Living Large In Small Spaces - Room to Bloom - A Senior's Place to Call Home

Twenty-fourth post in the series 
"Living Large in Small Spaces"

The new "home" of Linda's Mom

Greetings Cottage Friends and welcome to another edition of Living Large In Small Spaces.

I'm so tickled to have Linda of the blog Beautiful Ideas as my guest today. Browsing through her blog a few months ago I discovered a small space story that I knew needed to be shared. Linda's story is unique in that it's really the story of a new chapter in her mom's life -- moving into a seniors' personal care facility. Making such a transition can produce anxiety for seniors, as well as their families. Some of us have lived through this with our own parents or grandparents, or may be facing it soon.  Perhaps one day we may experience a future move like this ourselves: moving from our own familiar, beloved home into a strange, impersonal facility where we live the ultimate downsize -- one tiny room.  No matter what our situation this day, I am quite convinced that Linda's story will be an encouragement, and proof that a move to a senior facility can be a joyful experience when approached in the way Linda shows us today.

Please, get yourself a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy this heartwarming and inspirational story of how a loving daughter has created a beautiful environment where her mother now lives large in a small space.


Dear Friends, My name is Linda from the blog “Beautiful Ideas” where I share inspirational bits of beauty for everyday life. I am new to Nancy’s blog and am really loving it. I especially enjoy her series on "Living Large In Small Spaces". It has become a favourite of mine and I am honoured that she has invited me to be her guest blogger for today. Nancy kindly asked me to share about my mom’s tiny room in a seniors’ personal care facility and how I transformed it into a beautiful and efficient space for my mom. Did I already say it’s a tiny room? It really is! When it comes down to it, it's amazing how much stuff we can do without and how editing one's things can be rather freeing. We really do need very little to live a full life, even well into old age.

My mom is 86 years old and calls a personal care facility located about a ten-minute drive from our house her "home" now. It was a heart-wrenching decision to leave the family home where she and my dad had lived most all of their married lives together (well over 50 years) and raised my sister and me.


My dad has been gone 14 years now and I still miss him every day. After my dad passed, my mom, who had hardly been sick a day in her life, remained active and lived independently in their home until she came down with a virus about five years ago that pretty much overnight changed her life forever. She went from doing many things for herself, including having meticulously painted every wall in her immaculate, mostly-white-roomed house; committedly seeding and weeding the front lawn, planting flower beds and pruning rose bushes, mixing up concrete to repair her back steps and even sealing her own driveway, to not being able to do much at all. Making a meal for herself became a chore.


It quickly became clear that my mom’s physical limitations would keep her from the daily living activities that she had previously enjoyed and from living alone in her own home. When my mom first came to live in our home, she lived downstairs in our house with my sister in her apartment. With everything on one level, it was convenient. She lived there contentedly for nearly two years, all the while making occasional weekend trips back to her house in our hometown, a small rural community about an hour’s drive outside our City. Then she came to live with my husband and me upstairs in our home. At the time, she was very frail. I worried that if I didn’t watch her constantly she might fall over our stair railing just walking down the hall from her bedroom to the living room. 

She would sit in the same spot on the sofa every day gazing out the window watching the comings and goings on our street all day long. She wasn’t interested in doing much else really. I tried to convince her to take up knitting again but she had had enough of that, she said. She would try to read a book, but nothing seemed to capture her attention and television never could hold her interest. I was worried that she was going downhill fast.


At the time my mom came to live with us, I was on medical leave from my work recovering from chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. I had enlisted the help of a home care worker three mornings a week to help with my mother’s care. On my oncologist’s insistence to better care for my own health, my husband and I reluctantly looked for a licensed facility that offered assisted living services and we discussed the prospect with my mom. Thankfully, she was all for it. She always had said that it was her plan all along to move into a seniors’ home at some point. My mom actually seemed relieved and said that she was looking forward to it. The toughest part of it all was on me.

I never liked “seniors` homes”. Admittedly, I hadn`t much experience with them and I hated the thought of my mother having to live in one. It certainly wasn’t something that I would want for myself one day, I thought. What if the quality of care there wasn’t good? What if the people who worked there weren’t nice to her? What if she felt alone and unwanted? I had this idea in my head that it would be a depressing, institutional existence. I couldn`t live with myself if that experience ended up causing her to be unhappy and ultimately shortening her life.

