life in a tiny apartment.

January 22, 2014

Tip #89: Think hopeful thoughts.

Think of this the preamble to the next chapter. Better yet: consider it the pretty page separating Part I from Part II, except that instead of a bold serif font indicating the change, and a pithy italicized quotation hinting at what’s to come, there’s a rambling blog post about wishes and dreams for a new tiny space.

It’s official: we’re on the hunt for a new apartment. For March 1. Consider a childhood spent with my hippie Catholic parents and you’ll understand why in these situations it’s Pete Seeger’s Seek and You Shall Find that plays on repeat in my brain (and out loud under the shower). I get that it’s probably not exactly this kind of ask that the song refers to, but in the spirit of throwing something out there to universe and seeing what comes back, here’s a post about what we’re hoping to find in a new little space:

If the last 88 posts haven’t convinced you, it’s not more space that we’re after, so much as a different configuration of space. I’m not naive enough to think that bringing another tiny being into the world won’t also mean bringing a few more things into the apartment, but I think I’ve developed a thick enough skin when it comes to purging and eschewing stuff that I’ll avoid the worst of it. (Chuckle away.) Still, a space to change a diaper and put a sleeping babe to sleep would be awfully nice. And maybe most important, let this be a space that doesn’t require a stooped climb up a ladder.

Last week we looked at an apartment in our building—a former one bedroom in the process of being turned into a studio*—and tried to imagine making that work. But moving into a new place that might be feasible for the first few months when the babe will sleep through anything and not so much afterward seemed like a fool’s errand. Even if there is a bay window and brand new floors. (Don’t think I didn’t consider squeezing a bassinet in the bathroom…)

Here it is: a wish for an apartment with a bedroom that has a door, windowsills that don’t make feel like they’ll give my child lead poisoning just by looking at them, and enough closet space to store a godforsaken bucket of dirty diapers.

Hell, while we’re at it, why not have a working fireplace and a claw foot tub and exceptional light?

It’s gonna be an interesting month friends, glad you’re all around to keep me company.

Tiny apartment survival tips #1-88 right here.


*Dreamy light in that wee spot, hunh? Ready to be snatched by childless neighbors…

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  • Reply Shanna January 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Wishing you big luck, Erin! Such an exciting time! We're going to be on the hunt for a new, slightly less tiny than now cottage in the next couple of months. Though we also subscribe to the "only the necessary" philosophy in terms of baby paraphernalia, All of a sudden we're bursting out of our place!

  • Reply Karen - Quilts...etc. January 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I hope you can find a new small apartment to suit your needs soon – yes an apartment without a ladder is needed 🙂

  • Reply Sweet Love and Ginger January 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I find your apartment hunting facinating, perhaps because I'm tired with my own place. Keep us updated so that I can live vicariously.

  • Reply lindsay @littleonelove January 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    We lived in a great 1 bedroom (it was about 600 sq ft.) with huge main living space in Fort Greene (on S. Oxford) – Elevator in building and extra storage AND laundry in basement. I have friends who have similarly sized spaces in the neighborhood. If you are up for living in Ft. Greene (which you know is a super great neighborhood) I'd check there! Best of luck! Will be excited to see what you find!

  • Reply Heather January 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with apartment hunting. Don't you? I'm also looking for a place in NYC right now and have quickly discovered what a roller coaster it is.

    After swooning over the Craigslist pictures, last week I went and looked at a "one bedroom" in Chelsea that *might* have been able to fit a twin-sized mattress. Maybe. If I really shoved it in there. For about five seconds I actually thought, Maybe I could sleep in a hammock?

    I love your survival tips and can't wait to see what your apartment search turns up 🙂

  • Reply Diana January 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Best of luck with your search! Our lease is up in March and already my husband and I are fantasizing about finding a new space that might — just might — top out above 200 sq feet! 🙂

  • Reply The Yaegerpack January 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Dreamy light indeed!
    It is absolutely possible to have a baby and still be minimal about all the stuff. For us it became mostly about reinforcing to friends and family that the baby doesn't need all the things we've been conditioned to believe are necessary. We happily got by with less and I love that it's an important lesson to teach our children as they grow.

    Best of luck in your search!

  • Reply Anonymous January 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Harlem is the best! Are you guys looking up there?

  • Reply Mary Schaubert January 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    We currently live in a 700 square foot place with only one actual bedroom, but we had a dining room as well. Last week we moved our bedroom into the dining room so now the apartment is studio style, and the baby to be (in June!) has its own closed off nursery in the private bedroom. It's really different, and we considering upgrading – to a WAY bigger 1500 square foot place with THREE bedrooms – but ultimately we decided that staying small and cheap is the way to go! Babies can't need THAT much space, right? Either way, I hope you get a great apartment with a nursery because I'm sure you'll decorate it beautifully. Good luck!

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Exactly! (Fingers crossed.)

  • Reply megan January 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Good Luck with your apartment hunting!! Continue to think positive thoughts and I'm sure you will find one that suits you

  • Reply Amanda January 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    oof! good luck with the apartment search, I can't even imagine how much fun that's going to be with pregnancy hormones… I feel so blessed that our one bedroom apartment is big enough and configured in such a way that we can have a baby and maybe even a toddler in it.

