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.
I hear ya!! We’re 2 adults and 1 toddler in a 1BR Manhattan apt, and store everything we can under the bed, in the car and in the oven (the latter which involves lots of fancy footwork before cooking). We built out a small baby room in our room that literally fits a crib and that’s about it. He’s none the wiser… as long as we never let him go on playdates at other kids’ houses!
Sorry, Ilana, I have NO advice for you.
Good luck with #2!!
I love the idea of hanging the appliances from the ceiling, which doubles as a mobile.
ah love these! I have three kids in a two bedroom, so I’ll be getting those ikea shelves today!
I feel your pain. Despite not living in the city I had 4 kids in a 2 bedroom apt. I had been a single mom with two boys til I met my current husband and his daughter so we had to make 3 work til the lease was up…. then surprise #4 and we had to wait another year and a half before up sizing. Let me just say thank.god my bedroom had a walk in closet! It made a great nursery. But mine was just temporary, long term… I wish you luck.
Funny, I don’t think she ever says “Throw Shit Out.” We had three in a two bedroom apartment, and their bedroom was the size of a closet. Once #3 came, we realized we didn’t need half the stuff we thought we did. I had a friend who is the master at dumping, so I had her come over and we figured out closet organizers and made daily trips to the dumpster and charity drop off.
It’s hard, as a certified pack-rat, but honestly, if you haven’t used it in six months, there is someone in the world who will.
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I feel for you, I really do. We planned our kids around our house. lol When my first daughter was born we had a two bedroom house, Still did not seem like enough space so we bought a 4 bedroom house. Then that Seemed like we had too much free space so we had baby 2, That still left us one empty room and for the fear of us filling it with another baby we put the 4 bedroom house up for rent and got a 3 bedroom house. Now all of the bedrooms are filled so I have no urge to reproduce. :p
Murphy Beds!!! She didn’t even mention Murphy Beds!!! Don’t stress, you can totally do this! The kids are close in age, they are both girls, just minimize the crap and you’ll be fine! <3
I’d like to see pictures of her apt!
All great suggestions. Another idea — just move into a storage pod. It’s climate controlled and roomier than most Manhattan apartments. Sure, there’s light deprivation, but my first place had a view of a brick wall anyway.
We have a two bedroom apartment with My husband, me and 2 small children. My husband also has 3 kids from a previous marriage so sometimes we have 7 people here all at once. We decided to move our bedroom to the small room and divide the big master bedroom into two smaller rooms each with bunk beds. Then, we cleaned out the huge(7’/6′) walk in closet and made that into a room for our baby.
I’ve got nothing for you. I live in WA state (the non-rainy part) between suburbia and the country. Our house/lot is considered medium-sized, we don’t have kids yet, and it’s already full of stuff. I bet we wouldn’t have so much crap if we had to cram into your apartment though! Congrats on #2 and best wishes!!
Funny enough the add at the bottom of this when I read it via email was for Murphy Beds Express.
Murphy Beds Express
Do you live in a SMALL space? If So,we can make it a BIG place. wwww.murphybedsexpress.com
We are a family of 6 with 2 big dogs living in a 950 sq foot house. It can be done =} It is all about de-cluttering at least every 6 months and keeping only what you need, as well as finding storage in every little nook you can imagine! I sometimes feel like we are crammed in which to me signals it’s time to purge!
Ah, memories of having a kid in our 650 sq. ft. condo in Boston. It was awful.
I mean, great post, Kim! I’m sure it will be rainbows and elbow room, Ilana!
Hilarious! We live in a 2 bedroom + den in a big metropolis too, and I just posted about why condo living is better. You can check it out here: http://wp.me/p2KIJm-h1. Of course, I shall be swearing through gritted teeth when I lug groceries, a stroller, and a 1 y/o through the underground parking lot, 4 sets of doors, and into our condo in the next hour…
Definitely rainbows, minimally. Lots and lots of rainbows.
I love the whole closets-for-babies thing. I had my kids close together, and whenever we traveled, I’d make sure our hotel room had a closet big enough for one of the cribs.
Sunlight is for sissies! And yeah, those PODS are really quite spacious…
Oh, yeah. Hm. That’s probably a good plan, too.
Just imagine how beautiful the light will look dancing off the curves of colanders and double boilers handing from the ceiling…
This is hilarious, and even though we have a six-bedroom house (half-finished basement spaces count because they’re “edgy industrial loft-style” rooms for the teens, and attic rooms with sloped ceilings over 90% of the floor space are great for the shorter children) our kitchen seriously lacks storage, so I can’t wait to try your Steampunk look. I have my staple gun locked and loaded!