Meet Whitney Leigh Morris, our latest Midland Muse. Whitney is an author, writer and creative lifestyle consultant who specializes in optimizing small spaces. We love her philosophy that, "you don't have to live large to live beautifully."
Tell us what got you into sustainable living and making more eco-conscious choices in your life.
Small space living was our initial introduction to more sustainable living— a tiny home or apartment requires fewer materials, less energy and minimal belongings compared to the average American household. (For reference, the typical home in the US is over 2500 square feet, whereas our home measures under 400.) But it was the slew of recent, international environmental impact reports that abruptly shifted our consumer habits and reoriented our priorities. And the findings align so clearly with what we’re seeing in our everyday lives and hearing from the experiences of our friends and family around the globe. We’d be foolish, selfish and/or in denial to simply look away. I want a healthy planet for my son. And I’m driven to work for it.
When shopping brick and mortar shops, what inspires your purchases and keeps you coming back?
Adam and I do very little shopping in general (o’ the joys of living in a tiny house!), but there are a handful of exceptional brick and mortars we love to visit and support. I’m delighted by practical goods that are also works of art.
For example, a versatile pitcher that was formed by hand into a beautiful sculptural work makes my senses sing! The idea that a work of art can brighten your home with its form, while also serving as a watering vessel for plants, a vase for clippings, and a serving piece for your family’s meals is something that I find so valuable. I gravitate towards shops that collect and curate pieces crafted in this spirit.
We love your natural palette at the cottage, what inspires your aesthetic?
Oddly enough, the inspiration behind my toned down, minimal aesthetic comes from all things alive, lush and verdant. I like to celebrate the natural world by getting out of its way. I find that having a subdued palette in our home allows the brilliant California sun — or even the morning marine layer — to be the hero, and pop through the skylights. Similarly, by leaving the windows and doors wide open and uncovered, we welcome in the vivid colors of the vines and plants from the garden. (The architecture of the iconic structures on the Greek islands inspires me greatly, because I feel like it achieves the art of design supporting nature so magnificently.)
Maintaining uncluttered (albeit tiny) stretches of neutral surfaces throughout our home invites us to approach them as we would blank canvases, and to get creative with our daily activities as a family.
What is your favorite thing about living in a small space and what’s one thing that is challenging about it?
Living in a small space provides me with a constant reminder that I have all I need and more— and to be grateful for it. For me, living tiny isn’t a sacrifice. On the contrary. Our lives are overflowing, and I hope and aim to pay that extraordinary fortune forward through my work and my daily interactions with others.
What people, living or deceased, would you call your muse or guru or biggest inspiration?
I want to answer this question in hundreds of ways! I’m inspired and motivated daily by so many people— from Jim Henson to Erin Boyle to Justina Blakeney to Julie Taymor to Shaun King to Greta Thunberg to my incredible parents. But my biggest inspiration is now, of course, my son. I am desperate to help counteract the devastation we’ve brought upon the natural world so that West and his friends— and the generations that hopefully follow— can know, treasure, and support this precious planet.
Tell us why you shop at Midland and a few short reasons why you chose the products you did.
I appreciate the thought and artistry that goes into the collection at Midland. I value pieces that can last for years and weather a storm of trends, as well as items that can serve multiple purposes.
I use Olio-E-Osso multiple times per day for my lips and cheeks, and even my hair. It eliminates a need for numerous products, including makeup brushes.
I enjoy Midland’s selection of books (how gorgeous is “Living on the Earth”?), and I take comfort in knowing that one day I can pass titles on to friends, schools, or our local library.
Wooden jewelry, like the Sophie Monet piece, is a work of art that can withstand the strong hands of my son, and not get trapped in the wild nest of my hair.
Canyon Coffee is a way for Adam and I to support a small, local business, while also enriching our mornings. (Adam didn’t even really drink coffee until he tried Canyon. Now we don’t spend a day without it.)
With an hour of free time what would you do?
I’m so happy whenever Adam and I find an hour or so to take a bike or canoe ride through our neighborhood with our son and the pups. Powering down our screens, moving our bodies, and getting outside in our community as a family brings me such joy.
If you had one quote to live by…
Professionally and in our home: "When you have cleared all of your clutter, you can be of greater service to those around you." Personally: "It was in love I was created, and in love is how I hope I die."