Home Tour: One Bedroom For Three Boys

Sharing our home in this series on the blog. More here and here.

Three boys. One bedroom.

My best tip for making a small space work for three kids isn’t a design hack or even a space creator like having less stuff. My best tip for making our small space work for three kids is this: get outside. We don’t have a yard nor space to have an indoor mini tramp or rec room you could play soccer in. Our home has to meet our big needs – place to sleep, relax and dine – but it can’t meet all of our needs. We can’t own all the toys or all the books. So we let the library and our friends and the tot drop in at the Community Center own and store a lot of toys and books that we use on site or borrow for a few weeks. Grandma has the water guns and the mini soccer goals and big remote control cars at her house. If you don’t have an attic or garage or basement you are forced to just own what you use most of the time and find other ways to enjoy your occasional toys and activities.


Technically this room houses three but at the moment the youngest sleeps in the office in a portable crib but plays and has his toys and clothing stored in this room. Our plan is for the three boys to share this room for the next two to three years and then do some shuffling to give them more space.


The IKEA hack toddler bunk beds (originally our neighbor’s 5kids1condo.com) are fantastic space savers. Our older two – age 6 and age 3 – fit nicely in them. I won’t disclose too much about the design (because it’s not mine and I don’t want to be sued!) but this is two IKEA Gulliver beds stacked on each other with four supports keeping them together and a custom ladder. It’s very sturdy and we all love it.

On the other side of the room we have a play corner centered around the ubiquitous IKEA Expedit unit. I try to keep the toy collection contained to just these boxes plus another box in the living room but I will confess there is a Paw Patroller and Air Patroller out of view. The boxes: two are full of wooden trains and train set pieces, the rest is Duplo, Lego, dress up clothing, wooden puzzles and some Hot Wheels cars and tracks. We cull the toys a few times a year via the methods in Simplicity Parenting. Some of the books are displayed on picture rails that just fit in next to the closet and there are more books stacked around the house.


The small but deep closet in the kid’s room holds two IKEA units for clothing. Sometimes I KonMari all the clothing… sometimes the three year old pulls all of it out looking for his pajamas (they were on his bed). Sometimes the baby pulls all the clothing out just because it’s fun. So yes, I don’t KonMari their clothing frequently. I have a rule that if the clothing can’t fit in unfolded then we need to pare it down.


The rug is very second hand Pottery Barn and was incredibly dirty when I got it. A number of runs with the Dyson later it’s nubby and worn but pretty clean. The little chairs can fit at our kid’s table to increase our hosting options.

A big comfy reading chair that the kids could sit in with me would be nice. But it would eat a lot of floor space and make the room feel crowded. Instead I sit on the carpet or the kids come into our bed or we all sit on the living room couch. When the kids are waking each other up or pestering each other and not falling asleep I think it would be nice for them to have their own rooms. I’m not immune to the “wouldn’t it be nice to have” thoughts but when I go there, and I do go there, I then try to remind myself what the nice to haves come with: eventually feeling squeezed out of our small-ish home.


What about when they’re teens? It wasn’t until second year university that I first experienced having my own bedroom. Oh how I loved it. The privacy and the ability to decorate and do as I please was such a luxury. I would really like our children to have a year or two of their own bedroom in their teen years. Which is why if we stay in this home we will do a room shuffle every few years so each boy can have a year or two of high school with his own bedroom. Here’s another “it would be nice to have”: It would be nice that they spend enough time sharing a bedroom with a sibling(s) that they learn how to navigate the rough and calm waters of living with people and also, that they really appreciate having their own bedroom when it finally happens.

Did you share a bedroom growing up? When did you first have your own bedroom? I feel like most kids these days don’t have to share but I like the skills learned from negotiating with a sister over what poster goes on the wall and who gets the top drawer.

The NEW Joy of Less + Giveaway



I run very few ‘stuff’ giveaways on this blog. You already know that. But occasionally I give away books I really enjoy and, this may surprise you, I often pay for those books myself. In fact my first giveaway on this blog was a copy of Francine Jay’s, aka Miss Minimalist, wonderful guide to decluttering your home, The Joy of Less. I wanted to thank all my readers for their wonderful encouragement as I tackled reducing our stuff so I decided to give away a copy of a book that had been a great help to me.

So I was beyond thrilled when Francine emailed me about the new revised and updated edition of The Joy of Less she was working on with Chronicle Books. Miss Minimalist emailed me! I’m such a fan girl that I did a double take when I saw the email.

