:
1. Downsizing: Prioritize what is most important. Keep what you really like but be selective. It can be a daunting process, so steady your pace and realize it will benefit your children not to have to make those decisions one day.
2. Use What You Already Own: After years of collecting, don’t try to start over buying new. Use what you already own in creative new ways. Reupholster furniture, group artwork in a gallery manner and utilize vertical storage to maximize space.
3. Think Before You Buy: Small spaces can cause you to stop and think before buying. Do you have room for it? Will it add to the ambience or distract from what’s most important in the room? Be selective with where you invest. Think quality not quantity.
Photography by Tera Janelle Auch