Living Small with Kids? Don't Upsize, Adapt.

July 17, 2019 | Residential Projects

Parents Alison and Trevor know a thing or two about small-space cohabitation. With two young kids and only 600 sq. ft. of space, they’ve learned how to make it work — with a little help from transforming furniture.

Kids Theo (age 5) and Mae (age 3) having fun on their Kali Duo bunk wall bed. Kids Theo (age 5) and Mae (age 3) having fun on their Kali Duo bunk wall bed.

Growing Family, Same Small Apartment

Alison and Trevor Mazurek were perfectly happy in their 600 square foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom Vancouver apartment. Small as it was, it had gorgeous lofted ceilings, an outdoor patio, tons of natural light, and an unbeatable location right in the heart of the city, near Vancouver’s trendy restaurants and boutiques. But as the family grew, they were faced with a choice all too familiar to many young couples — would they upsize to accommodate their new additions, or stay and learn to cohabit in 600 square feet?

Transforming Furniture Makes Transitional Spaces

When their first baby, Theo, arrived on the scene, Alison and Trevor were certain that their days in the tiny apartment with the big, beautiful windows and high ceilings were numbered. Without space for a proper nursery, Theo slept in a mini crib in the living room for the first few months of his life. But the couple quickly grew tired of tiptoeing around the baby in the dark — they decided they needed their home back, even if it was only a temporary living arrangement. They gave Theo the lone bedroom and installed a Penelope 2 queen-size wall bed from Resource Furniture in an area off the kitchen, which became their bedroom. The dining table was moved to the kitchen, where it would be put to better use.

To the couple’s surprise, what started as a temporary solution to their space problem became a lasting investment in both their home’s functionality and in their overall quality of life. By strategically incorporating transforming furniture, Alison and Trevor found that their family could not only manage in a small apartment but actually thrive in it. Their queen wall bed folded up during the day, allowing room for a spacious sectional where the couple could stay up late, listen to music, and entertain friends. Meanwhile, baby Theo had his own dedicated space to sleep, play and grow.

One Bed, One Bath, Four People

Then came baby number 2 — daughter Mae — and once again, Alison and Trevor heard the familiar refrain: “But surely you’ll need to move, now!” Just like before, the family was fairly sure that a move would eventually be in order; but the now-family of four was willing to stick it out and give it a try.

Alison and Trevor watched as their babies grew and hit milestone after milestone, unimpeded by space, and they realized that upsizing was not, in fact, an inevitability. Rather than leave their beloved apartment, they decided to install a second wall bed system in the kids’ shared bedroom — this time, a Kali Duo bunk wall bed. Theo and Mae can fold away their bunk beds in the daytime, and use the room as their playroom.

Designing a Home Around the Things You Value Most

Alison says the road to peaceful cohabitation in 600 square feet wasn’t always an easy one. But ultimately, she believes it was a worthwhile investment; with just a little out-of-the-box thinking and efficient, transforming design, she and her family are able to enjoy the lifestyle they desire, even as they navigate all of life’s transitions.

Having learned how to adapt their space to their needs, Alison and family have actually come to prefer living with less. Today, Alison is a bonafide small-space evangelist; she manages the popular blog 600sqftandababy, where she shares all the details of her hyper-efficient tiny home, and explains how living small has actually benefitted her, her family, and the way she parents:

“Living small has informed my role as a parent in quite a few ways, like valuing time over things, getting outside, and using our city as our backyard,” Alison says. “I hope that if we ever move to a larger space that we will carry these lessons with us and not fall prey to over-consumption just because we can.”

To see more of the Mazurek home, read their feature in Mother Magazine.