Living in a small space with children is no easy feat. And now with the colder weather limiting the amount of time spent outdoors, it may really feel like the walls of your home are starting to close in on you. Here are some simple ways to help you get organized and maximize your living space, so you can enjoy your home - and keep your sanity - this winter.
(1) Make Sure Everything has its Place & Purge Often
In order to enjoy your space, you have to stay organized. By knowing exactly where each item belongs, you can see clearly if you need to get rid of something and exactly how much space you have for buying new things. Start by de-cluttering your kitchen counters, closets, dressers and floors. This does not mean you have to throw out all of your favorite possessions, but it does mean that everything in your home should have its own special place. It may be helpful to invest in some organizational furniture from stores like IKEA and The Container Store that are practical and double as storage. Also try to spend a little time each weekend cleaning out things that accumulated during the past week – such as unsorted mail, art projects from school, trinkets from birthday party goodie bags, etc. – to help get your home ready for the week ahead.
(2) Purchase Kid-Friendly & Multi-Functional Furniture
In a small space, every room and piece of furniture is used constantly. You need to make sure your furniture can stand up to your children and everyday life. As much as you may want your couch to remain in pristine condition, it is likely going to be jumped, played and snacked on by your kiddos, so opt for a darker color and a more durable fabric that can better withstand such treatment. Also try to utilize furniture with storage options, such as hydraulic beds, ottomans and benches that provide additional storage. You may have to do a little extra research, but there is plenty of furniture out there that looks great and is durable enough to stand up to rambunctious little ones.
(3) Utilize Vertical Space
When living in a smaller space, square footage is at a premium and there is only so much. If you can no longer go “out”, try going “up.” In the kitchen, free up cabinet space by hanging pots and pans on a wall or ceiling pot rack, or displaying your pretty dishware on floating shelves. If you don’t have much closet or storage space, you can also take advantage of unused wall space to add shelves. In your kids’ bedrooms, try bunk beds, vertical shelving units for toys and books, and hanging net hammocks for all those stuffed animals to maximize space and make the area feel less cluttered.
(4) Downsize Appliances
This is a really great idea because you get to free up more space while at the same time making your home more efficient. If you have a standard-size water heater that is on its last legs, consider replacing it with a tank-less model. This will free up an entire closet for storage and have the added benefit of saving energy and money. Installing a smaller and/or stackable washer and dryer can also help to free up more floor space.
(5) Digitize Artwork & Mementos
With younger children, art projects are constantly being made at home and sent home from school. Although you may wish to keep every single one, try to sort through them and select your favorite pieces, and discard the rest. There are now several apps like Keepy and Art My Kid Made that let you store your kids’ art, schoolwork and mementos electronically. Basically, you just snap a photo of the item, upload it and you’re done. This may seem a little unnatural at first, but it will definitely free up space at home (and on your refrigerator) and give you peace of mind knowing these mementos are stored in a safe place.
(6) Be Realistic About How Much Stuff Your Family Really Needs
A good rule of thumb is to wait until you have a demonstrated need for an item before you acquire it. Make sure an item is worth the space it will take up in your home. This can come in handy especially when selecting baby gear. Ask yourself if you really need that wipe warmer, or both a swing and a bouncy chair. The same goes for the gazillion stuffed animals and toys for each age group. Try to start lean on items and then decide what you really need. Another good tip to follow is “one item in, one item out.” Any items that are deemed ready to go out will likely be much more appreciated in a donation box or local thrift store than they are in your small place.
(7) Stop Things at the Door
Make sure to spread the word to family and friends that you just don’t have room for more. Especially during the holiday season and around your kids’ birthdays, let loved ones know in advance that as much as you appreciate their thoughtfulness and generosity, you have limited space for large gifts. Even better, ask for experience gifts that will take up zero real estate in your home and create lasting memories.
Marissa Martini-Cyprys is a licensed real estate agent with the Maryanski Group at Keller Williams City Life Realty. As a resident and homeowner in Hoboken, she has extensive knowledge of the local residential real estate market. When she is not busy helping her clients, she enjoys spending time with her husband Jon and little boys Jacob and Cameron, and taking advantage of the wonderful community resources, activities and events Hoboken offers young families.
For help with all of your real estate needs, contact Marissa directly:
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