The Valencia Julian Family Living Small

Bedrooms: 1
Property: Rental
Square Feet: 400
Adults: 2
Children: 1

Once entering the Valencia Julian family home, it quickly becomes apparent that the internal space is as much as an influence on day-to-day life as the external. Given that Paulina is a yoga teacher, it follows that her daily practice translates into the considered use of her physical surroundings.

Paulina and her husband Daniel moved to San Francisco from Mexico four years ago. When the couple welcomed baby Matías three years later, they made some modest and thoughtful transformations to their space. Amongst the organization and ‘paring back’ of living in a one bedroom apartment, we find a mindfulness and calm that creates their home.

The apartment mainly consists of one large elongated room featuring the kitchen and dining at one end, with the living area opening out on to the garden patio at the other. While the bedroom and bathroom are small offshoots off this space.

After Matías was born, Paulina and Daniel took out more out than they added in. They were surprisingly relaxed about the prospect of living in a one bedroom with a baby, “we thought - cool, we'll cozy up to balance out the chilly weather,” said Paulina. The couple created space where needed, and avoided buying too much baby equipment. “There is always the potential of accumulating more and more ‘essentials’ for baby. We need to constantly assess if buying extra baby stuff is truly necessary,” she added.

Paulina and Daniel described the math that went into altering their space. For fellow small space nerds, here is the Valencia Julian equation:

  • Bedroom: Move the bed against the wall. Take out night tables, lamps, and extra accessories. Add a crib.
  • Living Room: As the baby becomes mobile: take out extra furniture like bookshelves, stools and tables. Create space for crawling.
  • Living Room: Take out the coffee table. Replace it with a rocking chair.
  • Kitchen: Take away clutter. Add some baby supplies like a food processor, sippy cups, tiny spoons, and colorful dishes. Add a high chair to the dining table.
  • Bathroom: Clear out any excess. Add in a baby bathtub, lots of coconut oil and an extra baby towel.
  • Storage: Add an extra dresser to balance out the lack of closet space. Create some storage space for baby clothes and other items.
Matias' Ikea crib, positioned beside the bed.

Matias' Ikea crib, positioned beside the bed.

Although the Valencia Julians have managed to be creative and maintain their home in a way that they enjoy. They also have a crawler. This means that order is not always achievable, what was once tidied away can become strewn on the carpet in seconds. They acknowledge that this has been one of the challenges of living in this apartment with a baby, “I've had to embrace chaos as part of my life and relax my sense of control. Great yoga practice for me,” Paulina added.

For those with a baby on the way, the couple advise to pause before buying too much stuff, “simplify by getting as few things as you need. Then wait until you have your baby to decide what you really need,” said Paulina. As Matías has grown, they have been conscious to stay ahead of the clutter by constantly reassessing what is necessary, “always keep things moving by giving away baby clothes when they no longer fit, and toys when they no longer interest your baby,” Paulina adds. The act of giving has been key part of this philosophy for this family, by keeping them connected and building community.

The very compact Mountain Buggy high-chair saves space while allowing Matias to join the family at the table.

The very compact Mountain Buggy high-chair saves space while allowing Matias to join the family at the table.

The family is due to return to Mexico shortly, and with the move they will be bidding goodbye to their current lifestyle. They have a lot to look forward to, including space for Matías to have his own room, for guests to stay, and even for a small yoga studio. However there are many aspects that they will miss about their little home: “that it is ninety percent made up of gifts from friends and from the streets of San Francisco, that it has taught me the simplicity and creativity of living in a tiny space, that it is close to wonderful parks and public transportation, that it is filled with yoga and meditation energy, and that it marks an amazing chapter in our lives,” said Paulina.

Words: Rachel Jamieson
Pictures: Rachel Jamieson