life in a tiny apartment.

February 28, 2018

life in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves

Survival Tip #161: Take Your Small Apartment One Day at a Time.

Monday: Give fresh water and fresh cuts to grocery store flowers. Precious treatment for $2.99 stems chosen by a three-year-old and bought by her papa. Their being on the table makes up for the fact that said table is smushed up against the stools so that no adult person could use this strange corner for its intended purpose. (The purpose was dumb anyway.)

Tuesday: Witness Faye take her breakfast atop one of the aforementioned stools despite the lack of room. She is perturbed neither by the proximate threat of chef’s knifes, nor the fact that she nearly splits her chin every single time she attempts a dismount. (Perhaps getting perturbed is overrated.) 

Wednesday: Notice a smear of butter from this morning’s breakfast globbed onto the back of this chair. It has been there all day. (Practice in not getting perturbed.)

Thursday: Vacuum the ever-present trail of breadcrumbs across the floor of this apartment. They will reappear minutes later. Frankly, I’m impressed by their audacity. If only they were cowed by my tenacity. (Vacuum again.)

Friday: Spend two hours going down a rabbit hole of plug-in wall sconces. Silas has pulled my nightstand onto himself twice in the past week. Both times, my late grandmother’s DIY project—a crystal candlestick turned lamp—was sent flying off the table. If you don’t believe in miracles, know this: Neither the silver-capped bulb nor the lamp shattered, either time. Still, third time will probably be the charm, and so, sconce-inspired rabbit holes. (Maybe this corner needs one, too.)

Saturday: Congratulate myself once again for appeasing the grumpy downstairs neighbor by purchasing a white runner instead of a grey one. Yes, it’s covered in stains. A black one would be covered in fuzz. A grey one would still show that grease spot. (Pattern? Colors? Only so many new tricks to teach an old dog.)

Sunday: Retuck the slipcover for the fifteenth time this week. Remind myself to get it cleaned. (Admit to being slightly perturbed.)

Tiny apartment survival tips #1-160 RIGHT THIS WAY.

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  • Reply laura February 28, 2018 at 10:46 am

    i’ve solved it for you. time to add a pup to the small apt! no more crumbs, no more butter smears left uneaten and endless entertainment for the littles! cannot promise that rug will remain white though…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 10:48 am

      definitely JUST what we need.

  • Reply Elizabeth February 28, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Do you have a weekly cleaning routine that works for your small space? Establishing routines is one of my goals for the year, but most of the weekly/monthly print-out type cleaning charts seem to assume large(r) spaces (clean the garage! deal with the flower beds!).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 10:53 am

      We don’t have a written routine, just a clean-all-surfaces-near-daily approach 😉

  • Reply Roxanne February 28, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I related to this so much, especially in the winter when it can be slightly more challenging to get outside (PNW, rain, etc.). We were just lamenting about the downfalls of our studio apartment. Funnily enough, in two months time, we’ll probably be singing its praises. Everything truly does ebb and flow. Thanks, as always, for sharing, Erin!

  • Reply Maria February 28, 2018 at 11:24 am

    If it’s *any* consolation (at all, really), these issues are all proportional to the size of the dwelling: more square footage, more square footage covered in breadcrumbs, etc. You would think one would be less perturbed by them in a larger dwelling (as it is less “in your face”), but personally I haven’t found that to be true. As for the stools, it looks like you’d solve a few of the issues listed by relocating them for the time being (now there’s a challenge!) – I do recommend the dog addition to the family, though: winters are just that much less miserable with furry friends 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

      Ha! This *is* the stool relocation spot! Honestly working out, against all odds! I’d love to have a furry friend, but I’m certain adding one more beating heart to the many-times-daily trek up and down from this top-floor apartment would do me in;)

    • Reply Katharine March 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Maria, thank you for confirming that larger space doesn’t automatically make the mess easier! That’s what I’ve been telling myself as I vacuum under my toddler’s chair multiple time a day: if we had more rooms, there would just be more floor to vacuum, because the mess would grow to fit the space! This is only occasionally comforting, but it’s what we’ve got for now.
      (Luckily, the toddler is weirdly entranced by the vacuum, so as far as he is concerned, it’s just dinner and a show.)

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE March 1, 2018 at 3:56 pm

        Ha! Dinner and a show indeed!

  • Reply SEM February 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I love your space and your day-by-day attitude. Do you ever consider using your dining table as a desk and freeing up this corner? Or a drop down wall desk? I really dig the stools. Stools are super flexible seating options. Make cute plant stands too!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 11:34 am

      We have, but we have very little counter space in the kitchen, so the “desk” helps make the kitchen a lot more functional, despite the funny spacing. We love our stools for all sorts of things, plant stands included, but with a one-year-old around we need them to be a little bit more out of the way for the moment!

  • Reply Аnn February 28, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I in such cases imagine myself as Carlson, who lives on the roof: I lift my nose up and say “calmly, only calmly.” And I turn on the robot vacuum cleaner, it runs funny and cleans all the crumbs, cat hair and small scraps of different papers.

  • Reply Marie February 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I love Tuesday ! Kids don’t have relations to space in the best way.
    And I like that the odd corner really has hidden plug-ins eyes and silently is watching the merry go round one day at a time ; )

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 11:57 am

      😉 Agreed. It’s her favorite spot in the house.

