How to Start a Family in a Small Space

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Hello friends!

I recently queried on Facebook for questions readers had for us about intentionally living small. You had some great thoughts! Today’s post is a response to one dear friend who asked for advice on how to start a family in a small space. Also, I have several buddies who are pregnant right now and are beginning their own families in current apartments or homes. This is for all of you! <3

I don’t generally feel comfortable giving advice per se, but I am happy to supply encouragement based off our experience. 🙂 Below are five thoughts that will hopefully give you some confidence that you can start a family in a small space. Living as a large family in a little home can be done well, and you will be blessed as a result!

Living as a large family in a little home can be done well, and you will be blessed as a result!


1. Give yourself a pat on the back

Yay for you! The fact that you are even entertaining the question “how to start a family in a small space” reveals that you haven’t bought into the lie that you need more square feet in order to add members to your clan. Children love to be in close proximity to their parents. You might even find that you’re more in-tune to their needs and quirks because of the closeness. Giving them their own bedroom/bathroom/play room are fine options if you already have the area, but they are also unnecessary uses of space. Many families don’t realize that they could be just as happy in perhaps half their square footage. In our opinion, the benefits of raising children in a small home are abundant. So, high five. You’re on a great track!

 2. Embrace your home. Make it work; you might learn to love it.

Attitude has much to do with how your situation turns out. Embrace the home you are currently in. Wishing for more or something different will only add to discouragement. Make a list of the things you DO appreciate about your current home. Does it have a great location? Low rent or mortgage? Awesome natural light? Pretty floors? Great storage? Friends nearby?

Dwell on your list of positives and find ways to enhance the parts you already appreciate. Next analyze how your flow of life can work better as your family swells. Does it mean changing sleeping arrangements? Swapping out how you store certain items? Is your furniture going to continue working as it currently does? What do you need to get rid of to alleviate the crunch for space (and to feel a whole lot lighter about life in general!)?

3. Get creative with how you design your living space.

Think outside the box when preparing for a new baby. Can you omit a coffee table and instead create a spot for plants or drinks to the side or back of the couch? Will you share a room/bed with baby? Will you give them the bedroom and make a marital nest elsewhere? Is there a closet in which you can create a darling “baby nook”? (I’m especially smitten with ideas like this): 🙂


ClosetNursery2 and this:

Baby crib in closet


4. Be intentional about items that you allow into your home.

This one is difficult because people LOVE to buy baby things. And they love to gift them. They love to pass on heirlooms and the baby stuff that they appreciated and before you know it, your living room is transformed into a mountain range of well-meant mish-mash. Create a modest registry and politely encourage people to purchase gifts off your chosen list. It is alright to let people know upfront that you are limited in space and would prefer gift cards or “consumable” items such as baby wipes/diapers/baby food. Accept gifts graciously, but realize that what stays in your home is up to you.

(By the way, here is our basic list of what we consider major “necessities” for having a baby.)

Also, PURGE. Purge belongings before baby comes, purge again after and keep at it. I’m always amazed at the amount of stuff I find in our home with which I don’t mind parting. Purging is a constant, intentional action you must take to keep material items under control. If you’re not careful about only keeping what you truly need and love, you’ll accumulate more than you want. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re not careful about only keeping what you truly need and love, you’ll accumulate more than you want. It’s as simple as that.

 5. Don’t buy anything that you don’t positively need.

Babies outgrow clothes and developmental stages at lightning-fast speed. Caveman and I have found that if we hold off on buying something we think we need for a few weeks, we’ll find we didn’t need the item after all. The baby’s stage or habits will change. You’ll discover a work-around that actually suits your family just fine. They’ll outgrow the size. Or they’ll all of a sudden learn how to sit up or crawl and that toy or activity or won’t seem so alluring. Life with children is amazingly fluid; it is always changing. Approaching purchases slowly and thoughtfully will help your small home to serve you better.


Growing your family in a small space is not only feasible; it can be done with grace and joy and yields great rewards.

Oh, and … If this post was helpful to you, you might want to check out this related one: Four tips for living with a baby in a small space. 🙂

Have you started your family in a little home? What would YOU add to this list of how to do it well? Comment below and tell us!