Lucky me I received an advance copy of the updated and revised edition of the book and you’ll seem my short notes – spoiler: I loved it! – on the back of the book.

After reading this new version again I was surprised by the book. I read it back in 2010 with such fervor and determination to get our home in order that I remember it quite differently. Back then I was looking for how-tos and a solid kick in the pants to get it done. And that was my big takeaway back then. I got just what I needed from it.

Reading it again six years later I got to enjoy a whole other side to the book: it’s sweeter and funnier and cheekier than I remember. Nonthreatening. Entertaining, silly at times and so inspiring. Francine writes with such a calm and accessible hand on what can often be a stressful and emotional task. And the additional material, particularly on children, is so helpful. We are out of the big home purge stage in our living with less journey but I found myself nodding along and enjoying all the succinct and smart ways to pare down and the big benefits to living smaller.

Quotes I loved from The Joy of Less:

We reclaim our space, and restore function and potential to our homes.

We have to remember that our memories, dreams, and ambitions aren’t contained in objects; they’re contained in ourselves.

We are not what we own; we are what we do, what we think, and who we love.

In pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, we must resist the temptation to recreate the outside world within our abodes.

To celebrate the publication of The Joy of Less Chronicle Books is giving away two copies of the book to lucky Minimalist Mom readers. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below and then leave a comment on this post. Contest closes Saturday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Living in a Small Space with a Baby


Wondering if you need to move into something bigger for baby’s arrival? Is your one bedroom and den too small for a family of three? Do babies need big houses? No, no and no.

Our transition back to North America continues at a slow pace. We’re currently house-sitting until our tenants move out of our condo. It was a huge win to find a friend of a friend that would let us crash at her place while she was away for the summer. We are in a great location and have spectacular views of the North Shore mountains. But we’re winging it on the baby friendly front and space is tight. It’s reminded me again that babies really don’t need a lot of space or lots of stuff.

Cutting Down on Baby Gear smallspacebaby

High chairs are not a necessity. If you’re in a small space consider using a booster seat at your dining table or if you have a bar height eat-in space, look into high chairs that attach to the counter. These are great space savers and easy to find second hand.

Super tight on space? Have the baby sit on the floor to eat. A 6 month+ baby that can sit without assistance doesn’t have to be in a high chair or booster or at a table to eat. When we travel I’ve had my babies sit on a washable blanket for meals. It’s not perfect but it gets the job done.

Invest in multi-use and multi-purpose items. One of my better buys for child 2 that we are now using for child 3, was a portable play pen/ portable crib. Our portable crib has been used at the gym to contain a young toddler, at home as a safe spot to leave a mobile baby and as a bed (our second used ours as his crib from 18 months to 2 years of age). If you’re in a small space and don’t have room for a full size crib, consider a smaller portable option.

Avoid those one off items like white noise machines and instead, buy something that can be used after the baby years like a fan (same noise but it will also keep you cool).

Look for space saving baby gear. Strollers that collapse quickly to get stowed in a front hall closet, high chairs that can be easily folded up and put away between meals and cribs that can be rolled out of sight are all helpful to small space dwellers. Often these handy pieces are marketed as baby travel gear and carry a hefty price tag. Look for good used condition models to buy – they are great investments and you can often resell them later on with very little depreciation.

Only have what you need right now. Forget about stocking up for the next developmental milestone. If you’re living small avoid getting that exersaucer that’s on sale when you’re baby is just a few weeks old. The few dollars saved just aren’t worth it when you have to store a huge item in limited closet space. Buy the bigger car seat when you’re baby is ready for it and not before and avoid the temptation to stock up on next years sizes at end of season sales.

Get creative. Cribs can fit in closets and yes, you can even go big and move the baby into the bedroom and yourself into the living room as this Vancouver area couple described in their Apartment Therapy interview. It’s not always about ‘will this work forever’ but rather ‘will this work right now’. Yes, you may need to upsize your home at some point but if you can live comfortably in a small space for a few extra years, that’s savings in the bank. We’re now a five person family living in a two bedroom apartment. I don’t know if we will be in this home forever but I do know that for right now, it works. Being flexible, creative and owning less stuff and smaller stuff all helps!

Want more ideas for a small nursery or living in a small space with a baby? Check out the blog ‘reading my tea leaves’ about tiny apartment living with a baby and a this article about creative bedroom solutions for babies in apartments. And, of course, my book The Minimalist Mom: How to Simply Parent Your Baby (Adams 2016) is full of great ideas and strategies for keeping things smaller, simpler and sweeter. You can find it in bookstores and on Amazon.

