An Exciting Year!

Hey there! This past year has been quite an eventful and exciting year, which has obviously distracted me from my blog…

Architectural Licensing

Intentionally Small - Studying for Architecture Registration Exams

I’ve been focusing on my Architectural Registration Exams. In fact, I just took my third exam this week, phew! There are 7 exams total, so I still have a few more to go… slowly but surely checking them off. I’ll be a licensed architect by the end of the year, fingers crossed!

New Job!

Intentionally Small - New Job at Clearscapes Architecture in Downtown Raleigh

I am having a blast at Clearscapes! I’m inspired daily by my team in the most supportive environment. Clearscapes is an Art and Architecture studio in downtown Raleigh. We are currently working on some of Raleigh’s most exciting and influential projects: Union Station, Stone’s Warehouse, Chavis Park, and more. Coincidentally, Matt and I were living in a Clearscapes project, The Hudson, making for the most pleasant commute ever: a 2-1/2 block walk from city center to the warehouse district.

Newly Weds

Intentionally Small - Nicole Alvarez and Matt Tomasulo GOT MARRIED

Our wedding day was complete bliss. Everything came together so perfectly, with the support of family and friends. Our faces still hurt from smiling so much. So in love.

Our New Home

Intentionally Small - Our New Downtown Raleigh Home

As if that wasn’t enough major life changes in a year, we just moved into our new home in East downtown Raleigh. It still feels like we’re playing house since settling in will be a long process, but we’re thrilled to commit to our Raleigh community. At around 1150 sqft, it’s still intentionally small while leaving some room for the future. We bike and walk everywhere, and there’s plenty of yard to experiment with gardens, chickens, and one day an accessory dwelling (AKA backyard apartment)…

I started this blog three years ago as a way to explore my fascination with small spaces and simple living. With a recent feature by IKEA Family Live Magazine and being included in another small space article, I’m reinvigorated to continue to explore. So I just wanted to say that I’m still here, I’ve just been pleasantly distracted. Check back soon for new posts, and thanks for your support!

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Intentionally Small: Urban Living in North Carolina

Hey there! Please excuse the lack of new blog posts lately. I have started taking my architecture professional exams to become a licensed architect! One test down, six to go!

New posts are in the works and coming soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen this video yet, it documents my story with small spaces – from my time living abroad and involvement with local issues, to my studio apartment and starting this blog. I hope you enjoy:

Thank you to Kirsten Dirksen of faircompanies for creating this film. Be sure to peruse Kirsten’s youtube channel for videos of the best small spaces and simple living stories.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods

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Cabin in the Woods

For Memorial Day weekend and my 27th birthday, Matt and I wanted to simply relax and enjoy each other’s company. We browsed through AirBNB for a small cabin in the North Carolina mountains, and found the perfect place for the most memorable weekend.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 04

This 830 sqft A-frame cabin is located near Asheville in an “intentional community” of artists and professors. Inspired by a trip to Scandinavia, the family of four designed and built this exposed wood cabin as their peaceful retreat. The kitchen, dining, and living spaces blend into one, double-height space with a high vaulted ceiling. A spacious sleeping loft above the bedroom and bathroom look down onto the light-filled living space. The large deck extends the main space to the outdoors where we gazed at the star-filled sky or listened to the continuous buzz of bees.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 07830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 03

I was fascinated by the space. The simple material palette let the space speak for itself. It didn’t need decorations or paint, it was intrinsically beautiful. The furniture that was there was functional – providing storage (like the antique hutch in the kitchen) or accommodating extra guests (sleeping up to 7 people). I especially loved observing how the cabin was constructed. I could easily read the structural logic of the exposed beams and columns.

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830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 10

The nights were chilly, so we made great use of the wood stove. It had such a presence in the cabin, with the contrastingly dark chimney stretching the full height of the space. Since we loved being in the main space so much, we actually slept on the futon. So we really only inhabited about 375 sqft of the cabin.

We had such a lovely stay. The weather, the cabin, the hiking, the food, the relaxing – it was absolutely perfect. Perhaps my favorite birthday yet…

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830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 14

PS. The best part about our trip…

Nicole Alvarez and Matt Tomasulo are engaged

See more pictures of the cabin:

I’ve Moved!

It was so hard to leave my Lovely Studio Apartment! If you know me, you know how obsessed I was with that place. I mean, heck, I started a blog because of it!

But… I do have a greater love in my life: my boyfriend! So when Matt and I decided to move in together, we set out to find a new place to make our home. I had one condition, I couldn’t move unless we found a place that was absolutely amazing and equally as inspiring.

Nicole Alvarez and Matt Tomasulo

We found it! You may recognize the space from a previous post. Yes, it’s larger than anywhere either of us has ever lived, but it’s also right in downtown Raleigh, in a renovated department store, with a lively community, it’s super walkable … and we have our own terrace! We absolutely love it!

Nonetheless, my 300-sqft apartment will always have a special place in my heart. It has forever influenced the way I think about space and life – encouraging me to cut out the excess to leave room for only what matters.

Cheers to you, my Lovely Studio Apartment, and to our many memories: