Double Occupancy: Trying to Organize a Room for TwoKatie Allison
This is Part I. Read Part II
During most of my childhood, I shared a bedroom – and even a bed – with my little sister Betsy, who is 22 months younger than I am. I remember our double occupancy quite fondly.
Her? Not so much.
For starters, I wet the bed until, well, let’s just say I was still occasionally wetting the bed right up until the time I finally scored my own room. And as you might imagine, Betsy didn’t enjoy waking up to wet sheets not of her own making. She also didn’t appreciate it when I insisted on trying to hatch baby chickens in our closet, or the way I kept taking down her Tiger Beat posters and putting up my own pony posters in their place.( I figured that as the older sister, I should have some priority.) Needless to say, Betsy was very happy when I finally moved into my own bedroom, meaning she finally had one of her own as well.
My two youngest daughters – C and G – also share a bedroom, although G still sleeps with Jon and me in our room – either in the crib next to our bed or in the bed with us. But her toys are all in the bedroom she shares with her next oldest sibling, and eventually, she will sleep in there too, with both girls in the double canopy bed where C already sleeps.
I absolutely love the girls’ bedroom, both because it’s so pretty and because it has a beautiful story behind it; during the month between the death of my oldest child and the day I came home from the hospital with our newborn daughter, G. – who was born 6 weeks prematurely – some incredibly dear friends and family, together with an amazing organization called “Special Spaces” renovated the room from top to bottom.
In a 100 year old house-in-progress, there’s always still another room that’s not yet renovated, and in 2010, Jon and I had fully intended to get the last “unfinished” bedroom in our house renovated in time for the baby’s arrival, planning for it to serve as a nursery–slash-bedroom that both the new baby and C could then share ( C had not had a bedroom of her own). But then, while Henry was hospitalized, and it looked like we would be bringing home a teenage boy in a wheelchair with a major brain injury, we realized we would need to make this first floor room over to become handicapped accessible for Henry because his bedroom had been upstairs, and that just wasn’t going to work.
That’s when Special Spaces jumped in, offering to create a room that would accomodate Henry’s special needs when he came home. We were SO grateful for this. It was one less thing to worry about. But then, Henry’s condition deteriorated, and we lost him on May 31, 2010. There would be no teenage boy coming home. However, we still had a baby due in 9 weeks, and amazingly, friends, family and the volunteers of Special Spaces decided that they still wanted to renovate the room for us – turning it into a bedroom for the baby and her toddler sister.
This is what the room looked like before the makeover. As you can see, it was awful just an oversized junk closet with dirty white walls, ugly BLACK trim and terrible lighting. We had no furniture or curtains, etc. It was seriously fugly.
And here are some photos of the “reveal” after everyone who worked so hard on the girls’ bedroom had finished their work in time to surprise me on the day I came home with the new baby, five days after my c-section. I was absolutely stunned by how lovely it was, and moved to tears by the effort so many nice people had put into giving our family this amazing gift. I had already bought this dresser for $45 or something at a local thrift store, but it was bright blue. For the room renovation, a family member, repainted it and replaced all the drawer pulls. The sweet artwork above the dresser had hung in a friends’ children’s bedroom, and she offered it for the room makeover. And my son E painted the “Georgia” sign for his new baby sister while he was away at camp the week she came early.
My mother gave me this 1950s canopy bed for the girls, and my sister picked out fabrics. Then the incredibly kind (and talented!) Special Spaces volunteers sewed up a new canopy, dustruffle and bedspread, along with the pretty matching drapes. The changing table in the corner was a hand me down from a friend that had been dark brown. It was also repainted for the new room.
My then-11-year old niece created these for her little cousins’ new bedroom.
Another view of the finished bedroom – so pretty!
Fast forward two years. G is now a very active two year old, and C will be 5 years old in two weeks. As you might imagine with two little girls this age in our family, we have accumulated MANY, MANY more books and toys and small plastic things of various types since the room was first completed, and frankly, I’ve totally run out of room for all of it. I have been feeling quite overwhelmed by the growing collection of kid stuff, and that’s led to me allowing their bedroom to become very messy in recent months.
This is what the girls’ bedroom floor looks like at the moment. It’s not a pretty sight.
And we have children’s books overflowing baskets and shelves all over the house .
It’s absolutely, definitely time to update the beautiful nursery-slash-bedroom with some new storage that will work with the look of the room, and that will allow the girls to begin learning to put their things away. (It’s hard to teach this lesson when there’s no place for them to put their things away!) Lately, I’ve been feeling very guilty about the completely disorganized mess in the girls’ beautiful bedroom, and pondering what kind of storage I could add to the room. My criteria are:
1 – Compliments the room’s paint and fabrics. I don’t want a storage solution that “uglies up” their pretty bedroom.
2 – Accomodates both books and toys – including the girls’ larger toys, plus containers full of their small toys like Polly Pockets and legos.
3 – Offers separate spaces for each of the girls so they can learn to pick up and put away their own things.
4 – Accessible to the girls, meaning no tall shelves that might tempt G – AKA: Danger Toddler – to see how high she can climb when I am not looking.
5 – Can’t require being bolted or affixed to the walls. This is because the walls in this room are made of the original plaster from when our house was built in 1910. It’s beautiful, but it crumbles easily, and in order to hang anything like shelves, or bolt a tall piece of furniture to the wall for safety, you have to find a stud in the wall, and if there isn’t one where you want to put something, you’re just out of luck.
In other words, I want something practical, but pretty. As I’ve been actively pondering the storage conundrum in the girls’ bedroom, it seemed quite auspicious when Home Depot asked me if I’d like to shop at one of their stores to solve some storage and organization problem in our actual household, and then blog about how I solved the problem. “HECK YEAH!” was my immediate response.
This is Part I. Read Part II with details of my trip to Home Depot to scout storage solutions that meet my criteria, plus the photographic REVEAL of the girls’ newly organized and tidy bedroom. Woohoo!
And in the meantime, I’d love to hear any storage and organizing tips you have for keeping kids’ bedrooms tidy, especially if your kids share a bedroom, meaning double the stuff in one space. Tell me your best organizing ideas and tips in the comments below.
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)