Writer Melissa Sonico Strives for Minimalism in a Soothing, Small California Home

Writer Melissa Sonico Strives for Minimalism in a Soothing, Small California Home

Jessica Isaac
Mar 26, 2018

Name: Melissa Sonico, husband Johnny, and son Harrison
Location: Redlands, California
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years Lived In: 2.5 years, renting

Writer and jewelry designer Melissa Sonico and her husband Johnny moved in to their two-bedroom home just before their son Harrison (now two years old) was born. Lately, the couple has been focusing on paring down their possessions to live a clutter-free life filled with inspiring art and the things they love the most: books and music (and each other, of course).

Like many of us, Sonico admits she has a tendency to displace clutter, which is why she aims to eliminate it altogether. "I'm known to just shove things away out of sight when I'm cleaning, but I'm working on minimalizing everything we own so we don't have any clutter to shove out of the way." As a result, her peaceful home feels airy and spacious, despite its modest size, with a heavy emphasizes on soul-satisfying elements like music, literature, and calming geometric art in a variety of mediums.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Spanish/Mediterranean with some Japanese minimalism and mid-century nods

Inspiration: Luis Barragan House, Noguchi

Favorite Element: My stack of books. I'm a writer, a reader, and an English teacher, so I've accumulated a large—heavy—collection of books and I'm just unwilling to let go of them. I had trouble finding a way to display them without taking too much room in our limited space (I originally had a huge bulky bookcase from Ikea), but just stacking them thoughtfully in the corner made for a nice little artful arrangement.

Biggest Challenge: I'm known to just shove things away out of sight when I'm cleaning, but I'm working on minimalizing everything we own so we don't have any clutter to shove out of the way. It's a work in progress.

What Friends Say: Our home is small, so we have to figure out how to fit everything we need and still make the space feel roomy rather than cramped. Friends usually comment on the openness of our home, as well as the small artful details like the soapstone infinity sculpture or the mounted shelves my friend made for us. My mother-in-law came over recently after we had reorganized and streamlined everything and added artwork in our home, and she kept saying over and over how cute the house was.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our master bathroom—AKA my husband Johnny's bathroom because I don't like to share one with him.

Proudest DIY: I was having trouble finding the right toddler bed for Harrison, but I knew I wanted a classic, vintage-inspired look and settled on a Jenny Lind bed from Land of Nod; but they only offered white in the child size, so I had to figure out how to paint that specific type of wood and find the right color and finish. I'm really proud because I don't know much about that sort of thing and it was a learning experience, but it turned out amazingly and I'm really happy with the result. The darker color gave a more modern feel to the vintage design.

Biggest Indulgence: The vintage Wurlitzer spinet piano we bought for Harrison. It's a beautiful, slim upright piano that doubles as an instrument and a piece of art.

Best Advice: Don't settle for pieces you don't truly completely love. I think it's a worthwhile investment to spend a little more for something you're in love with that you'll be happy to see and use in your home instead of a cheap substitute that you'll end up selling at a yard sale down the line. Also, less is more, but don't let go of things you can't do without just to subscribe to a minimal aesthetic. We couldn't be without our books and vinyl record collection.

Dream Sources: Pop & Scott Workshop in Australia, Postwar Modern in Redlands, CA, and County Ltd/Counterspace in LA


Sofa in Harvest Yellow — Campaign
Rug — RugsUSA
Mast Floor Lamp — Article
Boyd Black Walnut Leather Lounge Chair — Fire on the Mesa
Sunfair Walnut Side Table — Fire on the Mesa
Round Decorative Wall Mirror — Target
Palace Woodblock Print — Blockshop Textiles
Belford Coffee Table — Azure
Torus Vase — Rachel Saunders Ceramics
Flora Silk Wool Wrap (hanging) — Mirador
Case Study Funnel with Stand —Modernica
Draper Media Console —Urban Outfitters
Tana Scarf (hanging, blue) —Paloma Wool
Carnegie TV Stand — Houzz
Mini Desk Lamp —Anglepoise

Record Storage — IKEA
Modern Metal Frame — Artifact Uprising
Rug — RugsUSA
Bean Serving Board — Fire on the Mesa
Ceramic French Press — Yield
Dining Chairs —Mid Century Vintage
Dining Table—Marshall's

Malm Storage Bed — Ikea
Linens — Matteo Los Angeles
Ikornnes Floor Mirror — Ikea
Thetis Charme Tan Chair — Article
Temple Wall Hanging/Scarf — Blockshop Textiles
Frames — Artifact Uprising
Fado Table Lamp — IKEA
Jewelry — Melissa Sonico
Planter and Stand — Yield
Round Vanity Mirror — Target

Mid-century Rocking Chair — Houzz
Holdie House — Olliella
Jenny Lind Toddler Bed — Land of Nod
Mustard Playing Mattress — Grace Baby and Child
Botanic Plants Rug — Lorena Canals
Custom Tapestry — Ersa Fibers
Philodendron Scandens Plant Mobile — Natalie Joy Jewelry
PS 2017 Shelf Unit — IKEA
Accordion Hook — Vintage
Dawn Blackout Curtains — Urban Outfitters
Fluval Edge Aquarium — Amazon
Puzzle Table — Hobby Lobby
Wicker folding chair — Vintage

Thanks, Melissa and Johnny!

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