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  • Z
    June 23, 2015

    I grew up in a large family in a small space and…I really wish we had more space. It’s very hard when you don’t have somewhere that is your own. It’s one thing as a baby, which is totally reasonable, but having many teenagers is not the same. I don’t think there needs to be a lot of STUFF, but, just the perspective of somebody who didn’t have their own bedroom until their second year of university!

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2015

      Hi Z,
      Thank you for sharing your perspective! I agree that as children get older, they will require a certain amount of privacy and individual space. From what I remember of being a teen and young adult in my parents’ home, I think that the ability to get respectful some time alone is super valuable.

      I will keep this thought in the back of my mind as my children grow. Someday when we get to the point of them needing more individual space, I’ll write a post on that when I can personally address it! 🙂 Thanks again for sharing!

      • Annaleah
        June 23, 2015

        I’d love to add some thoughts on this… I have never had my own room; I shared a bedroom with three sisters, then moved out when I got married. I am an introvert, so I definitely understand the need for some alone time, and I am very mindful of this as I am now raising my own large family in a small space, but I don’t think my kids are all entitled to their own room. There are other ways to have alone time. One thing we do is allow our kids to go into our room if they want to be by themselves. You could also curtain off beds or a small nook. There were times growing up that I wished for my own space, but I have so many fond memories of sharing a room, and I really think that I am closer to my siblings as a result.

        • Evelyn
          June 23, 2015

          Hi Annaleah,
          Thank you so much for sharing your perspective as well! It’s a relief and pleasure to know that sharing a bedroom and small space can even be done well for introverted people/teens too. 🙂 I love the idea of simply using open spaces around the house for getting alone time, and of course I love to hear that you’re still close with your siblings as a result of sharing a room with them. I so appreciate you weighing in! 🙂

  • Maureen@ADebtFreeStressFreeLife
    June 24, 2015

    All great advice and similar to the advice I gave my daughter who just had a baby. We spent many weeks figuring out the nursery space and utilizing every single square inch to make it comfortable and user friendly. Don’t buy anything you don’t need is good advice any day of the year!

    • Evelyn
      June 24, 2015

      Thanks Maureen! I agree. 🙂 Congrats on the grandbaby!

  • Linda Sand
    June 24, 2015

    I shared a small bedroom with my two older brothers until I was 10. While I appreciated having privacy as a teen I missed the camaraderie of the shared space.

    The best shared bedroom I ever saw was one for three boys where each one had a curtain that could shut off his bed nook, his own desk where he could work on projects with a shared floor between them, and a shared bookcase. Drawers below each bed provided “own” space as well. Each boy’s quilt and curtain and wall hangings reflected his own interests–sports or nature or music, I think.

    • Evelyn
      July 2, 2015

      Hi Linda,
      I’ve seen beds like that too. I think that someday we’d like to have something like those for the boys, but eventually you’re right–our daughter might need her own space. I imagine she’ll miss sharing with her brothers too. 😉 Thanks for commenting!

    • Angela
      July 19, 2015

      Oh! I saw one like that on the assortment blog! The family lives in a little cabin they built. I’d love to buy plans for one of her designed homes and build it if I could. 😉

      • Evelyn
        July 22, 2015

        I LOOOOVVVVEEE Assortment Blog! Her home designs are beautiful. We looked into building for much of last year, and I am so grateful that we found our Green House–it’s really what we would have built without the hassle. 😉

  • Connie Lissner
    June 26, 2015

    I am constantly purging – it drives my family nuts! Also, all of our furniture serves multiple purposes and often, acts as storage. We don’t have a tiny house but it is definitely tiny compared to every house in the neighborhood, and yet, my teenagers’ friends always want to hang out here – shoved into the basement or sprawled on our couch and spilling onto the floor.

    • Evelyn
      July 2, 2015

      That’s awesome Connie! A true testament to the joy that fills your home, I’m sure.

