small space living: tips for kids bedroom!

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following up from my small space living post all about tiny closets, i thought we’d move onto an updated tour of the kids room (we still call it the nursery, all these years later!) and share a few tips we’ve found to make a smaller bedroom work for 3 littles to share.

you can see that this space has changed a lot from when we first moved in four and a half years ago and had two cribs in there (you can see what it looked like then in this nursery tour post i shared)! since then, we’ve transitioned to toddler beds, then a crib in the corner when mister conrad arrived, and eventually bunk beds this past year with a trundle bed underneath for conrad!

in that time frame, we have also picked up three incredible artists along the way who love hanging up all of their artwork, and get sad if i ever try to take anything off the walls! eleanor has also become partial to decorating the fireplace mantel with lots of her little knick knacks and special things (like even rubber bands must go on display!), and all three seem to have a gift for collecting that is both wonderful and also frustrating when you don’t have tons of space for every rock or pebble they bring home from central park. ;) but i am a firm believer in letting the space reflect the kids and truly be their space, so i am all for it (although we do try to ease up on the rock collections).

with all that said, i know there is a lot going on in the room, but it has proven to be an incredible backdrop for these kids and their big imaginations and happy little spirits. we’ve shared some of our best family memories in this room. there have been first baby  steps taken, tears shed, discoveries made and countless books read. there has been crayon on the wall and crayon on the paper, songs sung and dance parties galore, questions asked and dreams and goals set.  this is the space where they often practice to share, to love, to be patient with each other and learn to always always (let me cross my fingers right now while i throw in one more always) have each others back. hopefully the sibling bond they are building right now will be carried with them forever. this room has been a fun backdrop for it all so far.

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even in a small apartment (you can see the last apartment tour here if you missed it), i find ways to shuffle furniture around and try new layouts like it’s my job. it’s something i’ve done since i was a little girl. i have always loved rearranging. the best part about it, is that eleanor recently realized she also has a love for changing the room around, and suggests we flip the bunk beds or move the desk here or there sometimes, too! currently, the room looks like this.

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we gave the kids the larger bedroom in our space and it gets so much incredible natural light. we love it during the day. we use some heavy duty grey colored black-out curtains at night though to help everyone have a more peaceful rest. (i’ll talk more about our sleeping arrangements in a different post. i know i’ve been getting a lot of questions about it! stay tuned!)

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something that we’ve found to be helpful when it comes to a small room that has a lot of toys and books and other things to store away, is to make sure things are still accessible and visible for the kiddos. we use a lot of wire mesh storage bins for the toys and have a bigger one for all of their dress up clothes. we have the kids help us keep them organized as best they can throughout the day (keeping brio train tracks in one bin, legos in another, etc). we also practice putting whatever we were playing with away before we pull out something else to play with. it doesn’t always happen, but it does help keep things semi under control during the day.

similar to my closet rule about clothing (donating or getting rid of something when you get new items), we try to keep that same frame of mind with the kids’ toys. they are actually really great about it. and happy to do it, which we love. we also just try to really make sure the majority of the toys we bring into our home are really educational and fun, things that can last and aren’t going to break within a day.

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josh found and bought our bunk bed online about a year ago from some bunk bed site that we don’t actually recommend using (despite their shipping calculations that said 5 business days, it took over a month to get here and they were very unhelpful when we inquired. not a huge deal, but slightly frustrating when we had already given away the toddler beds in anticipation for its arrival day). and in hindsight it was probably overpriced. but here is a similar style with a futon on the bottom that’s pretty neat. the trundle doesn’t fit well with the wheels, so we took the wheels off the trundle bed and added some furniture pads instead so it can slide in and out nicely and the kids can do it on their own.

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i love the original crown molding in our apartment, as well as all of the really tall ceilings. it helps each room feel a bit bigger. ;) i also added white twinkle lights around the top molding. when we’re getting ready for bed, it’s nice to shut all the lights off but the twinkle lights as we begin to wind down for the night.

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the yellow dresser that you see is a super old black dresser josh and i bought when we were engaged as we prepared our first little studio apartment in harlem for after we got married (if you check out that post, you’ll see my love for chalk board walls and painting the rest of the walls a COLOR has always been a thing!) but back to the yellow dresser that used to be black… i don’t know why we chose the color black. within the first year, i was totally sick of it. i eventually painted it yellow and switched out the knobs and surprisingly enough, it has somehow held up almost ten years later! we rotate through the kids clothes a lot, and they each have one designated drawer of the four larger drawers, sharing the fourth drawer for bigger bulkier coats/sweaters we aren’t using. they each also have a top drawer for pj’s, undies, etc. the last top drawer is where we keep all of their swim suits and goggles, since we swim during the week and like to have quick access to them.

one of the few things we buy in bulk are diapers and wipes (although almost graduating from that stage as we’re beginning to potty train conrad!) and i usually store the excess diapers and wipes under the yellow dresser.

