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Family of 4. 700 Sq. Ft. How we make it work and the recent living room update I did to make the space seem even bigger.Anyone remember this post from Money Saving Mom? You know, my post that went “viral” about how My Family of 4 Lives in 700 Square Feet? I loved sharing it, though it certainly was a bit strange to have strangers on facebook criticizing the clutter of my home! Luckily I have thick skin and wasn’t too bothered by it. BUT, I’ll be honest: Seeing my home with fresh eyes and an outsider’s perspective did stick with me…and I knew some things needed to change, especially in our small house living room.

It took a few months, and some savings re-allocation (originally set aside for an anniversary party that we decided not to have), however, I’m now quite proud to present today’s BRAND NEW blog post:

A Family of Four, 700 Square Feet, and a Total Living Room Re-Do! [2017 update – now we’re a family of FIVE! Eek! See updated post here!]

As a spatial reference, the square footage of the Living Room/Front Entry/Work Space shown here is about 16′ x 15′ = 240 sq. ft.

(note: I am still not Martha Stewart, and there is still some clutter, but hey, this is just my real house and I’m ok with some mess. 🙂 )


What I Changed in the Front Entry Area:

  • IMG_3447 (853x1280)I turned the Ikea EXPEDIT/KALLAX (Amazon link) shelving unit sideways out from the wall to help distinguish a separate front entry area. I purchased a KALLAX add-on door and drawer set in birch in order to better hide clutter.
  • Cardboard boxes on top of the KALLAX  shelves to hide/organize/deter other clutter from accumulating there.
    IMG_3446 (1012x1280)
  • A small round white table to collects mail and other small items.
  • LOTS of hooks for coats, hats, sweaters, and bags behind the door. This was otherwise wasted space and now has a perfect use.
  • Kids shoes in clear plastic bins on top of the “shoe garage”.



What I Changed in the Work/Craft Area (& the Ikea Hack Standing Desk):

  • Ikea Hack Standing DeskThe EXPEDIT/KALLAX (Amazon link) shelves from the front entryway get a dual use into an Ikea hack standing desk. I purchased a mount (I forget the name of the mount, but if you ask an Ikea worker for a KALLAX workstation tabletop mount, they can direct you) and mounted one of my LINNMON tabletops to the third shelf up. On the other end, I installed two OLOV adjustable table legs to rest on top of two ASKVOLL drawer units.
  • I moved the TROFAST shelving units from the kids’ room out to the living room/desk area. My kids play right next to where I’m standing anyways, so it made sense. I have upgraded from the shorter 37″ shelves (shown in some pictures) to the taller 57″ ones (shown in other pictures) though.
  • IMG_3252The ASKVOLL drawer units hold kids’ toys as well as office supplies. (It also provides a perfect height ledge for my kids to climb up on and annoy hang out right.next.to.me so they see whatever I’m doing at any given time.)
  • I didn’t take a picture, but under the desk is a shelf with more office supplies as well as my sewing machine.
  • Tutorial on how I hung the fabric underdesk curtains using a piece of ribbon coming soon!



What I Changed in the Living Room:

  • I (ok, we hired someone; I didn’t do this part!) mounted the tv to the wall and got rid of the (huge) tv stand.
  • I got rid of the darker, drab area rug and replaced it with two new brighter area rugs.
    IMG_3439 (1280x853)
  • I turned the couch out so that it better divided off the “living room” area.
  • I used three vertical mirrors along the far wall to make the room look bigger (and to add decoration to the wall).
    IMG_3458 (1280x804) (2)
  • To help hide the clutter of the bookcases (as many facebook commenters so astutely pointed out and criticized, ha ha), I bought some BILLY doors to go over our BILLY bookcases. The glass half makes the bookscases look nicer, and the wood half no one can see behind and complain about. 🙂
  • For probably my favorite thing in the entire new living room, I created a multi-purpose window seat/kids’ desk/toy storage/extra seating/coffee table. Using two STUVA children’s benches and 4 storage stools, I’m able to use this combination in a multitude of ways depending on the need.Kid Desk Toy Storage All In One
    • Window Seat: The STUVA benches are strong enough to sit on (I feel comfortable standing on them too) and look out the window or soak up the sun.
    • Kids’ Desk: My daughter’s starting to get into art projects and my son into coloring, and now they have a place to do so.
    • Toy Storage: The storage stools underneath store kid’s toys. I used gaff tape (expensive, but the best tape ever and I always have around) for the fabric tape labels, but if we’re having company or I don’t want the labels shown, I can just turn the stools to the side to hide.
    • 71OlpaxAnxL._SL1500_Extra Seating: The storage stools double as desk chairs for the kids, or extra adult seating. I got the BOSNAS stools from Ikea because they were a bit cheaper (and let’s face it, because I’m addicted to Ikea), but the lids slide off too easily and make it hard for wiggly kids to stay on. I kind of wish I’d sprung instead for these on Amazon that I was going back-and-forth on…those I think the Amazon ones are a little taller though.
    • Coffee Table: For those times where we’d like a coffee table, all I have to do is slide the STUVA bench(es) in front of the couch and volia! I can either just use one desk, or pull them both out and put them back-to-back for a larger square table.