My mom loved being outside and spent much time working on her lawn and flower beds. Healing colours such as greens and yellows bring warmth to the room and imitate nature. My mom's eyesight is not as good as it used to be and the vibrant hues provide contrast and help to improve visibility making the furnishings more distinguishable. Layers of window treatments made of lace and silk increase the variety of textures in the room. They also conceal an unattractive industrial style window treatment and visually increase the size of the window.

My mom shares my love of beautiful dishes and gardens. When designing a room for a senior, consider their likes and interests and infuse them into their new surroundings.

It all happened so fast. On the way home after seeing my oncologist at the cancer clinic, my husband and I stopped at Meadow Creek Retirement Centre. It was an attractive single-story sage green building with white columns that flanked the front door, nice lawns and flower beds that lined the driveway on either side. It looked well maintained on the outside, I reasoned, and it wasn’t far from our own home. After being there for a mere 20 minutes and meeting with the management and several of the staff members, we immediately knew that we had found the perfect place for my mom.

Before I knew it, I became a woman on a mission. I was determined to create for my mom a beautiful and efficient living space, filled with energy and light (mom loves anything in a shade of white). The surroundings would be garden inspired, I decided. A spaced filled with life. I wanted it to be for her a place that every time she opened the door to her room, she would love it. I wanted it to be a place that would encourage family and friends to spend time and continue to share their lives with her. I wanted it to be a place where everyone would feel welcome - a place that she could call “Home”. Isn’t that something we all want?


My mom`s room is the smallest room in the entire facility. Her room measures approximately 11 feet X 10 feet at its widest point. When I first saw the room in its nakedness, except for a single bed with an encased bookshelf for the headboard and a hi-boy that resembled something from a student's dorm room, I thought it would be a tall order to transform the place into a livable space for my mom. The furniture actually belonged to the facility and, to my surprise, various "standard" pieces are held in storage for any residents who might be in need of them. I learned after that the room’s previous occupant was a man who had left this world only the night before. It made me sad for him and for my mom.


When my mom first looked at the room herself, she sat on the bed gazing out through the vertical blinds that hung on the window. She had a forlorn look. I thought that perhaps she had been putting on a brave face the whole time.


It was a difficult moment for me and I would have a sleepless night, tossing and turning, mulling over what I could do to make this transition to the next chapter in her life's journey easier. There had to be something I could do. It was the only time my mother would see her room before she moved in.

My husband helps to measure the room.

(You can see more "Before" photos of the room here.)


Many of the rooms in the seniors' homes that we had seen had doors that opened from the hallway to a view of the person’s bed. I had formed the impression somewhat of an infirmary in my mind. I didn't want that for my mom. I wanted her environment to feel less like a hospital and more like a real home.

Who doesn't adore pretty sheets! As you can see, I carried the rooster theme from the table to the bed. LOL. It adds a fun element! The headboard was custom made. It had to be cut to fit under the thermostat and light switches above the bed.

Beyond just a bedroom, her room also had to function as a dinette, study, TV room and parlour to receive her visitors. The bed should be the least noticeable element in the room, I thought. It would be a challenge to fit all the furnishings my mom would need into the minuscule space, while maximizing storage and ensuring safety and ease of movement for her as a senior. The end result would have to be a real workhorse of a room. And, it needed to be beautiful to boot! It posed an almost insurmountable task at first. But, I decided to calm down and take it one step at a time.

A room can always use a little black for grounding.

My mom likes the fact that she only has steps to walk from the bed to the bathroom at night.

I began with paint. The first coat was barely dry and the face of the room changed almost instantly. After a couple of coats, it was fresh and bright. Friendlier. Even welcoming. Thankfully, the wonderful owner of the facility had agreed without hesitation to allow me to select the paint colour. Painting is something they would have done anyway, she assured me. I don`t think anyone had ever asked if the colour of a room could be changed. I purchased the paint as it wasn't the standard colour used by the facility and the owner kindly arranged to have it applied. I chose Martha Stewart's muslin for the walls and sugar white for the doors and trims. (It's hard to see the true paint colour from the images in this post. The lighting was not great in the room when the photos were taken.)

