The Hewitt Family Living Small

Bedrooms: 1
Property: Rental
Square Feet: Unsure
Adults: 2
Children: 1

If our parents and grandparents generations of babies slept in drawers, this generation sleeps in wardrobes. Lilias is one of many of the San Francisco babies who boasts a cozy little crib where the vacuum used to be. Wardrobe conversions are dotted all over the city. In fact, they are considered something of a luxury in this squeezed rental market, allowing apartments intended for one to moonlight as family homes.

 The door to Lilias' sweet little room; what was once the living room closet.

The door to Lilias' sweet little room; what was once the living room closet.

In the Hewitt’s case, the wardrobe nursery is not just convenient and space saving, it’s also adorable. Anna and Oliver teamed practical elements like the smallest model of Ikea crib, drawers and changing pad, along with some sweet personal touches such as ceramic drawer handles, a mobile and a homemade rug - both designed by friends. And they’re happy with the result, “It works really well. Lilias doesn’t need a bigger room at this age, plus we don’t need a baby monitor - we just leave the doors open,” said Anna. Evidently their little urban babe is similarly impressed with her new room, sleeping through the first night she spent there. “For the first two months, Lilias slept in a moses basket at the foot of our bed, but it works much better now she is in her own room,” said Anna.

With Lilias now five and a half months old, the Hewitt’s apartment has not yet been introduced to the wandering destruction of a mobile child. In this stationary phase of babyhood, the play-gym and bouncer are a big deal. In this case, both are light, pleasant to look at, and easy to move between rooms. 

Anna and Oliver have optimized the kitchen in small but significant ways. They introduced a wooden cart to increase storage and bench area. While more of an aesthetic change came from removing the cupboard doors, “to create a feeling of space and display of our jars of food,” said Anna. The couple enjoy spending time in the kitchen; Anna has her own food blogand Lilias likes to watch from the bouncer as her parents concoct goodies. The sights and smells must have been inspiring as the littlest Hewitt is showing an early interest in food - already eating three solids meals a day in her high chair

Across the hall in the bathroom, Anna and Oliver are big fans of their Boon tub. It collapses to become almost flat and hangs on the towel rail. With the baby bath out of the way, they have a little space for a chair that is dear to them. It's crafted from wood selvaged from homes damaged in the Christchurch (New Zealand) earthquake, where Oliver hails from. They also squeeze in the rather more utilitarian item of a bucket to hand wash stains out of bibs and onesies.

 The Boon tub collapses flat for storage.

The Boon tub collapses flat for storage.

Though the space works brilliantly for the family of three, there have been challenges. Anna and Oliver had some initial reservations regarding the climb up to their apartment “we go out adventuring at least twice a day, so lugging the stroller and a baby up and down the stairs (nine flights) can be tiring,” said Anna. They have made it work with a an umbrella stroller, and their indispensable Becco carrier, “it has also been a lifesaver as it means I can have my hands free to do things like the grocery shopping with her,” Anna added. There is no laundry in the Hewitts' building, so washing must be transported down the stairs and out to the nearest laundromat a couple of times a week.

The good still outweighs the bad for the Hewitts. Their space is light, airy and feels like home, but it's the central location and view over the city that really makes it hard to beat. Walkability is excellent, a seriously important factor when you have a small baby and no car, “we are ten minutes walk from the Panhandle, Alamo Square, Duboce Park and Buena Vista Park, meaning that I can take Lilias on nice walks every day,” said Anna. 

Words: Rachel Jamieson
Pictures: Rachel Jamieson