  • Reply Jacquelyn | lark & linen January 22, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Woah, woah, woah! I somehow missed this whole baby thing and had to scroll wayyy back. WHAT! I'm SO excited for you!!! Congrats love!

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Ha! Thanks!

  • Reply Laura January 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Not to start a debate on the virtues and drawbacks of bed sharing but it is the ultimate in space saving. Its quite common in Japan where space is an issue. I bought a bassinet and crib for my babe and in the end he would sleep no where but in my bed and I felt it was making me more sleep deprived than necessary to try and get him to sleep in his own bed. Of course its a personal decision each parent must make but here's a link to some good information Good luck on your hunt.

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Yes, been thinking a lot about that! Though I still feel like *eventually* bébé will need a place of his or her own to crash. So glad to know you've had luck!

  • Reply Kari January 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    So glad that you're still wanting to live small and clutter free. I hope you find the apartment of your dreams. Can't wait to see whatever it is you end up with.

  • Reply east side bride January 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    A *bedroom* with a real live door really does make all the difference, babe or no babe

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Right-o. Kind of thrilling.

  • Reply Katie January 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Do you subscribe to the Listings Project? It often has gems of apartments (not usually in Brooklyn Heights, but around BK) that are a lot more appealing than 99% of what Craigslist has to offer. I can send you today's if you don't, [email protected]

  • Reply The Bebebirds January 22, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Oh the hunt for an apartment. It can be so rough but sending thoughts and prayers with you guys as you find the best fit! I am off to check out tips 1-88 now!

  • Reply Rachel January 22, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I was wondering what the plan was with the new family member on the way! I will be thinking good, strong thoughts for you – apartment hunting drives me nuts and it isn't nearly as crazy here as it is in NYC!

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      It's. the. worst. But we're carrying on!

  • Reply holtkamp January 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    good luck with the search! how exciting to be looking for a place anticipating a new baby!

  • Reply Kim Stemshorn January 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Best of luck, Erin!

  • Reply Julia (Color Me Green) January 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    good luck with the hunt. the best thing most people don't know about is that you can look up complaint and violation histories for buildings on the NYC housing website's HPDOnline tool at, though it does not seem to be working right now. also, i know you think you want a clawfoot tub, but you really don't. in a cramped nyc bathroom, there's no way to clean behind the corners = gross and potentially mold city. and it's also annoying to continually reach in and out of shower curtains to pick up/put down soap since you have to have curtains going all the way around to help prevent said mold.

  • Reply Dylann Stubblefield January 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Hoping you find a place that continues to grow your love of simple living! We just traded our loft (with a crazy steep ladder) for a one room one story apartment and it has made all the difference, especially with having a baby belly.

  • Reply Dylann Stubblefield January 22, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hoping you find a place that continues to grow your love of simple living! We just traded our loft (with a crazy steep ladder) for a one room one story apartment and it has made all the difference, especially with having a baby belly.

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Yes, indeed! Looking forward.

  • Reply Novelista Barista January 23, 2014 at 1:16 am

    good luck… apartment searching is awful. esp in new york.

  • Reply Danielle January 23, 2014 at 2:34 am

    About ten days into a 2,000 mile cycling trip, my boyfriend and I found out that when we returned we had to start looking for a new apartment. In San Francisco. It hovered over us the whole time. As we face downsizing to remain in the city, I have loved reading your posts on small space living. We are on the same time frame as you, so I am following your journey closely. Godspeed.

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much, to you too!

  • Reply ashlyandmonkey January 23, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Wow! I have been amazed that two people shared an apartment so small for so long. And here I am complaining about the 750 sq ft apartment my husband live in! Good luck with the apartment hunt! Can't wait to see how you organize your new place

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Me neither 😉

  • Reply Niki January 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    good luck.xx

    dreaming is believing

  • Reply girlseeksplace January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Good luck in the hunt and congratulations on the new addition!

  • Reply Britty Wesely January 23, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Good luck in your search! Our little family lives in a slightly larger space than yours and we have storage to spare, but we chose the do-more-with-less route for our kiddos anyway. Friends laughed at us at first, and everyone told us that our calm home would turn chaotic once kids arrived. That totally wasn't the case for us. It isn't always easy to have less children's stuff when we'll meaning family want to spoil them rotten. But stick to your guns. You can totally make small space living work with a babe or two in tow. Looking forward to see how your two fifty series evolves. Good luck home hunting!

    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Kindred spirits! Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Reply Teagan Kahla January 24, 2014 at 7:27 am

    All the best in your search! Thank you for sharing all your small-space-living tips!! It has definitely helped my soon-to-be husband and I set our unit up and I am learning new things everyday.


    • Reply Erin January 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks so much, Teagan!

  • Reply evencleveland January 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Good luck with the hunt. When I think of how I'd ever stash a little person, I take heart from this story of a family in 380 sq. feet:

  • Reply cassie January 25, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    in the next year or two we hope to buy our first house. we have two little kids and live in a house that is too big! i am excited to downsize and only have the things we love and that really work in our space. good luck with your apartment search! a working wood burning fireplace is on my list of must-haves too.

  • Reply kblazenyc January 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    good luck! i know it's the worst. if you need a hand let me know. i'm a broker in nyc. a really nice honest one and primarily work rentals in BK. i'm happy to answer questions if nothing else!

  • Reply dlugadrogadodomu June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

    "hippie Catholic parents" – ♥

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