Humour is important! After all, a little laughter is the best medicine

Since space was so limited, I had to get creative with storage. This tiny oval chest by the door is perfect for stationery and miscellaneous items.

Mom`s furniture at her house stayed with the house. To have it packed up and moved to the seniors’ residence would have cost a small fortune and none of it would have fit into such a small space anyway. I set out to find new small-scale furniture for the room. It turned out that the inspiration piece for the entire room’s theme was a sweet little settee covered with a mix of cheery, colourful florals against a solid black background. I had admired the flowery settee in a favourite interiors store for months. On the Saturday morning I dropped by the store to see if the settee might still happen to be there, I was delighted to find that it had been moved from the second floor showroom downstairs near the main floor entrance. As soon as I walked in, I spied it by the front door. It had been marked down to half price! Serendipity! I quickly selected a chair and a lamp that looked right with the settee, added it to my purchase, arranged for delivery and gleefully skipped out of the store. I could not have been happier. It was a like a sign! The nesting process on my mom's behalf had, indeed, begun! That happy little settee made me feel happier about everything. It's amazing what a little paint and a cheery fabric can do for one's state of mind!

A cozy throw contributes a little comfort and a ray of happy sunshine! The cushions of the settee and armchair are firm and their backs are upright so you can't sink down into them and it helps improve posture.

I would later choose soft furnishings including pillows, rugs and draperies, as well as a chest from HomeSense to house her clothes that could pass for a dining room sideboard. Two petite painted chests in romantic shapes provided additional storage and tabletop space to display some pretties.

Because I couldn’t find a dining table small enough, I chose a garden table and two coordinating chairs built of creamy wrought iron. Very pretty and unique, too! The glass tabletop proved to be the perfect solution as it just ‘floats’ in the room, seeming not to taking up much space at all. The table had a hole in its glass top to hold a sun umbrella but that would not pose a problem at all. I would just sit a huge ceramic rooster on it! Mr. Lady Killer would end up being the centre of everyone’s attention in the room. My mom loves him!

Realistic faux plants here and there help to achieve the garden theme and are no maintenance!

The make-over was to be a surprise for my mother. Although she knew that I was making some adjustments to the room, she had no idea of the transformation that was taking place…

A rattan hassock at the foot of the bed offers a foot rest when curled up on the sofa and a place to hold pillow shams at night.

Opening the door to my mom’s teeny room is like being greeted with giant hug. It is a room that truly wears a smile and it is a pleasure to visit my mom there surrounded by beautiful mix of patterns, colours, textures and accessories. Even sounds. Aside from a TV and radio, a bamboo fountain set inside a planter gently gurgles offering a little more to the ‘nature’ experience.

We eat with our eyes. We know that tea tastes better in a beautiful china cup. Pretty tableware may even enhance appetite.

The cozy prettiness of the space encourages social interaction. My mom enjoys a regular stream of visitors to her room and is proud and delighted to receive them there. I change it up a little at different times throughout the year, starting with a welcome wreath appropriate for the season at the door and switching out cushions and various accessories corresponding with the seasons. It helps to keep things fresh and interesting for my mom and others, too. Staff enjoy coming to her room and seeing what's new; and when the owner of the residence shows the facility to prospective clients, she often shows my mom's room. My mom doesn't mind at all. She welcomes the visits and it makes her feel good about where she lives.


On the second evening after my mom had moved in to Meadow Creek Manor, she telephoned me to tell me that she really LOVED her room and that it was the best thing to ever have happened. “I just wanted you to know that," she said. And, I was convinced. I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that. My mom was thrilled with the transformation, as were the owners of the facility. Finally, I could exhale and any anxiety that my mom and I might be feeling about the move was over. After I hung up the phone, I wondered if she would still feel the same a month from then.


I am happy to say that nearly four years later, my mom still feels the same way about her room and her life at Meadow Creek. She is healthier and happier for it and is thriving in her new home. In fact, prior to her having moved there, she was assessed by our local health care authorities to be at a level 2 requiring assistance for various personal care tasks. She has since been upgraded to a level 1, meaning that she has improved in many areas of her health in the time that she has been at Meadow Creek.

