Monday, December 14, 2009

Making the Most of the Space You Have

I bet I'm right in assuming that many of you readers may feel a little low on abundant space in your homes. Maybe it's a student dorm room, or a tiny NYC apartment, or a bedroom in a house filled with roommates. On the other hand, perhaps you are the proud owner of your first home, or living alone for the first time, or have three extra guest rooms in a sprawling colonial. Despite which category you fall into, it seems that we – and our possessions – are capable of growing into whatever accommodations are available, and feeling cramped can happen in any sized environment.

I've mentioned before how acutely we felt this when we moved from our undeservingly-generous-to-us housing situation in Boston to our Swedish cave. And, I've certainly spent a good deal of time explicating on our lack of know-how when it came to making the most of the space we do have. To our minimalist minds, less is more. And, so very often this is the case. But, there is a limit. For example, it doesn't make sense to have no book cases if the result of that will be stacks of books and papers littered on the floor.

Most recently we've encountered this reality as we attempt to get ready for Baby Spice (ten days over the due date as of today, in case you were curious). In general, I am not a fan of homes that succumb to Everything Baby, where there's nary a space that plays coy to the question of whether or not children reside there. In reaction to this, and a desire to not over-clutter our cave, we resisted buying a lot of the standard baby fare. No crib, no room for one. No baby bath tub, it would take up far too much space for the number of times we would use it (although, I must admit to lusting after this nifty number I read about on another blog this week). Our baby items are pretty much limited to clothes, blankets, books (I firmly believe kids are never too young to be read to!), cloth diapers, and the numerous stuffed animals we've been gifted.

However, Keith convinced me that a changing table with drawers would be a wise addition. Yes, this piece of furniture is fairly sizable, but the the benefits to us made it worth it in the end. For the past several months, everything baby-related had been stored neatly away in boxes under our bed. This is a brilliant solution – when you don't need to access a clean outfit every few hours, or need to have clean diapers within arms' reach of where your baby is wriggling. And, of course, there is the obvious benefit of having a surface designated to holding our baby's exposed butt. Fortunately, we have a perfectly-sized nook that wasn't of much use in any other way, and IKEA, yet again, had the perfect solution for us.

This piece cost us around $200 (it's cheaper in USD, so consider yourselves lucky!). It converts into a regular dresser, simply by taking off the full-sized changing table piece to reveal a standard dresser top (or, if you happen to, ahem, forget to put the second box in your cart during your first trip to IKEA, it will also convert from dresser to changing table... just saying). It is solid wood and extremely sturdy. Its two drawers are enough to hold all our baby clothes and several blankets as well; the shelves are big enough to hold all things diaper-related, and are deep enough to act as storage for extra wipes, burp cloths, and other baby-related items.

This is a case where more is actually more. It is far more practical and esthetically pleasing to have these things together and easily accessible than to have them tucked under the bed, or in the closet, or stacked in piles on the ground. While I wasn't sure at first that buying a relatively large piece of furniture – particularly one that I thought would only serve the purpose of changing diapers – was the right move, it turns out it was exactly the right thing for us.

How about you? How have you made the most of the space you have - whether large or small - in your home?

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