Morgann McCoy’s small space embraces a cozy vibe

Morgann McCoy downsized both her possessions and her space by relocating to a farm owned by her brother and sister-in-law.
bedroom in a small apartment
Photo by Beth Skogan
Morgann McCoy has taken a minimalist approach to decorating her 500-square-foot apartment located in the basement of a farmhouse in New Glarus.

Morgann McCoy had a rare opportunity others might shy away from. She downsized both her possessions and her space by relocating to a farm owned by her brother and sister-in-law, Matthew and Brit McCoy of Homestead Wisconsin. Morgann McCoy owns A Well Worn Story, a business creating handcrafted leather goods. Her tiny new apartment is situated on the farm just north of New Glarus.

An old homestead, the farm rests in a tranquil valley hemmed by rolling hills and pastures of grazing sheep and cattle raised by her sister-in-law. “It’s a beautiful place to live,” McCoy says. “My 500-square-foot apartment is located in the basement of the original farmhouse, complete with a stone wall foundation and a concrete painted floor.”

A previous owner converted the basement garage into an apartment, but the space had been neglected for years and needed a lot of fixing. “My family spent lots of time renovating the space by adding a new bathroom, an ‘L’-shaped kitchen with open shelving and a fresh coat of paint on the walls and floors,” McCoy says. Although her quarters are quite simple, that’s how the 30-year-old prefers it.

Main entryway in the building

Photo by Beth Skogen

“I moved to Wisconsin from Illinois three years ago during a tough season, so it was a natural time to downsize my belongings and create a home that felt like my own. I purged most of my possessions, keeping only the items I really loved.”

There is a lot of freedom that comes from living with less, she says. “In my experience, tiny living can be a great tool to refocus priorities, spending less time on the things you own and more on the people in your life,” McCoy says.

It wasn’t without challenges. She had to rediscover a balance between minimal and cozy living. A small wall in the center of the room affords some separation between the living room/kitchen area and the bedroom/office space. “It’s important to me to have these designated spaces to create some order and flow within the tiny home.”

It makes sense that McCoy has found herself enjoying life on the smaller side for a while. She grew up in a small farming town in northwest Illinois; a cabin on a lake in Wisconsin had always been her family’s happy place. “I’m really drawn to pieces that represent Midwest lifestyle and culture, especially the outdoors and rural living,” she says.

She is inspired by antiques, architectural salvage and handcrafted pieces that are built to last with lots of character. Although she loves the timeless look of white walls, she warmed them up with wood accents and old maps of Wisconsin lakes, stained with age. She mixed her favorite earth tones — olive green and indigo blue — into the smaller pieces and fabrics.

Antique touches can be found in many places in McCoy’s space. Vintage glass bottles with old advertisements are filled with white pines regardless of the season. “It’s my favorite tree and scent from years of vacationing to my family’s lakeside cabin, nestled in a grove of white pines.”

For those wanting to design a small space, McCoy cautions, “Pinterest and Instagram feeds are great for design inspiration, but ultimately the space needs to function for you and your family.” When purchasing new items for your home, you should try to keep a “quality over quantity” mindset, she says. “I prefer to buy [fewer] but better pieces that I will cherish for years. My favorite items are well worn and tell a unique story of my life’s best adventures and, most importantly, the people who have impacted me along the way.”

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