Would it be possible to live in a 1 bedroom with my DD? Any inspiration for me? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I'll be moving to Toronto in July, living on my own with my 4 yr old DD. I'm going to be single and going to school so I am trying to simplify.


I'm starting to house hunt now, and I've found the perfect area for us that is also a bit cheaper than the rest of t he city but I'm realizing that if I want a two bedroom place on my budget it would have to be a dingy basement apartment. If I was looking for one bedrooms, however, suddenly they get so much nicer in my price range- there are lots of bright, well taken care of one bedrooms in my price range. I'd take natural light over space any day because I get super depressed without it. But would it be possible to make this work?


I've been looking for inspiration in apartment therapy's small cool contest but there doesn't seem to be many families on there, mostly singles. Anyone have any advice and inspiration? I have plenty of ideas for how I might set it up but I suppose I'm worried about each of us having our own space, etc. 


I have two ideas for how to make it work. I could get a loft bed from ikea- something like this: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/S59872897 and have that be her 'bedroom', either making my office area underneath (it is crucial that I have a dedicated work space) or if space permits, have it be her play area. I could also have something like a curtain on a rod so we could pull it around the bed and make it more private for her. I'd put a shelf on the wall for her books, some small toys, etc. Mostly what I'm worried about with this plan is how long it would be feasible for... what happens if she has friends over and she doesn't have a seperate room to take them to. 


My second idea would be to make the one bedroom her room and basically set up the rest of the apartment as a bachelor apt- have the bed, living, dining and work area in one space. argh just saying that though makes me want to scream because it sounds like it could be a nightmare. 


Anyone else have any ideas for me? 

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#2 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 10:37 AM
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I think having a one bedroom would work just fine. I think I'd try to use a curtain to make a private space for your daughter either in the bedroom or living area. The loft bed idea is good too. Ikea also sells trundle beds. I wouldn't put your work space in the same room where she's sleeping though, unless you never work after she goes to bed.
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#3 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 11:59 AM
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Why not just set up the bedroom as a neutral place to relax and be? So that when she's in there with her friends, you hang out in the living room. Or when you need space, you take the bedroom and she hangs out in the living room. Both "rooms" could have spaces for both you and her. Check out ohdeedoh.com They have some very elegant rooms.

Do you all cosleep? Do you have a pull out couch for the living room? I'd definitely keep your desk in the living room. I think it will definitely work out well. Besides, she's just four. DD was always in our room at that age anyway.

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#4 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 02:53 PM
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Hope the link works. It's a loft bed with a curtained area underneath for a little privacy.




For awhile my parents, my brother and I lived in a one bedroom apartment. I was five and my brother was under one year old. I slept on the couch. He was in a bassinet in their room.


We also lived in one bedroom cabins during the summers when I was a kid and my dad would work in Michigan in the summers. My brother and I slept in the living room all summer. One cabin had two couches, so we each had a couch to sleep on. Otherwise I am guessing we had pallets on the floor. I don't remember. We did this from the time I was in first grade until third or fourth grade each summer.


We played outside a lot, but if friends came over we all just were in the living room. Not having a bedroom of our own didn't bother us that I remember. It was no big deal.


The moms who live in RVs might have some good ideas. They have a tribe in Finding Your Tribe. They are families living in small spaces.


Good luck finding an apartment that will work for you and your daughter!

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#5 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 04:32 PM
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I think you could co-sleep for now ... or give her the bedroom and put yourself a Murphy bed in the living room.

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#6 of 21 Old 04-18-2011, 04:40 PM
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Me, DH, and 5yo DS just moved into a 1BR and personally, I'm loving it!!


Now, if we were on the 5th floor of a building it might be a different story, but we're on the ground level, right next to DS's school in a small building with lots of land (plus the school yard). There are a lot of conveniences and have certainly met our goal of keeping things simple.


We built an OP Loft bed (http://www.oploftbed.com/) for DS and slid our bed underneath so we have lots of floor space and separated spaces without taking up much room.


A smaller space you feel good about is totally better than a dingy place with lots of mediocre space. I say go for it!



