Today, the lovely Kim from Let Me Start By Saying volunteered to give me some much needed advice on making room for two kids in a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
Kim is the self-proclaimed expert because she did it herself. I will choose to ignore the fact she eventually migrated to a full-on HOUSE in the 'burbs and pretend her advice might actually work…
Congratulations Ilana! You are expecting a second child, which is a beautiful gift for a family of three, but a logistical nightmare for apartment-dwellers. I should know. I was once a NYC apartment-dweller myself.
When we arrived home from the hospital with our second bundle of joy, our apartment became the condo equivalent of a Shrinky Dink overnight. But while nursing #2 in the living/dining/TV/guest room, I devised a plan to make our lack of space work for a family of four, just as #1 woke up from his nap on top of the coffee table.
6 Strategies for Making Room for a Big Family in a Small Space…
1. The word "room" is relative.
Sure, the building’s condo blueprint shows only one bedroom and a den. But if you yank out the closet doors and artfully arrange a few privacy screens or tall bureaus, you can have a three-bedroom dwelling with a chic, minimalist office. When your Mother-in-Law arrives and asks what’s up with all the furniture, feel free to manically shriek, “It’s not furniture, THEY ARE WALLS.”
2. Who says your kids need beds?
If room sharing is more your style, make like Lincoln and stack those kids like logs. IKEA sells fabulous floating shelves that appear as unused book space during the day, but the coolest bunk beds EVER at night. Sleek bunk beds! Without a ladder! It’s like you're setting home design trends while simultaneously solving space issues!
3. Buck the supersize trend— buy miniature.
Babies and preschoolers aren’t clever enough to know how large things are supposed to be, so buy them everything in the littlest proportions possible. If that means shopping for toys via Happy Meals or for furniture in the doll house section of Toys ‘R’ Us, you're not just saving space— you're saving money for college!
4. Make your household items into multitaskers.
Make space in your kitchen cabinet for the bottles, breast pump, and baby food machine by removing your frying pans, waffle machine and coffee grinder. Hang those suckers from the ceiling in an eye-pleasing pattern. Tell guests you decided to go for a Steampunk look rather than a boring old chandelier. Since your kid likely has to nap in the kitchen, this doubles as a mobile she can gaze at as she dozes off, so there’s no need to register for one at Buy Buy Baby!
5. Maximize your square footage.
You may not be able to move around sideways in your new living arrangement, but you can always go up. Not up into your upstairs neighbor's apartment, but I bet you've got some valuable space about a foot away from the ceiling. Install a high shelf that runs the entire circumference of your apartment. Keep everything below it soft and kid-friendly, stored in bright plastic cubes. Then stack everything else you own on the shelf. Sure, you’ll need to install one of those rolling library ladders in your home to answer the phone or make a pot of coffee, but you’re practically doubling your living space with minimal construction and no added property taxes.
6. Buy a storage container on wheels.
You’re already paying fistfuls of cash for your parking space every month. Why not make the most of it? Fill every inch between those two yellow lines with the biggest damn minivan money can buy. You only need two of the four rows of seating offered inside, so use the rest as extra storage. Store things parents of two children no longer need, like your collection of R Rated movies, books on topics other than parenting, and anything related to sex. Most minivans come with built-in alarm systems, so all will be safe until you are ready to use the stuff again in about twelve years.
If you follow my simple space-saving tips, I guarantee your family of four will find a way to thrive in your beloved NYC apartment, and the new baby will be the luckiest kid in the Big Apple for getting to be a part of your already beautiful family.
And if you need help installing those IKEA shelves, give me a call. I’m great with an Allen wrench.