Yesterday afternoon I hosted a live Instagram Q&A, opening the floor to an open dialog about making the most of a small space. Living and thriving within 600 square feet- with a teensy kitchen, enormous pup, and little babe to our name- Andrew and I have spent the better part of five years building a minimal, yet wonderfully cozy home and couldn’t have been more excited to share our tips and trials. Below you’ll find an overview, spotlighting some of your most asked questions. Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments!
How do you optimize (lack of) kitchen storage?
Despite it’s teensy disposition, our kitchen is the one space in our home with extensive cabinetry. For those of you who’s kitchens err on the smaller side, my biggest tip is to keep your kitchen minimal – only housing essential appliances, pots, pans, and gizmos. As tempting as they all may be, how often are you really pulling out that ice cream maker, that bread maker, that quesadilla press? Instead, opt for multipurpose options, like a heavy Dutch oven – perfect for big batch, make ahead stews that will nourish you all workweek long – and a high speed blender – used daily in our home for thick smoothies, creamy porridges, and warming soups. Though higher ticket, these appliances will snag you your biggest bang for your buck while keeping your kitchen minimal and streamlined. My second tip is to shop the ‘bulk section’ of your local market. Utilizing the bulk section for grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, you only have to purchase exactly as much as you need, while still snagging that bulk discount. This reduces the amount of packaging you’ll have to keep handy in your (lack of) cabinets, reduces your likelihood of food waste, and also pads your wallet.
How do you contain ‘baby things’?
This is a multifaceted question and answer – going into our baby shower and baby purchases, Andrew and I knew Poe’s gender, but also knew future children may not all be boys. We decided to keep all of our decisions gender-less (something I think we would have gravitated towards even if we’d had more space, in our valiant attempt to raise Poe free of gender stereotypes), instead opting for neutral creams on all fronts -bedding, clothing, stuffed animals. This decision has given future us the opportunity to reuse items, extending their life, reducing our waste, and preventing future accumulation. For those of you who have received non-jiving off-registry gifts or are facing an upcoming shower or birthday party: it is perfectly ok to let your guests know that their presence is gift enough, or that an experience, meal, or college fund contribution (however big or small) will go so much further than something tangible. For those of you parting with baby things (maybe this is your last babe, or your just looking to cleanse): I know parting with sentimental this’s and that’s can feel crushing. Instead of holding the memory in the object, try redirecting it into a photo, a poem, a held tight thought, and remember that by donating or gifting, it’s not gone – you’re giving it new life and a new loving home.
What are some simple DIYs to elevate a space?
The thought of a DIY project can often feel overwhelming and daunting, but there are a few simple projects, including painting our walls, building shelves into our closets, and building a simple bookshelf, that Andrew and I implemented to make our space feel brighter, more spacious, and more homey. Painting our own walls from a once stark white, we opted for warm, light, and creamy colors. This project took all of 24 hours to complete and left our space cozier and more inviting. With only two rooms in our home (our main living space and Poe’s nursery) we made our studio space only slightly darker to provide a subtle contrast and intimate vibe. Andrew and I also built shelving into our closets – converting our linen closet and coat closet into functional spaces to hang clothing, fold towels, and store boots and shoes. These shelves also provided that much needed storage space for outdoor gear, extra paper towels and toilet paper, and off season apparel. Lastly, Andrew and I built a bookshelf out of apple crates. Snagging six crates from our farmers market, we lightly sanded and painted them white, drilled them together, then drilled them to the wall. This option not only upcycled the crates, but provided a minimal way for us to showcase Poe’s books and toys without taking up a huge portion of his bedroom.
How do you minimize clutter?
A constant struggle, especially in a smaller space, we’ve had the greatest success with lack-of-clutter by only housing what serves us and through functional storage. As mentioned, Andrew and I built shelving into our closets – a project that not only provided additional storage, but gave us the opportunity to put things away – and also added a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf to our main wall. Giving us the ability to showcase and organize our library, cookbooks, television, and favorite ceramics in a more streamline way, this bookshelf was both functional and aesthetically elevating. Additionally, Andrew and I both practice seasonal cleanses, going through our closets at least four times a year to sift out pieces we’re no longer wearing. From there, we either sell or donate, giving our clothing extended life, in someone else’s closet.
Can a home be both minimal and baby friendly?
Yes! Living in a one bedroom apartment, for Andrew and I, meant converting our living room into a studio space and giving the bedroom to Poe. Providing ourselves with our own little haven, while creating a contained space for Poe and his things, we were able to keep our primary living space as one that felt nourishing to us, while still housing Poe’s toys, books, and baby accoutrements. For those of you who may not have this option – maybe you’re living in a studio or just don’t want your bed in your living room – the key will be crafty utilization. Perhaps building a lofted bed (something Andrew and I made work while we were living in a 200 sq/ft home in New York) to take back floor space, or functional shelving. Again, the key here is being very honest with the situation – acknowledging that a space is small, and determining what elevates your daily self and space and provides joy.