If you came over to visit today, I would talk about how small our apartment is while thrusting your beverage of choice into your hands (don’t worry—I believe in morning alcohol, AKA “brunch”). You’d say “What a charming Victorian!” noting the high ceilings and antique fireplaces, and I would blush and say “It has charm,” meaning “I stub my toes ten times a day and secretly want to live in the ‘burbs in a two-story gated house, preferably with a butler named Cecil and a personal assistant named something sensible like Jane Miller.”
But you have no clue because I cleaned like mad until you rang the bell. As I whisk off to the kitchen I’d kick a few toys under the couch as you sit down and make yourself comfy. Only the faint smell of Lysol would betray the frantic cleaning that preceded your arrival. I emerge from our non air-conditioned kitchen after a few clanks and whirs to offer you a delicious meal with a ridiculously long name, completing the illusion that our house looks like this every day:
And what does all this have to do with living in small spaces? It’s taken me a few years, but in addition to my first tip, I’ve realized our greatest asset in having a small home is A SENSE OF HUMOR. And a realization that our house will only look this way when people come over. I tell myself every day: give it up, girlfriend. Two jobs, a toddler, frequent moves and travel, constant hosting and cooking experimentation do not an Architectural Digest home make. We do not have a pantry, linen closets, or even the ability to put nails and screws into our walls, just in case you were going to suggest shelving to maximize storage. A sense of humor and a little patience can go a long way. And I also recommend avoiding home and decorating magazines, because they think “small” is a beach house in the Hamptons or a loft apartment in SoHo. These pictures were taken today, no re-arranging or editing. I’m on “vacation” this week, a term I use loosely because this is my week to get stuff done. But that makes me very happy!
//Those are Michael’s bags (again, no closet space) next to my desk, which doubles as a craft center (candles, collages, paintings, stationery) and office. Notice the wallet, paper towels, baby monitor and books on top. There’s our laundry and 1 foot away is Lucy’s bouncy chair.
//What says romance in the bedroom like workout clothes thrown on top of DVD cases and stacked ottomans? Why are the ottomans stacked? Because stacked ottomans create an ideal perch for our computer when we watch movies/TV. Duh.
//Here’s our entryway table, which has a makeup bag I haven’t unpacked yet from our trip 3 weeks ago, wedding albums, craft supplies, letters from friends, a couple things I need to reframe, Ikea mirrors to put into storage, my journals and magazines, and Lucy’s toys. Paste for collages. On the bottom shelf is our game/card storage and a basket of yarn for Michael’s knitting.
//The actual entryway tables because we always use the back door—basil plant, chopsticks, tea, coconut in the mason jar, more mail, my drinks, our nanny’s purse, library books, toiletries for my trip this weekend, shoes, and stuff to return to friends, phone-charging station.
//Costco storage, linen closet, medicine/toileltries on right. On left, wine & coffee mug holder, recipe books, laundry detergent, mailing envelopes. And baby wipes, magazines and eye drops just for good measure. This is what happens when you have limited bathroom/kitchen space.
//Our entire dining room. Boxes for moving, packing supplies, cleaning wipes, my veggie gumbo lunch and on the left a prop I just shot for the next recipe post.
//This is after two large loads of dishes and cleaning the stove. Salted cheese on top of stove for new recipe we’re trying. Did I mention it’s 11AM?
//A Costco-sized bag of rice is here to greet us on arrival. I’m thinking of naming him.
//Going to the bathroom always involves dislodging Lucy’s bath toys from the sink. I secretly love all her little hiding places for things :)For the last installment of this series, I’ll have practical advice for living in small spaces: how to decorate and outfit your home to make the most sense of its square footage, along with some really killin’ videos from interior designers. Despite the pictures above, I do have some good tips. But I find that coping with a small space for us Type A’ers starts from the inside out—we need to create a sacred space, then learn to laugh at the ridiculousness, and THEN we can start making our home as beautiful and functional as it can be. And when it isn’t that beautiful and functional, laugh it off!