1 Year in our 50% bigger space (part 1)

Us last summer by Amy Highton Modern Nest Photography

Reflecting on a year in our apartment that in some ways feels like we just moved in and in other ways it feels like we have lived here for years. I miss our old apartment in many ways, the high ceilings, the ample storage, the light, the lively neighborhood. But I’ve also come to love our new neighborhood, the proximity to the beach and the charms of this older apartment. I feel we are where we need to be but I’ve also been reflecting on the differences and similarities between the two spaces and have attempted to summarize below. I share this from my experience of living in quite a small space as a family of four to now in a still small (by North American standards) but roomier space.

What We Gained

More Space

The most obvious answer is that we gained roughly 300 additional square feet, mostly in the bedroom(s). Some of this space ended up in the stairs which was thrilling for the kids at first but the novelty has worn off. The stairs have been very useful in providing separation when needed which leads me to the second point.

Separation of Space

The main benefit of our new space is the additional square footage so we are not all in the same room at the same time (reverse floorplan here). Though I would argue this was something I loved about our old space, when the kids were smaller and I could keep an eye on them and hear them from every corner of the home; this eventually became something I wondered if it would be nice if I couldn’t hear them at all times. Turns out it IS nice! Especially when we are hosting friends (how wonderful to have friends over again!!); the adults can be upstairs chatting and the kids are in their room being as loud as they want to be. We can still hear them but it’s not the same as being 3 steps away.

I still haven’t had a nap in our new home, I’m not much of a napper, but we have had a couple of sleep-ins on the weekend which were essentially impossible in our former space. I have been able to read a bit more and don’t have to use headphones as much to get some personal space, instead I am able to try another room. I think this has a bit to do with more room options and a lot to do with the kids getting older and wanting their own space and independence.

Not Transforming our Space

I used to put the wall bed away everyday! I still put the wall bed away many days of the week but it is not a necessary act in order for our space to function. Not to mention when I used to put the wall bed away and then move the mini crib/bassinet into the kids bedroom every morning. Our apartment now, with the additional square footage requires very little transforming. We sometimes set up a kids movie on our wall bed with a nest of pillows. And we still use a projector in our living room for movie nights which requires a bit of set up. But the daily re-arranging of our space is no longer required. I don’t know how I feel about that… I was never resentful of the transformation, only grateful for letting us stay comfortably in our small space for so long. And now I’m grateful that our wall bed makes a 2 bedroom apartment feel so much bigger! But it is strange to have something (ie. the wall bed) that was integral to our previous home be an additional “nice to have” in our current space.

Outdoor Space

We gained outdoor space (patio update post here) in a larger, quieter patio and a walk-up entrance and have found these to be much appreciated additions. Though in this case the larger size is less of a priority than the fact that our patios are quiet. Our previous patio was on a busy city street that had become increasingly louder with more traffic and construction over the years. In Vancouver, I find we don’t use the patio year round, it’s really only 5-6 months of the year but we make the most of those months. I’m finding myself drawn to gardening more every year and I’m grateful for all the space to attempt to grow things.

Future Space

The kids are still sharing a room and sleeping in their bunk bed but I know that when the time comes and they ask for their own room or privacy that we can do that in this space. It will take some creativity and out of the box planning but it’s possible and I find this calms me.

The next part is what hasn’t changed at all from one space to another and the lessons we hold close despite the additional square footage. BUT the post became too long so will save it for another day. As always thanks for being here. As Theo read over my shoulder tonight and commented… “Are you going to post that on Gmail??!! Why would anyone want to read that much words about your house!! Boring!!! “

Our 600sqft apartment by Gillian Stevens