Our recent downsize has left us with minimal living space, which is what we wanted. Less living space equates to less costs for us when it comes not only to our mortgage (which we’ve been able to now eliminate), but things like utilities, repairs and maintenance, and furnishings. However, less space — with a second child on the way — also means that it’s a challenge when it comes to fitting into a home that is about 1500 square feet smaller (two bedrooms, one bathroom and a full finished basement and attic smaller in fact) than our previous home.
With a five-year-old and a newborn crammed in alongside myself and my wife, it has us looking at our small living space in a whole new way, and in the process, taking some steps to maximize our minimal square footage.
Thinking Outside the Box
It’s easy to look at our home’s available storage space and immediately get frustrated. We have one closet in each bedroom, two small, floor-to-ceiling closets outside our bathroom that are about 18 inches deep, and a closet-sized storage space in our condo building’s basement. We don’t even have a coat closet, as that’s been converted into a utility room to hold our hot water heater and HVAC system.
Therefore, we kind of have to think outside the box. We’ve made more of excess spaces under beds and in our kitchen cabinets, and we’ve added additional shelving in our bedroom closets to make the most of higher space.
Since we have limited space for dressers, we’re forced to do more rotation of clothing items. This means that as the seasons change, we don’t just leave things in drawers and hanging in closets. Instead, we must re-pack our unused clothing and store it away in one of our few storage spaces.
This works out in a way, since it forces us to go through things — especially for the kids — and make decisions as to whether or not we should keep, donate or throw away certain items. It also helps us better pinpoint what clothing articles the family will need in the future.
As our son gets older, I’ve noticed a tendency toward his toys and toy-related stuff creeping into other areas of our home. And the more space we give him, the more he takes. If we let him play with his toys on the living room coffee table, soon he’s annexed the couch. If we don’t say anything about the couch, then soon he’s taken over the two formal sitting chairs next to the couch. This process of appeasement just doesn’t seem to work with our mini-tyrant, so we’ve now set boundaries on his toy empire.
We use one of those four-foot by five-foot layout carpet mats with a town setting and streets drawn on it to form an area in his room to which toys are to be kept and played with. This boundary helps keep toys from creeping out of his room and into other areas of our small condo.
With minimal storage space, we’re almost forced to downsize on a continual basis. Some people would look at this as a detractor; however, we chose to look at it as an advantage as we’re able to keep our clutter to a minimum and make money through resale or by donating items to charity.
From clothing and home décor to toys and teaching materials, lack of storage pushes us to reconsider whether we really need all the stuff we have, sometimes making tough decisions in the process.
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The author is not a licensed family or parenting professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, parenting or family advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.