Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Things in Small Packages

We have found our next home!  We're moving out of our current apartment at the end of May, and the search for something new is no easy feat.  Ever.  No matter your circumstances.  I'm convinced of it.

Choosing a home is such a loaded thing!  After all, this is the space where you live, eat, breathe and create memories day and day out.  We're renting, and even the level of a year's lease commitment freaks me out sometimes, so I have to imagine that when the time comes one day for me to sign papers to actually buy something, all of my hair will most likely fall out on the spot.  In the meantime, finding a new place for us to call home for at least the next year was a bit arduous.  As any dog-owning renter knows, not everyone is welcoming to our furry friends, and many who are only do so because their space is in such bad disrepair that they just don't care what else happens to it.  Herein lies the recipe for a stressful house hunt.
We're a package deal, folks.
Imagine our relief and joy then, when we connected with the owners of a gorgeous, lovingly renovated condo with a drop-dead beautiful kitchen and perfect garden in the safe, quiet, family neighborhood of our dreams.  And the best part?  They were eager to have us, dog, toddler and all. Hallelujah. The space has only one drawback, which is that while we are gaining a small amount of square footage (and a half-bath!!!!  Triple Hallelujah!), we are actually downsizing by a room and half in this move.  We pondered this decision carefully, realizing that we had chosen space over neighborhood in our last move and lived to regret it (hard partying upstairs and next door and backyard neighbors, if I never see ya'll again, it will be too soon).  We eventually decided that the peaceful neighborhood and beautiful interior trumped all, and gratefully signed the lease.
Oh hi, new five-burner gas range with hood.  Come to mama and let me cook on you.
I am excited, but will also admit that I've had a few middle of the night mind-racing sessions regarding how we'll make due in less space.  Our current apartment is only around 1000 square feet, mind you, so it isn't like we're used to living in a palace, but living with fewer doors to close for privacy will take some getting used to.  However, I'm finding that I don't really have to look too far to find inspiration, and that when I find it, I'm actually thrilled by the challenge of living more simply.

When I was in seventh grade and my family lived in Holland, we rented a small cottage for the year.  I shared a room with my youngest sister, and the memories we created during that time, in that tiny, closet-less room, bond us to this day.  Our refrigerator was the size of a hotel mini-bar, and we made due by shopping more frequently and eating incredibly fresh food as a result.  And after college, I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my two best friends in San Francisco for a year and a half, and we still all love each other dearly, so somewhere in my being is the knowledge of how to make living in small spaces work.
Overnight bus ride in Vietnam, 2001.
Some of the best times of my life have been had in the most cramped of spaces.
Beyond my own life experience, the internet is teeming with inspiration on how to maximize small space.  After all, some of the most sought after locales in the world (NYC, Paris) are ones where square footage is at an absolute premium.  Stylish people all over the world are making small homes elegant, functional, and even enviable places to raise a family, while laughing all the way to the bank with lower utility bills.

Apartment Therapy has always been a great source of inspiration to me for small-scale living, and I love their mantra that "simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive".  I'm especially enamored of their current "Small Cool Contest", where readers with homes under 1000 square feet submit photos in the hopes of being dubbed smallest, coolest home.  It is incredible what some people can do in such limited space!
I love this dining space in a 350 square foot NYC home! 350 square feet!
Beautiful, multi-tasking living room in a 560 square foot apartment in Australia.
I could pour over the Small Cool Contest entries all day.  And I also love looking at the San Francisco apartment of Oh Happy Day's Jordan Ferney, a classic example of choosing neighborhood over space.  She and her husband were determined to stay put in their one-bedroom Nob Hill digs even after having two children, and came up with this creative solution for a bedroom for their boys by building bunk beds into a closet!
Crazy cute closet.
Now, in this new apartment of ours, all the closets will be used for actual clothes, not people, making it practically palatial by comparison.  I just love the above photo as a reminder that with a bit of creativity, ingenuity, and commitment to forward motion, it is possible to live stylishly and with fun and flair in any amount of space.  This is the mantra I will repeat as we prepare for our move.  I'm so excited to purge everything we no longer need (and then some), and tuck ourselves neatly and efficiently into this beautiful new home.  And I'm feeling grateful for the opportunity.


  1. Horray for finding your new digs! Wishing you much inspiration! xoxo

  2. Congrats, SMJ. Hope I'll be able to see your new digs on one of my visits to that part of the world. -BLA

  3. Sexy new stove. I mean it. Your creativity will take a lot of pleasure and pride out of this new space, so enjoy! I think this move is for the best and will give you more payoffs than where you're at now. Still JP? Good luck with the move!

  4. My family (husband and toddler) and I are moving to Boston next month and we still don't have a place! Ugh. Any advice on neighborhoods?

  5. Thanks, ladies!
    May, Boston is so complicated! There are dozens of outlying 'burbs and neighborhoods, each varying widely in personality and price point. Happy to point you to some list serves and websites if you e-mail me at sweetmamajane(at)gmail.

  6. Congratulations on your new apartment! :)

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