Paola and her husband downsized in 2012 from a 5 bedroom home in Rome to a quaint country cottage in Cambridge with two bedrooms. She has no regrets except that it took her until her 40s to choose a little home!
Her Instagram stole my attention right away, with her cozy shabby chic decor that immediately makes me feel warm! I reached out and she shared pictures of her little house, along with answers to our Q&A about how she spends half as much on bills since making the transition.
Enjoy a photo tour of her fairytale cottage and be sure to read our interview with her below! Follow her on Instagram here.
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From 5 Bedrooms in Rome to 2 In Cambridge
Open shelving done so right!
Showing off her new curtain with adorable fringe.
Now here’s a bathroom dreams are made of.
I need a vacation to her house, I think!
Gorgeous sunlight in the dining area!
Nothing cozier than a stove!
Her little office (she’s been WAHM since the pandemic).
In the daytime, there are lovely window views.
Living space just before the holidays.
Arm chair and candle glow!
The creamy colors keep everything neutral and delightful.
The bedroom: Her happy place.
Candles are such an awesome addition.
Her backyard shed just got a makeover too!
Paola’s Cambridge Fairytale: Interview
What are your name(s)
My name is Paola Salvaire, and I live with my husband Sandro.
How many people (and animals) are living in your home?
We are two adults and 1 cat.
How long have you lived tiny?
We have been living tiny since 2012, moving from a 5 bedroom and 2 reception rooms with a huge garden in Rome to a 2 bedroom in Cambridge.
What do you do for work?
I work for the Cambridge University Press, for the last 11 months I have been working from home due to the pandemic.
What are you hoping to get out of living tiny/small?
Downsizing has been good in many ways for us: lower bills, less to clean, a cozier home, easier to keep warm in winter, and selling to buy smaller meant money that we could give to our daughter for her deposit…
Describe your decorating style and philosophy.
My decorating style is a cozy-city/country; gone have my shabby-chic years, I am now for more clean lines and less stuff around the house in general. I need to see clean lines and no mess around, or I feel stressed.
What inspired you to choose a small home (rather than say a tiny house or a bus)?
I have always loved the idea of a small house made of bricks, the sort of house in the Three Little Pigs story; the type of house you would draw as a child, with a pointy roof made of black tiles, and I finally could realize my dream. I love the idea of freedom that a bus or a tiny house can give, but I am worried that in the long term these could be too small for our lifestyle. I love that a friend could come anytime and we could just open a sofa-bed for them and give them the best stay possible with a little privacy for all.
How did you acquire your home? Did you do a lot of renovations?
We bought a new building, and did a lot of work, mainly by ourselves, as we did not like its cold feeling. We opened a passage between the kitchen and the living/dining room so that even when I am in the kitchen I can feel part of the conversation. We added panellings to give warmth to the straight modern lines of the new build and added warm colors to the walls to go with our light wood furniture.
What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
Bills compared to before are almost half. I paid considerably more in 2012 than what I pay now, almost 10 years later, and the house is always toasty warm in the winter.
Before going tiny, what was life like?
Before going tiny I had this massive 5 bedrooms, 2 of which were almost never used, and were instead used as dump rooms, ‘the rooms of the doom’ as I used to call them. An average cleaning day took me 5 hours. I never totally felt at ease having such a large house, and we probably used the second reception rooms 5 times in 5 years, at Christmas… absolutely not fit for our style of life, that is very simple and family-oriented.
Is there anything about your old life that you miss?
I often look back at what feels like my ‘previous life’, and am amazed to see that I have never had one single regret. If any, I regret that I did not do this before rather than waiting to be in my mid 40s to go tiny!
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
As I said before, the benefits of having gone tiny are a lot; lower bills (more money available for things we love to do), a home that is much more fit to my style of life, and is much cleaner and tidy, the feeling of cosiness of the little corners, being able to warm it in 15 minutes even after a week spent away…
What about some challenges?
So far the only challenge has been finding ideas for the storage, which is the only negative point of going tiny. I have learned to let go of what I really don’t need, to buy less, recycle more, be more attentive to what are the actual needs. One thing I could not leave behind are my books, and for these I have still to find a solution, as many of them are piled in my bedroom beside my nightstand.
What makes your tiny home special?
My tiny home is special to me because it’s my safe place, my cosy nest, where I can retreat when I need to, and these long months in lockdown have proven to me that I made the right choice. Never before I felt a connection with a home like I am with this one.
What is your favorite part of your tiny home?
My favorite part of my tiny home is surely my bedroom, my sanctuary. Although small it has got its very little ensuite, and I bought myself a fantastic, super soft mattress topper and I love lingering in bed reading or sipping my coffee while browsing the internet.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
To anyone interested in going tiny I would definitely say to go for it; I am convinced that everyone knows what’s good for them, you only need the courage to jump!
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Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk
and the Tiny House Newsletter
. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
I LOVE the conversation and her simple elegant decor. The many advantages of living in Europe born out by her relaxed and unhurried approach to living. Knowing the relaxation possible in a smaller space is why I design in the 400 sqft range. And even though we have done the full-time RV thing, I love the comfort of our place now and enjoy the ability to remodel to exacting criteria…When doing this remodel, realizing I am doing it for aesthetic reasons and not just for money gives it a whole new light. Like Poala, finding the good stuff around you is what is important.
Any room for a man cave? As tasteful as the decorating is, it’s decidedly too feminine for my tastes.
What do you need a “man cave” for? As for the decorating style… well that’s easily remedied. Also known as DIY.
This is beautiful!! Decorated very classy and the cat is beautiful.
Oh I love the entire home, is there another one just like this so I can up and move there? Just my dog, my books, my needlework and tea and I am at home…….and a few candles included.
That is soooo stinkin adorable!! LOVE ❤️ IT!!!!
This is for Paola…I have a suggestion regarding storage for your books. A pull out from under your bed, (on wheels or casters).
This is adorable! I love it. I honestly don’t think she left the shabby chic behind because that is what it looks like to me.
love the wood stove and hearth
Finally, comfy furniture you can sink into! Very cozy and appealing! A nice design.
Just delightful! It’s a bit soft and feminine for my tastes, as well–I’d love to see a little charcoal gray in there–but it’s really beautiful. I wish we had a floor plan, and/or some exterior photos! (Is there a shower?)
Love the decor, but would have loved to have actually been able to see the cottage!