Does anyone live in a 550 sq ft or less tiny/small house or apartment with children? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 35 Old 09-06-2012, 03:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to hear from people living in small spaces with children and how you find it?
Do you enjoy it? Hate it?
Are you into simplicity/minimalism?

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#2 of 35 Old 09-06-2012, 05:20 AM
 
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We don't now but a couple years ago we rented a 400 sq. ft duplex. We had 3 children at the time. It had 2 bedrooms. One bedroom for the kids and one for us. We only lived there for 7.5 months and during the late spring, summer and fall. I didn't like it. I personally was so glad to find something bigger before winter set in. We have COLD winters with lots of snow.
 


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#3 of 35 Old 09-06-2012, 07:00 AM
 
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We live in a 600-ish sq ft duplex. "We" are 2 adults and 2 kids, 2 & 4 years old. Our duplex is a 2 bed/1 bath. I am estimating the square footage, and wouldn't be surprised if it's actually smaller than I think it is. Anyway, it's ok for now. We lack serious storage space... all of our extra stuff is stuffed into the attic, which gets blazing hot. We live in the southeastern US. We also had to ditch a good bit of furniture. We don't have space for a kitchen table and chairs, but do have a high counter, which we have two bar stools for. Kids eat at the coffee table. There is a good size yard outside, which we utilize daily. Good people in the neighborhood with kids our kids' ages. We are within walking distance of a playground and there are also several playgrounds within a 3-5 minute drive. Overall, we are dealing with it just fine for now, but I anticipate we'll need a bigger space in a year or two. I don't want to go too much bigger though... just enough to fit everything we need and to have a little personal space. In a way, we were forced to declutter, which was fine with me. Learned a few lessons about needs vs wants. I could probably lose more stuff if I had the time and energy to figure it all out. No real complaints other than the storage issue. Had to get creative with that in the kitchen. I do miss some of the furniture we had (kitchen table).


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#4 of 35 Old 09-06-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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Did it with 2adults, 3cats, and 1child-birth to 4.5yrs.

Overall loved it. It was an apartment. With limited storage and no outside space.

Biggest suggestion is to get furniture that fits the space. I made do with furniture that was gifted to me from family with larger homes.

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#5 of 35 Old 09-06-2012, 05:09 PM
 
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We are doing it right now - 2 adults, 1 kid (age 3), 2 cats, and a baby on the way.  480 sq ft but with a back yard and porch access.  We are going into our third year in this apartment.  The cats are a pain in the ass.... they really don't like being in this small of a space anymore and let us know it.  I'm actually looking into rehoming one of them because she is so unhappy about it.

 

We don't love it and we don't hate it.  Having the right storage furniture really helps, as does keeping possessions on the low side of things.  Occasionally I have spasms of guilt about limiting the toys that DD can keep, but she really doesn't seem to care.  I recently released many things from our home that were just taking up too much space and we have some breathing room now which is so important.  (And there is still more to go!)  A small space is only easy to clean if it's not overloaded with stuff, and the stuff all has a home to go to.  I try to keep us at less than 70% of capacity, with a few empty drawers and shelves here and there because any more than that and we start having piles of stuff everywhere, and then cleaning becomes a huge chore.  Related to that, I try to have the discipline of only shopping for things we know we need.  So leisurely time-killing trips to browse Goodwill are out.

 

The only thing I don't like about our apt is that it can be difficult to entertain indoors because the space is so small and the energy can sort of "bounce around" on the walls.... with small kids that can lead to chaos pretty quickly.  OTOH, I have had four or five kids playing together quietly, but that is usually with a mix of ages, not a bunch of toddlers.

 

We are looking to move to a larger space next year, but it's hard to say what will happen.  I will look forward to having some more space, although I'm going to be careful not to rush to fill it up.

