5 Super-Functional Solutions from Families in Small Spaces

published Jan 7, 2022
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Organizing and designing a small space is tough when just adults are involved, but when kiddos come into the picture, it can be even more difficult. From storage to layouts to sleeping arrangements, there are all sorts of considerations that have to be figured out when sharing a small home with a family (of any size). The families below live in small homes, but they certainly aren’t living small lives thanks to the genius ways they’ve tackled design dilemmas. The best part? You don’t even have to have kids to benefit from some of the ideas below.

Credit: Jenny Davis

1. You DON’T have to use rooms for what they’re supposed to be used for

Just because a room gets a certain label on the floor plan doesn’t mean that has to be how it’s used. Rooms get employed for all types of purposes, and the freedom to choose your own layout becomes even more important when you’re a family in a small space. Jenny Davis and her family (one husband, three kids) took complete liberty when it came to designating spaces in their 650-square-foot rental apartment. A nook off the living room became a bedroom, and a dining area transformed into an amazing play room.

Credit: Jason Rampe

2. If you don’t have a bedroom for baby, make one

It can be intimidating to try and figure out where you’re going to put your baby if you live in a one-bedroom apartment or home, but a newborn in your life doesn’t have to mean a move to another larger space. Celia and Sean made the cutest little nursery nook in their small apartment’s bedroom for their son, Cassius.

And when Shamika and Matt needed room for their baby in their 750-square-foot apartment, she turned a closet into a brilliant little nursery nook.

3. You can carve out creative workspaces in surprising spots

Many people started working from home during quarantine, and for some families, that included the kids, too! I saw lots of unique ways that people carved out work-from-home offices in their small homes, but I fell in love with this little Lego workstation Jenny Davis squeezed into her 650-square-foot rental apartment‘s small entryway. “That previously dead space is now a Lego room with bins to organize the Legos and a folding desk to build on,” she wrote in her house tour. “I covered the space with dinosaur wallpaper to make it more inviting and to inspire creativity; that’s the vibe I wanted that zone to have, and the vibe I want people to feel when they enter.” 

4. You can incorporate unique play zones in small spaces, too

You wouldn’t think there’s much room for fun in only 187-square-feet — especially when two kids and two adults are sharing it — but with a little creativity and ingenuity, it can happen. Spike and Elizabeth Stone made sure their school bus-turned home not only housed their kids, Pepper and Violet-Parsley, but also stimulated their minds and bodies, too. “A lot of our design centers around being accessible to the kids,” they write in their tour. “Instead of a ladder to get to the top bunk, we installed a rock climbing wall.”

Credit: Natasha Lee

5. Custom-built furniture can be a storage gamechanger

This family of four was able to make every inch of their 600-square-foot home work well AND look good… and they did it with brilliant DIY built-ins. “The main living space, which functions as our offices, dining room, living room, and play space, is a whopping 288 square feet,” they explained in their house tour. “To make it work to our advantage, we used built-in furniture to make use of every inch and corner. We built custom shelving on the west wall and left space around the window, which frames a view of the Topanga Mountains. It’s perfect for our books, pictures, and miscellany. On the opposite corner is a large wood dining table that I’ve had for ages; it’s immensely heavy and has moved with us twice. We built in bench seating in the corner with room underneath for storage. Also, the couch/desk is a single connected piece, which helps maximize some space as well. Keeping everything in a neutral tone and playing with textures helps the room feel visually cohesive and less cluttered.”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Genius Ideas from Smart Families in Stylish But Incredibly Functional Small Spaces