Moms who live in tiny spaces --- - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-22-2005, 03:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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how do you do it?

DH is talking about buying a condo, in the place we'd love to love. But, the one we can aford is only 320 square feet -- tiny. There's me, dh, dd and occasionally dsd. Right now I live in a 1 bedroom and feel cramped, tho its all stuff. But it feels like I need it all. How do you simpliy so that you take up such little space?
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Old 06-22-2005, 08:30 AM
 
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When I first opened this thread, I was thinking that it'd apply to us...5 of us in 840 sq. feet...is that correct 320 sq. feet? That's be slightly bigger than my living room, so I can't imagine!

Will be lurking to read more.
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Old 06-22-2005, 10:49 PM
 
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I haven't had to do it myself, but I've known people who have. Take any area you can for storage space. If you can get a book case that's counter height, stick fabric around it using velcro and use the shelves as a storage space. Use all of the space above 'living height' that you can - shelves, cupboards... Storage containers that fit under the bed, or couch if there's room are great. You can store extra blankets and sheets between your matress and boxspring.

I guess the main two things are to get rid of or consolidate everything you can and be VERY creative about storage space.

Good luck

Diana
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Old 06-22-2005, 11:05 PM
 
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We live in a one bedroom but used to live on a 30' boat and will soon live on a boat again.

I tend to be ruthless with stuff. I follow the one thing in, one thing out rule. I completely hate getting overloaded and feeling crowded in by possessions.

I do find it harder with dd - I don't want to get rid of everything she stops playing with for a week but I also want to teach her to be as unecumbered as possible...

Basically, the first time we paired down I went through everything. Stuff had to meet several criteria: Had to have more than one use (cake pan/pie pan/casserole dish), had to have a home (no junk stored on counters, heaped on shelves) and I had to love it.

I need to do this sort through fairly regularly.

And I haunted Ikea for storage ideas
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Old 06-23-2005, 11:13 AM
 
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It sounds really tiny. We just moved from a 500sq ft 1br to a 1100 sq ft 2 br. We needed the extra room. I'm a sahm and spend alot of time at home and a 1br was hard, especially with playdates. Plus my Dh often would work late at home and it was hard to give him some quietness. Our biggest mistake was not buy furniture to fit our home, instead we just took whatever was given to us. I agree with double duty stuff, not getting a sofa bed/futon was our wasted area. Put shelving everwhere!
Let us know what the layout is. I'm assuming 1br and a main room (kitchen/living room)

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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Old 06-23-2005, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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actually its a no bedroom -- a studio! But its in a termperate climate and near the water/park/zoo (walking distance) so it'll have to be more of a sleeping only place I think....
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Old 06-23-2005, 08:38 PM
 
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Btw can you do a murphy/wall bed? We have one and it gives my daughter play space and a desk. A Futon would have a similar double function I guess...
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Old 06-23-2005, 09:33 PM
 
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Wow, glad to see there are other mamas living in tiny spaces. We rent a two bedroom house but it is only 600 sq ft, maybe a bit less. Here are a few ideas:

If I had to live in 320 sq ft, the first thing I would purchase would be one of those full sized loft beds (IKEA has them). If you guys are not too big you could probably fit in that, at least until the kids were bigger. And you could use the area underneath as living/storage space. I've also seen full size loft beds with a futon underneath, if you didn't want the little ones sleeping up high.

I would also put a row or two of shelves along the top of the walls to store books and whatever else on. I'd love to do that here but our walls are pretty crappy so I'm hesitant. However, in a normal place it should work fine.

I would buy tall bookshelves and store your clothes in those rather than in dressers (which tend to be short and fat and take up more space than they need to). As someone else suggested, you can attach cloth/curtains to hang over the shelves to hide the clutter. Staples has those particle board bookcases that are pretty cheap and often go on sale for half price.

And make sure you get rid of EVERYTHING you don't need. That should keep the clutter down. I'm brutal and will pitch anything we don't need/use anymore unless it has massive sentimental value. My kids are on vacation this week with their dad and I'm pitching stuff left and right. It's actually getting clean in here.
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Old 06-24-2005, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the great ideas!
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Old 06-25-2005, 06:41 PM
 
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Wow. that is really tiny. I feel cramped with 4 of us in 770 sqft, but I know that is mainly because we have so much crap that dh refuses to part with.