  • Tiffany
    July 1, 2015

    I totally agree with these steps. I live in a very small space intentionally and we love it. It’s true that you don’t need a ton of square footage just to have a family. We are planning on having another baby but don’t plan on upgrading in size. We also agree that you are more in tune with your children when you are living in close proximity. We love being minimalist and we wouldn’t go back to our life before.

    • Evelyn
      July 2, 2015

      Thanks Tiffany! You guys have a great story. 🙂

  • Christina
    July 17, 2015

    Great post! Last year we bought a larger farm with a smaller house lol. So now I am having a hard time fitting my family of five into a 200 year old farmhouse with no closets. We’ve already had a huge yardsale and purged almost half of our stuff, but I still find that I am constantly looking for creative organizing solutions. I’ll be following you for more great ideas. Thanks Evelyn

    • Evelyn
      July 18, 2015

      Hi Christina,
      Thanks for piping up! I feel like purging goes in waves. I’m getting ready to do another. 😉 But yeah I’m with you on the creative storage solutions. I’ll see if I can pull together a post on that sometime soon. 🙂 Glad to have you here!

  • Marjolaine
    July 17, 2015

    I just found your blog through Josh Becker and I love it!
    My daughter is almost 8 months old and when I learned I was pregnant, I was living alone in my apartment. I decided to make it work to welcome my boyfriend and our daughter.
    I love this post as you wrote everything we did to make the space work for us. I’m not done yet and with our daughter growing, we’ll have to make changes again in the future, but for now, the space works and it’s all that matters! 🙂

    • Evelyn
      July 18, 2015

      Hello Marjolaine! Thanks. 🙂 Glad to have you here! And I love that you came up with these same tips on your own… anything else you did that I didn’t mention for making your space work? 🙂

  • Melissa Camara Wilkins
    July 17, 2015

    Yes! Littles need so much less stuff (and consequently space) than we realize at first.

    And I think there are ways to help each kid have privacy and alone time even in a small space. We do have to stay engaged with our kids and to give attention to their changing needs as they grow, but we would want to do that anyway, right? 🙂

    • Evelyn
      July 18, 2015

      Yes yes, Melissa! 🙂 So true. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • Lesly McDevitt
    July 3, 2017

    When we had 2 tots we moved into our first house- a 950sf ranch on a large lot. We had 4 more children there, and did a number of out-of-the-box things (like using a living room sofa-bed as bed for a time). This was pre-internet (no comparisons) and pre-VCRs (!) so I loved it! Even having them home all the time w homeschooling was wonderful!
    When we moved cross-country and built a house twice the size on a lot twice the size, I purposely designed one large bdrm for the 5 boys to share (later 6) so they’d remain close and learn how to live with others. (With only 1 daughter, she had her own small bdrm.) But I also went against the current norm by making smaller divided living areas instead of an open floor plan, so the kids could find alone-spots if desired. Plus the huge yard. The 6 now-adult kids are all friends, and with only 3 of us at home now the house seems empty. Thankfully my 4 (so far) grandkids visit often!

    • Evelyn
      July 5, 2017

      Hi Lesly. You are officially my HERO. WOW. So grateful to hear your family is still close. I hope our relationships will be strong as a result of our choices. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • petina gardner
    July 3, 2017

    It has been 35 years since we started out family in a small home, less than 900 square feet, for a 3 bedroom rancher and the bank said we couldn’t get a standard mortgage for a home that small(that was 35 yrs. ago). We moved the two oldest into the master bedroom and took the next room down in size and kept the baby in the smallest. We also hung all their clothes up and eliminated their dressers. We did a corner bunkbed set up that made for a unique reading nook in the one corner. We really emphasized making memories(outings, invites for a meal, etc) as gift ideas instead of toys. I currently live in 2200 sq. ft. and miss that little house so bad. Now as grandparents of 4 so far, I would love to move into a granny flat with a unique nook for them to use on sleepovers. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie) has worked for me my whole life, in all areas of my life as well(house, garden, work, hobbies, etc..) Love all the awesome ideas you all have shared.

    • Evelyn
      July 5, 2017

      Hi Petina, thank you for sharing your memories!! I love the idea of a special sleepover nook. 🙂

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