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#6 of 35 Old 09-07-2012, 11:36 PM
 
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For the first 5 years of ElderSon's life we lived on a 36 foot sailboat. I have no idea how that compares with square foot measurements. Most furniture had multiple purposes - the couch in the salon was also seating at the dining table and bed at night. We were mostly in the Caribbean, so it was a tropical climate, and we were outside most waking hours. We learned to collect experiences rather than things. Although it has been many years now, I still have only a loose attachment to any objects. Even in a fairly normal sized home, I don't feel a need to fill it up. I only learned words like simplify and minimalist lately. It has always seemed quite natural to me.
 


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#7 of 35 Old 09-08-2012, 05:21 PM
 
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BTDT - with three small children, and I would never, never wish to go back. I know people do it, and make it work, but I suffered through a yr and a half of it and hated every minute.

Now, years later, we have 3,000 sq ft, 1/2 an acre of land, 5 beds/3 baths and our quality of life is like a million times better. Admittedly, it's not only the space that makes such a huge difference (but a complete change in location, lifestyle, finances, etc.). BUT, even if everything else in life were going as well as it currently is but we had to confine to a small living space, I know for sure I'd hate it. Just not organized and creative enough to live like that. Many other people are, though!

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#8 of 35 Old 09-08-2012, 05:52 PM
 
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We have 2 adults, a 5 year old and a 10 month old in a 540 sq foot apartment.  It's 2 bd/1bth, but has lots of storage space.  We would LOVE to have some place bigger, but we really like our apartment.  If only there were just one more bedroom!  We have a lot of belongings, but living in a small space has certainly helped us to get rid of some things. 
 


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#9 of 35 Old 09-12-2012, 06:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're in the process of, hopefully, buying a three bedroom cottage built in 1900, arranged over three floors. It's 558 sq ft and we are a family of four! We're waiting for the survey to come back on the property at the moment. Thank you for your replies!

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#10 of 35 Old 09-28-2012, 12:48 PM
 
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Ours is 900sqft, but we have three kids with another in the mail. It's hard! But I am loving the simplicity that has to come with it! Everyday I find something new that we don't need and it feels great to get rid of that clutter, both mentally and physically. It is a never-ending job to keep on top of the stuff that multiplies though, hmmmm...

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#11 of 35 Old 09-28-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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We've lived in smaller apartments-- between 700-900 sq ft with two kids, two adults and a cat. We recently moved to a 1300-1400 sq ft house and I LOVE IT. There is definitely something to be said for the ease of keeping a smaller space clean, but the clutter was hard to deal with. I think it's doable if you have lots of storage and outdoor space, especially if you live in a climate that allows you to be outdoors a lot of the time. We live in WI and the winters were a little brutal in a small space. We all had cabin fever. 


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#12 of 35 Old 09-29-2012, 12:35 PM
 
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I've been in 575 sq ft for over 2 years now with my almost 9 yo DD and 7 yo DS.  It's tiny, but the layout makes it feel bigger than it actually is.  We don't have outside space, which is a drawback.  My kids share a room and that has been becoming a challenge recently, as I have a boy and a girl.  Their school is awesome, though, and this is pretty much the only place I can afford to live in this area, so I feel like I'm stuck here for another 2 years (until my oldest is out of elementary school).  Ideally, I want to end up in Boulder in a small house that allows the kids to have their own rooms, but that's a little ways off.  If I had 2 boys or 2 girls, I think I could make this place last even longer.  


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#13 of 35 Old 09-30-2012, 10:48 AM
 
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We lived in a two bedroom (VERY small bedrooms) 513 sq ft house for 11 years.  The house lacked closets or a bathtub--it had a shower stall instead.  In December we moved to a 2100+ sq ft house with a usable cellar, so basically five times the space we had before.  I will be honest--although we were happy in the tiny house, we like our new house SO MUCH BETTER.  There is something to be said for space to move and closets!  Ironically, when we moved we got rid of about 50% of our possessions.  And even after we moved, I ended up taking at least three full carloads of things to Salvation Army because we decided we didn't need it after all.  So now we are in this huge house with half the stuff we had before!  We're still not used to it, LOL.

