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When you squeeze five people in a 700 square foot house, you have to make sacrifices somewhere. The biggest sacrifice we’ve had to make is in our eating space. We don’t have a proper kitchen table. What?? You might be saying – You have NO Dining Table?!?! Well, sort of. No. And sort of yes, too. 

What we do have is the best we can do with the limited space we have: an all-in-one kitchen counter/island/dining table/toy storage shelf! 

BEFORE: 
(click to enlarge)
 
AFTER: 
(click to enlarge)

EATING AREA SIZE:
Width: 6.5′
Length (back wall to a/c unit):7′
Total Sq. Footage: 45.5 sq. feet
Length (back wall to back of couch): 10.33′
Total Sq. Footage: ~67.2 sq. ft.

We needed to make this space as multi-function as possible. When I was trying to decide how to make the space work, these were the things I needed to make the area contain:
– an eating area
– extra kitchen counter and food prep space
– homeschool area
– kids crafts/play table
– arts & crafts storage
– toy organization

 

Eating Area/ Dining Table
What? Only 2 chairs? Aren’t you a family of now FIVE? Yeah, I know. We have to make sacrifices, remember? This “table” is really a kitchen island/butcher block (link: Ikea STENSTORP) The two older kids (currently aged 3 and 5.5) typically sit here for their meals. KP usually doesn’t get home in time for us to all have dinner together, so my kids will either eat dinner here on their own, or I’ll pull up my desk chair to join them. Occasionally I’ll stand and eat. If KP *is* home and we have a family meal at the table, KP will pull over one of our “everything” stools (link: Ikea BEKVAM). We make it work. 

Eventually I’m going to have to figure out how to get a high chair in here too. Either I’m going to squeeze in a third chair (link: Ikea INGOLF) with the booster seat waiting in the garage (link: Fisher Price Deluxe Booster Seat), or I’m going to have to get one of those clamp on high chair seats (link: Chicco 360 Hook On Chair)…though I think the lip on the table might not allow placement. Either way I’ll figure it out. 

Other Items Pictured:
Ikea MEJLBY red rug

 


Extra Counter Space

Our kitchen is only 71.5 sq ft. Counter space is extremely limited. Especially counter space with access to an electrical outlet. I found these cabinets (links: drawer&doors / 3 drawers) on Amazon that would fit perfectly and give us more counter space. We have to drape an extension cord from the only outlet on the back wall to be able to use appliances, but at least it gives us a place to store and use our crockpot and blender!! We’ve been talking about buying a toaster or toaster oven for the middle area, but haven’t done so yet.

 


Arts & Crafts Storage

I did not open up the drawers and cabinets (links: drawer&doors / 3 drawers) to show you the chaos of arts and crafts supplies, and bulk food storage, stuffed in them, but rest assured, it’s a total mess in there of ribbons and boxes of colored pencils and construction paper and coloring books and glue sticks. And my daughter loves invading the drawers and making things. So as long as I can hide them away and no one can see the mess, I’m happy!

 


Schooling Area

I’ve mentioned it once or twice in the blog, but this past year, I’ve done a sort of “lazy” part-time homeschooling with my daughter. Next year I’m planning to get more structured with it, but in the meantime, we have a schooling area set up here. All the homeschooling supplies are over in the black cabinets in the living room, but here’s where all the action (usually) happens. I really love this whiteboard(link) I bought off Amazon and added some red painter’s tape around the border. We also use the whiteboard for non school related doodling/brainstorming as well, i.e. scene breakdowns of our next project together? What say you KP?? :). Oh, AND it’s magnetic too, so I can hang learning-related posters and such on it. 

Other Items Pictured:
Lakeshore Learning Magnetic Pockets (to store whiteboard markers in)

 


Family Command Center

Here is our bulletin board and wet-erase 4 month planning calendar(link). I have to admit that I really like this 4 month calendar. Amazingly, KP and I have had this for years – before we even had kids! – and we actually use it! Regularly! We tried doing a shared Google calendar once, but it didn’t work for us. Apparently we’re the kind of people who need big spread out visuals to make sense of our lives

Also, we have a water cooler. We signed up for it randomly on a Costco trip. Yes, it’s an added expense, but with young kids, I LOVE it and it’s made my life so much easier. Now my kids can refill their own darned water cups themselves!! 

Other Items Pictured:
 Doorway Chin Up/ Pull Up Bar

  108-in Expansion Baby Gate


Toy Storage/Play “room”

Because the kids’ room is mostly used for sleeping, we needed a place to contain their toys. I got these soft sided bins (link: Ikea SKUBBARE) and made labels from red felt. I painted the words in black paint and then safety pinned them on. I really liked these particular bins/baskets because they were washable and easy both to fit on the shelves and for the kids to drag out on their own. 

For the toys that don’t fit into the storage bins, I used this shoe organizer shelf(link). It fit perfect into this space behind the couch, as well as under our (only one in the entire house) air conditioning unit. 

You may also notice that we don’t really have a ton of toys…at least in the house. This is done deliberately as we clearly don’t have a lot of room to store them! For the most part, I’ve tried to narrow down our toys to ONLY those that have multi-uses and ever changing imaginative play opportunities. Blocks, Play Kitchen stuff, Cars/Trains, Legos/Duplos, random Figurines & other little toys, Baby/Toddler Toys, etc. 

To further separate the “play” area behind the couch, I put down this Learning Carpets City Life Play Carpet(link) for trains and cars and whatnot. 

In hindsight, I really love storing all the toys BEHIND the couch, because I’ll be honest, most days this area does not look this organized and neat at the end of the day! Usually, there’s a bunch of random toys – and maybe a laundry basket or two of unfolded clothes – that have managed to find it’s way to this hidden behind-the-couch area. And that’s ok, because when you’re sitting on the couch watching tv at the end of the day – you can’t see that mess. And ignorance is bliss. 🙂

Other Items Pictured:
  Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Hand Vac

 Dalmatian Vet Kit

Thanks for visiting and I hope you feel inspired and got some ideas how to make your own small space work!

To see more rooms in our house – you can either go back to my 700 sq. ft. Family of 5 Home Tour MAIN PAGE or click any of the links below:
3 Small Kids in a Small Kids Room
No “Master” Bedroom for the Parent’s Room
– A Not So Fine Dining Room & Kid’s Play”room”

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