life in a tiny apartment.

September 19, 2016

small space advice | reading my tea leaves

Tip # 146: Pick and choose your tiny apartment advice.

There are lots of schools of thought on decorating tiny apartments. 

My approach has always been to keep the place spare and spartan to maintain an illusion of space, even when there isn’t much to speak of. 

And so with this in mind, I finally realized what was bugging me so much about the kids’ room progress I’ve been trying to make. In anticipation of a brother or sister getting welcomed into the space, we transitioned Faye to a twin bed a month or so ago and left her crib in the room. But with bed, crib, dresser, and assorted toy-wrangling solutions layered on top of the striped rag rug, the room lost its airyness. I originally thought there was too much furniture in the 7-foot-wide room, but I came to realize that there was too much rug.small space advice | reading my tea leaves

Conventional wisdom on rugs and rooms might have me believe differently. Designers often say that rugs should take up a significant proportion of floor space and fit neatly underneath furniture. I’m considering this my fiftieth permission slip to chuck out any conventional wisdom that doesn’t fit my needs (okay, and also to remember to go with my gut). If bright and airy and functional is what you need and if a large rug is getting in the way of that, I say, get a smaller rug. Ditto decisions regarding the proportion of your dining table, or couch, or bookshelf or anything you’re trying to make work.

In this instance, switching to two smaller rugs was just the right move to open the narrow room up again and make it feel more fluid, even with the additional furniture. More than being only visually appealing, switching to two smaller rugs also had the distinct advantage of making more of the room more useable. In this case, smaller rugs created more storage. I couldn’t easily slide boxes or crates around under Faye’s bed with the rug underneath it. When I tried, the rug bubbled and folded and got messy. But without the rug under the bed or crib and with the simple addition of a few new felt chair pads on the underside of wooden boxes, the real estate under Faye’s bed increased ten-fold. Now everything can slide easily in and out and as a result, a whole lot of floorspace has opened up in other parts of the room. small space advice | reading my tea leaves

So, while part of this post is about using small rugs in small spaces, and while part of it is about how adding felt pads to the bottom of your wooden crates and calling them under-the-bed storage, the real moral of the story is to find a solution that works for you; regardless of what someone in the know tells you is the right approach. When you’re figuring out how to live in a small space, it’s not just the extraneous stuff that you might consider ditching, it’s the extraneous advice. If it doesn’t work for you, throw it out.small space advice | reading my tea leaves

PS. If you’re wanting to know details about our current toy storage solutions, stay tuned for tomorrow’s Baby Proof.

For the curious:

+ Sold! We’re selling our rag rug. If anyone’s local and has a particular hankering for a large, somewhat unconventionally sized antique rag rug, feel free to shoot me a note. It’s not perfect, but it is charming, and we’ve cleaned the heck out of it.

+ We invested in these two rugs from Brooklyn shop, Joinery. They’re about a million times lighter-weight and easier to move for vacuuming, quick washes, or rearranging should the mood strike.

+ For more rug options, head to see these just-launched beauties.

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  • Reply Rebecca September 19, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Hey! I’m super local (see you around town all the time) and am wondering the dimensions of the rug?

    • Reply Erin Boyle September 19, 2016 at 8:51 am

      It’s 51″ x 127″!

      • Reply Rebecca September 19, 2016 at 9:18 am

        woah! too big for our space 🙁 but thanks!

  • Reply Kim R September 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Can’t wait for tomorrow! We are moving into a new house soon and I’ve had toy and book storage on the brain, especially since these things will be exposed to the world. We were also faced with a rug dilemma but this was solved when a family friend gave us her vintage rug that she used to have under her dining table. To solutions! Even the “just for now” kind.

  • Reply Kim R September 19, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Random question: What’s going on with the door handle (lack thereof, misplacement?) in the second picture?

    • Reply Kim R September 19, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Um… never mind. It looked in that picture like the door was opening into the room!

  • Reply Tara Rasmus September 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Rugs are one of those things (like plants and lighting) that make a house a home, in my opinion! So worth it to get those factors right.

  • Reply Libby September 19, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    So, my husband and I don’t live in a tiny house but we are feeling conviction and desire to move to a much more minimalist way of life. Your blog has been not only an inspiration but also a triggering factor in our decision to move in this direction. Thank you so much. I’m excited about tomorrow’s post.

  • Reply Kari.M September 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Here’s to going with what makes sense for one’s space and taste and budget, rather than trying to follow the rules set up by the so-called design experts.

  • Reply Claire September 19, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Speaking of rugs… I just discovered this company. Feel like maybe it could be up your alley..? Maybe! Hehe.

  • Reply Betsy September 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Hi! I am local and interested in the rug 🙂 How best to get in touch with you to talk specifics? (I think you have my email from me leaving this comment?)

    Thanks so much!

  • Reply sarah September 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Erin, I love the colors in your new rugs. Could you share where Faye’s bed is from?

  • Reply Joanna September 19, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Where is this bed frame from? Love it!

  • Reply Jay September 19, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    The rugs look lovely. Do they tend to slide around on the wood flooring? That would be my only concern.

    • Reply Erin Boyle September 19, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      We opted not to put rug pads under them so that we *could* move them easily, but if that was a concern a little rug pad would do the trick!

  • Reply Elizabeth September 19, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Very interested to hear about the toy storage! We’re fellow brookyn residents, now with a 2 year old and a 6 month old and slowly loosing the toy battle. Am similarly curious about how you store outgrown kids clothing for potential future children…feeling burried!

    • Reply Erin Boyle September 19, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Hope there are a few nuggets in tomorrow’s post that helps! As for kids clothes, I admit that we haven’t been too, too overwhelmed so far, but maybe that’s a subject for another post! More soon!

  • Reply Amanda @ Anchored to Sunshine September 19, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Love the wine boxes as under the bed storage!

  • Reply Pam September 19, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Just wondering, how do you plan to deal with a crying newborn in the middle of the night sharing a room with a toddler? I too plan on having more than one child (I’m a new mom) without having to move to a new bigger place. Thanks!

    • Reply Erin Boyle September 19, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      We’re gonna duct tape Faye’s ears and the baby’s mouth! (JUST KIDDING!) Not 100% sure how it will all go down! The baby will probably sleep in a Moses basket next to us for the first few months and after that we’re hoping everyone adjusts! We’re not the first people to raise two kiddos in close proximity, so we’re staying hopeful!

  • Reply Laurelle September 20, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Your style is amazing.

  • Reply Barrie October 23, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    I know this is an older post, but where is that gorgeous knitted blanket at the foot of the bed from?? Loving the blog.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 23, 2019 at 10:18 pm

      It was handmade by a family friend!

      • Reply Barrie October 23, 2019 at 10:26 pm

        WOW. Lucky you. It’s so gorgeous. If she ever wants to sell one of those……. 🙂

        And, congrats on your new addition to be.


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