Use laundry baskets under the bed, futon etc. instead of a dresser, use hanging shelves in the closet. If you don't have a closet, you can get a portable one with or without a cover. before we were married, dh and I lived in very small spaces, and we both had them. very handy, and with the covers they are so discerete, you forget you have one taking up half the room.

I have a friend who has 4 kids sleeping in a converted walk in closet. they got one of the twin over full bunk beds. the older boy sleeps in the top, the girl has a twin mattress which slides underneath, and the 2 little ones share the full size. Everyone is quite happy.

Also, don't buy a dining table. Use a coffee table instead and have everyone sit on the floor. you can even get one that folds up when not in use, and can be tucked into a corner.
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Old 06-26-2005, 08:56 AM
 
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We live small now, less than 1000sq for soon to be 6 people, but when we had only one child we lived really, really small.

My advice:

Be ruthless with stuff - make room for the humans not the material stuff

We fixed our bed, so we could lift it and attach it against the wall during the day, and it had a 'bench' across the legs for ds to play on. His toys were stored under the bed at night.

Give everything a home - be careful about not storing things too much in the open - it easily starts to feel cluttered and claustrophobic
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Old 06-26-2005, 05:43 PM
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I completely agree with this statement:

Quote:
And make sure you get rid of EVERYTHING you don't need. That should keep the clutter down. I'm brutal and will pitch anything we don't need/use anymore unless it has massive sentimental value.
Donate donate donate... it will make you feel good and you will get rid of tons of stuff... I think hanging on to a bunch of "stuff" we really don't use or need is probably the cause of a lot of people's clutter...

Good luck to you!
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Old 07-02-2005, 12:13 AM
 
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Dh, me, dd (15 mo.), and the dog live in a studio with a loft bedroom. It's about 500 square feet in the main living area and about 200 square feet in the bedroom, which has 5 ft. ceilings. We've had a friend live with us for 4-6 weeks several times as well. We're still up in the air about whether we'll move when we get ready for another child or if we'll do renovations here instead.

We bought a couple of books about small space interior design, about really fancy places that cost a lot of money. We couldn't do as expensive of stuff as they did, but they often had more creative ideas that we could copy in a less-costly fashion. We have a big folding dining room table and chairs stashed under the living room couch, which is a futon, (this allowed us to have Thanksgiving dinner for 8 here), we added padding and fabric on top of a couple of Ikea cabinets for storage and seating.

The biggest thing for us in making it feel comfortable emotionally is to have a place/area for each person, no matter how small. Dd has a corner with her toys and little chair, dh has a photography corner for his tripods and such, and I have a little window bench under the stairs with my gardening. Literally my personal space is one seat, but it's a place where no one else's stuff goes, where I can curl up with a book and a cup of tea.

We got rid of/stored most of the knicknacks, and keep only a tiny handful out, usually the newest ones that people persist in giving us for birthdays and such ("I know you have such a small space, so we got you this *little* dust-catcher cute thing"). In a small space, lots of small decorations just make the place feel more cluttered. One big photo is much better than 15 little ones (unless you hang the 15 little ones so they feel like one piece of artwork/collage).

Here's dd's two cents: bvvhnyvb b ........h h

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Old 07-02-2005, 02:56 AM
 
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We just expanded again, but while we were crammed into a small apt, the biggest thing I had to do was part with my books.

Whenever the stuff gets overwhelming, I just reminded myself that I got by just fine w/ only what would fit in a couple of lockers when I lived aboard ship in the Navy, and start tossing!

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Old 07-02-2005, 03:27 AM
 
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Let me destroy ceilydhmama's post to fit my situation....

We live in an 800 sf rowhouse, but will soon live on a boat of about 45'.

