Sarah O'Neil, the owner of Smallspaces, likes to live simply: "Have less and invest in better-quality pieces that you can engage with on multiple levels" is the advice she offers.
The idea for opening her shop in Redfern, a suburb of Sydney (think Brooklyn 10 years ago), came after she purchased her own small space: "I bought a tiny apartment and then discovered that while in the Northern Hemisphere there was a myriad of furniture and homewares designed for small space living, no one was catering to the market in Australia," she says. "Inner city space has become a highly valued commodity as people are less able and inclined to spend the time and money on long commutes to and from work."
As for her won approach to small space living? "I have less of everything material. The pieces I do have are either highly functional or give me great sensual or sentimental pleasure and often both. I'm much more selective in my purchasing these days, which means I have more time and money to do the things I enjoy." Sounds compelling. To learn more, visit Smallspaces.
Above "My favorite small space pieces are the Muuto Stacked shelving. It's so clever, versatile, and simple." says O'Neil. The green Raw stool is by Muuto.
Above: O'Neil makes is a policy to only stock things she would have at home, offering her take on the best daybed, small table, stacking stool, and the like."
Above: "I make sure that I have a range of price points so everyone feels welcome and that the concept is attainable," O'Neil says. "Many of my customers comment that the space feels like a home, I think they are responding to the wabi-sabi aspect."
Above: A diminutive glass lamp by Muuto.
Above: What draws people to the store? According to O'Neil, "I think it's the mix of beautiful pieces from the Japanese firm Maruni with beaten-up Ercol chairs and tables that I'm in the process of sanding and loving back to life, art and ceramics by local on-the-rise artists, hand-knitted hot water bottle covers—and me, covered in sawdust or paint, chasing my dog off the sofa! Yes, luckily people seem to get the fact that I'm doing something I love and believe in and they can do too."
Above: O'Neill, who used to work in the fashion industry, outside her shop. When asked if she misses that world, she says, "There's nothing I miss except being able to wear Collette Dinnigan's exquisite pieces to work every day!"
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 31, 2012.