Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting Ready for Baby Means a Room Redo

We are at 32 days and counting people.
As I have mentioned before, that means frantic cleaning and organizing of closets, drawers and especially the kids' room.
Yes, all 3 of our kids share a room.
That's 2 boys and 1 girl.
And before too much longer, there will be a fourth one in there.
Can you really fit all those kids in one room?
Come see.

This was the big addition to the room.  The Malm dresser from IKEA.
We went shopping in Aaron's art studio to get it, which required a lot of rearranging in there for him, but it was his idea so he didn't mind.
I won't lie--not a huge fan of this piece of furniture.
I don't mind how it looks--clean lines and all that.
But the quality is sadly lacking.
It's IKEA and the truth is, $100 furniture just doesn't have the smooth gliding drawers, the heft, the drawer bottoms NOT made our of cardboard, that we all appreciate in well made furniture.
But we're making the most of what we've got and this is it.
Besides, it's big, it fits the space, has 2 drawers for each kid and most importantly, it got the clothes out of the closet and allowed me to re-organize to my crazy pregnant heart's content.

It also allowed for some redecorating.  
I'll give you a tour.

First, the dresser top.
Being that the room is for boys and girls, I have gone with a woodsy, foresty motif in here.
We all love being outdoors and trees and such, so it works.
Observe the vintage books about trees and insects.
Vintage books make great decorating accessories.

I've been collecting these animals for my kids since they were born.  They usually get one in their stocking and sometimes in their Easter basket of for their birthday.  Each one is marked with a date and name on the bottom so that when they have their own babies, I can pass them along.
I am kind of freakishly sentimental about things like that.  
I love the idea of passing things on.
And these are the kind of toys you can save for the next kids and the next and the next.
All the forest animals have been gathered for out dresser top.
And do you see the birds in the picture above?  I love them!

Here is a decoupage homage to the 3 most important men in my life.  
And that red owl is actually a bank, made from wood, from France.  We gave it to Lil for her first birthday.
Another pass-on present.
Except I kind of want to keep it for myself.  Would it be weird to get another one for me?
You can find it here.  (one of my favorite shops btw)

Moving Lilly's kitchen from this spot meant wall space opening up.
I went shopping in our poster collection and found this one we bought on a trip to Chicago about 10 years ago.
Not kidding.
Vintage reproduction of a Chicago railway sign.
Perfect combo of vintage, bright colors and woodsyness for their room.  
When I hung it, William came in and said, "Mommy, that poster looks great!"
And James said, "and I like how you used different color tacks in each corner."
Kids care about their environment--and it doesn't have to be all cartoon Transformers and Dora the Explorer just because they are kids.  Give them real, beautiful things.

There is also some other art that I made for them.
This collage shows more of the woodsy motif and also the color palette I chose for a boy/girl room.
Turquoise, orange, pink and splashes of red.
Bright, cheerful and so us.

The collage is made on part from photocopied pages of a favorite vintage book.
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.
It is illustrated by Alice and Marin Provensen and it is one of my TREASURES.  
Found it at a used book sale for like a $1.  (see more of their work here)

Other woodsy "art" around the room.  
A birth announcement from a friend whose seriously talented brothers always make her awesome birth announcements, a vintage Sequoia pendant found at a garage sale, and a framed, vintage, squirrel post card which inspired the woodsy motif in the first place.
You can turn most anything into art as long as it looks good.
(one of my favorite decorating tricks--these colored tacks make hanging things with tacks look waaay cuter.  i use them everywhere)

I also like to display a vintage toy or 2.  Remember this one?
It kind of works still, but mostly I love the colors and the art.

Here's Lilly's corner of the room.

Here's her wall of art.  
Another collage made by me with photocopied art from another favorite children's book and illustrator.  (his books are so amazing)
Her birth announcement framed, red polka dot bird hook and a ceramic cuckoo clock from a garage sale.  She has a lot of bird stuff cause I love to put a bird on it!

Her tiny, Snow White and the 7 dwarfs bed is made up with vintage linens: the quilt was an estate sale find for $4 and the pillowcase was made by my great grandma.
I love that.

