Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

2 Bedrooms, 4 Kids, 1 Mom, Lots of Ideas

People frequently ask us for more stories about families–particularly how does one fit big families into small homes? The home of Kip Longinotti-Buitoni is a great example of such a beast. Following a divorce in 2005, she and her four children moved from their suburban home to a two bedroom Manhattan apartment. At 1400 sq ft, the space was large by New York standards, but its configuration was really only suitable in traditional terms for a couple with a young child, according to architect Tim Nanni of Construct Architecture, who was in charge of making the apartment look and work great for the Longinotti-Buitoni brood.

At the time of moving in, Longinotti-Buitoni’s children ranged in age from 10 to 17. The three oldest were girls and the youngest a boy. All of this necessitated flexibility for when the older kids left home as well as the boy’s eventual need for privacy.

Nanni said he was was tasked with providing “each family member with a satisfactory sleeping/bathing/working solution…[as well as a] big cooking/dining/gathering/entertainment space.” He leaned heavily on Resource Furniture and their line of Clei transforming beds and builtin storage to make this all possible. In terms of layout, Kip took the master bedroom while the children took the second. The children’s beds did double duty as desks during the day, and everyone found their own corner of the apartment. In addition to housing much of the kid’s stuff, the amply-sized living room featured a couple additional beds as well as a hammock, resulting in the ability to sleep nine.

Longinotti-Buitoni wrote to us in an email that the kids’ transition from their suburban home was seamless. The new layout worked great and each child “found their nooks and took to them. Marco studies out in the dining room living room area while Sybilla would study in her room, up in her bunk, which in a city apartment can feel like a separate universe completely.”

Longinotti-Buitoni wrote, that “space is a luxury and no one needs master bedrooms vast as oceans. We have plenty of room and the only thing that has mattered is the vibe in the space, which has always been great.”

Longinotti-Buitoni said that her home and its layout has inspired many moms and families in figuring out how to fit their new family members into frequently small New York apartments.

Many people, particularly families, find themselves disheartened by the enormous expense of real estate in major cities. What Longinotti-Buitoni shows is that there is more than one way to use space. “I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be in the city…[carving] out spaces within space, rooms within rooms.” Quoting her architect Nanni, Longinotti-Buitoni said, “Living in NYC is a game of inches.” Her apartment shows that when those inches are used right, a space can do far more than one ever thought possible.

Top image via Daily News

  • kathy

    From the layout, it looks as though the master bedroom is bigger than the kids’ room. If “no one needs master bedrooms vast as oceans,” why did the mother take it? Couldn’t the designer have done more for the kids with the extra space? Also, no one can convince me that it’s not a pain in the ass to clean up your desk and drop down the bed every night.

    • AliceF

      Quite! Perhaps the accessories are glued on…

  • Pastor

    It’s nice to see a family. For many of us in California, a 1400-1500 square foot house is pretty typical. My family of 5, including 3 teenagers (oh and an English Lab) live in 1500 square feet. Broken down, that is 300 square feet per person, not including the dog. Editing life is just a part of our existence. We will never have the resources to gut and remodel. Prost!

  • Susan Moore

    My home is 1100 sq ft, and has three good sized bedrooms, large kitchen , living room, and open front entry that doubles as my daughter’s boyfriend’s office. It’s open and inviting while still having private bedrooms ( one used as a sewing art room.)I’m confused as to why this looks so cramped?

