The Shoebox is an unattached basement apartment in an old Victorian-style house with blue trim. (Awww.) It’s a one bedroom/one bath 450 sq. ft. cutie pie. It’s tiny. I’ll bet its walls have a smaller span than that of an albatross. The best part about the cramped conditions, I soon found out, is that I can vacuum the entire carpeted space without switching outlets. Who knew the simple joy of not having to bend over and move the cord to a different space on the wall? Here’s a quick tour detailing how we chose to use the space.
Although the home is clearly older, the simple charm is difficult to ignore. The entryway to our front door is an awkward slim walkway that’s barely large enough to squeeze through. I was worried my whole third trimester that one day I would try to walk to the car and I wouldn’t fit. I haven’t been stuck yet; I’ll count that as a blessing.
Choosing to live in a small space requires making crucial decisions about lifestyle. We opted to give the baby the bedroom (duh—it has a door to shut during nap times!) and to treat the rest of the apartment like an open-concept loft. Since our bedroom would also be the main living space, the entryway, the office, and the closet, we created “stations” for the different uses. The bed would only really fit in one corner (we were glad that we still sleep on a Full instead of a Queen because the bed takes up the majority of the room anyways). To gain more stash-away space we raised the bed on cinder blocks, then bought two long plastic bins with wheels for underneath storage. Pretty? Not really. Functional? Absolutely.
Entryways are often taken for granted, we realized, when we had to create space for shoes, coats, bags, and that inevitable “drop it” spot for loose miscellaneous items upon arriving home. A ladder shelf became our shoes’ new home. It also became the catch-all for those pesky knick-knacks that don’t really belong anywhere (thank you, cute cheap wicker basket). Against a separate wall, two 3-pronged hooks became the spot for coats/hats/purses/diaper bags. Lastly, for that “I just got home, where do I put this?” problem, we perched a dining room chair directly by the door and called it good. There wasn’t room in the eating nook for four chairs, anyways.
A closet we built with two 5′ sheets of Closet Maid® on the remaining wall. Some old oh-so-versatile wooden cubbies provided Caveman more shelf space for his clothes. I love the way the closet turned out, but the best part is that I can take my time deciding what to wear each day while I’m lying in bed.
We needed an office space of some sort, somewhere to place the printer and desktop computer. I grabbed a simple desk off of Craigslist, and we fitted it at the foot of the bed. That way we don’t waste more space by placing a chair in front of the desk; we turn the monitor sideways and sit on the edge of the bed to use the computer. The ergonomic police would have something to say about our posture when typing, but we are not worrying about raids at this point.
The bathroom/laundry room is pretty adorable. I can almost put a load of laundry in while going to the bathroom. Gosh. Think about the multitasking possibilities! Or don’t. Don’t. I liked the shower the second I saw it because it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. So it’s kind of like showering in a time capsule. And that’s always fun.
We spend the majority of our time in the main room/office/entryway/closet/eating nook/bedroom. I’ve found it is really nice to have almost everything in one place. There’s no forgetting something upstairs and having to bound up a flight to grab the diaper bag. Everything is within twelve steps no matter where you are. That’s nice. The drawbacks? We must be extra intentional about considering how other family members are using the room. Caveman wants a nap? Guess I’ll vacuum later. Red’s toys strewn everywhere? We teach him to pick them up before we move on to the next activity. But really the last time I checked, learning to put others needs before our own wasn’t a drawback at all. It’s a crucial life lesson that the Shoebox reminds us of every day.