Today I am finally sharing our home for the Small SpaceLiving Series! All of our organizing hacks and ideas. I took a video of all of the places we keep our stuff, so make sure to watch that at the end of this post so you can see our basement too…where the laundry is. I am warning you now, it is basic. I really don’t want to do anything fancy to it, my goal would actually have it be almost empty besides the necessities and extra water! We try our hardest to keep it clean and organized because if it isn’t it takes up space in my brain. Anyone else like that? Let’s get right after it and answer all the questions that came directly from YOU, my lovely, favorite readers.
What is your home Motto?
Embrace where you live, what you were born to do, who you live with and where you came from.
Why do you live in a smaller home?
We picked location over square footage. When we moved from Utah to Connecticut #1 on our search list was location. We wanted to live in an area with great public schools, walkable community and a short drive to NYC, oh and a short walk to the beach. Really I knew that we could make ANY house a place we love no matter the size. Honestly. And I believe everyone can do that too.
What is your homes square footage?
There are five of us living in a 1200 square foot cape in Connecticut. Not including the unfinished basement that will not be finished due to the fact that we live in a flood zone.
What is the hardest part about Small Space Living?
I got asked if I feel like my kids are “missing out” or “not thriving” in a small space. It made me think what would they really be missing out on? Maybe Finn missed out on a walker when he was a baby, zero space for that. But he had a jumper that we put on the door frame, something we didn’t think to use with our girls because they had a walker! Maybe they are missing out on a space to do a cartwheel in the house, but that doesn’t seem smart anyways- they can do cartwheels outside. Could they be missing out all all the huge plastic toys or play kitchens? No, if they really wanted it and would actually PLAY with it we would make the space. Basically I am saying, with 100% confidence that they are not missing out. There is not a “hard part” to living in a small space. Being a Jew in the 1950’s was hard. There is a learning part, not a hard part. We are learning to be mindful of what we bring into our home and how we organize it. Maybe the trickiest part is entertaining. But as I share below, we get creative.
What is your favorite part about Small Space Living?
I have ALWAYS loved small houses. I just find them so charming and cozy. I had a boss who lived in a 700 square foot home in Salt Lake City Utah and I just thought it was the greatest thing in the world, because she decorated and maximized it! We had a Christmas party at her home with 10 designers. We all squeezed in her front room (about the size of ours now) and she played the piano, we sang and frosted Christmas cookies on a long table she brought in for the party. We had to pass food and things to each other because once you sat down you were there for the night! It is one of my favorite memories. I did not leave her home thinking “that would have been SO much better if her house was bigger”. THAT is my favorite part about Small Space Living. You are forced to be in the same space as your family and chances are you will bump into each other, start singing, dancing and talking with each other.
ENTRY Organizing Hacks-
Do you have an entry closet? How do you manage all the coats, shoes and backpacks?
We feel very fortunate to have an entry closet. We did not have one in either one of our previous homes. We have an IKEA shoe holder in the closet for all the shoes. You will quickly notice a trend with baskets or containers as a major organizing hack! One basket for hats, another for scarves and baskets on the floor for socks! Yes, we keep all of our girls socks in the entry closet and their shoes since their bedroom is upstairs it just makes more sense. We have a rule when they walk in the door the shoes go away and the backpacks. They can’t have an after school snack until this is done. I can’t stand the pile of shoes by the door or bags everywhere. Same with coats, they go in the closet not on the back of a chair.
We opted for a storage cabinet by the front door. This would be a good spot for hats and gloves or shoes. But we didn’t need storage for that. We keep piano music in this cabinet since the piano is in the entry/front room too. Also coloring books, cards, paper etc.
KITCHEN Organizing Hacks-
I shared a full tour of our kitchen on THIS blog post. But I did include the kitchen in the video at the end of this post!
I didn’t share a picture of our command center on that kitchen storage post. I have had that cabinet for years (not available anymore) and LOVE it. We keep markers, crayons, stamps, label maker, glue gun, ribbon and scissors there.
KIDS TOYS Organizing Hacks-
What is your approach to kids toys? Our approach is simple. EVALUATE! We go thru the kids toys at least once a month and donate things they are not playing with. Less is more with kids. We hone in on what the kids are into and focus on that. Ella our oldest loves LEGO’s so we created a room for her to avoid LEGO’s all over the place! We encourage grandparents to give experience gifts. My mom gave us zoo passes one year, water park passes another and this year we are going to Yellow Stone National Park as our gift. Kevins mom has also given vacation’s as presents. Christmas this year were are planning on surprising our kids with a trip to Hawaii!
See more of the LEGO room HERE.
The sofa is floating into the room creating a space behind the sofa for a small desk and toys.
How do you store or keep the kids toys and games organized? Baskets and bins- containment! The kids know exactly where certain toys go, there is no guessing. We have board games in our TV console in our upstairs family room.
Under Finn’s bed we have vintage lockers bins for puzzles, toys and shoes!
And large baskets for more toys.
In the girls shared bedroom we have a bookcase (old and discontinued) for books and other things kids collect.
