shifts in spaces, and perspective

We live in a modest two family house. We think it was built around the time of the Civil War. The wide floor boards are creaky, and you can fit several types of Legos in the gaps between. The floors slant and the ceilings are low, there are no hallways - one room leads to the next on both floors. Privacy is at a minimum,  but with exposed brick in the dining room and a built in bookshelf in the living room, the house full of character and charm.

Technically, it's a two bedroom apartment. The kids have been sharing a room since we moved in, seven'ish years ago. They've rarely complained, and it has suited them well. But now they're 11 and almost 10, and their heights and collections are rapidly growing.

Every year or so we start to look at this place a little differently. Notice corners we've under utilized, shelves that lend themselves to dishes rather than canned goods, the perfect wall space for a picture previously stored in the attic. This house has grown with us, changed with our needs, and met us where we are every single time. Whenever I get frustrated with the space, or lack of, I only need reminding that furniture can be moved, pictures rehung.

The other week the kids and I were undertaking a huge spring clean. With vacuum in hand, I looked at their bedroom, how the two beds were so crowded, and the landing we used at the top of the stairs for a playroom was overrun with unused toys and clutter. We'd talked in the past about how maybe it could someday be used for a bedroom, sort of loft style.

"Would either of you want to take over this space for your bedroom?" I asked.

Paige said no right away.

Fynn pondered.

Then he said no.

"That's fine," I told him. I began picking up, preparing to sweep the floors and dust the light fixtures.

And then I caught him pondering some more.

Ultimately, he said yes with excitement in his eyes.

Within the next two hours we moved Fynn onto the landing, reorganized Paige's room, and sorted all the toys and hid them away neatly in the shared closet.

We created space where it looked like there was none. In a way, it felt like alchemy. Everyone is happy in their new spaces, they've shifted bits of furniture around, taking pleasure in the freedom they each have in making their rooms their own. The creative energy has shifted into other areas of the house, we moved around the living room furniture to create more of a conversational area, and the dining room feels more spacious after we moved most of Paige's craft supplies up to her bedroom. We're settling in, again. I'm not sure how long we'll be here, but these shifts remind me you can make a home wherever you are. With whatever space you have. Little or big. It's partly about creativity, but mostly about perspective.

When I was growing up, there were many days when my father would come home from work and find the house rearranged. Bookshelves moved (oh my word... my mother, brother, and I still joke about moving books... all the books...), bedrooms switched, furniture rearranged. He always laughed and said something to the affect of "Your mother is at it again..."

If nothing else, I learned from those experiences to take control of my surroundings, that you can make a big impact in a space without spending much money, and that moving a bookshelf can change an entire room. My hope is that my children will learn the same lesson, and we'll all be able to laugh when they're older as we remember the bruises on our thighs and arms from moving furniture, and the weight of carrying armful after armful of books from one shelf to another. Fond memories they'll be, I'm sure of it.


  1. I used to rearrange a lot when the kids lived here, now I don't need to because there is space. We halfheartedly talk about downsizing but the bother of moving is so overwhelming that we shelf the subject. I'll wait until I'm super old and can't move then downsize (ha ha )

  2. When my girls were little we lived in a two bedroom home. All three shared one bedroom and I would have to stagger bedtimes so they’d all get to sleep. When we moved to a bigger house my oldest was thrilled to have her own room but the younger two chose to stay together. They all talk fondly about when they shared one room and how we made do with the space we had. Thank you for reminding me of this memory! xx


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