    • Jo

      I agree… It looks pretty enough but I cant imagine the functionality or practicality of such a situation would be a long term success. So cramped and too much redecorating for sleep and awake times. I too am a single mother of 4 kids (all boys) and I live in a 600sq ft 2 bedroom apartment and it feels like I have more space than this equal sized family in a larger space. However, I also have much less possessions than this family, maybe that makes the difference. My kids and I agree that kitchen (aka FOOD) trumps all so my kitchen/diningroom is converted into a grocery store with a large fridge, 2 chest freezers and a freestanding pantry from walmrt for canned goods. We prefer to eat together in the livingroom on our large floor cushions which are also stackable to save space when not in use. We are floor dwellers lol

  • Skyway Mom

    Great job turning 1400 sq. feet into an absolute palace! Our family of 4 just moved from a 3000 sq. ft house to a 900 sq. ft apartment. I’m in love with our new lifestyle so much I started blogging. I’ve got one article/picture tour up that will be the first of several on “How to make your 2 bedroom feel like a mansion!” There is a dearth of inspiration on the internet for families making “normal small spaces” work. Tiny spaces and architect assisted spaces, yes–and I love reading them! But we didn’t go tiny nor did we spend much money and it’s working great. http://www.skywaymom.com

  • WithheldName

    Ahhh, if only the rest of us could be so lucky as to have a wealthy ex-husband. A 1,400 square-foot apartment in the heart of Manhattan, done up by a professional interior designer? Cha-ching! Can you say “thank you wealthy ex-husband” for the child support and alimony checks every month? Cha-Ching!

    P.S. What’s with the hammock?

    • GoGirls

      Who’s to say she’s not independently wealthy or self made? Thank you to powerful women making it work for their families!

      • WithheldName

        In all seriousness, I suspect she has a professional job in the city that she wants to be close to, so she can spend more time with her kids (less time commuting) and have more flexibility to duck out of work to take them to doctor’s appointments and so on. If she were simply living off alimony and child support checks, she would have downsized elsewhere in the suburbs, where the cost of living is cheaper. (Remember they originally lived in a large suburban house until the divorce.) And if she simply had a mid-level or low-level job, she could have found an easy replacement for that job in the suburbs as well. She obviously has some economic connection to Manhattan – either that’s where her employer is – or where her clients are. People don’t often relocate from the suburbs to cram large families into tiny, expensive living spaces just because they like the bagel shops. Environmentalism is often a secondary factor (or perhaps a justification). Economic/time and family factors are almost always the primary factors. Otherwise all of us reading this would have quit our jobs by now, moved to Montana, and started raising goats! 🙂

    • heyheids

      The ignorance of this statement is astounding. As is the sexism. Where’s this “wealthy ex-husband”? If it’s all his doing, why doesn’t he just take care of the kids in a big ol’ house?

      • WithheldName

        It’s only ignorant and sexist if it’s a bad guess. 🙂 If it’s a correct guess, then it’s neither sexist nor ignorant. 🙂

        • asitis

          it’s a slightly mean-spirited automatic assumption.

          • WithheldName

            In all seriousness, see my comment above replied to GoGirls.

  • Michael Boyink

    Love this!
    My family (including 2 teens) and I have lived in ~300 sq feet for 4+ years and have loved the experience. We are now writing a book about families leaving the traditional suburban lives in search of adventure, service, sustainability, or meaning. We have talked with boating families, RV families, Tiny House families, farming families and families moving to the mission field.

    If that describes something you are thinking about doing, doing, or have done and then went back to the suburbs please get in touch as we’d like to talk more with you.

    More about the book: http://ditchingsuburbia.com and you can contact us by filling in a survey there.

  • rachel goodkind

    Downsizing is great for everyone although 1400 sf in manhattan is a large space although for 5 it may be tiny. It always amazes me that anyone thinks they “need” a 3000 sf size house, although i did like my 1600 sf condo for me and three dogs. One of my favorite documentaries is called “frontier house” by pbs. Four modern families are taken to montana to live as if they were in the 1800’s for 6 months. It is fascinating to see how they all cope and adapt to their new lifestyle including their small dwellings. namaste’, rachel

  • Emily Jones

    You have to admire the clever use of space. It’s always a challenge especially when you have more than one child. I recently purchased a triple bunk bed for my two boys as they always seen to have friends over and it’s an absolute dream. I would highly recommend one for shared bedrooms. Mines from here http://www.cuckooland.com/dnc/cuckooland/product/45275/kids-dominique-triple-bunk-bed-with-tree-bookcase-in-white-and-blue