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One of the things I've been wanting to share in this space is our home. Keeping in mind that I'm not a decor or a home or even DIY blogger (by a long shot, ha!) I'd love to share with you some of the things that make up this space we call home.
I have been bitten by the cleaning bug - I'm in full on organizing mode. It started with our pre-Thanksgiving cleaning and now before Christmas arrives and our home is filled with more guests and new things, I am taking a few weeks to sort out, tidy, and organize around the house, especially in my children's spaces.
We're very blessed that in our house the main living areas are large, open, and have high ceilings. We're often all together in those spaces and the room downstairs is so appreciated. However, upstairs the layout is a slightly different story. Yes, we do have an open loft that serves as our playroom, but our bedrooms spaces, especially the children's spaces, are on the small side.
My son Max's room is the smallest of our three bedrooms (but don't feel bad for him, he is the only child who doesn't have to share a room). It can be a challenge to keep it cozy and not too crowded or cramped. However, with a little creativity we have made it into a functional space for him.
Today I want to tell you about how we utilize our small spaces to their advantage. Now, please note that Max's room hasn't been decorated (except for by him) and the paint color in here is the same as it was 9 years ago when we moved in to this home and it was an office/crafting space. Right now we are about function, not looks but I do hope that in 2014 we'll be able to budget to decorate it and personalize it for Max.
Anyway, here is how we make Max's small space work for him:
Be choosey about the space
Max has a Squinky collection. He discovered those teeny, tiny little toys last Summer and whenever he has some pocket money saved up that is usually what he chooses to purchase. He also collects rocks, superheros, and die cast cars. He loves Lego, erector sets, and Play Mobil. Are you noticing the teeny, tiny, lots o'pieces theme he has going on here?
He also has some larger stuffed animals that he loves and are meaningful to him. These are important to him and need to be in this space.
How do we work around his love of the tiny with many components and the huge in this small space? We're choosey. Not everything can stay in here.
With a bed and a dresser and a small toy box, there's not much space leftover. Borrowing from the rule of having nothing in your homes you don't feel is beautiful and useful, we try to limit what he keeps in his bedroom to the useful and the cool (at least what is currently "cool" to a seven year old boy.)
Each collection or set or category of toys them has a specific assigned storage space in his room to live. He has an inexpensive shelving set and a toy box as well as a small bookshelf beside his dresser (a repurposed dvd storage shelf.)
Some day I hope to give him a shelving system on his wall that is longer and larger, but for now these inexpensive fixes work.
The rest of his toys? They are either relegated to the loft/playroom where everyone can play with them (my kids have several things they share in this manner) or it is stored in a box on a shelf in his closet and it becomes part of his toy rotation. You can read a little more about how and why we rotate toys and books here in this SimpleKids.net post.
A few times a year we go through his bedroom and sort out items he has outgrown or no longer loves to donate. Less is more and having less possessions means less things to have to take care of or store (my favorite kind of simple math). Plus, things can very easily get cluttered in here with such a small space, so regular weeding out helps keeps the space from being overwhelming.
Think verticallyMax's room may not have a lot of free floor space, but he does have wall space. We've taken full advantage of this by hanging a toy net, putting up shelving, and hanging up a bulletin board for his papers and pictures.
One of our more genius solutions, in my opinion, was installing a Hot Wheels Wall Track. He loves the track and I love that the set-up doesn't take up any of his floor space, which is at a premium in this room. (The only draw-back: some of his cars are too heavy or long to work properly on the track).
After doing some thinking about our upstairs spaces, a few months ago we swapped out Max's large dresser, which had a big footprint and took up valuable floor space, and traded for the tall, narrow dresser from our master bedroom.
This simple change was 1) totally FREE and 2) gave Max more space on his bedroom floor for playing. It instantly made the room seem bigger.
Frequent tidyingThis may not be what you, or your kids, want to hear but frequent tidying makes a difference. Smaller spaces look messier when cluttered. It doesn't take much on the floor in an 8x8 bedroom to make it difficult to walk across the floor. A few things out of place equals a big mess.
Easy solution to this is frequent quick cleaning and picking up sessions. Also, putting things away once done (easier said than done, takes constant reminding and vigilance).
Do you have the challenge/mixed blessing of small spaces? Have you found creative ways to work with them? I'd love to hear what works for you!