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#7 of 21 Old 04-19-2011, 01:21 AM
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Oh, definitely! We live in one-bdr with our toddler, and could easily fit another child here. The whole apartment is 600 sf. We co-sleep and DD's toys, books, desk etc are in the living room. Her clothes are in my side of the closet in the bedroom. If we had another kid and they were no longer co-sleeping with us, we would give the bedroom to the kids. The loft bed "room" is a good idea! Kids LOVE small cozy spaces. Here are some pics from our place;


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#8 of 21 Old 04-19-2011, 06:45 AM
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It depends on your and DD's preferences, but I definitely think it can be doable. I lived in a 1 BR apartment with my mom for a number of years growing up, and we both were very happy with the arrangement. Neither of us needs a huge amount of space to feel comfortable, and we found that sharing a BR afforded us more time to talk and connect as we went about our daily routines--we shuffled around the same room and rifled through the same closet every morning, for example. Some of my best childhood memories are little moments from those times.

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#9 of 21 Old 05-05-2011, 02:48 PM
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DH, DS, and myself live in a 290 square foot 1 bedroom apartment. We took the doors off of the large bedroom closet, and put DSs crib there with a big blue play silk type canopy. It gives him his own bit of 'private' quiet space. During the day we just hook the canopy back to one side. 

Our living room/dining room/kitchen is all one space, but we have arranged it so that we have an area to eat with our table and chairs, and an area to congregate with DSs toys, comfy chairs, and our computer desks. 

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#10 of 21 Old 05-05-2011, 07:00 PM
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I think you could do that with no problem. I lived in a conversion van with my 3 year old son for 6 months. I have a 3 bedroom house now, and we only use one of the bedrooms. I like the loft bed idea. If my son didn't prefer to be practically attached to me at night, I would definitely do that.

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#11 of 21 Old 05-05-2011, 10:17 PM
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IT can work. My son now 4 still! Sleeps in a converted hallway closet area. (featured on apartment therapy a few years ago) It is nice for a child to have some space to call their own but it doesn't need to be a room.
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#12 of 21 Old 05-05-2011, 10:34 PM
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We live in a 3 bedroom and my whole family sleeps in one room.   We were all in a king until recently when we moved my DD's twin bed in, although it is still set up as 1 big bed.  My oldest DD is almost 3, so a little younger than yours.  I don't see it as a problem at all, I don't see needing a personal space (for her).


Good luck!

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#13 of 21 Old 05-08-2011, 07:24 PM
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we are 4 people living in a 1-bedroom (a little under 600sf) and it works fine. Its tight. Privacy is not a big issue for us at this point in our family life. We slide the kids mats under the queen bed during the day, and all sleep in the same room. Nobody minds When friends come over they just play in the bedroom or living room and its not a problem. DD is 2 and DS is 6. I am unexpectedly pregnant and we are even going to try and make it work for about another year, at which point I am sure I will have to look elsewhere. We all share one dresser and one closet.


My thought (I am a student mom) is that you need to set aside a work space for yourself. That has always been my biggest challenge sharing a small apartment.


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#14 of 21 Old 05-09-2011, 12:24 AM
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I would use the bedroom as a bedroom and then the living area as a living area *with* the dedicated workspace that you need.


The bedroom can have two beds, why not? If it's just going to be the two of you for a while, I would consider two twin beds and a nice big dresser with a mirror above in between the beds for your things, a table lamp each (one on each end). I would then use the wire thingies from Ikea and curtain off each bed (as if it were a four-poster) with beautiful ikea curtains (these happen to be a lace-look; You'd likely need two panels for the head, two for the foot, and four for each side of the bed -- so 4 sets total for each bed). Then just have matching bedding, and then space for her toys that is "up and away" for peace when you need to just be in the room peacefully.


The living room can be set up as a normal living area, and in it you can include a concerted work space as required. The ikea catalogue often has a lot of great ideas for multi-use spaces (or even going by ikea to see how they do it). We get a lot of inspiration there, even though there is no Ikea here in NZ -- so we get a lot of used and thrift furnishings but then organize them in a way that Ikea does with their lay-outs. 


In our household, both DH and I often end up working at the dining table (our only table). Whenever I set up an office or workspace for him, it really becomes a dumping ground. But, when we have a space to put our belongings so that we can eat at the table -- there's a lot more organization.


DH is getting more streamlined (less paper), but we are using shelves and baskets to great effect in our home. One shelf has notebooks, papers, articles, and related all organized into baskets. One has the books we are using. Another holds our computers when they are charging or not in use. Another holds things like pens, scrap paper, and related. And finally, we have one for our files (home and business records, mostly). 

