For the first year and half of motherhood, my little family and I dwelled in a one-bedroom city loft with no doors except for the bathroom (ironically, it offered not even an ounce of privacy!). Now, we've upped our small space to a three-bedroom condo – it's still a condo and space is still limited.
Here are a few hacks I've learned along our urban journey to maximize the space you have to make room for stress-free fun.
8 Hacks to Play Big in a Small Space
1. If it's not doing double (or triple!) duty, pitch it. We used curtains to create walls in our old apartment. Now, our couch is our changing table (with a pad, of course!). The kitchen island is a chopping block, a serving table, a craft corner, and a storage bench for our deck cushions. Even our iHome doubles as a cash register for LG's booming restaurant business and the baby gate serves as our pretend Jail. You get the idea, be creative!
2. Get seasonal. Ideally, I'd love to have fewer clothes so I don't even need to do this, but in the meantime, I swap out clothes twice a year and put them in a giant, clear bin. The swap not only helps make our closet less stressful, but it also keeps my wardrobe lean as I donate the clothes I don't wear to people who need them.
3. Put kid-friendly items at kid-friendly levels. Littles love basic houseware items. Early on, I put all of our tupperware, wooden spoones, and pots and pans in bottom cabinets in the kitchen – without child-proofing. When I cook, clean, or do one of the other million things I seem to tend to in the kitchen, LG can explore and play without any intervention from me.
4. Keep things off the ground. Instead of shoving everything into closets, cabinets, or drawers, we do our best to use open shelving in an organized manner. We use mounted magazine racks for books, bookshelves for books/albums, walls for photos, and wall hangers for absolutely anything that can be hung up.We try to keep as much as we can off the floor by installing extra bookshelves and shelves along any wall spe
5. Think vertically. In tandem with keeping items off the floor, do what you can to utilize unused space – even if it requires a ladder. In our house, we made some minor investments in creating a storage locker along the ceiling at the base of the stairwell. The prior owners put artwork there. Cute, sure, but not practical. We use this for our seasonal clothing bins, suitcases and giant winter coats in the offseason.
6. Buy less. Seriously, just buy fewer things. Make smart purchases of versatile items – like neutral clothing or open-ended toys – and buy second-hand when you can, donate what you don't need, and consider renting everything else! I love services like LeTote for clothes and of course Green Piñata for toys.
7. Avoid bold colors. The louder the color, the bigger it looks, the smaller your home feels. For wall colors, rugs and furniture, we keep things super neutral with simple pops of color. For kids' items, we've gone even more neutral on decor and embraced the playful look of stuffed animals, dolls, and of course beautiful wooden toys.
8. Improvise. I've never understood the need to purchase millions of baby-specific items. We never owned a traditional high chair or a bumbo or a booster seat. When LG was tiny, we used the Phil & Ted's lobster highchair that attached to our kitchen island where we ate as a family. Now, she sits on a regular counter stool with a shoe box as her booster seat. Sure, it's not Real Simple-worthy and might sound ridiculous, but it works until she can reach the counter and it's her absolute favorite seat in the house. Not everything has to be perfect!
I'd love to hear about your small space hacks! Share them in the comments below.