Imagine you live in a very small space. Let’s say seven by two meters, to take my own example. Your kitchen and bathroom are in another building, and you even have some space in another trailer for books and guests and piles of things, but those fourteen square meters are where you and the two other members of your family are going to spend the majority of their time. How do you divide it up? How do you make the most of the space? Where do you store shit? Fuck! How is that even possible?
When Pickles was born, she didn’t have her own room. She didn’t even have her own bed. She slept in our bed, and we built shelves with a fold-out changing table and quickly settled into the space as a family of three. You would think you would feel cramped, living in such a small space with so many people, but you would be wrong. It does help if you really like each other though. And did I mention how much money you save when you don’t have to buy any extra furniture? Seems to me that babies don’t need much besides their parents at the beginning. Very young children are generally only expensive if you want them to be.
Now Pickles is almost two, getting bigger and bigger, collecting more and more toys, and kicking us all over our bed. She’s not ready for her own trailer just yet (some kids could deal right away, I am talking her specifically right now), as she still doesn’t like to be far from the parentals, and I would be very very unhappy if I had to get up and go outside every time she woke up during the night, something that still happens at least twice every sleep cycle. But we are ready to start transitioning her into her own bed, and we needed a better system for storing her clothes and toys.
So I got obsessed and started planning a little room for her on the far side of our trailer. One side for her room, one side for the Beard and I’s room. I call them rooms, but there aren’t any dividing walls. Everyone has their own special little space, and when it is time to sleep, we still only have one wood stove to light and tend. (That’s a factor that I see keeping our sleeping room in one trailer for a long time to come.) She’s not spending the night in her own bed yet, but she has started napping or starting the night there.
The last little bobble I needed took forever to arrive (something to keep her from falling out of the lofted bed I built for her). But when we returned from America it was sitting here waiting. I got out the screwdriver and put on the last touches in a few minutes. I remember to take pictures when things were clean-ish. And I am very proud to present to you: Pickles room. In all its four squared metered glory. Turns out four square meter is huge for a two-year old.
And I am going to tell you all about it. But first, behold!
Hanging storage, shelves on both walls, baskets to keep the toys organized. And the bed! I was inspired by images like this one, and lofting the bed helped us keep all the floor space free for toys and playing. Who wouldn’t want a bed that looked and felt like a treehouse? Like a little secret hide out? Like a blanket fort? Every time I put Pickles into her new bed I get a little jealous. The pictures really don’t do its cuteness justice.
The building process. A neighbor had given me his son’s old mattress and part of the bed frame, which I put up on two long legs, attaching the wall-side right to the wall with a few metal “L” bits. The walls are tongue-and-groove boards. Then I painted. The entire room took me one long weekend to set up.
The little window makes me really happy, and Pickles likes to play peek-a-boo through it. She sits up there and reads (it was too dark inside to get a good shot, but there is a small, narrow shelf in there with books) or relaxes with a drink. She’s not a kamikaze baby, so I’m not too worried about her just jumping out, but there is an accordion-like wood thing that I can pull out and secure the “door” with so she can’t fall out by accident. It’s actually meant to keep dogs from leaving whatever room you want to trap them in, and it wouldn’t hold her weight if she decided to throw herself against it, but the point is not that she can’t get out, but that she can’t fall out by accident while sleeping.
I took down the shelves that had been a part of the fold-out changing table, painted them, and put them up across from the new bed. We keep a lot of the small bits—socks, underpants (dude, she suddenly just started potty training herself, a story for another day), and the like—in baskets, and even more of the small bits—cloth handkerchiefs, burp cloths (which are useful for pretty much everything you can think of), small toys—in the hanging net tube pictured below. Everything we have fits perfectly, in part because I make sure I don’t buy more than we can fit on her shelves. Whoever said our stuff grows to fill whatever space we live in was right. And it also shrinks. (Or should, lest madness ensue.)
Beneath the lofted bed are more shelves, both filled with toys and books. Below it I strung two pieces of cord. I laminated a handful of pictures I had printed out at a nearby drugstore, and hung them up with safety pins. Pickles likes to take them down and look at them or play with them. It was cheap (20 cents a print, 7 euros for the laminator at the flea market—though I think you can get this done somewhere for pretty cheap as well), and the string and clothespins were just laying around the house collecting dust. And how fucking cute right? Best part is, we can change the pictures easily and often. And, yeah, more baskets for organizing and because apparently I’m obsessed. (All of which came from the flea market, by the way.)
The space is small, but it is Pickles’ own, and she loves playing in her bed and spreading her toys across every surface in the trailer. But because we finally have a great system, it is easy to stay organized and keep the madness at bay another day. I don’t know what we will do when she outgrows her treehouse bed, but it is going to be a sad day for me. For now, though, we’ll enjoy every second and every square centimeter. Here here!
Questions? To the comments with you!