Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pause... Redesign

I am halting Touring Tuesdays for two weeks. If you hadn't noticed, my boys' bedroom was not very popular. I like it, my boys like, it, but most of you all don't. I decided it might be fun to have a little contest.

I've been wanting to redecorate the boys room in a transportation theme (cars, trains, planes) for a while now, but the blog has sucked up most of my creativity. I like redecorating and am open to new ideas, so I'm going to let you redesign my boys' room.

I am setting a $50 budget for the redesign. I'm thinking most of what I get will be from Craigslist or homemade, so how you use the budget will mostly be guesswork. You can look at online retailers, though, and see if there is anything there I might be interested in. I am decently handy with a needle, paintbrush, and a hammer, so I if you have some neat furniture or artwork ideas, submit them and I'll see what I can do.

The room is 6'x8'. The crib that is currently in there is 30"x56", but I'm strongly leaning towards scrapping it for an alternative, mattress-free sleeping arrangement, something like this, or this, or this. The window, which is behind the blue wall of rugs, must be able to be opened, so there can't be shelves in front of it, but there could be a futon or something. It has rugs over it because 1) the window is a little drafty and 2) the view is into the hallway.

What needs to be in the room?

  • A place to sleep
  • A place for toys
  • A place for clothes
Things to keep in mind:

  • There are two little boys sleeping in there now. A baby will soon be added, but we have a pac-n-play that we could set up in our bedroom until he is ready to graduate to a big-boy bed.
  • The toy collection expands and contracts. People give us stuff and we give stuff away. Nothing is set in stone, so the arrangement needs to be flexible. Also, I have found a potential spot for the largest toys, currently on the wall, in our bedroom.
Next week, I will pick up to five of my favorite submissions and you all can vote. The winner will recieve a $25 Amazon.com giftcard, puchased with swagbucks. (I may make my own submission and if mine wins, the runner-up will get the prize.) I will then resume Touring Tuesdays. When the tour is over, I will post pics of the new room.

You can either draw out your idea and email it to me me, or you can send me a written description, with product links if you want. Officials entires must be sent via email (under1000permonth@yahoo.com). If people have suggestions but not a whole entry, put them in the comments and someone else might win thanks to your great idea. There were also some great suggestions in the comments of the original post of My Boys' Room.

Please, if you have an idea, make a submission. You might be the only one who submits anything and then you'll win!

UPDATED TO ADD: I am not allowed to paint the walls.

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Anonymous said...

Emily - What a great idea!

I will caution you agianst getting one of those kids' fold out sofas (like the Cars one you linked to). We have one just for sitting on,and it lost its shape pretty quickly. I think you will be better off with one of those sleeping mats instead.

Good luck!

Plumbob said...

I understand that your space limitations are probably a big reason for avoiding mattressed beds, but what about health and comfort? Surely growing spines need a little more support than the rubber camping mat or spongey kiddy couch.

What about bunk beds?

Daisy said...

What a great idea to have your readers do the hard work for you. Redesigning that very small room to meet your needs is going to be very difficult and time consuming. I don't think it's worth $25 to me considering the time needed to plan, draw out, and conduct internet searchs for storage solutions and bedding arragements. Hopfully, you'll have some readers not too busy in their own lives that can help you out. Looking forward to seeing the new and improved room.

Emily said...

Plumbob, my oldest is too young to be on a top bunk, and I want to avoid mattresses because the chemicals used in them can create a toxic mold that could be related to what happened to my son.


Daisy, maybe you didn't notice, but when I wrote about the boys' room the first time, everyone was jumping to redesign the room for me.

Plumbob said...

I had never heard that theory before, but the link you provided does not advise against mattresses altogether but suggests protective covers for mattresses. Surely that is a good compromise between the need to offer proper support while avoiding what you consider to be an undesirable risk (understandable considering your son's terrifying experience).

As for the danger of bunk beds, why not single beds? If two cannot fit in the boys room maybe it is time to switch rooms or move to a larger home. Kids may not need their own individual rooms, but I think every kid deserves a comfortable place to sleep.

Emily said...

Plumbob, the covers are preventative. If the mattresses already have it, I'm not risking it. As far as switching rooms, 2 people sleep in the small room, 3 in the large room. There are less than 100 pounds of people in the small room and close to 300 pounds of people in the large room. Switching does not make sense. And comfortable cannot be defined, as everyone has their own standards.

