Organize & Clean

My Small Home: Carrie’s Small Space Solutions

published Apr 2, 2014
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(Image credit: Carrie McBride)

I’ve lived in my current apartment for seven years and it’s only in the past few years, with two children and a cat, that it’s really begun to feel small. As the shape and size of our family changes, we make adjustments and create solutions to make the most of the space we do have. Here are a few examples from my own home of small space problems and how we’ve attempted to solve them – maybe there’s an idea you can steal!

Problem: Not enough bedrooms
My Solution: Define shared space visually with a decal

The photo above is my daughter’s “bedroom” which is actually just a corner of the bedroom my husband and I share. She is sleeping well enough now that she will likely move into our son’s room soon, but this has been her spot for the past 14 months. Not knowing how long she’d be in our room, I didn’t want to undertake any real decorating, but I did want to acknowledge that this was a space for her, no matter how small. I hung a $15 decal along the wall (two scalloped borders combined) which helps visually define the space and can be removed in seconds once we kick her out.

(Image credit: Carrie McBride)

Problem: Not enough kitchen storage
Solution: Attractive Baskets Above Kitchen Cabinets

Until recently the top of my kitchen cabinets held about a dozen vases, spaced out evenly. They looked fine and a few times a year I climbed up to use one. I’d been avoiding using this space in a bigger way for storage because I didn’t want the room to feel even smaller than it is with big storage containers. Recently I decided to buy some decorative baskets and use them for overflow storage (they currently hold lightbulbs, cookie cutters, etc.). Certainly if I wanted to put huge plastic bins above the cabinets they would hold a lot more, but this at least gives me some extra storage without being visually heavy.

(Image credit: Carrie McBride)

Problem: No playroom
Solution: Hide toy storage under the living room coffee table

My son’s bedroom is small and my daughter doesn’t have one so most of their playing takes place in our living room. Which means many of their toys live there. too. We had carved out space for my son’s toys a few years ago, but now we had a new crop of baby toys to find homes for. I wanted something that wouldn’t look out of place in the living room and that my 14-month-old daughter could easily access. I bought two coordinating open storage containers from CB2 which fit perfectly under our coffee table. During the day I drag them out partway and she can find what she wants and after she goes to bed I tuck them back out of the way.

(Image credit: Carrie McBride)

Problems: A heating pipe that needed baby proofing and a cat who needs to scratch
Solution: A rope-wrapped pipe

I’ve only recently begun to accept that my cat really wants a tall scratcher. We’ve always had one you can hang on a doorknob and it doesn’t get much use. I’ve been putting off buying a tall scratcher because – where would I put it? The other day it dawned on me that I could wrap this heating pipe with rope making it safer for our young toddler and provide a scratching post for the cat. I give it a spritz of catnip spray which the cat loves. As you can see, I ran out of rope so to make it safer for my daughter I’m going to have to add more or slide it down.