So, when we are working, we will use the table, and when it is time to eat, we tidy everything away in an organized fashion -- even projects in process. They have a shelf all their own, too -- so we can make a little pile of the notebook, book, articles, papers, and scraps that we are using. Each of us has a basket on this shelf (so does DS) for these items (keeps the scraps from getting lost). 


It streamlines how much furniture we need (instead of a desk, shelves, desk chair plus dining room table, we only need dining room table and the shelves), and it also makes it easier to keep our work *well organized*. DH used to loose things with his former methods (piles and piles and piles), and so he'd print off extra copies or redo work he'd already done. This method has really kept us both "on task" because we know exactly what we are doing at any given moment with any given thing. It works well for us, so I thought I would float it out there.


There are 3 of us, currently living in a 500 sq ft 1 bedroom, moving to a 550/600 sq foot one bedroom (plus tiny second room/closet) beach cottage. We have to be streamlined!

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#15 of 21 Old 05-14-2011, 07:14 AM
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As a New Yorker, I know tons of people in arrangements like this! 


One family in precisely your situation (single mom and 4 yo) has a studio apartment with an alcove foyer. The ds's "room" is the foyer, which has plenty of space for a small bed and lots of toys. The sofa folds down into a bed (it's not a traditional sofa bed--the back just kind of folds down) and that's where mom sleeps.


I know another family with three kids in a two-bedroom loft. Older kids share the large bedroom; littlest kid has the tiny bedroom; mom and dad set up a partial dividing wall in the large living room and their bedroom (not fully enclosed) is where the back half of the living room used to be. The parents prefer to be in the common space because the kids go to bed much earlier than they do, so they can turn on the TV or make a snack without worrying about waking anyone.


There are lots of different ways to make this work. I would just look for the nicest, safest space you can and figure out how to divide things up. 

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#16 of 21 Old 05-14-2011, 10:06 AM
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It can totally be done! I'm doing it. I live in a 650 sq ft 'house' with no interior doors. It's not really a studio because there are walled off sections to make rooms... It is plenty of space for me and my three year old and my baby until my ex shows up. I only had enough posessions to fill up the back of a pick up truck, including my dog in a crate, when I moved in. Now I can't even see the floor in half the kitchen because it's filled with his 'expensive stuff that i'm lucky to get to use' and my living room has two large coffee tables that take up half the space! *sorry for the vent* Back to the point a small space is doable for a mom and a daughter! Especially if you are in a nice neighborhood where there are parks, playgrounds, friendly coffee houses etc... If you are in school full time finding a place that is close to both school and your dd's daycare will matter too.

be good family...

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#17 of 21 Old 05-15-2011, 10:17 PM
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I live in a 550 square feet, one bedroom apartment with a 3.5 year old and a six month old (single mom).. I have a queen-size bed that I share with the baby, and my older boy has a toddler bed that is at the foot of my bed (there is enough space to walk between the two beds) I think/hope he will be able to sleep on it until he is five. I co-slept with him until the baby was born, and have no problem co-sleeping with the baby for the next few years.


We've been here for five months and as I will be going back to college in January, I foresee us being here (or a similar 1 bedroom) for the next 2 - 4 years.


My 3 year old LOVES his toddler bed. All his stuffed animals 'live' on it, he rounds all 15 of them up every night. He also has a play area (ABC foam mats) in the living room, which honestly takes up most of the living space.. along with the baby's playpen that is a MUST.. I can't leave him on the floor with his brother for a minute unsupervised. Then we have a jumperoo that my mom sent the baby.. he only uses it like 10 minutes a day, I am thinking about getting rid of it to make more room.


We have a little 'walk-in' closet off the hallway, it's maybe 4 feet by 3 feet. In the future I want to put some shelves like from home depot in there. I keep all the stuff we don't use daily in there.. art supplies, car seats, suitcases, I rotate toys so they go in there when they're on vacation.


I like living in a small space.. but if I'm not on top of stuff constantly, it gets out of control.


Right now I am struggling with finding a place to set up my own 'office' area. I am considering one of those old rolling top desks or something. I am toying with the idea of turning the bedroom into the playroom/living room (plus keeping 3 year old's bed in there, so he'd sleep there at night) and moving my bed into the living room. Then I'd have a place to put a desk/book shelf in the living room. We spend a lot of time in the bedroom anyway, hanging out on my bed. I just have two chairs from a waiting room in the living room (and a folding table/chairs for the dining table) So it isn't very cozy.. but we're working on it.