 

Anyway, I'd be happy to answer any questions.  Multi-function furniture and wall shelves were a lifesaver for us.

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#14 of 35 Old 09-30-2012, 03:47 PM
 
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We lived in a two bedroom (VERY small bedrooms) 513 sq ft house for 11 years.  The house lacked closets or a bathtub--it had a shower stall instead.  In December we moved to a 2100+ sq ft house with a usable cellar, so basically five times the space we had before.  I will be honest--although we were happy in the tiny house, we like our new house SO MUCH BETTER.  There is something to be said for space to move and closets!  Ironically, when we moved we got rid of about 50% of our possessions.  And even after we moved, I ended up taking at least three full carloads of things to Salvation Army because we decided we didn't need it after all.  So now we are in this huge house with half the stuff we had before!  We're still not used to it, LOL.

 

Anyway, I'd be happy to answer any questions.  Multi-function furniture and wall shelves were a lifesaver for us.

 

 

That's absolutely beautiful!!!  Love it!!  Hope I can make this happen, too.


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#15 of 35 Old 10-01-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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That's absolutely beautiful!!!  Love it!!  Hope I can make this happen, too.

 

Thank you!  It was a ton of work, but we were determined to have a fresh start at the new house.  I parted with many little-used kitchen items, about 80% of my books (only kept what I can't get on Kindle, or ones that were personally inscribed), the dusty "collection" of nutcrackers I had built, all the cookbooks I never used (which to be honest was most of them), my giant thrift store collection of Pfaltzgraff (sold it and replaced it with basic Corelle, which takes up way less space!), a ton of clothes I hadn't worn in forever because of size or style, old blankets and sheet sets we had been keeping "just in case" (in case of what I don't know since we didn't even have room for other people to sleep at that house), most of our holiday decorations (just kept the ones I actually liked and would still use), a number of done-before puzzles and outgrown board games, etc etc.  I still have some things that after reflection I will probably be getting rid of, but my personal "stuff" is way more under control now.  The more I got rid of, the easier it was to say, "I won't miss this when it's gone."  My kids voluntarily did the same thing.  My daughter even decided to donate most of her gigantic knick knack collection, a huge deal since she'd been unwilling to let go of any of it for years!  My son kept his books, his board games, and his Lego sets and that's about it.  He is not a "stuff" person.

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#16 of 35 Old 10-01-2012, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We lived in a two bedroom (VERY small bedrooms) 513 sq ft house for 11 years.  The house lacked closets or a bathtub--it had a shower stall instead.  In December we moved to a 2100+ sq ft house with a usable cellar, so basically five times the space we had before.  I will be honest--although we were happy in the tiny house, we like our new house SO MUCH BETTER.  There is something to be said for space to move and closets!  Ironically, when we moved we got rid of about 50% of our possessions.  And even after we moved, I ended up taking at least three full carloads of things to Salvation Army because we decided we didn't need it after all.  So now we are in this huge house with half the stuff we had before!  We're still not used to it, LOL.

Anyway, I'd be happy to answer any questions.  Multi-function furniture and wall shelves were a lifesaver for us.
There will only be one closet in my older daughters bedroom in the entire house and we also will simply have a shower and no bath. We do have three bedrooms though, so my two daughters will have their own space on their own floor in the attic. We're living in a bigger house currently so we really are downsizing...I feel excited because I love the idea of a tiny home but I know it's going to be challenging to make everything fit/decluttering enough to make the space work well....any tips would be great!