I tend to be ruthless with stuff. I believe in the one thing in, one thing out rule. Oddly, I was taught this by a very cool, middle-aged, liveaboard sailing captain I met in Havre de Grace, MD. I completely hate getting overloaded and feeling crowded in by possessions. We are in the everything out, consumables in only. (and a few items here and there to multi-task as replacements for many, many items)

I do find it harder with baby stuff. Jett's outgrowing toys, things, dipes and clothes - but I don't want to have to pay for it again with the next baby. So, for now, I'm getting rid out what I don't really love and storing the rest.

I also want to teach him to be as unecumbered as possible, when he's ready to learn about that.

This is second level of paring down. We are going through everything. Stuff had to meet several criteria: Had to have more than one use (cake pan/pie pan/casserole dish), had to have a home (no junk stored on counters, heaped on shelves) and I had to love it.

So far, about 50% is hitting eBay, the Trading Post, donations, give to family/friends/neighbors, etc. etc. We already got rid of tons and tons of furniture

I need to do this sort through fairly regularly to continue reducing my burden. I'm quickly learning (have learned) not to buy crap though.

I've been meaning to go to Ikea for storage ideas in the meantime.


The captain I met said, "I always remind my wife...if you buy this, where are you going to put the thing that goes where this will go. And, then, where will you put the thing that you have to move to put that there...etc."

(now, we'll not mention that this guy's boat was SOOOOO crammed full of crap you couldn't move around.)

SAHPilot Mama to a 5yoson, a 17 mo old daughter, and wife to .
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Old 07-02-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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Congrats on the boat Past_VNE You definately get into the rythm of getting rid of stuff and discovering what you can live without.

I have to admit I have a bit of a dollar store and shoe addiction though (the shoes don't come from the dollar store :LOL ) But my daughters craft cupboard is way overloaded with dollar store finds. Sigh.

Are you traveling on your boat or living at a dock? I actually found dock life was tougher than traveling. We seemed to need less while traveling, but that may change with a homeschooling child aboard...
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Old 07-02-2005, 03:14 PM
 
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Well, my point of view is that I live in the world, so it really isn't that small of a place.

But, the apartment that I "live" in is actually smaller than yours. On the other hand, it is bigger than my space on the boat I once worked on. (6 people on that boat)

One idea is to get a VERY SMALL storage locker (so that it forces you to use the space efficiently) and divide your stuff into use-it-once-a-year-or-once-every-six-months stuff and things you need once a week or more often. Then, the seasonal/occasional stuff goes into storage.

Also, start a campaign among your friends to not give you "stuff" as gifts. Propose it along the lines of, "Oh, and for my birthday, I'd love for you to come to the party but, if at all possible, please don't bring a gift, your presence is what I want, my friend, presents are not necessary. If you really want to get a gift, please limit it to something that I will enjoy useing up. I love red wine [or whatever]."

I am starting to do the research needed to set up an account for publically traded pollution credits (to take 'em off the market) for some family members who ALWAYS want to send us those "duty" gifts. I've started telling 'em about it and have enlisted the help of a sympathetic in-law to agitate for me, too. So all those $20 here and $40 there gifts could just become $10 each in our remove-the-carbon-dioxide-credits-for-power-plants from the trading stream. And maybe I'll donate all that to an environmental organization someday.

I know this is slightly off-topic, but part of the struggle to minimize the footprint is to limit what comes into your life. A lot of "stuff" that comes in has more to do with what other people think you "need" or what they want you to have rather than what you choose. And, of course, it is very kind of people to want to give a gift (o, ok, yeah, I know that lots of people do aggressive gift-giving ... like to increase guilt, but I'm not talking about that here...I'd like to asume only good intentions), but, it can make things more tricky, too.
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Old 07-02-2005, 05:11 PM
 
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Diane,
I agree about the rhythm of getting rid of things. It feels so good.

We aren't sure what we will be doing. Our ultimate goal is to cruise, but there might be a time of dock life between now and then, depending on money, our level of boating experience then, etc.

Look up boatbaby on here. She and her husband and son liveaboard in MD. We're getting together with them soon, I can't wait!!

