Newport Designer Gets a Big Kick out of Her Tiny Home

Bernadette Heydt shares what it means to make more with less space

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If tiny homes seem like a fad, Bernadette Heydt would beg to differ: Around here, cottages with small footprints are part of our heritage.

“Tiny homes have always been a part of Rhode Island culture, dating back to the original colonials, where an entire house consisted of about only two to three rooms,” says Heydt, an interior designer and marketing aficionado. “Not to mention, Rhode Island has the second highest population density in all of the states of the union.” In other words, it’s really not that crazy.

For Heydt and her husband, a tiny home isn’t just a quaint and theoretical trend; they actually built and live in one. Their house in Newport, with its refined decor and Mediterranean aesthetic, measures only 650 square feet. Like so many Newport homes, this one has a name, The Seven Project, and it exemplifies much of Heydt’s philosophy.

“The idea of living in a tiny home can be intimidating to some in the beginning,” she says, “however it is incredibly rewarding when everything you own serves a purpose in your life and is used on a daily basis. It makes cleaning up a breeze and allows for you to display only pieces that hold meaning to you.”

Heydt attributes her talent for architecture and design to her grandfather, a well-known contractor in New York City. As a child, Heydt always enjoyed placing the furniture in her childhood bedroom and arranging objects on shelves. When she was 19, Heydt moved to Italy and studied interior design at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School in Florence. She spent six years in the country; her husband is an Italian native.

Today, Heydt is a prolific entrepreneur, owning both Heydt Home – an interior design firm – and co-owning Heydt + Mason, a branding agency. “While balance, proportion, and scale are key components to any well-designed home,” reads her website, “we at Heydt Home recognize that the ingredient which transforms a house into a home is through the art of incorporating ‘your uniqueness’ into the space.” Heydt’s own “uniqueness” is an extremely humble domicile, incorporating only the things she needs.

“After so many years living in Europe, the need for a large four-bedroom home didn’t seem like a necessity at this current stage of my life,” she says. “Designing a tiny home revealed many problems that required thoughtful solutions in order to fit all the utilities that a modern home demands. However, I love a good design challenge. It allows me to really be creative and think outside of the box. In The Seven Project we have designed the tiny home to house all the daily essentials. Designing with balance, proportion and scale in mind, we were able to create a small space that feels light, airy, and open. We were mindful of designing the home’s layout to encompass everything a modern couple would need.”

For Heydt, The Seven Project isn’t just a one-off. Heydt Home has plans to create more tiny homes, including a renovated train caboose. In the era of Marie Kondo and Real Simple magazine, Heydt is confident that more homemakers will discover that less can be more.

“There is nothing we lack that a 2,500-square-foot home has,” she says. “Maybe just less rooms to vacuum.” 

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