One question I am often asked when I talk about small spaces is how a family can achieve it. I agree, it can be a challenge. There are so many incredible families doing it now though! Not only are they making it seem like a wonderful option, but they are doing it with style. Meet Alison of 600 Sqft and a Baby, an incredible example and our newest Small Space Squad home tour!
Home Tour: Inside the Cozy Minimalist Home of 600 Sqft and a Baby
Who: Alison Mazurek of 600 Sqft and a Baby
Where: Vancouver, BC (Mount Pleasant Neighborhood)
Number of years spent living small: 5+ years
To start, tell me your story about how you ultimately ended up choosing a small space?
My husband and I have been in this space since before we were married. We bought this one bedroom because it was within our means and in a neighborhood we love, Mount Pleasant. Then we had a baby and everyone said we should move. But instead we got a wall bed and found we were still quiet comfortable in our small space. Then we had another baby and got even more creative with our space. So now we have 2 adults and a 5 year old and a 2 year old in our space.
What is your biggest challenge in your small space?
I think what makes our space work… having an open concept, is also the most challenging. While a small space is quick to clean up, it’s also can appear messy quickly. Having our kitchen in the centre of our space is most challenging for me as an untidy kitchen can make the whole space feel messy and cluttered.
What is your favorite part about living small?
I love that I always know where my kids are and I love that there is a forced cooperation required to living in such close quarters. There’s no room for unsaid things or resentments to build in a small space. You have to communicate.
What is your number one hack for living small?
Everything needs a place. The longer we live small and the more people we add to our space (ha!). I notice that the things that don’t have a constant place are the ones that end up on your counters or ledges and make a home feel smaller. If everything has a specific spot then clean up is quick and the space feels calmer.
Do you ever feel pressure to be “minimalistic” or feel guilty about buying things you don’t “need” for your home?
I don’t feel pressure to be “minimalistic,” but I sometimes worry that other people think you need to be a minimalist to live small. I think this can feel limiting or stifling. I don’t think it’s about denying yourself things but instead being really intentional about what you bring into your space. Ensuring that if you can’t have lots of things, that the things you have are meaningful and high quality and yes, bring joy.
What have you learned about yourself by living small?
Oh gosh… can I say everything? I feel like living small has changed the way I live in so many ways. I used to be a shopper. It was my way to look after myself. Bad Day… go to a store. Celebration… go buy myself something! Living in a small space and having to edit our possessions really put into priority what really matters. Time with family and friends, health, and travel. All of these things fill me up. Shopping is only really a high for a short bit and then you are left with things you don’t need or love that require maintenance! Over years of editing and organizing our small space I’ve realized less is more. Less things means less time cleaning, less time managing things which means more time for yourself and your family.
What’s your number one storage hack?
I need to have enclosed storage, whether it be closets or cabinets to store things that might not always be pretty. I also love canvas and felt bins for kids toys. That way it’s easy for the kids to clean up themselves and the eye only notices the cute bin and not the toys inside.
Who is your biggest small space inspiration?
I love the book Small Space, Grand Living by Gestalten. The Organized Home blog by Remodelista. Reading my Tea Leaves blog. Cup of Jo home tours. And the TED Talk “Less Stuff, More Happiness” by Graham Hill actually inspired our wall bed purchase and really changed everything.
What do your friends and family say about your choice to live small?
At this point I feel like everyone is very supportive of our choice to live small and they put up with our cramped (and loud!) dinner parties and accept that we can’t have any guests stay with us. I try to make up for it with good coffee and food from our neighborhood ;)
Also living small is becoming more and more common in Vancouver due to the price of housing so lately I think more people are coming around to city family living. We are in a privileged position to have this apartment and choose to live this way. Small Living isn’t a choice for everyone. But I hope by sharing how we live others can be more comfortable and confident in their small homes.
You can find even more Small Space Squad Home Tours here:
Photography by Alison Mazurek, used with permission.
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