When I was pregnant with Honey, we wondered if we’d be able to fit a baby in our two-bedroom end of terrace and set about purging and reconfiguring the spare room so it could accommodate nursery furniture. Then Honey came along and as she grew, we slowly but surely changed everything about our house in order to create a calm, stress free environment for us all to live in.
We had sold our house while I was pregnant with Ace but after two different houses we had offers accepted on fell through, we lost our buyer and with only weeks to go before a new member of the team arrived, I was too pregnant to carry on tidying up and deserting the house for viewings!
Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky, VERY lucky. I know people cope with far less space than we do, but I am really proud of how we make our space work for us. When friends visit us for the first time, they usually comment on one or more of our space saving ideas (maybe just to be polite) and that’s what gave me the idea for this post. I am in total agreement with William Morris who said ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to beautiful’ and also feel that it’s invaluable for our children to be able to access our home without us constantly having to move things out of reach and ask them not to touch things. Our home isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for us. So here is a whistle-stop tour of some of my favourite storage ideas and space saving options.
In the kitchen, we hang the frame for our travel system on the wall. I had the idea and my very clever husband made it happen (this is usually how we work). There’s no room to keep it up all the time (oo er) and we haven’t got a garage or playroom to keep it in. It has worked brilliantly for us; just make sure whoever is doing the DIY uses extra strong screws and rawl plugs! We also have a random space by our fridge. We considered a built in unit here, but as we were thinking about selling the house at the time, we didn’t want to spend loads so settled for a set of shelves and some Really Useful Boxes (our house is practically sponsored by these). In the boiler cupboard, we store the buggy seat, steam mop and lunch bags. A great way to scrap messy noticeboards is to use blackboard paint to cover cupboard doors. We use ours to note down shopping lists, cooking instructions and meal plans.
The lounge is our only downstairs living space, so we like it to be child friendly but easy to turn back into a grown up space once the kids are in bed. Ikea is our best friend here. We use high, wall-mounted storage for DVD’s, Wii games etc and these also help to childproof the room! When Ace was little, we saved space by using items that would fit under the sofa and in the ottoman; our top picks were the Space Saver Jumperoo and the Poddle Pod. We also have a basket stowed under the armchair containing nappy changing supplies. Recently, I have mounted a couple of the kids’ toys on the wall, this not only saves space but the toys are played with much more often than when they were lying around! Finally for this room, having two children, I find my tumble drier invaluable and absolutely HAD to find a way to fit it into the house. Handy Hubby strikes again to drill a massive hole in the side of the house to create a vent so we could have it in the awkwardly shaped cupboard under the stairs!
Last Christmas, we asked Honey and Ace’s grandparents to help us buy them a playhouse for the garden. Their playhouse now contains their wooden kitchen, a small table and chairs and a selection of books, leaving space for other things indoors. Everything in the playhouse is accessible and easy to get out and crucially, put away.
Our bedroom is mostly taken up with a Super Kingsized bed, it’s brilliant and has totally come into its own since having children. The rest of our furniture had to be carefully thought out to maximise the use of the space we had left once the bed was in. Instead of bedside tables, we have wall-mounted units with a small shelf underneath. This leaves us with space underneath which came in handy when there was a crib next to the bed and now means one less thing for Ace to try and pull over on himself! Once again, Ikea provided us with the inspiration for our clothing storage and we have a wardrobe with sliding doors (traditional doors wouldn’t have room to open due to the gigantic bed) and a tall, spacious chest of drawers.
When we realised we were staying put, the main area of concern for us was where the new baby would sleep. As previously mentioned, a crib fitted nicely by our bed, but when we felt it was time for Ace to move to a larger cot, it became a bit of a squeeze in the other bedroom. With some rearranging, a cot was added and Honey still had her own little area but I was unhappy with the toy storage situation and couldn’t wait to have a bunk bed in place! This has now happened and has revolutionised the kids’ room. It’s been redecorated to suit both of them now and they can play with and tidy up their books and toys independently as the reclaimed space means that everything has an easy access place instead of being shoved under a bed or cot. Wardrobe organisation has also helped Honey to be independent. Coloured hangers and Really Useful boxes let her know where she needs to look for her things or where to grab Ace’s spare clothes from in case of poonami or vomnado!
Lastly, the bathroom. My husband spent last summer completely gutting this room, removing around 1 million white tiles and reclaiming valuable extra centimetres of space by installing a new toilet with a concealed cistern, a slightly narrower bath and a foldaway shower screen. In line with the rest of the house, all the children’s stuff is accessible and easy to tidy up. Ikea to the rescue once again for bath toy storage (with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage) and an under sink cupboard houses Honey’s Child’s Farm collection so she can sort out her own bubble bath and hair products!
Overall, the biggest thing that makes it easy to live in a smaller home, is regular and ruthless decluttering. It’s tempting to stick things in the loft out of sight and out of mind but if something isn’t used or has been outgrown here, it gets passed on, donated to charity or sold on Facebook. Mail is sorted at the point of opening so paper doesn’t mount up and as previously mentioned, the kids shoes, coats and toys are organised so that they’re super easy for Honey and Ace to put away themselves or for one of us to quickly scoop up at the end of the day.
When we bought our house, we were a pair. Since we moved in, we have been engaged, got married, my husband has retrained and begun a whole new career and we have had two children. We used our wedding money to buy new windows and doors, have completely changed every stick of furniture we previously owned and have decorated and renovated so almost the whole place is totally to our taste. There are a lot of memories here and I love it but when the time comes, I’ll be ready to say goodbye and turn another house into our perfect home.
A Guest Blog from Steph Gore
Steph is wife, mummy, blogger and primary school teacher who looks on the bright side of life. She lives in Cheltenham with her paramedic husband and their two children Honey (4) and Ace (1). Steph loves organising and adores being out and about with her tribe. She is currently working out how to make a life-sized replica of Honey so that Ace won’t miss her too much when she starts school in September! Come and say hi to Steph over on her Blog, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Photo Credit Oobaloos Photography
Enjoyed this read? Make sure you check out all of the CheltenhamMaman recommendations over at Maman Pages.