life in a (less) tiny apartment.

September 29, 2020

Tip #197: Space matters.

We have moved into our new apartment. It is not so tiny. I have not measured it, but I imagine it hovers somewhere close to double the size of our old place. In any case, we feel we are swimming in space, lousy with square footage, rich in doors and latches and barriers between rooms. We are kings and queens in a 900-square-foot palace.**

There are bedrooms, two of them. There’s a tiny office for working, a dining room for gathering, and tucked into the back corner, a kitchen for cooking. There’s space enough to turn a cartwheel and play leapfrog, but we’ve come down to earth a bit here, too, with just one flight of stairs plus one brownstone stoop between us and the sidewalk. We’ve got double the numbers of windows and quadruple the amount of light. The ceilings are high and tin.

It always feel oddly intimate to share the layout of the space I call home, but folks have asked and I’m no stranger to curiosity, so here’s a rough sketch. You’ll have to forgive the imprecision. In reality, the windows on either side of the apartment are practically flush with the corners of the rooms, and the curved entrance is far shorter. I’ve stretched things too wide, but the general sense of the space checks out and the sketch indicates the flow and function as far as both stand for the moment.

We’ve been rattling around in here for nearly a month now, pushing furniture from one wall to another and into the middle of rooms again. We are puppies, circling our beds until the fluff is just right. We are basking in the breathing room and in the ability to close a door and catch a brief moment of quiet between competing zoom calls.

**I have shaken myself out of my laziness and measured. The apartment is 800 square feet. (Still palatial by our standards.)

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  • Reply Meaghan September 29, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve been so curious! Congratulations on the beautiful space.

  • Reply Liesl September 29, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    How wonderful for your family. I’m looking forward to glimpses of life in your new home.

  • Reply Mimi September 29, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Love your glimpses. I never get tired of the charm of old NYC buildings (really any old building). During the pandemic what I bought a old tiny twin home, about 1200 sq. feet circa 1875. We just finished laying down the new laminate hardwood – I have a feeling I’ll be browsing your archives as we attempt to make our one “big” room downstairs into an entryway, living room, and dining area!

    • Reply C September 29, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      We have 950 w the 4 of us. 2 of whom are 6’ and over! But we have a yard and chicken coop, trampoline and rope swing. It feels small sometime but really, it’s just cozy. It forces us to always be aware of one another and not lose track. There is something comforting in that.

  • Reply Cassie September 29, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Do you have floor plans for every home you’ve shared? Love that idea!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 29, 2020 at 1:49 pm

      ha, no! not every one! just these last two!

  • Reply Amanda Krieger September 29, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Congrats on this new phase. I found that when I moved to my new house I kept losing my children 🙂
    So good to hear that you’re settling in and basking in the luxury of a closed door. Can’t wait to read more.

  • Reply Claire September 29, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    So happy for you and your family, Erin! Here’s to hoping that a touch more space to play and work makes this difficult time slightly less burdensome on you all.

  • Reply Christie September 29, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Love this! When my first born was 1 1/2, we went from our tiny 600 square foot house (old, with little storage) to 900 square feet, plus a garage and attic (storage). It felt SO BIG. Now we are 5 in this house (plus a cat). Honestly, we still have plenty of storage and space thanks to all of the constant culling. People ask us how we can possibly live here, but it still feels good sized to us (and, luckily, we also have a front and back yard to send the kids into). I think I would be overwhelmed with anything bigger. Then you have to furnish and clean all that space.

  • Reply April September 29, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    We have a similar sized space – about 900 SF – with two bedrooms and two young children so I’m excited to see how you are making it work. You always make me feel inspired to reimagine our little space and make do rather than giving into the urge to find a larger home. I need constant reminders, like from your website, that we are exactly where we need to be in our tiny(ish) home. So, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Annie September 29, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Can’t wait to see more photos of your new home! Do you have to go through the kids room to get to your office?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 29, 2020 at 4:04 pm


  • Reply Lovelle Budiman September 29, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing and being such an inspiration!

