Alison Mazurek started her blog, 600 Sq Ft and a Baby, when she and her husband, Trevor, decided to stay put in their Vancouver one-bedroom after the arrival of their son, Theo.
The couple decluttered, invested in a Murphy bed for the main living space, and gave Theo the bedroom, which he will soon share with his sister, Mae, who was born last July.
“Before our second baby, I asked myself, ‘What’s not working right now?’ It’s not all about size: One change we made was to upgrade our dishwasher to a quiet model—we sleep right next to it.”
The couple’s Murphy bed from Resource Furniture was a big investment, but as Mazurek points out, it was a lot cheaper than buying a larger home. During the day, the bed stays tucked away, and at night, the couple pulls it down to sleep. For the first months Mae has slept near her parents in a bassinet, but she’ll move to her brother’s room soon.
“As a test, we recently packed away Theo’s bin of trains, leaving just enough track for a big circle and a few trains,” says Mazurek. “We watched, amazed, as he played with this small amount of toys—a break from his usual habit of dumping them out and getting bored.”
Small-space solutions don’t always come in the form of new purchases. The couple’s oversize sectional sofa no longer fit when they rearranged their furniture to accommodate the wall bed, so they broke it into two parts. While having such a large couch may seem counterintuitive, Mazurek says that it’s now part of what makes their small space work—a pleasant surprise.
When Linsey Laidlaw and her husband, Brian Morris, moved into a Brooklyn two-bedroom in 2009 with their 14-month-old daughter, Ivy, they didn’t expect to still be there with three kids eight years later. However, Laidlaw says that the benefits of staying in their neighborhood and at the school their children love has outweighed the possibility of a larger home.
“We have rotated things like large-footprint baby gear and toys among friends, rather than trying to store them in a small space,” says Laidlaw. “There wasn’t a firm system, but the gear always made its way back to us when we needed it.”
The Laidlaw-Morris kids—Rosie, Oliver, and Ivy—share a room that the family outfitted with a custom loft bed above and a toddler bed and crib below. Laidlaw praises investing in custom-built furniture that will fit a room precisely.
The kids do most of their playing in the family’s main living spaces. Laidlaw and Morris carved out a corner next to the kitchen for a creative kid area. A piece of pegboard equipped with hooks and bins from a home-improvement store provides vertical storage for craft and school supplies.
“Purchasing a toddler bed can seem like a waste of money (Do I really have to buy a transitional bed?), but using one saves so much floor space, it’s worth it,” says Gabrielle Stanley Blair, author of Design Mom: How to Live With Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide.
When designer David Kaihoi and his wife brainstormed how to fit a second bed into their compact one bedroom, Kaihoi settled on the idea of a mini trundle bed, which he built to fit a crib mattress and nestle beneath the couple’s bed and roll out at night.