- How to Eliminate the #1 Cost of Kids
- How 6 of Us Live in 2 Rooms, and Love it!
- 8 Ways Small Space Living Saves Big Money
- Creative Ways to Fit the Whole Family into a Small Home
- 5 Ways to Make Any Room Bigger
By Shira Boss
Zero Cost Kids
We fit our family of 6 – two parents, two children, and two dogs – into a two room apartment, less than 650 square feet. With some creativity, you too can definitely find all the space you need for the whole family in the home you have now.
Creative & Magical
Personally, I’d rather grow up in a small space used creatively and made magical than I would in a sprawling house devoid of spirit or special features. I hope you agree.
Here are some ideas to get started:
Children do need some space of their own, but I don’t believe they “need” an entire room. Instead, make use of nooks: carve out a corner, a closet, a cabinet that can be each child’s own.
The 5 foot by 3 foot nook in our bedroom that used to be my office will be transformed into bunk beds and “work” space for the kids.
You know what this looks like: beds above, desk and bulletin board or shelves below. Except ours will be super stacked: bed far up, bed up, and desks below all that. Good thing our boys are climbers!
Another plan is to make use of our high ceilings by building a loft in our stairway that will extend into the top of our closet. We’ll install a shoji screen as a sliding door – this will make a super nook with two “rooms” and quite a bit of privacy.
That might be hard for you to envision, but the point here is to think creatively.
A key is not to roll out these features too soon. Wait until the kids are really begging for more space – then make special spots appear! Keep your customers happy.
Another replacement for a room of one’s own is a box, trunk, cabinet or drawer of one’s own.
Learning to cull one’s collections and fit them into a limited space is a good life lesson. It gets them started early prioritizing, decluttering, and caring for their belongings rather than being buried in never-ending heaps.
There’s no reason to have belongings overflowing entire rooms – it’s overwhelming to us, let alone a child. Yet a small space that one has control over and is all his own becomes a special spot for treasured belongings and a dose of privacy.
The details of what, where, and how big this spot is will change as the children grow. Right now, our 1 and 3 year old share one cabinet of toys in the living room, and they’ve already discovered the bins of toys, art supplies and activities in the closet.
3. Go vertical
Thinking vertically and really using the space you have is key to staying comfy in a small space. I personally don’t like a lot of things stored or hanging overhead, but it’s still possible to make use of limited storage up high – shelves, hooks and nooks.
Just don’t overdo it to avoid closing yourself in like a submarine. Better to limit what you have to what’s really needed, then find the storage space.
When it snows in New York City, something very curious happens: people suddenly have cross-country skis! Skis are a rather large, awkward item to be storing in a small apartment for the small handful of times a year you might be able to use them to ski in the park. And yet, they appear!
Here’s the point: you find space for what you really want. And no more.
4. Go vertical some more!
Vertical space isn’t just for things – it’s for people!
We are blessed with a stairway in our 2-room apartment, and we have plans to install a rock-climbing wall there in a few years (before it’s capped by a loft!).
When I was growing up, my mom installed hooks in a bedroom doorway and we had a swing there with all kinds of different attachments (swing, knotted rope, etc.) – we loved it, and all our friends did, too!
We might also do a net near the ceiling at some point.
Use the space you have – kids love special features!
5. Use outdoors
Not everyone has a yard, but if you do, what a bonanza! Have you seen those little sheds that people convert into entire writing cottages, art sheds, tea houses, or man caves?
Treehouse or tea house
Little kids might have a fort or treehouse – older kids might want more of a teepee, tea house or man cave.
We have a deck, so we could do a mini shed. Just another place for the kids to escape to and make their own.
Again, it’s not how much space you have, it’s how it’s used creatively to give everyone what they need.
6. Time share (“Hotelling”)
Here’s one I’m borrowing from the corporate world: time sharing space. They call it “hotelling.”
In companies where people travel a lot, sometimes workers don’t have a dedicated office or cubicle but instead sign up for a space when they need it. When they’re on the road, someone else can use that space. It’s nooks and trunks, for grown-ups!
Work it out
How can this work at home? When the kids are teenagers and really hankering for some total privacy, they can have it:
Son #1 gets the bedroom from 4-6pm (Mon, Wed, Fri)
Son #2 gets the bedroom from 7-9pm (Tues, Thurs, Sat)
That’s just an example. The point being, things can be worked out. Ever hear of those families who had 6 kids and one bathroom? They worked it out. You can too.
7. Murphy Bed
Right now we have a king-sized bed. When the boys are sleeping on their own, my husband and I plan eventually to install a Murphy bed for us. (That’s a bed that flips up onto the wall during the day.)
It might be in the bedroom, or it might be in the living room. We’ll figure it out. But beds take up quite a bit of space, and a Murphy bed gets them out of the way – it can open up a whole room to be used for something else during the day!
Think trailer, ship, submarine…
These are just some ideas I’ve come up with.
If you know big families that have grown up in small houses, someone who has lived in a trailer, or anyone who has lived on a ship or a submarine or the space station, find out what other tips and tricks you can adapt for our own home. (Then please share them with me!)
You can do this!