So, since we just welcomed our baby boy in July, I’m going to be one of those annoying people who can only talk about things related to their baby.
Months before we were even expecting our bundle of joy, I looked at having a baby as not only a huge research project (all those books to read!) but also a fascinating design challenge. Until I started at Board & Vellum in January, I had worked from home for four years, and was trying to come up with some creative ways to fit our new baby in our 866 square foot, two bedroom condo while still allowing for a home office and guest room.
There are many ways to go about this. Some of the schemes included a fully customized built in system with a Murphy Bed and fold-down desk. Some included paring down to the bare essentials. We landed somewhere in between.
To move or not to move? The tips below are mainly for folks who want to stay in their one- or two-bedroom city apartments or condos. Our neighbors lived in their 650 square foot one bedroom until their daughter was almost three (with a dog and a cat). Even though much of the world lives in this amount of space, they were a fascination among people with houses (“Mary, come meet this woman. She lives in a one bedroom WITH A TODDLER!”). As a person who desires sanity, I understand their fascination. As a design professional, I believe that most problems can be solved with good design.
I think it’s worth it to stick it out for a few years in a smaller abode before making the leap to a [larger] house. You’ll learn how you use space as a family with kids and what is important to you.
Here are some tips on planning on space for baby, when space is at a premium:
- Aim to not take on too much stuff. Realize that you most likely will take on too much stuff. You will never again be the recipient of so much free stuff, which is awesome. And everyone will have recommendations. We have floor space for 2-3 moving/bouncy things. We will keep just what works at any point in time, and keep the gravy train moving by giving away what doesn’t work for us. It is overwhelming to step into a baby store. Keep in mind, at some point in time someone found that thing X (that babies didn’t need in previous generations) gave someone 10 minutes of peace, which could be worth its weight in gold.
- Before the baby comes: simplify, purge, pare down, repeat. I realized there was nothing that I could really do to truly get ready, with the exception of simplifying our life and our space as much as possible beforehand.
- Assess your need for a guest space. You want Grandma there, you want her to be comfortable, and you want everyone to stay as sane as possible. Provide a comfortable space for your guests. If you’re like me, you have only one extra room, so baby may need to sleep with you while a guest is there. Guest can always sleep on an air mattress, a fold out couch, or in a hotel, but personally, I love having guests, so having a place for them to stay is a priority in our small space.
- In a small space, every cubic foot counts. Have furniture do double duty. Changing table with dresser and cabinet, bed with storage under, ottoman that coverts to a bed, crib with a drawer under. Look for creative spaces for built-ins, like shelves high on walls (just not above where baby is sleeping).
- If you have only one bedroom: At first, you can share. Longer term, give it to the kiddo. You can still use their closet. They don’t need a ton of space, so their room can host wardrobes or large storage cabinets. Paint them a fun color or put them behind soft curtains–just be sure they are bolted to the wall! Longer term, a “pod” for living can contain all of their needs (bed, storage and desk) in one piece of furniture that takes up just half the room.
- With the kid in the one bedroom, you can shut the door and the rest of your small space is yours. This will mean getting creative with your bed. Check out the always fun Buzzfeed for Totally Feasible Loft Beds for Normal Height Ceilings.
- It’s the simple things: paint, a cute light fixture, and neat storage bins are all you need to create a peaceful, fun, and fresh space.