One of the many reasons we love our beautiful yet unaffordable city.
Wanna see what a two bedroom condo for a family of five looks like?
I’m sharing my home on the blog over the next little while inspired by the Design Mom series Living with Kids. No, I’m not a designer or artist as many of the parents featured in the Design Mom series are. This is a ‘real’ family home – not a design aficionados or style blogger’s. The kitchen and bathrooms are from 1994 and not in great shape. We’ve decided to put off renovating and focus paying our mortgage down faster and saving. Our home is focused on being simple and functional and my picture wall is a work in progress.
Living in a smaller home has been surprisingly easy for us. We’re very much used to this style of living with kid’s sharing bedrooms and rooms having a few purposes. There is no formal living room or precious kid-free area. I do discourage the kids from playing in our bedroom but even then, if my six year old wants to work on something without his little brothers sticking their hands into the mix, I’ll send him off to our bedroom for peace and quiet.
Our last home on the Isle of Man was roughly the same size as this one but spread over two floors and while there were some pros – kids rooms were away from the living room so no worries about noise waking them up – the con of treacherous Victorian stairs and having kids and babies way out of ear shot made me see that split level living wasn’t my favorite for this stage of life with little kids.
It’s more than enough this space. We’re actually using our 1100 square feet rather sloppily with the big master bedroom not getting a lot of use during the day and the office/den only being used for a few hours in the morning by me and then overnight as the baby’s room. You can see from the floor plan above that there is a lot of open floor space and we’ve made a conscious effort to have less furniture. There is room to move around and space to lay out long and complicated train tracks.
There is very little closet space in this home. One of the reasons I may have felt so crammed and frustrated with this home when our first son was young is that there is very little storage space. You can see the closets marked off in yellow on the floor plan. Hallway closet for coats and shoes, very small closet in the boy’s room, modest sized closet in the master bedroom and that’s it. We have a small room off the kitchen that the washing machine and dryer are in but it has a huge hinged door to it that opens inward. The laundry closet stores hand-me-downs and seasonal decorations, a shelving unit for household sundries like cleaning products and our suitcases. There isn’t room for much else. Unlike our almost 600 sq ft condo that we lived in prior to this home, there is no walk-in closet or condo storage locker to hide your stuff away to.
This condo looks and operates better with less furniture. Every room except the kitchen and bathrooms has at least one, sometimes two, walls that are floor to ceiling windows. Having furniture against a floor to ceiling window is not only awkward but it reduces the amount of natural light coming into the room. Natural light makes us happier and healthier condo dwellers. The floor to ceiling windows also make our rooms feel bigger than they are. If I lined the windows with dressers and furniture it would greatly reduce the enjoyment of living here.
The floor plan above and the photos I’ll share with you may not seem like much. I know for many families this is not a dream home. When we first moved in it wasn’t my dream home. The kitchen is very dated and claustrophobic. We don’t have a balcony. But a funny thing happened in the last few years: the real estate market went INSANE and I spent some time away from Vancouver.
Nothing about our home has actually changed but now, six and a half years after we moved into this condo, it is my dream home. I am so thankful we bought this home when we did: we couldn’t afford this unrenovated 1995 build two bedroom condo today. This humble little home in what is now one of the world’s most unaffordable cities to live in has increased in value by 45% since we bought it (30% of that in the last year alone). Yikes. Lucky we didn’t sell back in 2011.
After being away from this city and neighborhood I can appreciate what a wonderful place this is to live. Parks and the water and amenities and galleries and concerts and bike paths and friends and neighbors all right here in this small corner of the city. Not to mention the biggest one: family! We have a great life here.
More to come with photos of IKEA toddler bunk beds, an office that also works as a nursery and how we’re planning for a future with three teenagers in a small space.
P.S. If you are curious about simple city living with kids I listened to a great Tsh Oxenrider The Simple Show podcast on the weekend featuring Kristen Kill: mom of 4, soon to be 5, in NYC. Her four kids share one bedroom and she has lots of great anecdotes about how they and their neighbors make small space living work.