Princess Jo said...

Emily, just a quick question: didn't you just say the baby was going to be moved into the current boys room?

Wouldn't it then be 3 in the small room and 2 in the big?? I am slightly confused as to why you adults are in such desperate need of the large room: wouldn't it be more sacrificial/loving of you to give up that space for your growing children? Particularly as you are planning more: in which case it would surely be easier to make the switch now.

Comfort is indeed a personal thing: but to me, the comfort of my children would come first over my own. I guess I am saying the comfort needs of my children (to me), would be higher than what I would expect for myself. I would much rather give my multiple children the large room and keep the smaller for myself.

But hey, that is me, and not you. I just thought I would point out that to a lot of people switching would make sense.


Emily said...

Jo, I also said the baby could stay in our room until he is ready for a big boy bed. Most likely, we won't be staying in this apartment when we have more children. Also, even with the baby in the small room, it is close to 300 lbs of people in the big room and under 100 lbs of people in the little room. There will be no switching at this time.

Carla said...

When I first saw your post, "Hammocks" popped into my mind. That would be a great solution if they were older but I know it wouldn't work with littles.

For toys, how about standing popup mesh bags/totes. When my kids were smaller, I bought several for $5 and under at our local department store. They're great for dragging toys between rooms and good for quick cleanup. There are also hanging ones like this (just an example) http://www.amazon.com/Idea-Nuova-Tinkerbell-Hanging-Storage/dp/B0012YQCZK but you can also get larger ones in all shapes and sizes. I like that they're soft sided and can fit the space that you have.

For my daughters room, we have a small shelf at her level which has 4 or 5 hanging hooks. From these hooks we hang gift bags which are filled with her craft and school items. She likes to rearrange them and change the contents time to time :)

For decor, I'd put a request in through Freecycle. If your boys are interested in Cars, there are always children outgrowing toys and room decor. You may be able to snag some curtains, leftover border as you would not need much or perhaps even wall decals. Seconds at a hardware store or you may even luck out at a dollar store. Ours is starting to carry large wall decals and border as well as other decorative items.

Andria Stanley said...


I too, would advice against the fold-out couch. My two year old barely fits to the end of those. (Check the dimensions... They aren't as big as they look.)

I belong to an AP group here in Austin, and they are alllll about natural things. Many buy pillow covers, and stuff the inside with buckwheat organic hulls from Natural Grocer. Maybe you could make, or buy a mattress cover, and stuff it with something organic, such as the hulls? They sell for less than a dollar a pound.
You could also do organic cotton filling, like Compostable Goods has.

It would be safer (from a SIDS standpoint, where you are coming from), and more comfortable than the sleeping mats.

Lize said...

Hi Emily,
My fiance slept on something similar to the first "this" above. He didn't last very long because if you sit/lie on it when it's folded out, it kind of moulds to your body shape and doesn't provide much support. It actually became very uncomfortable. After his sleeping arrangements changed, I slept on it, and it was quite uncomfortable.
Long story short - if you can, sit on one (when it's unfolded) for a while and see how it goes. It might be different to his, but I just thought I'd pass on my experience. It is hard to tell just from a photo.
Also, your boys are little so possibly wouldn't have the same problem because they don't have enough body weight to change the shape.
Hope that makes some kind of sense. I tend to babble when I type.
Hope you are all well.

Anonymous said...

With your concerns about the dangers of using a mattress, will you and Dan be switching to a mat also?


Emily said...

Andrea and Lize, I was think of using two foam bed tops with a sheet over them. I could cut them and sew a cover so that they could fold into a seat, or just have them on the floor flat.

Anon, it is the chemicals in baby mattresses that pose the most risk.

Daisy said...

I agree with Jo. I've seen "large" families in one bedroom apartments that give the only bedroom to the kids while the parents sleep on fold-out or blow up mattresses in the living room. Anyways, yes, I realize many people commented on your boys' bedroom but having a few suggestions or critizisims off the top of your head to add to a quick comment is a lot different than asking others to do the job of a interior designer including but not limited to architecturally drawing out detailed plans to fit in your specified deminishions involving design, structure and storage solutions with your tiny budget in mind. I'm just saying that's a lot to ask of people who don't have a personal investment in your children's lives or living conditions all for $25 bucks. But, like I said I hope someone is willing to help, that would be great for you and your boys.

