Tips on living in small spaces

(54 Posts)
Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 06:58:39

Please share any wisdom or tips

We are in a 67.633 sq meter space schooling and working from home with four kids.

I know it would make the biggest difference to declutter and tidy, but also the layout is awkward. The sitting room can feel like a thoroughfare. Also, our kitchen is a galley one, so there's no way in space for a table.

My main problem is toys. I feel like I'm always getting rid of things, but they are like refugees that find a way to the floor no matter my efforts. We're also getting rid of our sofa because we don't need guest room for entertainment., But my boxes of Christmas decorations have been hiding under them and need a new home.

I live in the suburbs below San Francisco, where most families live in houses, but suspected there would be people on here familiar with making small homes work for a family, so it would be great to know how others manage.

I just saw Ikea's new catalog and am coveting the pages where a family of four manages to fit in a one bedroom. But where is their stuff? And how do they prevent their parents from buying those kids more toys?

OP’s posts: |
solittletime Tue 09-Feb-21 07:06:20

If you get a stool could you sit at a kitchen counter? Is there room even for a tiny desk in the bedroom? Decluttering unfortunately is your best bet. Buy some nice storage crates and put away 50percent of toys- could you hire a storage facility?
We live in a small flat my final advice is don’t be afraid to get big furniture (ie a cupboard). One decent cupboard to store everything in will make the space feel bigger, while getting rid of small bits of furniture that maybe don’t have a use. (You do have to measure very precisely!!)

Stonehopper Tue 09-Feb-21 07:08:27

I think this is one of those questions where seeing your layout is key, especially as US apartment layouts tens to be quite different to UK ones.. Could you draw a diagram?

Liervik Tue 09-Feb-21 07:09:07

Any toys your parents buy, keep at your parents. Declutter like crazy.

Do you have a floorplan?

idontlikealdi Tue 09-Feb-21 07:12:37

Ok it's small by American standards but not here. I live in a three bed terrace and it's 850 sq ft. Kitchen is tiny, our table is in the lounger / diner.

I'm pretty brutal on toys we only keep what they want / need and i de clutter regularly. 2 adults two kids and a dog.

MaryIsA Tue 09-Feb-21 07:13:39

Declutter. One big storage wall, built in if you can afford it. If it doesn’t fit there then it goes. Hire storage for stuff you don’t use all year, like Christmas decs.

Have furniture that doubles as storage. Chests, benches with storage, kids have to put away toys.

Gift toys that aren’t used.

Purplerayhan Tue 09-Feb-21 07:13:50

Can you utilise the ceiling? Hanging storage like the ceiling airers? Get the parents to keep the presents with them? Is there any outdoor space?


Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 07:14:34

@stonehopper I don't know how to draw I diagram on here, but I could try. I'd just link pictures of the space on the real estate site I found it through, but that would be sharing my address and the post would be deleted. smile

OP’s posts: |
Liervik Tue 09-Feb-21 07:16:17

Screenshot the pictures on the site, crop out identifying info then attach the photo?

NotWithMyShoes Tue 09-Feb-21 07:20:03

Draw by hand and take a photo or do what pp said.

Is it a house or a flat? If you've stairs, can they be turned into drawers?

Under bed storage.
Ring the DC's room with high shelves.
Ditto for somewhere to put your Christmas decs.
One of those pulley things you use for drying clothes (it does have a proper name!). Change the slats for a board and store stuff up in the ceiling out of the way.
Drawers under the kitchen units (there's a thread on here about them).

A floor plan + idea of furniture you have would help!

Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 07:21:00

This is great advice. And flooded in so quickly! I'm looking around and eyeing what needs to go. And suddenly realizing that so many Christmas toys came because no one's traveling. I should just make an effort to video chat with our parents and they won't feel as much need to overcompensate with gifts. I love the idea of being brutal with toys.

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FallenSky Tue 09-Feb-21 07:22:03

We live in a small flat, 2 children. We have IKEA kallax units in every room. Kids have mid sleeper beds so big toys get stored under there. We have a dining table in the living room that is 80cmx80cm but folds out to make a much larger table when needed. Sofa bed in living room that lifts up so we have storage under there. Shelves along tops of walls. Decluttering is definitely the number one tip but obviously you can't get rid of everything. Finding pieces of furniture that have multiple uses is a big one.

Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 07:30:23

This is from the real estate site when there was just one person living here. I forgot how nice it was before we moved in. grin

OP’s posts: |
oohmyback Tue 09-Feb-21 07:32:28

Agree with @solittletime my eldest girl (14) has the smallest room and I got her a hemnes bureau from Ikea which is a massive desk but everything that isn't clothes goes in there. She also has a short bed so I could put it on the short wall. And those ledge shelves from Ikea for all her bits like deodorant body spray and teen crap.

A small sofa with footstools so you can save space but also lounge would help. Or a large storage footstool that doubles as a coffee table. Or maybe a sofa with ottoman storage.

Toys- I have always used Kallax and boxes from Ikea. In our old lounge (also like a thoroughfare) I used Kallax as a tv bench and it was full of toys! I also had an odd corner where nothing fit next to the arch to the kitchen so we built in floor to ceiling shelves with kids books and some toys at the bottom and our household filing at the top....also the printer lol

We actually have a bigger house now (after 14 years!) but I kept my ottoman bed as it's so easy to just sling things under like off season clothes etc. I also always had a tiny desk in my bedroom for work (teacher) at the old house. I still don't have a study or office so now I use my (tiny!) dressing room lol I actually have a console table as my desk to save space. Also Ikea!

Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 07:32:35

There is outside space we do nothing with. And this is what the bedroom looks like without two bunk beds.

OP’s posts: |
solittletime Tue 09-Feb-21 07:37:10

I’ve spent years daydreaming of storage solutions! Is your sofa still in the same position? That walll opposite the sofa is screaming for a floor to ceiling unit all the way across it, cupboards at the bottom, tv in built, a few open shelves to give a feeling of space and closed cupboards at the top. Also you can buy some really sturdy storage furniture for you outside space to keep Christmas stuff and long term storage. But it all costs money so depends on your budget!

Liervik Tue 09-Feb-21 07:44:45

Are the children old enough to have loft beds? I'd get a loft bed each, and then they can have under their loft bed how they like, but all their toys have to fit inside the space maybe? Do you just have the one bedroom?

solittletime Tue 09-Feb-21 07:45:38

Also to stop your living room feeling like a thoroughfare you may want to consider a smaller room diver shelf unit on the side of the sofa. It will create a little ‘hallway’ (where I presume your front door is?) and give you somewhere to put down your book or cup of coffee. I know I think I’m a bit over invested into this.... smile

sashh Tue 09-Feb-21 07:53:17

Get things that fold so you can store them part of the time. I have a table from Ikea, it folds lengthways and 'lives' behind my main sofa as s shelf / sideboard but folds out when I have guests to a table that seats 6.

At the other side of the room I have a small round table that just seats 2, but that can be folded and put out of the way.

Depending on how much you are changing you could get a pull out table or even chopping board to use in the kitchen, it would not be useable all the time but is an option.

How many bedrooms do you have?

Are you all using PCs or laptops / tablets?

Could you set up the dining table like a call centre? Maybe with cardboard dividers (a project for the kids), so everyone gets their laptop out and works / studies at the table and then puts everything away at 6pm or whenever you start making dinner. If you all use headphones with a mic you shouldn't have problems with sound.

Wenjie Tue 09-Feb-21 07:59:32

@solittletime Thank you! Our bed is where the sofa was. We used to sleep on the sofa because it folds out but it wasn't good to our backs and it's been almost a year since we could have guests, so it seemed silly. I'm excited you're excited. I think I hadn't looked up for storage which is probably the first rule if I searched online.

I'm feeling much better about this. I had about a dozen stuffed animals underfoot and was the only one up, and just felt like they were breeding. But you are right that this is doable.

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musicinspring1 Tue 09-Feb-21 08:02:33

I can see you’ve already looked at IKEA but they are the best at storage solution ideas for small spaces - the lay outs in store are amazing for ideas so I wonder about just searching online ? Things I’ve used from IKEA ...
Mid sleepers with storage underneath and also storage around the bed with their hanging pocket things. Also play trays they have that can get put on their bed so they sit up there and draw etc. If the children are older loft beds can fit desks underneath etc.
Kallax storage boxes that literally reach the ceiling - use every inch of space
Store as much in your bathroom as you can - it’s often a wasted space. I store all spare towels and bedding in there, as well as toiletries , swim stuff for the whole family , washing stuff etc I also store plastic toys in there and then the children also play with them in the bath!
Hallway storage - again use floor to ceiling space and consider storing games and toys and books here
Kitchen - could you fit one of their flip up tables that fit against the wall for preparation or eating ?
Use your outside space - get a weather proof box and you could store things that don’t get so much use out there

musicinspring1 Tue 09-Feb-21 08:03:43

Oh and all my children’s stuffed toys live in one of those IKEA hanging things that hang from the ceiling and take up no space !

A1b2c3d4e5f6g7 Tue 09-Feb-21 08:17:33

On the toy front with all the gifts from grandparents, could you suggest vouchers for experiences instead? We do this in our family to stop plastic creep from loads of unnecessary toys. Otherwise one of those break open money boxes, and notes and coins as gifts to the children for them to save in their rooms but have something physical.

Definitely a storage lockbox outside, for Christmas decorations, suitcases etc. We went for an ottoman bed and lots of furniture on tall legs everywhere - was amazed how much we can store under chests of drawers, sofa, bedside tables etc just in those big storage bags.

Your flat looks lovely though

solittletime Tue 09-Feb-21 08:19:10

The dream, if money were no object- and now I’ll leave you alone and focus on my own storage issues!

MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously Tue 09-Feb-21 08:27:38

I have floor to ceiling IKEA bookcases which stretch the whole of one wall. When the DC were little I'd put toy boxes on the bottom shelves so they could access all their stuff but it could be tidied. Make sure you fix them to the wall though because they are heavy one filled.
For the DC, when they were younger I bought mid sleepers, so they could play and store things underneath. As they've become older I bought beds where the mattresses lift up and the whole base is storage - much more than with drawers. These beds come in all sizes, so you might want one for yourself. They are great for things you don't need everyday.
I would definitely get some good outdoor storage for your balcony area.
Ottomans are good for storing towels and bedding as they are easily accessible.

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