There are even pretty soaps, towels and garden-themed prints in the bath creating a spa-like atmosphere, making bath time more enjoyable.

Fairies are everywhere!

The main reason we chose Meadow Creek for my mom was because of the staff who inhabit the place. As soon as my husband and I stepped through the door, we found them to be professional, friendly and caring. They are good, loving people who have since become like family to us and who care for my mom better than our family ever could. Because of the quality of care they give to my mom, I am able to sleep peacefully at night and that means the world.

A pretty garden lamp set in the planter provides a soft light at night. A few bamboo baskets hold magazines and books, towels and laundry. The bedspread changes from yellow to green while the other is being laundered.

There is so much that happens to us in life that we can't control. At the very least we can create positive experiences and cheerful living spaces for our seniors, to help them remember there is beauty all around. Opportunities to inspire are everywhere and it doesn't have to cost a lot. Pretty stationery, a comfortable pillow or cozy throw, a sweet china cup, framed photo or small piece of handmade art, a beautiful book or lovely reading lamp, even a pretty hatbox to keep medicines or something as simple as a fluffy set of towels can impart a sense of care and personal belonging. Just because a person is elderly does not mean that they don’t enjoy beautiful things the same as everyone else. Seeing beauty first thing when we wake in the morning and the last thing before we close our eyes at night is important for our entire well-being. It is essential to feed the soul and stoke the imagination at any age or stage in life.


This is a photo of mom opening the door to her new room. A new friend, Ruby, is right behind her. They can't wait to see the room! It was the very first time that my mom had seen it!

My mom truly adores her petite room. At the time of this post's writing, we were having the biggest snowstorm of the winter. I called my mom and she told me that she felt as snug as a bug in a rug! LOL.  She is comfortable and feels safe in her 'new' little home. I hope you enjoyed seeing it and that you are able to take some inspiration from it either for yourself or a special senior in your life. Thank you for visiting and thank you, Nancy, for inviting me. It was my honest pleasure to share with you all. I hope you will come and visit me at Beautiful Ideas soon.

Wishing you a beautiful day,



Thank you, Linda, for inspiring us with your story and the photos of your mom's gorgeous room.  The smile on her face as she's walking into her new room for the first time speaks volumes to her joy. Well done.

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.

From the comments I've received, many
people have been encouraged by the homes and lives shared here.
If you live in a small space I'd 
love to feature your story, too.
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for my email address.)


  1. Hi dear Nancy ! Que bella casa , llena de entalles encantadores ! Adore ese hermoso sillón floreado,,espero que tengas un bendecido fin de semana

  2. You're a wonderful daughter. May someone do the same for you someday!

  3. Well done! This really strikes home to me, as my mother fell just two weeks ago and fractured her arm and nose. It would be wonderful to find an assisted living home that would allow such changes as you've made to your mother's room. This post is really an inspiration!

  4. Having just moved into an apartment in a 55+ complex, I saw so many litle decor touches that I want to copy. That is just an adorable room and I love it.

  5. How luvly!!! That is an amazing transformati8n and I am so happy for your Mom Nancy. Like you I look at those homes with well, a less than pleasing eye. Now , I see what they can become.
    Wishing your Mom many , many years of joy in her small , sweet home.

  6. We went through this with my own mom and you're right, it can be gut-wrenching. Your mom looks so happy with her place, that is wonderful. I am a firm believer that our surroundings can really impact how we feel. Being around so many beautiful items that were put together for her by her loving daughter, must mean so much to your mom!

  7. OMG, this could be me...I did exactly the same thing for my mom and it was the best decision for both of us. I never had any regrets. So happy for both you and your mom.
    Carole, Burlington MA

  8. What a touching story, Nancy. Thank you for sharing it. I never knew that an assisted living facility room could be so cozy and charming. It has such a lovely garden feel to it. I especially like the outdoor table, the fairy and those adorable sheets!