The boys get the bunk bed.
It's huge but solid and that's good considering all the wrestling that takes place on the bottom bunk.
Wrestling is outlawed on the top bunk.
The orange "packing style" quilts are from IKEA.  I like how clean they look and how easy they are for the boys to tuck into the sides of their bed when they make the bed.
(and yes, we try to make the beds every single morning.  it makes for a saner room and mommy)

I really want more art for their side of the room but have yet to figure out how to hang it along the bottom bunk--due to all the wrestling and feet on the wall all the time.
(do your kids do that?  drives me crrraaaazzzy!)
Laminated posters?

What would a room in my house be without a garland?  
(or bunting or pendants or flags or whatever the heck you want to call them.  i love them and they make me really happy)
Made from paper, not sewn, for all you non sewers out there.  Yes, you too can have a garland.
On Lil's side the garland has more pink papers, on the boys' there is more turquoise.

I also gave the boys a spot to display their Lego creations.
Right now it s makeshift, just the shelves on the top of Lilly's kitchen, but we're going to put up a few more real shelves so they can display their other treasures too: pine wood derby cars, vintage Star Wars glasses etc.

With the addition of the dresser, we had to re-arrange the kitchen pieces.  
The fridge now sits in this little spot.  I admit it's tight, but I think it works.
It is offensive to Aaron's sense of feng shui though, so it might not last.

The main reason for all the moving about and reorganizing was really the closet.
3 kids, all their clothes and most of their toys in one closet was a bit of a disaster.
The clothes especially.
We had them in baskets that were hard for anyone but my oldest to access.
Nothing stayed neat or the least bit orderly.
Thus the dresser.
Now there are just a few hanging clothes and everything else goes in the dresser.  The kids can find their own underwear and jammies, baseball uniforms and play clothes.
It is a better system.

That, I think is the key to having kids share a room.
1.  They can't have a ton of stuff. 
For example, my kids don't have a lot of clothes--I would love to buy them more, but they won't fit and truthfully it's not in the budget.  
And really, they don't need a ton of clothes anyway.

2.  Toys must be organized in some fashion
A lot of those baskets up top are empty.  We still have space for things as we need it.  Others are filled with toys they don;t use often, like the musical instruments.
They know dress up clothes, or weapons go in the baskets on the floor and so they can clean up themselves.
Their massive collection of tiny, Playmobil people and parts are organized by theme into different bins.
They are not supposed to take them all out at the same time.
I know, I'm a toy nazi.
But when you've got knights, pirates, animal trainers and construction workers all strewn across the floor at the same time, you'd turn into a toy nazi too.

3.  Use shelves in the closet for all they're worth.
Aaron retrofitted this closet with lots of extra shelves when we moved in.  By storing almost all their toys in the closet, it frees up space in the room for them to play.
Also, we can close the closet doors and the room is clean!

4.  Get those Legos organized
If you have little boys, chances are you have Legos.
Legos are the bane of my existence.  My boys have a gazillion because their daddy had a gazillion and he saved them all.
In a tribute to my neurosis, I organized them all by color and they are stored in these plastic bins from Target under the bed. (hey, it keeps me off meds.  get off my back)
It actually does work.
When they want to build a fire station, they pull out the red box and build away. 
It's easier for them to clean up by themselves too.
I'm all about helping them do things themselves, have you noticed?

So there you go.
3 kids, 1 room, and a mommy not losing her mind from the chaos that could (and still will) erupt in there.
We are 5, soon to be 6, people living in a not that big house.
We are always looking for ways to make it work without feeling like we are crammed in here.
And most of the time, I don't feel cramped.
Especially when I remember that to much of the rest of the world, we live in a mansion.
It's only here, in the land of the McMansion, that people say things like, "4 kids in a 1950s, 3 bedroom house?  How do you do it?"
I just tell them to read the book, The Color of Water.
Which, incidentally, you should read too.  
No really, I mean it. It's a reality check and it will move you.

Hey, it's almost the weekend!  
Time for me to work on our bedroom and the baby's corner.
The crib is up.  Do you know how hard it is to find turquoise crib sheets?
The hunt is on.
Love from,

PS.  Forgot to tell you the best part. Money spent on room redo: $0!!!  
Shopped my house.
I didn't spend countless hours at my parent's house last Saturday watching HGTV for nothing.  I learned stuff.  


Anonymous said...