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beyond the mirror and frame and stacking the play-doh there for storage, miss eleanor loves placing all her little things on the mantle. it’s so fun to see the things she loves to hold onto, and also the things she finds worthy of keeping out for decoration. :) samson isn’t quite there yet in regards to wanting to display things like she does, but will be fun to see if he takes after her and is into that sort of thing or not. always love watching how their personalities unfold.

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storing all of our crayons in one container, markers in another, colored pencils in another, glue and tape and other art supplies and so on in individual containers that are clear and visible to the kids is a great way to stay organized for us. we keep plenty of paper (white, construction, writing) in the blue desk on the opposite side of the room. having it all out and nearby helps all of us pull it out more and us it often.

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i refuse to get rid of that pretty green settee josh and i found on craigslist a million years ago when living in DC. we actually got it cleaned and fixed recently which has made it all the prettier. it’s definitely a risk keeping it in the kids room where markers and other things also live, but it’s a great size and so far, so good. well. pretty good!

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my sister got these storm trooper lights for samson for christmas and he is so obsessed with them! he loves to turn them on when we are reading books together.

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we can’t seem to shake the accumulation of stuffed animals! no matter how hard i try. josh likes to pretend it’s a bother to him as well but honestly, considering we have a few very old pound puppies on the kids’ bed from when josh was a child, i see where they get it from. ;)

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we put all the dress ups in a big bin which fits perfectly under the desk. we also have lots of their books and puzzles and games on top of the desk.  the desk is something josh and i found at an antique store in lucketts virginia and no matter how many times one of us tries to get rid of it, neither of us can bring ourselves to go through with it. is it weird to love a certain piece of furniture so much?!

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it can be a little tricky trying to juggle the age difference in toys/games/puzzles when it comes to three sharing a room. i know my older two can get frustrated when they are trying to play checkers and conrad has gotten into all of their checker pieces, etc. i’m still trying to figure out a good system for all of that, but i like to keep their games and puzzles out so they see and want to gravitate towards them, and then just try to do something else with conrad in the meantime.  if any of you have kids that are different ages, i’d love to know how to help store certain things for one child that the others maybe can’t get into. always needing tips!!!

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that’s the nursery as of now! josh and i are just as surprised as anyone that we have somehow remained in this space and still love it. i really think it has been a huge blessing for our family. we are all really close, and i know a lot of that closeness comes from being forced to be together because of our smaller space.

also, thank goodness for incredible neighbors in our building who promise we aren’t making too much noise and they can’t hear the kids play and run around! it’s one of the biggest blessings with this city living thing when you’re sharing walls and floors and ceilings with other people.  :)

growing up, i feel like my parents had a relatively large house with lots of extra bedrooms, but my sisters and i always shared rooms (for almost all of my life) and i’m thankful for what it did for our relationships. we’ll see how it goes for our family in the years to come, but for now, we’re enjoying it!

ps. some photos of our very first studio apartment here, if you’d like to see.

  1. Now we are joining two littles room into a large room for our children.

    And we decide use some decoration in yellow. I think that the idea comes from you (unconsciously ) I love the atmosphere in this “nursery”!! and the ligth it is so important :)

    Kisses from France

    http://www.mapeitetribu.com

  2. Rena

    I really love all the ideas you share here and I’m absolutely impressed how you manage to have such a wonderful room for your lovely kids! And I see how lucky our grown-up children have been as each of them had a big room for their own … what is much easier to afford here in the Bavarian country.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

  3. Hey! I love your kids room and have found so much inspiration from it for my daughter’s room. I’m just curious if what you keep your crayons, markers, etc in are plastic or glass? Could you share the link to them? Thanks heaps!