I don't think there is anything wrong with living in a 1 bedroom with such young children. Privacy isn't an issue anymore than it would be in a 3 bedroom house. If I need to be alone, I tell my son that, give him a few choices of stuff to do and go into the other room for awhile. I am someone who needs a lot of 'alone time' but with kids, when do we get it? Even if we were in a big house, he would still be following me to the bathroom and all over the house all day long.






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#18 of 21 Old 05-16-2011, 10:58 AM
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Absolutely!!! I live with my DS in a 1 bedroom apartment. We have one huge walk in closet in the bedroom, which contains our clothes/shoes, 2 small baskets of toys, his bike, a small Christmas tree w/decorations and a vacuum. The bedroom has my full size bed, a desk (this one <3 it....http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40180042) with a lamp and chair. In the living room, I have this couch (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89859465) and it works out great for my son. That is all we moved in with as I separated pretty darn quick. I was able to grab a bin full of dishes,bedding, pictures, my computer, movies/cds, and a few more toys and his foot stool. I am planning on adding a small round table with 2 chairs and possibly a leather bench with storage. I walked away from a lot of stuff but couldn't be happier. I use the extra space in the kitchen to store extra toilet paper, bathroom items, etc. We have a little washer/dryer in our place too and that has a shelf above it. I find living wit hjust what I need helps. I turned the other cabinet in my kitchen in to a pantry of sorts. Also, I don't use the HUGE refrigerator we have...it always looks half empty because I only buy weekly. I bought a smaller, half the size one (like this one... http://www.compactappliance.com/CRF320SS-EdgeStar-Midsize-Compact-Refrigerator-Freezer-Stainless-Steel/CRF320SS,default,pd.html?cgid=Appliances-Refrigerators-Refrigerator_Freezer#)  and it sits in our hallspace and it wonderful. I unplugged the other one. It has enough freezer space for a bag of chicken and a few smaller items and then the rest is enough for yogurt, vegetables,eggs, condiments, almond milk and cheese. I cook only enough for that meal and lunch the next day. I think the energy I am saving is worth it. : ) My son also likes that it's his size. : )


With the few decorations I have, it is perfect and feels homey. I did put up some matching curtains in the bedroom/living room area and now it feels like an expensvie hotel but better. My best advice is to purge and really think about everything you bring in.

This apartment is only 600 square feet and it feels huge. It was important to me to find a place with a pool, walking trail, pet friendly and close to work/school. I love the lower bills and I really can see me living like this for the rest of my life.


**EDIT** I think I will be adding this for my son's organization in the living room. He asked for his own spot. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80100190 I think this is cute but works in my space. And it is easy enough to move.

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#19 of 21 Old 05-17-2011, 06:49 PM
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I was in a similar situation until recently and opted for a slightly different solution. My boys used the bedroom. I slept on a futon in the living room which folded up and became our sofa during the day. I kept my blankets and pillow in a coffee table that had storage. And the bedroom had two closets, so I did store my clothes in the bedroom. I just had to remember to get pajamas out before I put them to bed :)

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#20 of 21 Old 05-18-2011, 07:19 AM
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I would go for the nicer, safer place first!  DH, DD and I live in a one-bedroom in the city, and so far so good.  It took a little re-thinking and re-adjusting, but honestly it is "home" and we don't give much thought to the fact that we live in a one bedroom.  DH and I lived in the apartment long before DD.  DD has been co-sleeping but we converted the dining room (which opens into the living room) to an area where we keep a twin bed (that serves as a day bed with lots of pillows), DD's art table and toys.  Heck, we even have a piano in that apartment!  DD and I share a closet and we have a lot of open shelves with baskets for clothes (yes, I love IKEA).  When DD's friends come for sleepovers, we blow up the air mattress and they stay in the living room. 


Part of what makes it work for us is that the bedroom and living room more or less serve the same functions.  DH has two stereo systems (one in the bedroom and one in the bedroom).  We don't watch a lot of television but we have two tvs and DVD players (one in each room). 


You know, it's funny, but I think a lot of people don't realize that downsizing is actually quite doable and comfortable.  For some strange reason, my parents bought a bigger house when we all moved out.  Still scratching my head about that one!

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#21 of 21 Old 05-22-2011, 09:41 PM
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I'd put a bunk bed in the bedroom, and keep your clothes in there, but make it "her" room.  With her toys, her stuff in there.


Then the LR becomes "your" room.  Dedicate a corner to your office.

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