Total improvement, right?? I know. With just these small changes, it feels as though we live in a completely different place and KP and I are so much happier at home. We’ve got plans to re-do other rooms in the house too, but I think this front entry/work space/living area will probably be the most significant change.

Other Notes for those who might be curious:
51hbM9eYQSLThe learning clock shown in the background hallway is this one: Easy Reader Time Teacher Children’s Wall Clock



91E85M7cc6L._SL1500_The portable dollhouse on top of the TROFAST shelves is this one: KidKraft My Pretty Petal Dollhouse



41nZK5cXrLLThe pocket schedule chart is this one: Learning Resources Daily Schedule Pocket Chart


19 Comments on Small House Living Room Re-Do (w/ Ikea Hack Standing Desk)

  1. You did such an amazing job! Living in a small space is a challenge in itself and you managed to make so many different “zones” in one area and you did it so well! Living small takes work but it can be very rewarding! Great job thinking outside the box! Your changes to your living space are phenomenal and have given me some inspiration!

  2. You did a fantastic job! At first glance, I thought you had purchased a new sofa–but it was just the new rugs brightening up the room THAT much. It’s amazing how color and detail cane make everything look new again!

  3. You did a great job! I’m sorry you had to endure people with no manners. I guess anonymity makes people feel they can say anything. You did a terrific job with limited space before, but you’ve really stepped it up this time! Now I’m going to have to check out IKEA a bit more… 😉

    • Thanks so much! To be honest, I really was not offended by people criticizing my house before. If anything, it made me laugh. 🙂 I think that people online forget that people on the other end are actual people and not just staged actors or props. But hey, sometimes that objectivity is the only way that people see the truth too. I agree that there’s tactful ways of saying things though. No one was outright mean to me, they just said my house made them feel claustrophobic, ha ha! But thank you so much for your kind words; I appreciate it.

  4. This is incredible! I am so impressed with your vision to take much of what you already owned and repurposed it to be more functional (and fashionable) for your family. With just a few things you were able to transform the use of your space to serve and bless your family. Excellent job and I hope you have many opportunities to soak in the joy of this transition and update!

  5. You are amazing! We have a family of 6 in a 900 sq ft house. I feel your pain! I would have gotten angry at the criticism, but you used it positively! Way to go!

  6. Love this! We are a homeschooling family of 5 in 720 sq ft. I see a lot of similar furniture and “zones” in your home that we use in our home. I try so hard to look at our home with fresh eyes to get the feeling that others have when they enter our home. It’s difficult because unless one lives in this small space, they truly will not understand all that goes into keeping it “clutter free” while still keeping the necessities for five people. Today, we are doing another “re-zoning” project in our house. One of our two bedrooms will be converted into a family closet and office. Unconventional, but needed. 🙂 You’ve done a wonderful job beautifying your home while maintaining functionality. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I live in a small home slighty bigger than yours 860 sq ft. One thing I noticed in your kitchen that would drive me crazy bonker nuts is your handle on your fridge. I would have to switch the handle to the other side. its a little tricky to do… but for me it has been sooo worth it. for me in my teeny kitchen. It was so anhoying to walk around the fridge door just to grab a little more milk for the mac n cheese!

  8. Looks great! Found you through money saving mom. I love small homes for families. We are a family of 7 in 1000sq ft. Not real small but small enough for now! I like how different it looks with just adding doors to so much. My husband keeps trying to tell me I need more doors 🙂 I am pretty bad with clutter! ha. The internet is great at being brutal! Ha! Glad you like the changes it inspired though. You inspired me to go through some of my clutter this morning 🙂

  9. god. this is my life exactly. he is 9 years older. 45 and 36 now. married for 15 years. started off with sex a couple times per week, then gradually lessened. reached the point of about once or twice per month. he would say “are we ever going to have sex again?”….as if it were my choice. there were so many nights when I’d initiate, only to be pushed away b/c he was stressed out or too tired. an attractive wife almost 10 years younger….a professional, in shape, and throwing herself at you. I mean….WHAT IS THE PROBLEM. I will never understand. we managed 3 times last year. I cannot remember the last time I had a real kiss. maybe its been 10 years. I don’t even know. I feel trapped. I used to write in my journal, I bought 6 different books about why men don’t want sex and begged him to read them (he didn’t), we have had numerous discussions about me feeling undesired and he would always profess his love for me and tell me that he finds me attractive but “we are just busy people in our lives right now”…. always some excuse. and things will get better for awhile, then they go back to once every other week or once a month or a handful of times a year. its only going to get worse. I’ve become so incredibly resentful, that I’ve started taking strong antidepressants so I don’t say anything horribly nasty to him in front of the kids and, importantly, to chemically kill my desire for sex. the problem is, he now senses that I’m so angry, I no longer have a sexual interest in him. and now he wants everything back. all I want to do is sleep or occupy myself with other things so I don’t have any interaction with him at all. I feel like he robbed me of my youth and I am so angry about it.

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