  4. Maridith Lane

    We are Americans that are currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. We actually most recently lived in East Africa, working as missionaries. In Africa, we play mostly outside & have endless space to run, play, & explore. But moving to Edinburgh has been a tricky adjustment for our 2 boys (ages 4 & 2). Plus, my husband is in school all day Mon-Fri, & we are used to having Daddy around all the time in Africa.While our apartment has spacious rooms, we find it hard to let out all of our energy inside. This is what I mean by tricky – when it’s cold& rainy outside & the sun goes down at 4pm, it’s easiest to be inside for at least half of the day. Anyway! Here’s a tip I have regarding age-appropriate toys/games: once the boys have had their fill of playing together (but we need to be inside), my 4 year old (Shepherd) likes to do “big boy stuff” that he doesn’t want the 2 year old (Roscoe) disrupting. I do NOT make him share everything with his little brother, so I made a rule that if he doesn’t want Roscoe getting into his things, to keep those special things on the top bunk in their room. Roscoe hasn’t figured out climbing up it yet, so it has worked wonderfully for us. And if Shepherd leaves things on the ground at Roscoe’s reach – then Roscoe is free to play with them! It has helped teach Shepherd some responsibility too, about taking care of HIS things & making sure all the pieces of his legos/magna-tiles/etc. stay together. Also – IKEA sells storage bins that you can attach to the wall (up high, so the baby can’t reach) where the bigger ones could store their special stuff.

    Thanks for the tour & the tips! I am curious how well your kids do playing together (without your guidance/refereeing) inside. Do you try to get out & about at least once a day to let some of the insanity out? Or is that just me?

    Cheers! xo

  5. Oh man I am so impressed by you guys! Haha

    Love,
    Yara

  6. I grew up in a super small house in texas with the shower, and bathroom outside, and my sister, mother, and I all shared a bedroom together. Things changed when my stepfather came in the picture, but I agree that small space living definitely bonds a family closer together. Especially siblings. My kids all have shared a room since birth, and they are all close. Although they are five years apart, my two older daughters developed a strong relationship. They shared a room for 10 years, and now my oldest is 21. Lexie (17), and Chelsea (12) have bunk beds and have been sharing a room since Sierra left, and Noah who is seven continues to sleep in our room since it’s a lot bigger. He has his own little bed, but we make do for now until Lexie is in college, and then Chelsea will have her own room, and so will Noah!

    Smaller homes do build family unity, and keeps us all closer! I personally don’t care about ever owning a big house! I cannot even imagine! As long as I have decent closet space I’m fine with that!

    You guys have done great on being organized, and finding ways to make your apartment work with three children! That’s talent!

    Have a great day Naomi!

    xo

  7. brittany

    a trundle bed! under bunks! how cozy, and what a sweet idea. i cant wait to read about how you guys manage sleep arrangements.

    xo, brittany
    the dreamiest kitchen on my blog today
    http://www.notablob.com

  8. Rian

    How will you manage when they become a little older? I too love city living and have 3 kids, I am apprehensive about having the kids share a room during puberty but I do not want to raise them in the burbs.

  9. Jess

    Nice job making your apartment a cozy, colorful, and functional space for your family! I’m from NYC. We lived as a family of four in a 1-bedroom apartment until I was 5. I shared a room with my sister until college and we are super close. My best friend’s family raised three kids of mixed genders to adulthood in a 2-bedroom. It’s a different kind of normal. :)

  10. fefe

    So cute! I think the small space will definitely keep your family close. Your kids will cherish the memories of that bedroom forever.

    http://objectsicantafford.com

  11. Britney

    Great post! Living with less space is something I value, and luckily it’s becoming popular for people to talk about more and more! I listened to a podcast just yesterday featuring a family who downsized to a smaller home. We don’t have kids yet, but my husband and I hope to remain in our current home even after we do, and posts like this are so encouraging! I love the idea of being smooshed together in one space and seeing the love grow. <3

  12. Kristen

    Beautiful space! Would you mind sharing where the BB-8 pillow is from? Thank you!

  13. Paige

    Your kid’s room is one of my favorite spaces in your house! I love that your kids just all sleep in there and that you’re able to organize everything and get it to all fit just right. We have a separate toy room in our house, which I realize is a luxury, but we essentially don’t have to worry about fitting anything in our kid’s rooms. I love your bed setup with the bunks and trundle, you’ve really outdone yourself on this space!

    Paige Flamm
    The Happy Flammily
    http://bit.ly/2jEd6V2

  14. Megan

    Their nursery is so cute! I love all the color and creativeness in there. I don’t see many parents allowing their kids to truly make their space their own, so it’s really great that they are able to do that.

    Also, I love all of your little tips to make a room more organized!

  15. Natalie

    Room looks great, love all the color! Just curious is there a reason you don’t have a rug in there? Might make it more cozy and help with noise for your downstairs neighbors… just a thought from lots of city living! Looks like a great room for kids!

