Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Big Kid Room Reveal

*Warning* - this is a long post. I got a little wordy, but there was lots of info that I wanted to include. Read at your own risk :-). 

Chris and I bought our house back in 2006. It was a fairly typical "starter" home for this area - a new construction on a 1/2 acre lot with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. At the time that we purchased our house, I was pursuing my Master's degree and only working part time. Chris was just 2 years out of college and still building his career. Our budget was fairly limited, but we loved this house and it was plenty of room for the two of us. 

Our house:

Our original plan was to sell this house and upgrade to something bigger within 5 to 7 years. However, as we looked at other houses and considered different options, we ultimately kept deciding to just stay where we are. We had purposed early on in our marriage that I would stay home with our babies once we had them, and we didn't want to lock ourselves into a mortgage that wouldn't allow me to quit my job. Also, we were spending thousands upon thousands of dollars of our yearly budget pursing fertility treatments, so there wasn't much left to save for a bigger place. 

For the first 4 years that we lived here, we had one spare bedroom set up as an office/craft room and the other spare bedroom set up as a bedroom for guests. After finding out we were expecting Brianna, we turned the office/craft room into her nursery and combined the office with the guest bedroom. I remember thinking at the time that we were really squeezing things down to make room for a baby. It makes me laugh now! You can see her nursery here

Then, when we were expecting Bren, we turned the guest room/office into his nursery. We moved the desk into our Master bedroom, got rid of the guest bed, and moved an armoire of my craft things and a bookshelf into the garage. I really felt like we were squeezing things to make room for a second baby. You can see his nursery here

When we found out we were expecting the twinbies, one of our first big decisions that we had to make was regarding where we were going to put these babies. Should we sell our house and upgrade? Should we add on? Should we just stay in the house like it is? We considered all of these options very seriously, but ultimately decided to just stay in our house and make it work. 

There were several reasons for this decision. For one, I couldn't deal with being so sick at the beginning of my pregnancy while selling and buying a house and moving with two littles. Just the thought of it about sent me over the edge. I certainly couldn't think about our house being under construction if we added on. Plus, I personally didn't like any of our options for adding on. Also, we love our lot. It's a 1/2 acre, and we think it's the perfect size. We found there wasn't much available that we liked, was the size we wanted, and that had a larger sized lot. We ultimately decided we weren't willing to give up our big yard for more house quite yet. Another concern was that if we doubled our square footage (which is what we plan to do when we move), how would I keep up with it all and have four littles under 5 years old? Our house may not be large, but I can keep up with the housework and cleaning fairly easily (when I'm not 9 months pregnant with twins, that is :-). 

So, that left us with staying here in our three bedroom house, and making it work for a family of six. Which truly, is not a huge deal to us. People used to raise large families in small houses all the time, and Chris and I feel like it's only in middle/upper class America that we feel like we need 1000 square feet per person. We want our focus to be on:

It's kind of amazing though . . . once we started sharing our news with people, often the first thing people would say is, "You're going to need a bigger house!" Or, sometimes they'd say, "Oh no, your kids are going to have to share rooms." And, I know to many people, having their kids share rooms is not ideal. However, it doesn't bother Chris and me, especially at the age our kids are now. I shared a room for many, many years with my sister, and I personally think that it taught me some very valuable life skills. I mean, if our kids get married then they're going to have to know how to share a room! That's not to say that I think it's bad in any way for kids to have their own rooms. Each family needs to do what's best for them. We just feel like it's not damaging to our kids that they're sharing rooms for now, like some people have implied or said to us. 

We decided to move Brenson into Brianna's room in October. We wanted plenty of time for them to get settled before their lives were turned upside down with two new babies. We had found that Brenson's room made a much better nursery than Brianna's as it is quieter, darker, and stays more temperature regulated, so that's why we moved him and not her.

At first, Brenson wasn't sure at all about giving up his room. However, we stopped calling Brianna's room "Brianna's room" and started calling it the "Big Kid Room". We also involved both kids in the repainting and redecorating of the "Big Kid Room", and made an effort to bring several things of Brenson's over from his room to make him feel like the "Big Kid Room" was his, too. It also helped a lot when Brenson's room was painted  and cribs moved in because it no longer looked anything like his room had looked when he lived in it. 

Honestly, the transition was very tough at first . . . tougher than I had anticipated it would be (which made me super thankful that we did it so early). I've mentioned on here before that the kids' bunk beds came in about 6 weeks later than we thought they would. After we painted the Big Kid Room, we didn't have anywhere ideal for the kids to sleep during the time we were waiting for the furniture (we had sold Bren's crib, given away Brianna's double bed mattress, and turned her bed back into a crib for the babies' room). Ultimately, we decided to have them both sleep on a crib mattress on the floor of the Big Kid Room. Brenson was used to sleeping on a crib mattress as he was moving from a toddler bed, but Brianna had been sleeping in a double bed for several years. It was hard for her to learn to settle down on a crib mattress on the floor. 

