Quiet living in a little space

Photo 29-04-2013 10 12 33 AM

Did I tell you about our flat? I love our flat. It’s true that cream carpets get OLD with a baby and a muddy cyclist leaving their mark on the floor. But I ran home to a new husband here, and brought my baby back to this room. This house has seen the best of me, as well as everything else.

So I’m not trying to make it feel bad for being small. Even though it was definitely made for two people, and it’s about to house five. Chin up, little house, we love you anyway. And we’ve just worked MEGA hard to make the very most of this space for as long as we can.

The idea of my doing a home decoration post is the sort of thing that makes me belly laugh – hello, I have enough belly to go around everyone at the moment – so I feel like a bit of a dork, writing this. On the other hand, I’m sure we’re not the only ones trying to fit more into less without choking on the claustrophobia. Here’s what I’ve found helpful over the past couple of weeks. If you’ve hit on anything that worked in your little space, give me some pointers!

big fish, little fish, basket, box

I live with a wires man. Timothy trails wires like a weird AI version of Edward Scissorhands. He’s the chap to ask if you need an audio cable, a tiny screwdriver, seven kinds of battery or a phone that went out of circulation five years ago. Most of this seemed to be living on the bookcases.

(Kidding, husband! I am just affronted when things go on the bookcases that aren’t my books. That space is at a PREMIUM, DO NOT TOUCH IT.)

Timothy threw away everything he didn’t need, then we ravaged the basket section of IKEA. He now has baskets that are categorised with titles such as Audio and Video, Flash Drives and Storage, Misc and Useful Misc. He decided not to use a whole basket just for different types of glue, in the end, but it was a close thing. We ended up with an entirely clear cupboard – that we’ll desperately need for other things – and a serenely uncluttered bookcase, with a row of baskets on top that look rather nice. Now I can stroke Wolf Hall in peace, thank you very much.

Also, thanks to Tim’s parents, we just inherited this beeeeeaaaaautiful family chest belonging to a Jeffcoat of Yore. It now sits in our living room where the coffee table used to go, and you wouldn’t believe how much we’ve put inside it. I’m so excited about having a piece of family history in our house that’s a century old at least that I keep wanting to embrace it. Furniture that’s actually a giant box: now there’s something I can get behind. 

clear, and clear, and clear

This one was hard. We let go of knick-knacks, clothes we never wore, shoes that were too battered to be seen in public, and lots of old bits-and-bobs we’d been hanging on to for no reason. I like the philosophy of minimalism-with-prettiness: clear out as much as you can, then add little touches you really love. On top of the little bookcase in the corner – just to the left of the old Tube map I adore – I keep an old, glazed jug, a painting by Tim’s brother, and a Piet-Mondrian-patterned tissue box. They make me happy whenever I look at them.

ups and downs

Without much obvious floor space, we had to think creatively about what would go where. So we stacked, high and low. We lined cupboard walls with shelves and free corners with tall shelving units, and used yet more baskets to keep little things out of sight. Henry’s toys now live in two large boxes under his bed, which means we have a place to put toys away, instead of just having them out all the time.

We did the same when it came to beds: we were lucky enough to be given a brilliant high-rise contraption (again, a family hand-me-down), and bought a child’s bed to slot underneath it, to replace Henry’s cot. I cannot tell you how much I panicked about this. Henry, free to roam the house at night, ingesting interesting pills and climbing into dangerous places. Imagine the possibilities.

We’ve only had to chase him back inside three times a night, so far. Ahem. No, he’s doing really well. Making up a proper bed with a car-printed duvet for this tiny boy just about broke my heart, but he was so excited. After his naps I fling open the blinds, he stands up to survey the scene out of his window, and lets out a great, satisfied ‘ahhhhhh’.

King of the world. It was worth it just for that.

Photo 20-05-2013 10 44 13 AM

PS: thanks to generous parents, we’ve been able to reuse a lot of family furniture, which has saved us a heck of a lot of money. Otherwise, though, we’d be all over Ebay like a rash. Go second-hand or go home.

PPS: Sadly, Henricus discovered yesterday that he could climb onto the high-rise, which happens to have a VERY bouncy mattress. For our next project, we’ll be covering everything in bubble wrap. 

Superboy and the new bed from Rachel Jeffcoat on Vimeo.

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10 thoughts on “Quiet living in a little space

  1. beverley says:

    a word of warning, stay in the smallest space possible, that your family need and when they eventually leave home, make sure they take their belongings with them, I am trying my best to make my large house appear smaller and less cluttered but it all takes time. Henricus is amazing enjoy his boyhood for as long as possible.

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  2. Hi Rachel,
    You have SO MANY books!! Wow! I’d have loved to live near you and borrow books whenever I wanted 😀 And the shelf has been arranged really well.
    The video is awww inducing. But I held my breath when he was about to climb the second one. And he can go under it also right? Doesn’t he hit his head on it?
    We have a pretty small place ourselves and are thinking hard if we want to shift to a bigger one. Money-saving yes. But I’d love to have a book cupboard and nice decorative things, which I can’t now. Guess we’ll just have to buck up save and get an own place.
    BTW love Henricus and his mischevious smile. 🙂

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    • I am a bit of a book-hoarder – I came with a lot of books from university, love buying them and find it hard to throw them away. Those two bookcases are my space limit, though – we’ve got no more room!
      Some of Henry’s bed is under the big bed, but he sleeps at the other end and isn’t long enough for the whole thing, so it’s not a problem for now. He did bang his head in the video – sadly happens quite often with a boy who loves to climb!
      Best of luck for the money saving and house decisions. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Worth it to save up and then find something you really love, though!

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  3. natalie hacking says:

    WAIT. did i read that correctly: soon to be FIVE?! now the distance is completely evident as i am out of the loop completely. ARE there twins?! because i’ve counted and recounted about five times (it is 10:43pm here and i’m exhausted to say the least – math after dark is always sketchy for me) — do fill me in! i’ve been putting together new baby j* gift parcel but will need to alter contents if there really are two wee ones coming!

    also, books glorious books. and that trunk: i’m pea green with envy – outstanding. also i love how little boys do that head-and-hands-down-on-the-ground-while-legs-hold-straight thing — saw your henry doing it in the video and remembered with such fondness watching my boys do that very thing. sigh.

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    • Ah, sorry for the confusion! Don’t worry – no twins here. My sister is coming this week to live with us for a while, and baby in July makes five 🙂
      (Incidentally I’ve always really liked the idea of twins…but having done it with one baby, now can’t IMAGINE doing it with two simultaneously!)
      I also love that elephant walk pose boys do. And they can pull off the most perfect squats at this age, too 🙂

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