We have a large dresser that we use for toy storage- stuffed animals, barbies, dolls and doll clothes. On top of the dresser has more baskets for smaller toys.
CLOSETS Organizing Hacks-
Are you able to fit all your clothes in your master bedroom? Almost! When we first moved into this home I had clothes in another closet and Kevin had clothes in the closet upstairs that is now the LEGO room. But once we really evaluated what we had and if we really wore it, it was easy to eliminate the extra storage spaces for clothes. All of my clothes are in the master bedroom. In Finn’s bedroom (that is right next to ours) we have an IKEA wardrobe that we put all of Kevin’s hanging clothes in. Also changing how I fold the clothes- standing them straight up rather than stacking on top of each other allowed a lot more space in the drawers!
And I switched out all of my hangers to THESE felt hangers. I need to change out Kevins clothes next! They do save some space and keep the clothes ON the hanger!
How do you keep the kids clothes organized?
Finn has a dresser that doubles as a changing table and I hang all of his shirts in his closet. In the girls bedroom Ella has a dresser and Lola has a rolling under the bed storage piece for her clothes. We do have a closet in their bedroom that has all of their shirts, dresses and bins for them to pick out clothes for the week.
Do you have a lot of seasonal decor? Where do you keep it? The only seasonal decor we have is Christmas decor. We have your basics- trees, wreaths, Christmas books, stockings and some accessories. At the end of every Christmas before I pack it away for an entire year, I really ask myself if I LOVE it and am excited to use again next year. If the answer is no, then it goes. Also if I don’t use it at the start of the Christmas season I donate it. We store all of the Christmas Decor in our basement. (you can see it on the video at the end of this post).
Where do you keep keepsake items? How do you decide what you hold onto?
Oh man this has been a big learning curve for me. I use to keep it all! Cards, all the baby clothes, all the home decor that had meaning. Once I brought it the 2,000 miles when we moved and saw how much work it was to pack it, put it in the truck, pay for drivers, unload the truck (just Kevin, myself and my lovely sister in the freezing cold) and then find a spot in the new house for said items. I learned how much I was SERVING these pieces. Rather then letting it serve me with joy, it became a burden. I went through and picked out a few keepsake articles of clothing and blankets. I put each item in a ziplock bag inside a plastic storage container. I giveaway old clothes now rather than saving anything.
Where do you keep your broom, vacuum, cleaning supplies?
We keep our broom and dust pan at the top of our basement stairs. The vacuum is in the basement, but really should be in Finn’s bedroom because he thinks it is his. Cleaning supplies are in our hall closet by the bathroom. Basically my cleaning supplies consist of vinegar and water.
We have a closet in our hall, right outside our bathroom that has bathroom supplies and a few cleaning things too.
We have two bathrooms. This first one is on our main floor and is also our master bathroom. We don’t mind the size! You can see more of the main floor bathroom HERE.
And our bathroom upstairs has some good storage and organizing hacks! Just by using baskets for cleaning supplies and extra toiletries! See more of that HERE.
How do you organize all the papers? Bills, school work, mail etc.
I try to follow the rule of “touch it once”. So if the girls bring home a paper from school I mark it in the calendar and then recycle it. Or I take picture of it if it is something I need to reference. If it is a piece of art then we admire it, hang it on the fridge for a week then recycle it. If it is something they are really proud of I ask if it is something they really want me to save (one girl says YES to everything, so I don’t ask her. ha!). Then I will put is in a spot that I save the art until the end of the year and THEN pick out maybe two or three to save in our file cabinet. Other items we take photos of and upload to a chat book.
Our little secretary desk is where we keep some of the saved school work (on the top right).
We also keep cords we need. Why do we end up with so many cords?? I got rid of so many when I organized this secretary desk. I love those IKEA storage bins (I talked about them HERE).
Our built-in bookcases in our front room are an awesome storage hack! If you have built-ins or are having some made, close up the bottom! We keep our wireless printer on one side as well as photo books and important papers that we have to keep. The plastic storage bin holds some of the “important papers” and the girls “important artwork”.
Love the pull-out drawer under our window seat for the things the kids use. On the right side of the bookcase we keep some kids crafts that are too big for the entry piece and books!
How do you or do you entertain in a small space?
I like to say that we entertain in the the warmer months. But we have had birthday parties for both of my daughters with about 12 friends and it was a success! They both requested these parties and at first I was hesitant thinking where will 12 noisy, bouncy girls all fit?? Or if the parents bring them to our homes and see how small our house is will they question WHY are we doing a party here? Quickly pushed that thinking aside #nottodaysatan and said YES to the child who was proud to have her friends into her cozy home that she loves with all her heart.
This Birthday Party they made Dream Catchers, huge hit! See the blog post HERE.
We do love to get together with friends in our backyard, one of our favorite places to gather. This space is an extension of our home. (See more HERE). And our new play set has been a hit for the kids this time of year!
I hope that gave you some practical storage hacks and ideas to organize and EMBRACE your space no matter the size.
As always you can Shop our Home HERE
You can see a video tour of our small space hacks below-