Aahhhh!! I crazy-love this room!! Especially those collages--they are all kinds of fabulous-- I'm more than a little enamored with them!. (And your leggo separation system made me grin!)

mygirl said...

love red polka dot bird! love! the room looks great. i love how you are making it work. you are inspiring me to clean my closets.

Adrian said...

I love the organization in this room! Everything seems to fit so nicely...I'm inspired. Oh, and I love the wooden animals. They are precious.

Daph said...

The room is great -- I love the organization! We're moving from a large house to a 3 bedroom apartment, and 3 of our 4 kids will be sharing a room. People think we're crazy, but your post makes me feel much better about making it work. :)

farmgirl said...

Greta! Come organize and decorate my house! I need you! Oh wait, I guess you're a little busy with 3.9 kids right now. Oh well....

hannah singer said...

children's books are my fave.
oh, greta, the room is wonderful. the colors, art and coziness-wow.
thanks for sharing! xo

julie. said...

This is such an amazing room!! I use a similar system for toy organization and I'm much happier for it. My closets work hard.
I have 5 sibs and we always lived in small 3 or 4 BR houses. We always shared rooms and it was fun. By the time I was old enough to want my "own space" the older kids were going off to college and I did get my own room eventually, so it all worked out. :)

Kelly said...

*gasp* Gorgeous! My husband and I are actually thinking of downsizing ourselves and our three boys to an 1100 sq ft, 2 bedroom condo. We've been asked if we're insane, but now I'm loving the idea even more. Thank you for sharing your beautiful results and congratulations on your upcoming tiny one.

Danielle said...

I totally agree that kids don't have to have their own bedroom. Everyone around us thinks you have to havea huge house. I disagree. A smaller home helps keep you closer together I think ~ literally. :) Love your redo.

Danielle said...

I totally agree that kids don't have to have their own bedroom. Everyone around us thinks you have to havea huge house. I disagree. A smaller home helps keep you closer together I think ~ literally. :) Love your redo.

Elise said...

Hey, this is my first time to visit your blog and let me say, I LOVE it!! We also live in a smaller, older home that I LOVE!!! I also have a Lilly, who has two brothers and a baby sister. I found an aqua crib sheet at Ikea, not sure if its as bright as you were looking for or not, though...
Hope you have a great day!!

april@gingerbread girl said...

i love that little red owl!! those bedrooms are adorable and filled with love!

Jami said...

OH I LOVE THIS ROOM! My favorite part is what you said about "giving them lovely things" not just cartoon characters. So creative.

meg + andy said...

This is absolutely, positively one of the most gorgeous, welcoming, freshly made spaces i've seen. I LOVE IT. I love your style and all the sweet "pass ons" and colors/textures. it's just wonderful! Made my day! :)


Shelley said...

i love the vintage book collage art ! i just tossed two books today that I may dig out just for the pictures to make our own collage. thank you for the inspiration.

Debbie said...

I LOVE this!!! You did a great job on their room! We are expecting our third and he or she will be moving right into the second bedroom in our 2/2 condo with his or her older brother and sister. Three in a room, and I'm SO up for the challenge! We don't need a bigger space, we just need to organize it right. Thanks for sharing!!!

Carrie said...

Maybe you could put those wall stickers on the walls by the bunks. That way you don't have to worry about them falling down if knocked into or with any house shakes--they have some great designs that would work for any age group at whatisblik dot com. Could be really fun!

Love the room!

melissa said...

Love this! We live overseas, where there are no of my biggest challenges, so we buy these huge wardrobe units from Ikea. I was amazed at how much fit into it...we're working on redoing our boys little room...and your post gave me some great ideas!

cr said...

Hi! I love you and your sweet creative details. I'm expecting twins and we live in an 896 feet post war ranch 2bd/1bth. We also have a 2 year old. Everyone else is very concerned about how we will all fit, but I think it's cozy and just wonderful. Congrats on your newest addition to your family.

kate said...

I love this post. We live in an older, small home also, have three kids and we are expecting twins any day. Sometimes I think the solution to less crazy is a bigger house, but the reality is, the key is LESS STUFF, and more organization. As you illustrate here beautifully! Nicely done!

ruth holmstock said...

