Sunday, June 3, 2012

Living simply (in a small space)

We've been having a recent ongoing debate about where to live in the fall. There are lots of great options in Madison, but we didn't feel like really apartment searching from afar so it was down to the Mormon commune complex or two on-campus options (an expensive, larger townhome or a cheaper apartment). The Mormon commune complex was just a four-plex with other LDS couples living in them... they were larger and cheaper but far from campus. We were tempted by the extra space, but in the end, the ease of living close to campus and right next to a preschool/playgrounds/community center won out. Then, there was the decision between an expensive townhome ($200 more expensive than the apartment) or the 600-sq-ft institutional-feeling two-bedroom. We decided on the smaller one.

After watching House Hunters International for two weeks, I realized I do favor smaller living spaces. I am only a little obsessed with some of the clean, modern, airy apartments that Sweden, France, and Germany have to offer to their citizens. You can't find anything so gorgeous in the US! If the apartment is nice, it's huge. I loved the simplicity of the clean lines and well thought-out storage spaces (and unfortunately, many of these products cost half an arm and leg, so Ikea is the best option in our price range). I figured if we want to live in a small apartment in the future, we might as well start now. With the extra money we are saving, I think we'll go to Ikea and pick out some cool furniture for small spaces. And I know Ikea is cheap and made in China and akin to Wal-mart in Europe, but I love it.

I love the idea of buying a comfy sofa bed that Tim and I can sleep on, then we can free up a room to use as an office:

Ikea Manstad sofa bed ($699)
Now that Lu is sleeping through the night and has firmly decided for now she is not a co-sleeping baby [never thought that was possible, but she much prefers to sleep in her cradle next to our bed], I think we might actually put the kids in a room together sans parents. I figured we would have a giant co-sleeping bed with both kids, but they don't sleep in our bed anymore and they are doing great with it... Theo sleeps in his own bed next to ours and Lu in the cradle. They both sleep through the night and it's a lovely thing.  I think they could share a room together and keep it up... maybe... Of course, that would also mean we would need to spend money on a bed and a crib. Luckily, kid's beds/cribs are easy to find on Craigslist and have great resale value. I've been scoping out Madison's Craigslist offerings a few times, and they have some awesome stuff.

That leaves an extra bedroom for an office for me so I can study and write papers without going to campus on those days with no class when the snow is piling up and I don't want to leave my warm house.

I have always wanted a cozy corner workspace c/o Ikea. They used to have a cooler wood-colored one but this black one is nice too.

We also want to invest in some quality, minimalist items for the kitchen. I am already decided on this from Joseph Joseph [I can't get the picture of just the bowls to save and come up on the blog, so you get the whole ad]:

After living in a house with a kitchen that contains a million appliances/dishes/food items that are long forgotten, closets upon closets full of clothes, 18 different cleaning chemicals, and other miscellaneous items scattered about, I am ready for a simple, minimalist apartment, or as minimalist as you can get with two kids and a mom in a PhD program.

One day I'll write a blog post about our minimalist habits when it comes to housekeeping and hygiene.


  1. Location is everything, so I think you made the right choice living close to campus. I also think having a kids bedroom and an office and sleeping in the living room is weird but brilliant. My neighbors in Long Beach did that. Except they were (the couple, I think they were married) were in a rock band and one of the bedrooms was a soundproofed practice studio, and the other bedroom was their daughter's room. They slept on the futon in the living room.

  2. we have that couch bed from ikea! it is quite stiff at first, but it gets broken in. we really love it. we haven't slept on it overnight, but we got it because we regularly have house guests. everyone who sleeps on it always says they slept well and that it's comfy! and the easy-access storage space underneath the L is also great. ikea is THE BEST.

  3. yay for tiny apartments!
    and sofa beds. the bed we are getting is a murphy bed that has a built in desk so when its up its a desk and when it folds down its a bed but all the stuff stays on the desk! it is magic. and apparently you can build them yourself with this one hinge...jon has researched it more than i have.
    also, my goal is to make all our hygiene products. we are almost there actually and i have a really good deodorant recipe if you want to borrow it...
    we miss you guys!
    go try out our pittsburgh house for us!

  4. I am in love with that colored set of bowls/spoons.

    I am also trying very hard not to be envious and/or covetous of your couch-bed. We sleep on a couch-bed too, but one a very small fraction of that size and comfort.

    I want to be a minimalist liver (and right now live in a 300 sq ft studio space) but it is sometimes very hard for me.