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#17 of 35 Old 10-01-2012, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been in 575 sq ft for over 2 years now with my almost 9 yo DD and 7 yo DS.  It's tiny, but the layout makes it feel bigger than it actually is.  We don't have outside space, which is a drawback.  My kids share a room and that has been becoming a challenge recently, as I have a boy and a girl.  Their school is awesome, though, and this is pretty much the only place I can afford to live in this area, so I feel like I'm stuck here for another 2 years (until my oldest is out of elementary school).  Ideally, I want to end up in Boulder in a small house that allows the kids to have their own rooms, but that's a little ways off.  If I had 2 boys or 2 girls, I think I could make this place last even longer.  
Thank you for your reply! I know what you mean about layout making it feel bigger then it actually is, 558sq ft house is layed out over three floors in a cottage townhouse, also there are three bedrooms so my daughters have a room each on their floor in the attic. We have an extremely small bathroom and kitchen though, I guess as most of the room is being taken up by bedrooms and living area. We're lucky to have a small garden which we're going to turn into a traditional walled cottage garden with lots of roses/flowers. We chose the house because of location to the girls school, it is literally four minutes walk down the road.

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#18 of 35 Old 10-01-2012, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ours is 900sqft, but we have three kids with another in the mail. It's hard! But I am loving the simplicity that has to come with it! Everyday I find something new that we don't need and it feels great to get rid of that clutter, both mentally and physically. It is a never-ending job to keep on top of the stuff that multiplies though, hmmmm...

I'm looking forward to the challenge, but I'm kind of nervous too as I like clear surfaces/sides which is going to be a challenge in such a small space!

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#19 of 35 Old 10-03-2012, 12:52 PM
 
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I'm looking forward to the challenge, but I'm kind of nervous too as I like clear surfaces/sides which is going to be a challenge in such a small space!

It is a challenge, but I think that's what makes me work at it every day. I am determined to fit us in here, and I will do what it takes. As long as it's reasonable of course! We could build on, but I really feel like it's a puzzle that I MUST. FIGURE. OUT! And I don't give up on puzzles, lol.
Anyway, it makes it kind of fun.

Clear surfaces....ahhh, how nice would that be. But I think even in a bigger house, with kids, unless I clean them constantly, it's not going to happen.

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#20 of 35 Old 10-04-2012, 03:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is a challenge, but I think that's what makes me work at it every day. I am determined to fit us in here, and I will do what it takes. As long as it's reasonable of course! We could build on, but I really feel like it's a puzzle that I MUST. FIGURE. OUT! And I don't give up on puzzles, lol.
Anyway, it makes it kind of fun.
Clear surfaces....ahhh, how nice would that be. But I think even in a bigger house, with kids, unless I clean them constantly, it's not going to happen.[/]

I love your attitude about this, so positive! I'm determined to make it work too, there are so many positives to tiny house living for us! Clear surfaces might be a dream then for me!

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#21 of 35 Old 10-04-2012, 04:15 AM
 
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Ours is a little bigger.  800sqft. 2 beds, 1 bath.  One adult, 3 children ages 12, 7, and 4.  We love it.  I could even go smaller if we needed to.  The challenge is all 3 kids in one room.  We make that work by having clear rules on who is allowed where.  NO ONE is allowed on anyone else's bed except mama's.  That means that your bed is your safe space and if you are on your bed, no one may touch you or bother you.  If you put a toy on your bed, it's safe until you return from school, potty, daddy's house, etc(at mama's discretion of course).  So basically they all have a space where they can go to get away from their sisters or play with a toy that they don't want to share.  In small spaces it's hard to have solitary play/time so we created the bed rule.  They are never ever ever allowed on each other's beds.  No exception.  You may NOT invite someone onto your bed.  Sometimes I wish it was different because they do love to snuggle and I bet they would sleep together at night and give me time to sleep alone.  But the bed rule does help with the fighting over toys and bickering when they want space from each other so I'll take it.  :)  I really think that the key to children living together in a small space is giving each of them a safe quiet place to go to when they need it.  Sometimes I'll watch one of my kids drop everything in the middle of a game and retreat to their bed with a toy for a few minutes and then rejoin her sisters to play again seamlessly and that's when I know that the bed rule really is important to peace in our house.