    • Reply Breanna November 12, 2020 at 2:01 pm

      I love your way of living. My husband and I are currently pregnant with baby number 3. Our 6 and 2.5 year old currently share a room. Do you have any advice in brining a baby into a room already being shared?

  • Reply Kate September 29, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    I feel the same after moving from my one room ~400sqft studio house to a one bedroom apartment with an extra 300sqft and closets (!) and a dishwasher(!!). When I moved in and finished unloading everything I had to laugh, because without my bed taking up the whole of the living room area, I just had this wide open room and nothing to put in it. It’s both lovely to have storage closets and a full-sized kitchen sink, and a little discombobulating to figure out how to arrange a space where there’s room to put things wherever rather than only having one place that could possibly fit a given item.

    Thanks for the glimpse of your new space!

  • Reply Angy Braine September 30, 2020 at 2:07 am

    Happy Days – Congratulations on a new chapter!
    Very excited to see you guys flourish and flow in your new space. I’ve been inspired by your ideas since your first teeny weeny space with the loft bed! We are building our own “tiny house” here in Perth, Western Australia. A modest terrace that echoes our desire to live bigger but in a less cluttered, more humble space. Thank you ever so much for sharing the details of your space. Humans are curious bunch but for the most part I believe our “sticky beaking” born from a genuine desire to take inspiration and ideas from that beautiful style of yours we’ve all come to love!!
    Wishing you much fun finding your patterns, pleasures and progress. 🙂

    • Reply Cat October 1, 2020 at 8:06 am

      We have about the same amount of space for as many humans as you Plus a dog. Some of the kids are biggee, i would love for them to have a room of their own. I hope you can enjoy the space you have now. Before we loved here we had about a third of the size and it was so cool in the new Appartement to be able to talk without sewing each other because there was so much space.

  • Reply Sue September 30, 2020 at 5:48 am

    What a lovely floorplan, I wish I was as artistic! But you have inspired me to do something similar for my new place. I have just checked and mine is 603 sq. ft. But then there’s only me and my Pug most of the time so I have so much more space than you in comparison. I wish you happy times and happy years in your new home. xx

  • Reply Dorothy Brown September 30, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Perhaps you should not share something that you think is oddly intimate. You seem to want it both ways.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 30, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      Totally confident in my own boundaries about what I decide to share or keep private; just really marveling here at how a floor plan—something that’s on the face of it very straightforward and not actually very intimate at all—can still feel like a vulnerable thing to share!

    • Reply Pat November 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Why bother to comment, Dorothy?

  • Reply Heather September 30, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Best Wishes to all of you as you embark on adventures in your new home.

  • Reply Mullica October 1, 2020 at 11:11 am

    I like how you prioritized a dining table over a sectional in the living space. Was that similar to how you grew up? No TV? Right now I feel like my apartment is cramp and I love the idea of a dining area but my husband is very much a relax on the couch and netflix kind of person. I was wondering what you guys do to get that lazy cozy feeling without it being the focus of your home.

    • Reply Rachel October 24, 2020 at 10:17 pm

      I recognize our setup in your comment since our living/dining room is also just a dining table and solitary couch, and we don’t have a tv. We still relax with shows though, just on an iPad screen on the couch or in bed after the kids have gone to bed.

  • Reply Taylor October 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    My husband and I shared a 250 sq ft apartment for two years before moving into a condo and it was SO weird for a while to not see our kitchen from where we slept haha!

  • Reply Anna October 15, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    My friends lived in a brownstone apartment of a similar layout (they had another front door into your bedroom and that was what they used). Since they didn’t use the other one, what is your living room was lovingly called “the bitchen” as it was their bedroom and kitchen. Their infant son slept in what is your office

  • Reply Laura October 15, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    Congratulations on your wonderful new home. For your growing family it sounds wonderful. I shall live vicariously through your amazing space as I am still stuck in 400 square foot studio on top of neighbors.
    Simple Matters helped me so much in organizing my space.

  • Reply Stephanie November 4, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Hi! I love this! Mind if I ask what paints you’re using? Sending virtual hugs.

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