Bedtime runs pretty smoothly around here. We have a routine that we stick to fairly strictly and it ends with us putting the kids in their beds, turning off the lights, and closing the door. Rarely do we hear from them again until morning. However, when we first started having the Bs sleep in a room together, it was chaos. They would talk, play, giggle, get out of bed, fight, move their beds together, etc. We were in and out and in and out of their room trying to get them to settle down. We tried so many different things, and nothing seemed to work! They didn't care about positive reinforcement or punishment. It was just something we all had to get through. There were several nights that they were up for hours past their bedtime. I remember one night it was past 11:00pm before they finally settled down! Chris and I were very frustrated! We started to dread bedtime. Also, because they were missing out on sleep, it made for some pretty cranky days. We didn't even attempt to put them in the same room for naptime at this point. Brianna would sleep in our bed, and Bren would sleep in the Big Kid Room for nap. So at least we still had that. 

I would say that the bedtime chaos went on for close to two weeks. We were seriously beginning to doubt whether this was going to work when the novelty of it finally wore off and the kids went back to their good going-to-bed and sleeping habits. And not a moment too soon! We were at our wits end with the whole thing. When the bunk beds finally arrived and were set up, we had one night of things not going too smoothly (the first night, just because the kiddos were so excited), but after that they really settled in and things have been good since. The bunk beds actually really helped curb the bedtime shenanigans because each child has their own space . . . and they can't see or touch each other while in their beds. They are not permitted on each others' beds either (during awake or sleep time), so that's helpful as well. 

Okay, after all that jabber, here are photos of their room! Doing a gender neutral room wasn't easy, but it turned out pretty much just like I had envisioned. We are certainly happy with it! 

This is what you see when you first walk into the room. I'm standing in the doorway taking this photo. Brianna sleeps on the top bunk (which has not been an issue at all, and that's somewhat surprising because she sleeps like a wild woman), and Brenson on the bottom bunk. The walls are light gray on bottom and dark gray on top, with all the decor in bright colors. 

Going counter-clockwise around the room from the doorway, on the first wall we have Brianna's dresser that her Grampy built for her and a small reading corner. 

I wanted to do a collage wall over the dresser, and this is what I came up with. Of course, we love Where the Wild Things Are around here, so the framed prints and the large canvas are all Where the Wild Things Are themed. The canvas was purchased at Hobby Lobby and the framed prints are printables I purchased from Etsy (frames from Wal-mart). The two colorful canvases are Brianna and Brenson's original artwork that we made about a year ago with watercolors, salt, and Elmer's glue. They were THRILLED to have their own artwork on their wall! The things on Brianna's dresser are a lamp, a couple of special dolls that she doesn't play with, a jewelry tree, and her Precious Moments Birthday Train. 

These printables from Etsy were about $3 to $5 apiece, and I even had the seller customize them for me!

I purchased the lamp base at Lowe's and covered the lampshade in fabric and ribbon that I liked for the room.

Next to the dresser is what we call the Reading Corner. The kids LOVE to sit here and look at books individually. Sometimes, when they just need to regroup or calm down (Brianna, especially), I'll send them to the Reading Corner and it works like a charm. 

On the wall opposite the door, I hung this clock and name banner that were in Brenson's nursery. The name banner is one I made for his first birthday party, but the pennants were brown. After the party, I hung it in his nursery because the colors matched perfectly. However, I didn't care for how the brown looked with the gray walls, so I re-backed the letters in gray chevron paper. I love the way it looks! And Bren loves having his name up in the room!

Next to that are the end of the bunk beds and the window. I had a lot of trouble finding a curtain that I liked, was the look I was going for in the room, and that was in my price range. I found this fabric shower curtain at Target, and asked my Mom to make it into a curtain for their window. She did a great job of course, and I was thrilled with how it turned out! Plus, as an added bonus, it only cost about $20! Yes, please!

I also struggled with what to do about bedding. I ultimately went with plain, double sided, brightly colored comforters (found at overstock.com) and cute printed sheets (the ones on the beds in these photos are from Wal-mart!). I initially looked and looked for coordinating printed comforters, but everything was so busy. We are very happy with the plain colored ones! Brianna's name banner is one that I made for her 3rd birthday party and it goes perfectly in the room.

This little sign that hangs above her pillow is something she made in Bible class one night. I thought it was cute and needed to go in the room. 

