Small Home Tour: Marina and family of 4 (and 2 cats) in 900 square feet

This home tour is brought to you by a friend out scouting for me while on a playdate. She sent me a couple photos and said I had to feature this apartment that was so bright and fun and clever. I immediately answered back, saying please ask her if she’d be willing!! And lucky for us Marina was so generous in sharing her space. She opened every closet and door in her apartment and shared her love of small family living, design and problem solving. This probably could have been a 2 part-er as I didn’t even get to elaborate on her closet organization but I hope I captured the joy you feel when you enter their space. Also unmistakable in my afternoon with Marina is her love for city living. Often I find myself in conversations on the challenges of city living, the affordability or constant changes that impact us. But I left Marina’s apartment inspired by her gratefulness for her apartment in the sky and her love for this imperfect yet beautiful city.


I am Marina, @mzamyatina. Former visual display artist with a love for design and beautiful objects.

How big is your home and what is the layout ?

Approximately 940 square foot, 2 bed 2 bath apartment in downtown Vancouver.

Who lives there?

Me and my husband and our two kids, Maya 9 + Kai 6 and our two 2 cats.

Tell me about your choice to live small. Was it a conscious decision or did it just evolve?

We found this apartment over 10 years ago. We always knew we wanted to have kids and we would stay here as long as we can. I always lived in apartments growing up in the Ukraine, so it is normal to me for a family to live in an apartment.

I like the height of our ceilings and the natural light. On a clear day you can see the mountains behind the city. The view is always changing, I love it. I also love the energy of an apartment building, the neighbors, the shops nearby, all of it.

Another thing we love about an apartment on the 8th floor is that we can go away anytime and not worry about shutting down a house or having someone check in on it. I’ve always lived on the 7th or 8th floor, it’s my favourite.

Ikea Stolmen in the Shared Kids Room

Ikea wall unit in Kids Room

Kids Room with custom Pax closet

How would you describe your home style? ex) modern, minimal,  bohemian, vintage?

Industrial feel. High ceilings and light. Contemporary eclectic. I gravitate toward modern colour and shape. Like the tray on my sideboard with vases and candles. Or my vase collection full of Ikea, Hay, Areaware, and vintage vases from Ukraine. 

I am conscious about what I purchase and keep. I don’t hide my things away even thought we have a small space. I display them because I love them. Like even my kitchen countertops have items all over but it’s all things I love and use. I love modern colourful design so much but I’m careful to save up and follow sales until I get the right thing.


Bedroom corner

Is there a piece of furniture or accessory that you couldn’t live without that makes living in your space easier?

Where do I start? Everything? Hahaha

Our dining table that we’ve had for many years works so hard for us. It’s an expanding vintage table. Once we had 18 people for dinner!!

Our coffee table has hidden drawers that stores many things for us that we don’t need to see everyday.

Our storage bed is also very useful as we have a small closet in our bedroom.

Our Pantry closet off our kitchen is the hub of our home. it holds our laundry, cleaning supplies, cat litter, pantry, sewing and crafting supplies. In the pandemic I sent the husband and kids away and pulled everything out of this closet and fit these costco shelves in with rolling baskets. I used Ikea bins, foldaway hooks and pegboards and reorganized every inch of this space. Now everything has a place and it is highly functional and useful for us. It was a lot of problem solving but i’m very happy with how it serves us now.

And the wall organizer in the kids room with an integrated desk but I will share about that below.

Swing I ordered a swing from europe and attached hooks into our ceiling, We can swap it out for rings or a trapeze bar. It is the most popular when we have playdates over.

ed not. I’m crazy about that Ikea wall organizer at their entryway, hope we can convince them to bring it back!

Living Room with a view to the kids room

Kitchen corner

How do you find room sharing works for your family?

They love it. For now, it’s going great. 

We knocked out the wall for their existing closet because the large doors took up too much space. Then we added an Ikea Pax system with open shelving between the two units. This allows some accessible toy storage. But it was a bit tricky as the standard shelf size didn’t fit in our opening so we had to cut down all the shelves but it was worth it for this custom closet look and the narrow doors making everything more accessible.

Then during the pandemic we realized my husband needed a desk to work from home so I found this Ikea Stolmen system on marketplace and created a wall unit that stores their toys and clothes and doubles as a workspace for my husband when the kids are at school. The chair was a lucky vintage find.

Can you share some of your favourite city spots that support living small? For me it’s nearby parks, community gardens, coffee shops, science world.

Mclean park + splash pad

Science world and park 

Riley Park 

Getting to the mountains 

What is something you love about living small?

Everything is close and I have freedom and energy because I am not maintaining a larger space or yard. Cleaning is quick. I love that all activities are walkable and easy to get to. I love the city energy. 

My hair salon is a couple blocks away, my kids activities are too. Everything is accessible and I love the energy of the city and being around people.

What is something you hate?

I don’t hate anything about our space but sometimes the management of the space can be alot. It feels like I am doing a puzzle everyday. But it makes me realize I should buy less things!

Dining Room

I think Small Space-ers need to stick together and share all their best tricks. Do you have any storage or organizational tips you want to share? 

Go high. Go up the walls, use every inch of your closets. Don’t forget about peg boards and adding hooks onto the sides of everything!

For dealing with hot summers in an apartment; our big windows and being on the 8th floor means it can get hot in the summer.  So we added a blade-less fan to the kids room for air circulation and safety. We also found a solution for an outdoor screening that blocks heat into the kids room in the summer. If you look closely you can see round stickers on the outside of the window.

We like to find solutions. We are so proud of what we created in this apartment!


The infamous pantry and sewing wall


Striped Candles – Hay (similar here)

Hand – Hay

Entryway Organizer – Ikea (discontinued)

Dining Chairs – Hay About a Chair

Bedding – Hay Mega Dot

Aarke – Stainless Carbonator

Wall Unit – Ikea Stolmen (similar to Elvarli)

Bunk Bed – Oeuf Perch

I’m sure there are a lot more sources I have missed so please ask below and hopefully we can answer!

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