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My husband and I have lived in a variety of residences — most of them small, closet-challenged apartments, and only recently settled into a spacious townhouse that has plenty of room to grow. However, my small spaces mentality hasn't changed; my mantra is "one thing in, one thing out." It's the only reason our basement remains mostly empty, and the concept is simple: use what you have; or invest in items that multitask and thus require a minimal footprint.
Here are my top small space solutions for the main areas of the house that tend to collect clutter:
Giving kids easy access to what they need helps foster independence. Allocate a bottom drawer in the kitchen for your child's dinnerware and kitchen play items. We also give our daughter the bottom two shelves of our pantry closet for arts and crafts supplies. Now, she can access her supplies easily using built-in storage, which is both space saving and thrifty.
The same drawer/pantry concept from the kitchen can apply to a sideboard or built-in hutch in the dining room. We purchased an inexpensive children's table and chairs set from IKEA, which multitasks as a craft table and eating area, plus it's lightweight enough to easily move if you need to stow it for entertaining and reclaim a little floor space.
I love the multitasking brilliance of storage ottomans. They're perfect for storing kid's toys, and I view the limited space (compared to a big toy bin) as a good thing — the less room you have, the less you can acquire. At the end of the day, engage your child in a game of tidying up and tossing everything back into the ottomans.
Beds with built-in storage are fantastic for small spaces and they negate the need to sweep for dust bunnies. (Alternatively, if you can't afford to invest in a new storage bed, purchase storage units for under the bed.) When your child is ready to graduate to a big kid bed, consider something like the Hemnes daybed from IKEA, which has cozy-feeling sides and three storage drawers underneath. Or, depending on how many children you have and how old they are, other great small space bedroom solutions for kids include bunk beds with a pull-out trundle bed ( three sleeping spaces in one footprint!) or a lofted bed with a desk unit underneath.
No matter the size of your home, I recommend maintaining a minimalist, small space mentality. The less you have, the less overwhelmed you'll be by your stuff. Plus, there's an added bonus: engaging your kids in household purge exercises around birthdays and holidays offers you the opportunity to teach them about recycling and goodwill toward others.
Story and image: Copyright 2009, Shoestring LLC & Christine Koh / MinimalistMama.com.