Next to the bunk beds is Brenson's dresser that his Grampy built for him. On top of his dresser is a coin bank and a framed photo of him at his first Halloween. Also notice the cute little "bed bags" hanging off the sides of their bunks. These are little fabric bags with pockets that my sister made them for Christmas to put a few things in to have them handy while they're in bed. It works great for Brianna as she isn't napping very long anymore (she's soon to be 5 years old), so when she wakes up she can grab something (books, toys, etc) out of her bed bag and still have quiet time without disturbing me or Brenson or {soon!} the babies.

We go to lots of places where the kids make crafts . . . Bible class twice a week, Library story time, Miss Shelly's, etc. I decided that they each needed a little memo/cork board to hang all their crafty things on so we could enjoy them for a bit. I purchased these at Hobby Lobby, and the green framed one is Brenson's while the teal framed one is Brianna's.

The final wall is home to the closet, a small bookshelf, and the doorway to the room. 

Above the closet doors, I hung this cute caterpillar that Brianna got in bible class. She put the circles on as she learned the books of the New Testament, and she loves this thing. I actually tried to get rid of it, but she wanted it in her room. I think it looks pretty cute in there!

This is what the inside of their closet looks like. Combining two closets this size into one was no small task! However, I felt like I was pretty successful. Bren's hanging clothes are on the lower bar while Brianna's are on the higher bar. As you can see, their larger toys (the ones that we kept, that is) are on the shelves and in the toy box that my dad built for me when I was a child (it even has my name routed into it!). We also hung hooks for their little backpacks that they take on long car trips and to some church services. On the very top shelf are blankets and a few toys that they've outgrown but we're keeping for the babies.

I also asked Chris to get my dad to help him build two cubby shelves last September (one for the Big Kid closet and one for the Babies' closet). The little cubbies hold all the smaller toys such as Brianna's My Little Ponies, Barbies, Magic Clip Princesses, Brenson's cars, etc. I purchased the bins at Home Depot.

Between the closet and the doorway to the room is just a small space, but it's perfect for a little bookshelf. We have one in each of the kids' rooms . . . this one with the bigger kid books and the one in the babies' room with mainly board books.

On the white ledge shelf, I put a couple more framed prints from Etsy, a couple little photo clips, and the No More Monkeys sign.

The photo clips were actually just clear plastic, so I made the B squares and slipped them in. I think they're cute!

This pennant banner I made for the Bs' birthday party a couple of years ago. We also used it in their yearly photo shoot that year. I had to cut down the pennants and the length of the banner to make it work in this space, but I love that we've gotten so much use out of it! And, it coordinates with their name banners on the opposite side of the room, so I feel like it ties it all together.

This is sitting on the white bookshelf. I made it for Bren's nursery and just couldn't part with it. Also on top of that bookshelf is Brianna's coin bank and their humidifier.

One last look at their room from the doorway:

It's been about four months, and Brianna and Brenson love sharing a room so far. They always played together in one room anyway, so it's working out well. We have been making a concerted effort to give them some alone time since we moved them into one room. I mean, they rarely ever spend time apart now since neither of them go to school yet. Oftentimes, when they are having a day full of bickering and fighting, Chris will take one of them to run errands that evening and I'll keep the other home with me. It's amazing how much that helps them like each other again! Also, about one day a week, I'll let Brianna skip nap and that gives them some time apart as well. 

One last thing: We do plan to eventually upgrade to a larger house so that Bri and Bren are not sharing a room when they are older (since they're opposite sex, we don't really want that). For now, however, this arrangement is working out well!


Heather V said...

You will be so glad you waited on a bigger house! The first thing we did when we found out we were having Cohen is put our home on the market and started searching for a larger home. Little did we know our house sold in 3 weeks and we hadn't found a place yet! It was stressful to say the least. Now I can't keep up with both levels and I have to choose what floor I want to clean first. Needless to stay upstairs stays messy! Also having the kids bedrooms upstairs is inconvenient. All I want now is a home I can keep clean. Great job on their gender neutral room! They will have a lot of fun sharing a room while they are little!

Jordan said...

So glad room sharing is working out for you!!! And the room looks great, it's perfectly neutral with plenty of color

Steve Beliveau said...

It's really nice to know that you have been building up your home well, and that you are continually keeping track of all its areas and parts on your mind. You should always give your home a close and most intensive look, especially if there comes a time that you either have to sell it or pass it onto future generations, such as that tyke who is about to inherit a really excellent room. Thanks for giving us a tour! All the best!

Steve Beliveau @ First Class Inspections

Erin and Ryan said...

Wow! I love it!