Tag Archives: 500-square-foot apartment

Small Space Solutions (when you both work from home and have a toddler)

I recently started reading the blog 600sqftandababy about a growing family living in a tiny apartment in Canada. They had a second child and stayed put in their tiny apartment. I stumbled upon this site because I was searching for small-space family blogs for interior design inspiration after a particularly stressful freezing day spent inside our small apartment. I was drawn to this blog because our living situation is similar. We are two adults and a two-year-old (with another babe on the way) living in a one-bedroom apartment of roughly 500-square-feet.

The couple and their two-kids-under-three live a super minimalist lifestyle, which I’m trying to implement in my home. Space is functional. I kept poring over their pictures wondering how they made it look so simple…how do they get work done? How does the apartment not look like a goddamn romper room every day? And how is everyone SLEEPING? Sleep is a huge issue in our home. We share a bedroom with our toddler and it kiiiiiinda sucks. (I feel like our whole arrangement might be screwing her up in the long run. Or maybe we are making her the most perfect, well adjusted, supported and amazing person to ever walk the earth. Of course we are.  But let’s get real. No one is getting good sleep…)

I also kept looking around our space wondering why it seemed to jammed in comparison to 600sqft… Aside from a few aesthetic changes that NEED to be made (more wall shelves, smaller dining table, new couch, curtain divider in the bedroom to create the illusion of two rooms and some downsizing) there was something else missing. AND THEN IT HIT ME… Several things hit me, actually. These two parents have thriving careers: outside of the home. And they both seem to be normal sized human beings…

Now take us… My husband, Joe, is an artist/illustrator…he works from home. This is partly by choice because of convenience but also–studio space in NYC is outrageously expensive. To afford a studio he’d have to go way out to East New York or something. I also work from home (I am a freelance writer and I care for our toddler, Emilia). So there you have it: TWO adults and a toddler in 500-squre-feet for roughly 24-hours a day. Save for a few trips to the park, developmental classes and visits to grandma and papa’s (a few blocks away) we’re home a LOT. Like…in each other’s space and up each others butts most of the time. Even when my husband is on a super stressful project with a tight deadline (which is basically every project) he still has to deal with the family circus going on around him. No escape.

Another huge difference is that my husband is roughly six-foot-nine-inches tall. That seems amazing, and it is. But that also means his big clothes and shoes take up a lot of space in our small closet and bigger furniture is required (two major space-saving categories). He will kill me for sharing this but I have to consider everything. The 600sqft couple have a murphy bed. My husband would break that thing off the wall in five minutes!

One major obstacle is the shape of our apartment. The measurements, the construction, weird corners jutting out everywhere…it was NOT designed well. Whoever built our apartment building didn’t imagine that anyone would want to hang things from the walls. There is nary a stud to be found! So my brilliant idea of wall-mounting the TV would be a death trap. The wall shelves are hopefully safe with twenty anchors (Let’s just pray the upstairs neighbors don’t have another flood or the drywall will turn to putty and the screws will just slide out).

Small spaces are always a challenge–financially and visually. Finding easy and aesthetically pleasing items at Ikea or Home Depot is a nightmare. When I see gorgeous small spaces on Design Sponge (like this one or this one, which features 600sqftandababy) or Apartment Therapy (particularly this one) I laugh. Sure you can make a small space look great with a big budget. But if money were no object, we’d have a bigger f-ing apartment, wouldn’t we? Then our small space problems would be solved.

So here goes…

Bedroom: Eliminate two dressers, create a room divider, overhaul the walk-in closet (it is really a step-in and turn). This sounds impossible but with a little imagination and a dozen trips to Ikea and the hardware store I think we can do it.

Living Room: Everything must go. ok not “go” but change. Shelves, new couch, new table (and dining chairs because each one has a 80% risk of exploding beneath my husband every time he sits down).

Storage throughout: I am trying to avoid the urge to turn my apartment into something that resembles a workshop but we need shelves and storage solutions so I’m not tripping over toys and books and shoes.

My first challenge is the bedroom and closet. Stay tuned for posts on our progress.