Bye Bye Baby Stuff



Original photo by Shan Fisher

When did you get rid of the baby clothes?

Was it when you felt you were done having children? Was it after the child outgrew it? Did any of you brave souls, knowing you would probably have more children, decide to give all of it away to keep life simple?

I am very ready to part with newborn sleepers and in a few months, the bouncer our second and third children have used. Very ready and yet there is a teeny tiny small chance we would think about having a fourth child. Like a 1% chance it would even be discussed in the next few years. So there’s no harm in just keeping things for a while, right?

Nope. I want it all gone. I want the space, I want it off my mind, I want another baby, not my baby, to wear those impossibly small onesies and not have them packed away getting older and crunchier.

So I’ve found someone that I can pass most of it on to. I’ll sell some of the pricier items – bouncer and Arms Reach Cosleeper – but I’m ready to give most of it away.

Letting go of things often means saying goodbye to some lovely chapters in your life.

As I pack up and give away maternity clothes I am saying farewell to those months and years of a growing belly and the sweet anticipation of a new baby. I’m not very sentimental about the actual stuff but the act of letting these things go has been surprisingly emotional for me. I’m closing a chapter in my life that has been exciting and exhausting, beautiful and more enjoyable than I imagined it would be.

This is certainly why we often hold onto things well past their usefulness. We don’t want to let those memories or ambitions or that sweet time in our life go.

I get it. This time around I even feel it. And yet… letting the things go is part of moving on and into the next thing. The only constant in life is change. One way I can accept and enjoy the next chapter and all the change that comes with it, is to let go of the past.

There are a few things I’m keeping. An outfit for each of the boys from when they were a newborn. A beloved hat and jacket. I’m thinking about making keepsake boxes for each of them to store special mementos from their childhood. I have a handful of things from my childhood that I love looking through every couple of years. But most of it will go. Just pictures and memories to mark these special years. That’s enough.

If you have children when did you let the baby things go? Was it when you were sure your family was complete or much later? Anyone have any special items from their babyhood that their parents kept for them?

Do You Really Need a Nursery?

We arrived home from the hospital with no bed for our new baby.

It wasn’t a case of ardent minimalism that left baby #2 with no bed. Nor was it a case of being unprepared. We just assumed that he would be like our first child and only sleep for a long stretch in our bed, a carrier or stroller.

We were pleasantly surprised when he slept 2-3 hour chunks in his bassinet at the hospital and later in the bouncer at home. Friends loaned us a bassinet and stand when he was a few days old. Thanks friends!

As for a nursery, this time around I haven’t bothered.

Clothing and cloth diapers are stored in two baskets in our living room. That’s where we spend most of our time.

In the evening I bring a small basket of overnight essentials for him to our bedroom where he sleeps. Eventually he will share a room with his brother.

Decorating and furnishing a nursery can be a wonderful activity for expectant parents. But it isn’t essential.

It’s hard not to feel the pressure to makes space for and decorate a nursery when we’re inundated by gorgeous photos of whimsically decorated baby rooms on sites like Oh Dee Doh and Pinterest.

I pined for a room like that with our first child. You can see my attempt in the photo above. It’s true, I really enjoyed the room. But we rarely used it. Our son ended up co-sleeping and we used the nursery as a play room for a few hours a day. That beautiful crib with an expensive mattress was only slept in a few times before we sold it to move overseas.

It’s okay to skip the nursery. It’s okay to just have a crib and essentials in a room. No Etsy prints on the walls or rug to match the crib bedding.

You’re not a bad parent.

It doesn’t mean you love your child any less.

Our ‘nursery’ right now is a few bins in the living room, a glider in our bedroom and a drawer in our older son’s room. Nothing worthy of sharing photos of but also, nothing to be embarrassed by or feel that we aren’t giving our son a great start in life.

Baby #2 is smiling, laughing, sleeping well and in the 75th percentile for weight – not shabby for a baby who came home to no bed!

Anyone else skip decorating and furnishing a traditional nursery? Was it for convenience, space or budget reasons? Do you feel like you missed out on a right of passage?

Are you an expectant or new parent and want to live simply? Less mess and stress, more sleep and time? My book, The Minimalist Mom: How to Simply Parent Your Baby (Adams 2016) is a great guide for simplifying, spending less and finding more time when you have a new baby.

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