  9. I enjoyed reading this post so much and have been inspired to suggest some changes in my MIL's similarly sized room. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  10. Lovely. I did the same thing for my mom when she finally moved to a retirement facility three miles from me (from her home four hours away, in the mountains, which had really gotten to be way too much for her). We had a living room, bedroom, and a ridiculously tiny but efficient galley kitchen about six feet long. We didn't paint, but we recreated her mountain home in this tiny space and she too was as "snug as a bug in a rug" there. It was a labor of love for me as I know it was for you. It made me feel positive about such a move in my (distant, I hope) future someday, too.

  11. What a beautiful story about your mom. My son wants me to move closer to him and sell my home and I am just not ready yet to do that. I still do almost everything, but not as fast and rest a lot..
    Thanks so much about your mother. Her apartment is lovely and so welcoming. You did a wonderful job.

  12. So beautiful! You are truly a blessing to your mother. This was just wonderful to read.

  13. You did a wonderful thing for your dear Mother and for you too. The room looks absolutely gorgeous! So many beautiful features.....I just LoVe the floor rug. All the great colors in the room just say good day and welcome! I really enjoyed reading this post...thanks for the great story. Best wishes for many more happy years " together" ...hugs Marg.

  14. Nancy - you never cease to amaze with your finds of amazing small spaces! I think this must be the smallest space yet, and maybe the coziest too! Linda - so amazing the transformation in the room, and the love that you spread throughout such a small space. Absolutely incredible, and wonderful that your mom has been happy there for four years! Thanks for sharing another wonderful post in your series Nancy that was so enjoyable to read!

  15. Hi Nancy,
    I loved being your guest blogger - my very first time ever! Lol I am amazed at the response generated by this post. Your wonderful readers are very lovely and gracious to say such kind things. I am honoured that you wished to feature my story and thank you for sharing it. I'm thrilled if it can inspire just one person. I LOVE your series and enjoy following.
    Hugs and wishing you a beautiful weekend,
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

  16. Such a beautiful story and what a wonderful home for your mom. I recently went through this with my mom and the most important thing at the end of moving her in after decorating like you did was to hear my mom say to me "This feels like home". It is heart wrenching to see them leave their homes and lives to settle into senior living but when you make your mom's place a pretty as you did I know that made her feel loved and at home. You are a great daughter.

  17. Nancy this was a wonderful touching story. Linda is an inspiration in how she has and is caring for her mom.

  18. You did a WONDERFUL job of decorating. I researched assisted living for my mom and I know how small they can be. I don't know if I will be able to afford assisted living when the time comes but I know I will be in a small room somewhere and I hope I can decorate it half as cute as you did. Quite a gift you gave your mother.

  19. Linda, what a wonderful gift you gave your mother! There's nothing at all depressing about this space, and it's no wonder Mom is doing better already.

    Nancy, I'm so glad you featured this non-traditional "small space" story. Not everyone will build a small house, but a large number of us have been (or will be) called upon to do something like this. Great idea!

  20. What a beautiful and cozy room you created, and what a very wonderful daughter you are. You took a plain Jane room and turned it into a perfect jewel box. I am so happy that your Mother loves it there, and
    I am sure she LOVES you so very very much!!!

  21. sure have made a beautiful space for your looks like a B& hard as it must be to go from a life long a small room..I think you did a great thing for's obvious she loves the don't piss off the fairies sign..well that's the icing on the cake..LOVE it! mom had a love affair with I can say without hesitation she would have loved opening the door to that room an know it was hers..I hope you enjoy many visits to that room..Please hug our mom for me...

  22. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful room! The colors are amazing and Linda thought of every possible detail to make it homey. I never would have guessed that the dimensions were that small. Love all the details you included. I bet your mom does love it. Great job!

  23. Just perfect. Such a happy, warm and colorful "new room home" for her mother.
    Wonderful post Nancy . . .,(as usual!)

  24. I absolutely LOVE it!! How inspiring. From the entryway, to the settee, to the bathroom. Thanks for sharing. XOXO

  25. Nancy this was a beautiful story. I went through this with my grandmother and it turned out to be a very positive experience. I understand what it's like to live in a small space I have one bedroom, kitchen living area, and bathroom and I have made it into a dream home. I live in the basement of one my Son's and his family's home. It's nice not to be alone, but to have the privacy when I need it. I will be here until the good Lord decides to change my journey. I would love to share my little home sometime.
    I hope that you are getting situated in your new place, and that life is calming down some for you. Have a great weekend my friend. Hugs, Jo

  26. This is a very inspirational way to decorate a small room and I loved reading the story, because the worry that is expressed is one we can all relate to.