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Old 07-02-2005, 06:10 PM
 
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Look up boatbaby on here. She and her husband and son liveaboard in MD. We're getting together with them soon, I can't wait!![/QUOTE]

Hee hee. Boatbaby is my old dock neighbour. She was at my daughters birth as my support person. She's quite wonderful
They are actually coming out for a visit to Vancouver in a month...
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Old 07-02-2005, 06:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohj
I know this is slightly off-topic, but part of the struggle to minimize the footprint is to limit what comes into your life. A lot of "stuff" that comes in has more to do with what other people think you "need" or what they want you to have rather than what you choose.
This is very true. In my group of friends we are trying more and more to give charitable donations as gifts. We also do alot of regifting We had a fun party a few years ago where a bunch of us collected up the stuff we had no use for - it was amazing how in a group of 10-12 we were able to redistribute most things and save making more purchases.

I am curious about the pollution credits. Can you send/post me a link?
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Old 07-02-2005, 10:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceilydhmama
I am curious about the pollution credits. Can you send/post me a link?
It is a fairly obscure section of the trading environment. I've been doing my research by word-of-mouth among the NY Wall Street people I know. This coupled with my insane schedule means that I make one call every two to three weeks to follow up on the last clue I got from someone two or three weeks previously. When I get it all figured out, I'll make a BIG thread about it here. I'm sure lots of people would be very interested.

I'll be looking someone up at the business research library to check their reputation and licensing, too, this week, so I might have some progress soon.

Don't worry, I won't forget.

PS: edited to add -- If anyone here knows stuff about this, please let me know. I've sometimes been getting conflicting stories.
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Old 07-15-2005, 05:12 AM
 
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Just wanted to add myself to this thread. :
We are a family of eight living in a 900sq ft home. It is definitely.....cozy.

Wendy
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Old 07-20-2005, 09:11 PM
 
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Old 07-28-2005, 10:57 AM
 
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didmt read all the posts, so i dont know if this has been mentioned, but check out ikea. in their catalogs, and in the stores(and probably onloine too) the have ideas for one room living, and theyre functional but still nice looking. some things ive seen are loft beds, so you can have the space under it to use for something else, small tables that fold down, and other things like that

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Old 07-29-2005, 05:56 AM
 
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Right now we live in a microscopic apartment. It is a renovated 3 story house that has been divided into several apartments. Ours is about 500 square feet. The prices of rents are too high for us to afford anything bigger.

We are very organized and since my mother also lives with us, there is help to keep everything neat. We have no storage, so we get plastic bins at patio sales and stack them up with labels. It can be done but you have to be inventive and neat.
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Old 08-15-2005, 12:40 AM
 
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I like your tips on living in small spaces. I totally agree with how annoying the "gift giving" can be. We're struggling with that right now b/c we don't want a baby shower and did not register. Kind neighbors gave us their no longer needed baby items like swings, high chair, bathtub, car seat, etc...

We are considering a move to a 2 BR, 1000 sq. ft fixer-upper with one gross looking bathroom. We'd like to add a bath/closet and renovate that one bath. We don't use nearly all of the space that we currently have!

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Old 09-06-2005, 01:59 AM
 
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We lived in a small house (made even smaller by the 7 foot ceilings... no, I am not kidding. I could touch them if I stood on my toes and I am 5 ft 5 on a good day) with both kids (one baby and one toddler), two cats and a big dog. I think when we had it insulated it was almost 600 sq feet. Some of the best things we did were buying one plastic bin for everyone and rotating seasonal clothes (we also had a 7X7 basement room), getting rid of the dresser and putting the drawers under the bed, and using the little vertical space we had. The kids did not have a toy box, they had the bookshelf. I liked that a lot, since it was easy to see what they had and there was no mess of emptying the darn toybox all over to find a matchbox car. I use(d) a lot of dual purpose things like a storage stool (from ikea!), a trunk as an end table (stored blankets, hats and mittens) and a coffee table with drawers. The best thing was being able to run the vacuume without unplugging it! It took like 30 minutes to clean the whole place.

When we moved to our "new" house, we used one UHaul and a few small car loads. Every single thing we owned fit into the front room. I shudder to think what it will be like next time we move (we now have over double the space and it filled up FAST).

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