  16. Katie

    I love your storage solution for crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Where did you get those jars? Are they glass or plastic? I need new storage options for art supplies. They tend to multiply like rabbits. 🐰

  17. Katie novikoff

    Love how happy this room is, and that you fill your home with so much whimsy and color! I can definitely see how this room has been a perfect backdrop for lots of fun and imaginative play! Love that you let your kids really make it their own – helping with moving the furniture & arranging their sweet little nicknacks. ;) One question – I’ve been reading lots lately about minimalism and how that helps wth managing constant cleaning (of toys, clothes, whatever) or clutter – and wondered how that’s been for y’all? Just trying to figure out a balance between having a fun, full, colorful variety of toys/books/whatever and being bogged down by too much stuff… I don’t know if that question makes any sense. Guess I’m just curious about cleaning (and not getting overwhelmed by clutter in a small space – a problem I tend to have in our sweet but tiny house) – and how you stay on top of it/if you have a schedule you follow, or just kinda do a little every day? I’m sure having older kids helps since they can help tidy as well! Anyway, so enjoy your blog and the glimpses into your lovely family! All the best from Memphis, TN.❤

  18. Heather

    Did I spy a few Kinglsey knick-knacks on the mantle?! If so…really takes me back to the older days of the blog. So fun seeing the journey your family has been on. Thanks for sharing. – Heather

  19. Alyssa

    I think you might have addressed this before, but since you don’t have a car, where do you keep all the bikes, scooters and strollers (and extra equipment). I live in a 2 bedroom with 2 under 2 and we have just decided to keep some things in the trunk of the car. Do you have a designated area for that stuff?

  20. Judy Beltrez

    please tell us where is the piano from in the living room. or maybe i missed that post :)

  21. Alba

    You should give us tips about potty training
    :) I’m struggling here 😖

  22. Sally Mae

    Well, you HAVE to keep the green settee! It was in that adorable video you and Josh made back in DC, which I would love to find and watch again by the way! Where are you hiding it!!!!!

  23. Katie

    Taza – Where do you find those clear plastic containers for crayons, pencils and markers? Looking for something similar and cannot find so would appreciate the recommendation….and looks like a mighty fine organized room, it’s so colorful and so white….love it.

  24. Rachael

    Naomi please please please do a post about how you shop for the kids clothes. Where you shop and how you budget in order to buy them great clothes. They Always look great, age appropriate and so trendy. I would love to know how you do it.

  25. Becky

    I know you don’t recommend the website where you bought your bunk beds, but would you mind sharing anyways? I don’t mind waiting and the twin beds with trundle scenario is exactly what I’m looking for. Ty for sharing your beautiful space and family with us!

  26. Harriet

    I love the settee too. Do the kids ever sit on it? It looks perfectly kid-sized. I also love the way you use the white fairy lights up top. The whole look is so cute and homey and bright.

    Do you anticipate Eleanor will start to want her own space some time? Has she said anything yet?

  27. Ivy

    I grew up in a 4 bedroom house but we shared a large room, all us kids. 2 of the walls were large windows and we stuck all our art on the full glass wall that led unto the balcony. It was my mom’s idea so we didn’t run through the glass. I miss that space so so much. We fought, played, cried, laughed comforted each other in that room. I am positive that’s why my siblings and I are so close now. My kids are definitely sharing a room. It’s so funny, when we all get back home, my sisters and I all end up sleeping in the same room, and my brother even comes in to sleep on the floor! We all fall asleep talking like we did as kids. This post has major nostalgia points!

  28. lorena

    I love all pictures around the room I understand how do you feel, flats in London there are really small , my two kids 6-13 are sharing and its a bit challenge but it is true we spend much more time together in our Kitchen-living room.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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  30. Elishia

    I would like a room that big, with that much light and creativity…living in NYC is so often small, dark and uninspiring: what a wonderful environment you’ve all created!

    http://www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

  31. rae

    we have 5 kids and three of them (the middles) all insist on sleeping in the same room. everyone has shared a room with one or more sibling(s) at some point and i love it. most of them obviously do to.

    as for different age kids and games/toys we’ve done a few different things 1)lockers (vintage ones or from ikea) with locks 2) shelves (sort of like your the mantel idea) 3) i have an old trunk thats too hard for the youngest to open. painted all white adds a clean/modern touch.

    well… that was long! excuse the rambling!

    xo

  32. rae

    PS — super cute room! inspires me to make my kid’s toys a bit more visible instead of hidden in drawers :)

  33. Ann

    Thanks for sharing!
    We’re city lovers as well, living and loving in a big city in Germany, and our apartment is only slightly larger than yours.
    We’re currently co-sleeping with our two little ones (3 & 1). I often wonder when and if we might outgrow our place and your posts are very inspiring, especially while we’re pondering the idea of a third child.