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#22 of 35 Old 10-04-2012, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ours is a little bigger.  800sqft. 2 beds, 1 bath.  One adult, 3 children ages 12, 7, and 4.  We love it.  I could even go smaller if we needed to.  The challenge is all 3 kids in one room.  We make that work by having clear rules on who is allowed where.  NO ONE is allowed on anyone else's bed except mama's.  That means that your bed is your safe space and if you are on your bed, no one may touch you or bother you.  If you put a toy on your bed, it's safe until you return from school, potty, daddy's house, etc(at mama's discretion of course).  So basically they all have a space where they can go to get away from their sisters or play with a toy that they don't want to share.  In small spaces it's hard to have solitary play/time so we created the bed rule.  They are never ever ever allowed on each other's beds.  No exception.  You may NOT invite someone onto your bed.  Sometimes I wish it was different because they do love to snuggle and I bet they would sleep together at night and give me time to sleep alone.  But the bed rule does help with the fighting over toys and bickering when they want space from each other so I'll take it.  smile.gif  I really think that the key to children living together in a small space is giving each of them a safe quiet place to go to when they need it.  Sometimes I'll watch one of my kids drop everything in the middle of a game and retreat to their bed with a toy for a few minutes and then rejoin her sisters to play again seamlessly and that's when I know that the bed rule really is important to peace in our house.

It sounds like you have it all figured out! I can't wait to actually move so we can start figuring out how it is going to work for us. My children are so used to having a room each and not sharing, I knew I had to make sure they each had there own bedroom in our new home. The third bedroom, which is for my four year old, is super tiny but I think it will fit a single bed and a tiny chest of drawers. We are considering a floor bed for this room as the room might get swallowed up with a regular size bed, we are not sure at the moment. It has a sliding door as the room is not big enough for a door to open into (or out of!)

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#23 of 35 Old 10-04-2012, 08:55 AM
 
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We also do the bed thing! We got low lofts so on top and underneath is private space! They've been just fine leaving each other stuff alone as long as it's contained there!

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#24 of 35 Old 10-08-2012, 10:02 PM
 
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We (me, DH, DS, DD, and one very big cat) are in a 395 sq foot basement apartment. There's an open plan kitchen/living room, bathroom, bedroom, and a little uninsulated foyer. Since the kids are still young (3 1/2 yrs and 15 months) we bedshare on a queen-sized futon with a toddler bed side car. I don't know what we'll do if we're still here in a few years (God forbid) and the kids need/want their own beds. I am eternally indebted to the geniuses at Ikea who designed their storage systems because I don't know what we'd do without it. You know those little mock apartments in the Ikea showroom that displays how their furniture and various storage solutions work together to create an efficient multi-tasking environment that's affordable and stylish? We completely ripped off those ideas and made them our own, minus the stylish part because I am just not that creative and my husband still thinks horror flick model toys are acceptable room decor. Every single piece of furniture has some sort of storage component to store books, clothes, stationery, toys, seasonal stuff, etc., or has multiple uses like the toy chest/coffee table/bench. This means we don't have a lot of stuff and things don't always match, but we try to adhere to a less is more policy. 

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#25 of 35 Old 10-09-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamaUK View Post

It sounds like you have it all figured out! I can't wait to actually move so we can start figuring out how it is going to work for us. My children are so used to having a room each and not sharing, I knew I had to make sure they each had there own bedroom in our new home. The third bedroom, which is for my four year old, is super tiny but I think it will fit a single bed and a tiny chest of drawers. We are considering a floor bed for this room as the room might get swallowed up with a regular size bed, we are not sure at the moment. It has a sliding door as the room is not big enough for a door to open into (or out of!)

Think twice before giving up the underbed space. Ikea has a nice low loft that is nice for young children. Then you have extra floor space for play/storage

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#26 of 35 Old 10-17-2012, 02:27 PM
 
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I don't know how big our house actually is (we rent) but I'm sure it would fit into the small house category. It's not that unusual here in New Zealand, but I'm aware that in the US mega houses are pretty common. We have one small living room with an open plan kitchen, bathroom, and two reasonably small bedrooms. That's it. Oh, and one 2.5 year old toddler!