  27. Good morning dearest Nancy! A lovely space to rest and retire, indeed. There is so much care here as we can see this lovely mother is well-taken care of with familiar surroundings in art and décor. A home is where anyone loves you! So lovely to see you here this fine Sunday morning! Come over to my post when you can; I just posted. Much love! Anita

  28. What a wonderful story! it is so true that your surroundings can uplift you or bring you down. So many elderly people are left to sit in a bland room all day. No wonder their health deteriorates! Linda created a room of loving warmth and beauty for her Mom.

  29. Happy Sunday Morning, Nancy! BTW, I love the name you gave the post, "Room to Bloom!" I'm thinking you know why title is especially suits me - a cause that is near and dear to my heart, Pink Days In Bloom! I have much exciting news to share about that very soon! I can hardly wait to tell it, but I must be patient.
    Again, much gratitude to you and all your lovely readers this day. I am loving the opportunity to form some new friendships in blog land here.
    We are expecting a snowstorm later today, up to 30 cm! Can you imagine! I am yearning to get in my garden again. Why can't we have drifts of petals not snow! Lol Oh, well, I guess it's "Sheila's Brush" for us. It won't last long and before you know it we'll be watching the tulips poke their heads up. Blessings to you all.
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

  30. Hello Nancy! I am so touched by Linda's post and all the cheerful happiness and beauty she put into her Mom's place.

  31. Dearest Nancy! Thank you for coming to leave me a comment. I am very excited about the work ahead of me to take these blog posts I am collecting and sifting through in order to find the better ones, then to take out the photos and add in my own.

    (thank you for the email!)

  32. Beautiful. This was just so wonderful to read and enjoy such a beautiful story about the LOVE of family.
    xx oo

  33. What a beautiful job Linda has done with her mother's space. It is so homey and bright! I love all of the personal touches...and that settee fabric is perfect! This is a great inspiration for all of us who may be doing the same thing in the future :)

  34. What a wonderful story and Linda did an amazing job. I'll bet her mother has lots of friends over for tea so she can share what a lovely daughter she has.

  35. Linda,
    What an elegant, inviting room you have made for your Mother's Home!!!
    I adore all the seating space within the room!!!
    Welcoming places for her guests when they come to visit!
    The comfortable chairs for relaxing throughout the day
    and an adorable "garden" table for a cup o' afternoon tea!!!
    Be blessed, dear one!!!

  36. I have never posted on any of these sites ;;; But The heart and Love shown in this one is ........ Truly a work of Love and talent Beautiful is so many ways Photos : ) A subject so dear to my heart...
    You and Your Mother are Blessed to have each other : )

  37. What a thoughtful and truly loving decorating project! It turned out perfect and is a cheerful and cozy home for mom. Great post to share. Thanks Nancy!

  38. This just touched my heart so much.... I don't even want to think about the time when I'll have to deal with this, but it did give me a sense of hope that when that time comes that I can make it so much better for my mom.

    Linda did an absolutely beautiful job making the space home. I can't imagine anything better and I'm so happy her mom is doing so well.


  39. What a lovely post. This has to make your mother so happy having her own little nest and you relieved to know she's being looked after. You made it truly a home. We all need our own little space. Actually larger spaces can seem rather lonely. I have to say....I LOVE those cute sheets!!! Just seeing those puts you in a happy place.

  40. I had tears in my eyes by the time I finished reading. There is so much love in the post, so inspiring. We went through the process with my grandmother but she was quite ill by the time she finally agreed to leave her home and there was none of the dignity and security that Linda provided for her mother.

  41. This brought tears to my is such a beautiful way to show our love for our mothers in such a sweet, sweet way! The room is just beautiful! cozy, lively, comfortable, and so very, very chic :0) Thank you for sharing it with all of us! mari

  42. Oh my did Linda ever create a gorgeous space for her sweet mother! Every where you look you see love! Love for her mother in surrounding her with the things that she loves. Wonderful that her health has improved!!


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