I was living in a one and a half bedroom flat when I had my twins.They shared a cot in the small second bedroom and the hallway was their playspace, with a stair-gate on the kitchen and cabin hooks on rooms they shouldn't be in . Number three arrived exactly two years later and we squeezed the double bed into the small room and had three toddler size cots in the big room leaving lots of floor space.

If you are looking for really cheap wall decoration look at gift wrapping paper, it can be pasted straight on the wall and comes in poster designs as well as wonderful patterns.

Rebecca said...

Hi! I just found your blog thru ohdeedoh and I am inspired! We just moved our family of 6 from a 2 bedroom condo to a 3 bedroom house as we too are expecting a new baby any day now! WE will be a family of 7 in a 3 bedroom and I am still struggling about how to make it all work. I have come to the frustrating conclusion that I will have to buy (or trade) furniture that will better fit our space and needs, but looking at your space has certainly inspired. Thank you! And don't think that a little bit of OCD is a bad thing. I wish I could have a little bit of it! So much of my life is chaotic so I would love to be a little more neurotic. I guess for me it will have to be a learned behavior!

icsparkes said...

THANK YOU! We have a 5yr girl, 4 yr girl and a 18 month boy. We are strategically moving from a 3BR to a 2BR house. I am so tired of all the "3 kids in one room?!, Boys and Girls sharing the same room?!" comments. There is nothing sweeter than peeking in on those 3 faces that all love each other very much : )

woolywoman said...

my son hung a poster on the bottom of the slats- the "ceiling" of the bottom bunk. He can look at it while lying in bed.

I also wonder of a quilt as art might work on the wall? at least it's unbreakable.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe, but: no lamps? Do the readers get clip-on booklights, maybe?

jessicaclarke said...

Love this room you make it look so big. I have 2 boys and will be adding a 3rd (baby is our room now) in one room and am trying to figure out ways to organize and make the space seem larger and less cluttered. Any tips r much appreciated. I also saw the baby's room which was awesome too our room is the same size but for some reason we can barely walk in it now. Also how old were your boys when they got bunk beds? Love your blog as well, I've become addicted

Cozy Island said...

LOVE THIS!!! It positively blesses my soul (if that's not offensively cheesy...)that you have more than two kids in a room!!! We too are fitting three in a room. We have almost the same set up with a bunk and a crib accross. I tacked maps up on the walls by the bunks... but with all the wrestling... I've decided to try using cheap ikea plastic frames for the maps now. The plastic is cheap looking, but we too live on the fault lines waiting for the "big one". Otherwise we'll just put a string up (like your banner) and hang their art from it with clothes pegs. I've done this before but I was worried they would play with the pictures at night... Hope that gives you some more ideas :)

Laura 52 said...

I am so inspired by this post! We have 3 kiddos all in one room and we are debating moving or adding on. I am just coming across this wonderful idea of adding quality and organization instead of space! Everything around us seems to scream that we need more rooms and a bigger house. We plan to have a couple more rooms and will probably add a 3rd bedroom at some point to separate boys and girls. I really appreciate your story of making your house work for your family.

Kate @ BoomerangMama said...

I found your blog via Apartment Therapy, and I love it! It's so great to hear that there are other people out there living in a smaller footprint, with kids, and are happy about it. My husband and I have a 20 month old and just signed a contract on our first home: 2 bedrooms/1 bathroom. It's an awesome 1950s post-war ranch with tons of charm and a great sunroom off the back. And we plan on having more kids. Some people may think we're crazy for buying a 2 bedroom, but it makes sense for us, both financially and family-wise. Keep writing, love hearing about family life in your cool 1950s home. :)

The Happy Mother said...

I know this post is a few years old, but I am hoping you might answer a question for me. I have six kids, two girls and four boys. The fourth boy is getting ready to move into the "big boys' room" and that is how I found your blog. We keep the toys sorted and organized like you do (I even have the legos sorted by color too!) except for Playmobil. That I keep stored in two HUGE buckets. Shame on me for buying large Playmobil sets (we have police stations, castles, pirate ships, etc.). How did you get your Playmobil organized. Did you just keep the different themes separated from the start? Or did you decide to sort them later and have to go back and figure out what pieces went where? Were you able to do this on your own? Or did you have your kids help you? Any advice for taming the Playmobil beast would be appreciated!