 

I don't love this house - until I finish studying it's more about financial necessity than lifestyle choice. But more and more I have come to appreciate that it means we need to keep tabs on our belongings and think about "where will we put this?" before buying anything. It also means we have a much sparser toy collection for our daughter, although we do keep more toys in her closet and rotate them. I think that's a bonus for her too, less commercialism and more imagination :)
 


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#27 of 35 Old 10-21-2012, 12:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chel View Post


Think twice before giving up the underbed space. Ikea has a nice low loft that is nice for young children. Then you have extra floor space for play/storage

YES!  The Kura.  That's what we have for my 12 year old.  She adores it.  It creates a nice little playspace underneath and you don't waste floorspace with a bed.  It's large enough for a regular twin mattress so it can be used on older children but it's also a very low loft(I'm 5feet 5inches and it comes up to my chest) so it's suitable for the younger ones as well.  I'm completely comfortable with my 4 year old on it.  I don't however want her on the top bunk bed though because it's so high.  I think the Kura is a lovely middle-sized compromise.

 

 

ETA: I think it was either $150 or $199 when we bought it 2 years ago??  It's been DEFINITELY worth the money.


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#28 of 35 Old 10-23-2012, 03:12 PM
 
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We are a family of 4 plus 1 dog, and live in about a 700 sq ft home (it is 2 bedrooms and 1 bath) and honestly it isn't too bad.  We don't have a garage, but we do have a front and back yard, a covered car port and a small storage shed.  During the summer we are outside so much that we don't really notice the size and right now we are just trying to de-clutter as much as we can, so that it will feel a little bigger and just more peaceful this winter when we are inside more.  We would love to get a bigger place when we can, mostly we are in this place because of financial reasons.  I have to say though living in a house and having a front and back yard helps a ton, I am not sure if I would do as well if we were living in an apartment with no yard.  I think there can be advantages to living in smaller spaces.  Utility bills can be cheaper, and it can have a much cozier feel since it is small, plus it really forces you to be organized and de-clutter. 


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#29 of 35 Old 11-16-2012, 02:13 AM
 
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We (2 adults, a two-year-old and most like a second one on the way) are living in a 600 sqf apartment (around 55 m2) and we're moving next year to a 920 sqf one that we bought (it has a 900 sqf rooftop terrace - that's what sucked us in..). I purge on a regular basis and right now on a mission to have the William Morris quote apply to our home: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

 

I really love living in small spaces that's why we dished out money on a new condo in the city even though for that amount we could have gotten a much bigger house in suburbs. A lot of eyebrows were raised at our decision but I do love that we're in the city center and all I have to do is go out the front door and I'm there. Living in a small space really puts the brakes on acquiring new things. And the small-ish 920 square feet allowed us to get better quality things for the new apartment (like nice hardwood floors and decent bathroom fixtures) that would've been way too expensive for us in a bigger place. We can also continue to live car free (we walk everywhere and occasionally use the bus or car sharing).

 

And every time doubt creeps in that maybe we should've just moved out to a bigger home, I add up in my head the costs for heating/cars/parking places in the city/commute and I feel easy again. Then I remind myself that my grandparents successfully raised 8 children (7 girls and a boy) in a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment (that was in the Middle East in the 60s and 70s).  I should be grateful for all the space I have.


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#30 of 35 Old 11-28-2012, 08:02 PM
 
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we did with our DD for 3.5 years.  now we live in a small house and I told my DP that I miss our small apartment.  We maximized the wall space (stacked vertically) and it was really a great way to keep our stuff limited.  People knew we had not space so they didn't buy us stuff.  It was less stressful on me to clean, etc- and was so much cheaper than what we are paying now.  The only downside is that it's nice having space now to just 'get away' from DD or DP when I need to (or they need to).  Otherwise, I think a small place is perfect.  

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