How Do You Manage a Small House and Baby Gear?

My first house was the perfect starter home, but like everyone else in the neighborhood, we felt we had to move to a larger one once the kids arrived. We all seemed to follow the same pattern before moving out:  Whenever we saw a pink or blue bow on on the mailbox, we knew the next signal would be the primary car parked outside, not inside, the garage. When the second kid arrived and the second car couldn’t park in the garage, it was time to move.

In hindsight, it wasn’t the kids, but their stuff, that pushed us to move to bigger digs. Perhaps that’s why I find it remarkable when moms stand their ground and don’t give in to the Red Ryder/Pack-N-Play/crib creep that takes over a living space.

Melanie Pounds Interior Design, photo from House Beautiful

Birmingham mom and interior designer Melanie Pounds seems to have bucked the pattern and consciously embraced a smaller living space. Her home was featured in the August issue of House Beautiful as well as the summer issue of Birmingham Home and Garden. I’ve never met Pounds, nor am I a client (although she could clearly teach me a thing or two), but I’m fascinated by what was missing in photos her not-quite 1,500 square foot house – namely, any trace of all the stuff that goes with living with kids. If she can live that well in a “cottage,” isn’t there hope for all the moms cramped in garden homes, townhouses, and condos?

  • Melanie, I know each magazine photo is a careful composition that has been cleared of all distractions, but pray tell where you hid the requisite baby swing, activity mat, and 101-piece toy kitchen set (now down to 87 pieces)? Is there a  cabinet hiding the toy tub (which in your house is probably a vintage basket from a Paris flea market)?
  • I envy your deep kitchen sinks flanking that fabulous cook top. I wonder, does it diminish the effect when all the sippy cup and bottle components are set out to dry in front of that fine slab of stone? (Who am I kidding – if it were my house, one of those sinks would always be filled with a kids’ garment to soak out the Kool-Aid stains).
  • The bathroom sink on a pedestal is so pretty, reminiscent of a fountain in Rome. So how do you incorporate the baby tub and the crayons made of colored soap? Am I to believe you don’t have an elephant-themed plastic guard over your tub faucet, or that you can whisk it out of sight just before company arrives? Impressive indeed.
  • Aha! So according to the article, you have Tylenol and a thermometer stashed away on your bedside table. Me, too! Only I’ll bet you don’t trip over action figures unrelated to your overall color scheme on the way to the nursery.

Seriously, I am encouraged by the discipline apparent in Melanie’s space. If she can hold the baby gear at bay and maintain a serene living space, then perhaps there is hope yet that I can get a handle on the kid stuff that is overtaking our current house, which is over twice as large as the first one. Proof, I suppose, that more room isn’t the answer.