Q & A | Small Space Design with Alison Mazurek

Combining years of experience in design and construction and advocating for living small, our very talented friend, Alison Mazurek of 600sqft.com has recently launched a new virtual small space design consultation business that we had to let you know about.

If you don't know Alison and her adorable blog 600sqftandababy, you must check her out. She, along with her husband and two children are living small, thoughtfully and sustainably here in Vancouver in a beautiful 600 square foot apartment with high ceilings and big windows. 

With that said, she has come up with some very clever ways to live in their small space and has a wealth of information to fall back on. A very timely venture as well as we all seem to be spending more and more time in our homes than ever before.

We asked her a few questions and to offer up a few tips on living small. 

Q. To start things off, I always love to get a little background hearing how people started in their field. If you don't mind sharing a little about your beginnings in the design world and what lead you to here.
Oh gosh it's been a long road. I have worked in design and construction project management for over 13 years. My education is in International Relations via SFU and I have a Project Management training through Sauder.  I've worked in restaurant design and recently contracting for residential, retail and developments. Simultaneously, for the last 6 years I have been authoring the blog 600sqftandababy which has been my great passion. I've been trying to find that elusive balance of motherhood, work and creative pursuits which seems impossible. I have found when one is doing well the other is faltering. This new venture is my best attempt to focus on my family while also helping others to live small comfortably.

Q. I love your voice in our design community sharing things "all about small spaces", so I was excited to see you started up this new venture.  Can you tell us a little more about your offerings?

Thanks so much Jan, means so much coming from you. The offering is a 90 min video consultation where I'll talk through your small space problems and offer encouragement, advice and real-time solutions for your space.I have found we are able to accomplish a lot during that time. If you want more I will put together a conceptual document with visual pinboard/collage type inspiration, and shoppable links for furniture suited specifically for your space. The consults will be as much about removing furniture or things from your space, as possibly purchasing new furniture. I also hope to provide encouragement and support for the realities of living small as a family.  

Q. I think it's great how you advocate small living.  Having said that, living in a small space with children can be tricky at times with respect to space, noise, etc. What are 3 design-related tips that helped you introduce your children into your building?

1. Have Less Furniture - over the years we have removed more furniture than we have added. We have no coffee table, no beside tables, fewer chairs etc. The less furniture we have the bigger our space feels, as long as the furniture we have is very functional.
2. Consider Giving up Your Bedroom - Whether you consider a wall bed or a sofa bed, giving up your bedroom is a great solution to add an extra room without having to move. Or a less extreme option is to give the larger bedroom for the kids to share and the parent(s) share the smaller bedroom. Have the kids in the larger bedroom will have more room to play when a conventional playroom is not possible in a small space. 
3. One in One out - once your space has been edited to a reasonable place this rule is a great guide for bringing anything new into a small space. If something new is coming in, what is leaving? This works for home goods as well as kids toys. 

Q. What are some of your favourite furniture/storage solutions for living small?

I am a big fan of many Ikea solutions including Besta, Pax and matching storage bins/baskets. But I should add that the best organization is editing your possessions to what you truly need. 

Q. There's a sense of serenity in your home, with your use of muted colours and the calmness it brings; with that in mind, what designers currently inspire you right now in the design world?

Thanks Jan! I try to stick with a few colours and materials in our home as I find in a small space it's better to have continuity between rooms. I've chosen white, light woods and greys for our space but I think it can be any colours or materials as long as they carry through the space. 

I am inspired by so many designers! I'm currently devouring the NEVER TOO SMALL youtube channel. I am really inspired by their incredible renovations in mainly New Zealand and Australian apartments.

Q. If you could change things for the better with respect to small living in your city what would it be?

I wish more people could easily live small. I am often frustrated to learn that different buildings and stratas have rules about occupancy that limit families who want to live small. While small living isn't for everyone, it is a great option for many, especially with the cost of housing in the city. I think occupancy should be based on square footage and not bedrooms. I also wish there were even more green spaces with every small space. I believe living small can be a long term option for many if there is outdoor space involved, both communal and private. 

Thank you Alison! So if you happen to be adding a baby to a small space (or second one), are working from home, perhaps downsizing or are just currently overwhelmed by your current layout and furniture/clutter, Alison's one-on-one virtual consultations might be just the help you need.

Visit her blog here for more info, and in the meantime, let's take a little sneak peek at their small space.

Jan Halvarson

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