Practical Tips On Making Your Space Work, Using What You Already Have

Posted March 21, 2020

Live, learn, work and play; How to squeeze it all in

When everyone is at home all day, the walls can start to feel small even if the space usually works well for you. Maybe you were feeling squeezed in before and now you are having to ask even more of your space.

Use what you have to create what you need

Girl at stool

What do you see? This is the IKEA Bekväm StepStool and it’s also my younger daughter’s make-shift desk. I’ve been known to serve fruit-tea for two young children at this piece of flexi-furniture too and it’s most often found next to the sofa with a lamp on. Other items used as a colouring station in our home include;

  1. Any hard-back book within a metre of their hands
  2. The dining room table
  3. A clipboard
  4. The top of their toy drawers
  5. My husbands work desk
  6. Our kitchen counter
  7. My knees

Our children do actually have a dedicated workspace available to them in our home. I can tell you that I am more likely to find them using one of the above options. They live and colour and write in every part of our house.

Carving out a dedicated workspace could be valuable, especially for adults working full-time from home. Sometimes though, you just have to work with what you have.

Big impression, small footprint

Ocean wall art

This art project is great if you have children of multiple ages in your home. Everyone does their own thing and the picture takes shape over a number of days. These art pieces have had quite an impact on our girls. “Learning about the Ocean” made an appearance on my eldest daughters most recent Happy List.

You can make it work for your family in your space. If you’re short on desk space, have your children stand and work directly at the wall with colouring pencils. If you’re a braver woman than I, they could paint the background before it goes up on the wall. If you’d prefer to do all the crafting in a more contained space or a different room, cut it out and stick it up later. You get the picture. Now here are some possible themes;

  • A rainforest
  • Outer space
  • A tree complete with roots system
  • A house and garden
  • The seashore
  • The woods

We used a roll of art paper, but our next creation will probably use large brown parcel paper from a recent delivery. You could achieve a similar piece with copy paper or cardboard if that’s what you have.

Be space flexible where you can be

My husband has been working at home regularly since we had children. Right now we are fortunate enough to have a dedicated workspace but this hasn’t always been the case. In our last apartment we had two bedrooms, a very small kitchen and a shared garden space. My husband took a meeting in every room of that apartment except the bathroom. This includes the garden, and once in a very small standing room only cupboard. For the novelty I assume.

It might not be ideal, but it is realistic when you’re adapting a family space to a work-at-home location with little or no notice. You will know which meetings need a quiet dedicated workspace and which calls can be more nomadic. You might not be able to pop out to the coffee shop for a one-to-one but you can prop up the kitchen counter.

Get some air

Use your garden if you are lucky enough to have one, and take that physical distancing walk if you aren’t.

If you have young children or not a lot of day time to play with, a quick run around the block at little-leg pace can take less than ten minutes. We do have a garden and still do this regularly. Our children love it. In fact, this week daddy/daughter runs featured on two Happy Lists.

Life in a nutshell

Our current home accommodates our normal very well. But I remember that small space feeling well. Right now we are undergoing some insurance work following a major leak last year.

This week the contents of our kitchen are in our living room; both rooms and the garden are inaccessible. We are primarily living upstairs where the shower is out of order and there’s a teabag in the bathroom sink.

Real life happens. It’s been a timely reminder of all the ways we made our small space work for us.

Share your small space, real life solutions to help encourage others feeling the squeeze this week with #smallspacereallife.