Living in a Small Space with Children
Whether you’re a city-dweller or you have a few hundred acres at your disposal, living in a small space with children demands ruthless organization. It also demands thoughtful attention to your furniture choices, your layout, and your flex spaces. Alison Mazurek of the blog 600 Square Feet and a Baby knows all about living in a small space with children. We recently caught up with Alison to learn how she makes her home feel comfortable, sane, safe, and fun for her family of four (yes you read that right — two babies).
Make the Most of Vertical Space
Alison doesn’t have floor space to spare. But that doesn’t mean she has to give up floor lamps, bushy palms, and a collection of her favorite books. Alison and her husband Trevor have installed clever pieces, like their entryway shelving, and capitalized on other incidental “shelving,” like the ledge above their wall bed. We’ve wrapped up a few other small-space vertical storage solutions to get your imagination going.
Love plants but don’t have the floorspace for a big beautiful planter? Try hanging plants from your ceiling instead. Not only do you get a dramatic, flowing plant statement, you also get to keep the floor clear.
Alison and Trevor have lined their plants on top of their Murphy bed and along the top of their kitchen cabinets. Plenty of sun for the plants; more room for you and your family to play and hang out.
Wall brackets, that is. One of our favorite things about Alison and Trevor’s apartment is the beautiful wooden surfboard hanging above their Solae sofa. Trevor is a keen surfer, and the board acts both as a piece of art and a sweet stick for schralping some gnarly waves. If you have large but beloved items, consider giving them the artists’ treatment and hanging them from your wall.
Amongst the most obvious of solutions, but still a very good one. Narrow shelving allows for display space and smart storage. While Alison has employed small shelves near her front entrance, corner shelves or a long shelf near the ceiling are great ways to make use of open space and to draw the eye upward.
Alison also uses shelves to display her children’s books and art. These low profile shelves are a great way to treat the colorful books like art, and to keep track of their current selection of library books.
Playing with Layout
We wrote [a whole post on smart ways to divide up your space], but Alison could write the book. At her house, two geometric rugs demarcate the living room from a flex area. Similar in tone and texture, the rectangular rug hosts the living room furniture while the circular rug acts as a place for the Mazurek kids to play and hang out. Comfy, plush rugs are both an excellent way to create some visual separation in a space, and contribute to a comfy lounge-y vibe.
Keep it Open
Alison and Trevor thought hard about how they wanted to lay out their space. Both favor open, minimal spaces. To help achieve this, the pair removed the kitchen island upon moving into their new home nine years ago. While there is less space to store kitchen items, the family has edited their collection of utensils, travel mugs, and dishware to the essentials: hard to do, especially when you’re living in a small space with children. The result? More space to move, and the ability to add an extendable dining table to host friends and family.
Use What You Have
Another clever layout move? The window ledge that runs the length of the Mazurek apartment doubles as a de-facto side table. As a result, the family is able to make do without a coffee table, which would limit the kids play area and clutter the space. Alison likes to keep her morning cup of coffee on the ledge, as well as her evening cup of wine.
At the Mazureks’ house, the living room is grand central station. As such, they needed a sofa that fulfilled both their preferred style, and their practical parenting needs. The Solae modular sofa was a great match. Its low profile shape emphasizes the high ceilings, is kid-friendly, and — significant bonus — is very chic. It’s also highly customizable. Alison moves the ottoman to seat more guests, to accommodate their wall bed, and to make the most plush movie-watching station ever.
Table: the Discussion
As we mentioned earlier, the Mazureks removed the kitchen island that their original home came with. Rather than the informal vibe of an island, they wanted a table they could extend and gather their friends and family around. Though it lives most of its life tucked against the wall, the dining table comes out for special occasions and family dinners. It also serves a second purpose as a station for art projects, baking projects, and late night work sessions.
Up the Wall
The Mazureks’ most subtle modular choice is also their most impactful. Alison and Trevor gave over their room to their two kids, while they share a wall bed that lowers down into their main living area. During the day, the wall bed is a quiet blank slate topped with plants and books. At night, Alison and Trevor move the Solae ottoman and unlatch their wall bed for a cozy night’s reprieve. This solution worked so well they mimicked the style for their kids’ room. The bunk beds fold up into the wall to create a larger play area for the kids. They even commissioned a local art store to create a felt cover for the upturned beds — a perfect canvas for art projects. The flexible space makes living in a small space with children feel spacious — even when they have friends over.
Alison and Trevor love where they live. When their first baby came along, they worried about how they were going to make a bigger family work in their 600 square-foot apartment. In the five years since, they have calibrated their small space with clever adjustments and a lot of gratitude. Alison’s love of her community, her appreciation for their vibrant neighbourhood, and her focus on integrating her kids with their surroundings directs their small space living as much as a smart floorplan. Size is irrelevant: her home is full of love.