  • Reply Tamara February 28, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Oh man, you brought me right back to when my kids were little in our tiny house. Some of us are blessed (cursed!) with seeing all the crumbs and smears and spots and potential dangers. It was maddening, especially in the winter. Now at 13 and almost 10, there’s still a good amount of mess left in their wake, but at least I can tell them to clean it up. Also, I’ve gotten so used to it, and so busy with other things, it doesn’t bother me quite as much, which kind of amazes me. Never thought that would happen to me. I’ve never braved a white rug though. You are truly brave. 😉

  • Reply Summer February 28, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I love the Hook + Loom website you linked. Thank you! I was looking for a simple/basic rug for my daughters room and these Flat Weave Cotton rugs are just what I was looking for.

  • Reply Brittany R. February 28, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I’ve got to say these aren’t tiny house problems as much as tiny kid problems. Actually bigger kid problems too. I have 3 aged 9y-4y and my life is the same. But I was just thinking that I clean up after myself in my mom’s house, so I guess when my kids are in their 30s I can expect to not have to clean up after them anymore-Haha!

  • Reply Rachel February 28, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Oh I SO needed this post today! I am feeling very discouraged with our small space containing three kids right now! It feels good to know I am not alone and I am certain we will soon both solve our small space with kids problems!

  • Reply Rachel February 28, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    I was in the mood for some light-hearted realness this Wednesday. Thanks for sharing, Erin. 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Reply Aideen February 28, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Ha! You are my sanity on a snow day!⛄

  • Reply Jessica February 28, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    I do NOT live in a tiny apartment. In fact, I live in just the opposite: Large Suburban House (more out of necessity and out of the joy of the large organic garden out back than by true choice). Yet this post more or less sums up Large Suburban House survival tips as well (only per Laura’s note above….just add dog….)

  • Reply riye February 28, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Go Erin! I know exactly how you feel. My two old cats moved from the family home to my tiny studio apartment. One is a sloppy litterbox user–poop prints on the floor, bed, etc. Sometimes pools of pee if he trips on the edge of the box while stepping out. Cat #2 is battling a bad skin allergy and is leaving scabs and “bacon bits” everywhere. Plus cat hair galore from both. My normal weekly cleaning schedule is not cutting it. I’m taking it one day at a time and picking stuff up as I go. Also remind myself that one day they’ll be gone so best to enjoy their company now, bacon bits and all!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 28, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      oh dear!

  • Reply Lindsay February 28, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for keeping it real! Posts like this, and subsequent reader comments, show that no place is ever totally perfect (thanks breadcrumbs!) and helps me to appreciate our small rental space and overlook annoying things (like ugly and uneven kitchen floor tiles) to focus on the benefits of where we live (a walkable community)

  • Reply Julia February 28, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I have decided not to give in to my discontents during January through March because I SO FEEL YA, girl. Every single year at this time, my husband and I find ourselves eyeing real estate, eyeing jobs in a warm climate, and other huge life changes. Fortunately up until now we’ve realized “oh. It’s February” and resist the urge to make any huge transitions during this time of year! It gets to everyone!!!

  • Reply -Heather February 28, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Any luck on the wall sconce decision, it may just save me from heading down a similar rabbit hole!

  • Reply Lindsay February 28, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I relate so much, life with a 3 year old has me feeling perturbed!

  • Reply Alie February 28, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    HAHA! Mine is like: at midnight on a week night, wonder if I should knock on the wall to let me neighbors know their dinner party has gone on too long. And scowl out the window at the lights the size of me shining into my window from a movie production that is also flooding the street simultaneously. 🙂

    • Reply Rachel March 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      I’m on the bottom floor. I have a broom that I bang on the ceiling with when things are noisy. Most times it works. Other times I have to make the trek upstairs past midnight and ask them to please turn down the TV or music.

  • Reply Nina March 1, 2018 at 4:17 am

    Ha! Most of my furniture is arranged like that, but with more junk piled on top and wedged in around… Got to say, I feel for your grumpy neighbour every time s/he is mentioned in conjunction with a photo of bare floorboards – I’ve been that neighbour, and it was hellish!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE March 1, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Rugs abound!

  • Reply Brittany March 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    The slipcover! My husband and I live in a 600 square foot apartment with a two year old and another one on the way, but nothing bothers me as much as our white slipcover being rumpled and stained! Our couch was donated by a kind family member, but it is purple and green plaid. Lovely, of course. So when we were first married, I bought a truly beautiful white slipcover. Before I had my two-year old, I would re-tuck it and spot clean it every day, no problem. It’s hard to do that now, though, especially since I’m in grad school full time. Nevertheless, even now nothing makes me crankier faster or gives me the “yucky apartment claustrophobia” feeling more than a stained and crumpled slipcover! One day, I will have a nice couch that I can simply wipe off. Until then, the battle continues.

  • Reply Jenny March 1, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I know it’s not, but you make it look easy! 🙂

  • Reply Kal March 1, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Small space appeal to me, I’ll be going through your 161 tips this weekend

  • Reply Steph March 7, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    This is my life- except I live in a tiny house not tiny apartment. Two little boys create a never ending stream of chaos to reorder and death defying actitvites to prevent. Vacuuming becomes not so much cleaning but preparing the canvas to start again!

  • Reply Meredith Haener March 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Are those adjustable stools?! We are thinking of going from a table to a kitchen island/eating space in our small house. Adjustable stools for our small kiddo (once she’s out of the clip-on high chair) sound brilliant! How do they work for you guys and can you link to the make of these ones for me?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE March 15, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      These are ~100 year old adjustable lab stools that are actually stuck in their positions. Can’t adjust them anymore!


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