Princess Jo said...

Emily, I was not referring to weight at all. Even if I was to look at it that way, kids GROW. An adult's weight/height is somewhat stable. I was looking at the sheer numbers of people involved.

Kids usually play and are very active in their rooms (and this seems to be true of your kids as well): whereas adult's activities in a bedroom (ie reading/sleeping): are usually all things that can be done on the bed, therefore adults usually require less space.

And honestly, it comes down to you: why are you so threatened by the idea that you cancel it out completely? Like I said, it is your family to do with as you wish. But equally you have opened yourself up to this: you asked people to come up with alternative arrangements: consider this is just one. Without doubt, you will also receive more critical, harsher comments and ideas than mine.

Emily, it is your right to be offended at times at what people write about you and yours. But equally, you cannot blame them for picking apart your posts etc: after all, you have the right to choose what you put out out there.


Maureen said...

Emily, what about investing in a futon/sofabed for the living room? Then, you would have two options: you and Dan could move out to the living room and have all three boys in the bedroom or you could have the boys sleep on the futon.

I know you said that you don't want to switch rooms, but this is what *I* would do. I would get a nice futon from Ikea, and put it in the living room for my husband and me. I would buy an inexpensive trundle (a for real trundle) bed for my preschooler and toddler. The infant can stay in the PackNPlay.

And then, I would convert the "small room" to a library, moving the books into there. Maybe there could be room for a desk, making the room a little office.

I would also like to humbly suggest that you look into the possibility of night diapers until the boys are fully trained. You are going to want to protect the solution you choose (i.e. nap mat) from urine. It takes kids so much longer to become night trained. Kids who have no trouble staying dry during the day often have accidents at night. Sometimes, the issue is a medical one, and no amount of training or willpower can make a child not wet the bed- they have to outgrow it.

Emily said...

Jo, the opposite is true for us. Our kids play in the living room and our room. Their room is for storing their stuff and sleeping. That's how we like and that's how we're going to keep it. We all take naps together in the big bed in the big room. We all snuggle before bed in the big bed in the big room. We are not switching.

goodheartedmommy said...

Would you want to sleep on a mat permanently? If you want that arrangement, please do the decent thing and let your boys have your bed and sleep on that mat yourself.

Check out this link. It prevents the off-gassing from a mattress.


Anonymous said...

You should look at any decorating sites used by Japanese moms. The apartments there are very small and the Japanese make an art of fitting/storing what a family needs into a small space. You might get an idea or two.
Mrs B.

goodheartedmommy said...

Also, the covers are not preventative. They work on existing mattresses. Perhaps you need to do some more research.

Anonymous said...

Without having dimensions with door and window, it's a bit more difficult. This is what I'd suggest though.

Along one long wall, build an 8' long, 28" wide bed frame. Build it just high enough to fit underbed storage for clothes/toys. Buy something like the double foam mattress topper I'll link to and cut in in half. You'll have 2 mattresses, which can be cut down to fit the long bed. You can make custom sheets with whatever fun transportation fabric you can find at a good price.


The packnplay should then fit along the rest of one of the short walls. Along the remaining long wall, buy/freecycle/build/repurpose 12" shelves at a height Daniel can reach for the rest of the toys/clothes.

Use some peel and seal caulking to deal with the drafty window for winter. Make some curtains from transportation themed fabric.

On the floor, get a transportation themed rug from one of the hardware stores. We have 2 in our basement for our kids, and they've been used for the past several years.

sara said...

Fun Contest! I'll have to measure my own son's room, I bet its similar in size :) I like the alternative bed ideas! As for clothes-we found a nice tv cabinet at a thrift shop for $10 and painted it white-my girls use that as their dresser-its actually pretty cool looking! I love thinking 'outside of the box' :)
sara http://myfrugalfunlife.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Emily, would you please explain the weight issue in regard to switching the rooms. I'm not getting the connection. Thanks.


Thusa said...

Do you have an IKEA near where you live?

Anonymous said...

6x8 is a fairly small room. I think my boys' twin beds are approx. 6" long. My first thought was a bunk bed with a double mattress on the bottom and a twin on top. Three small kids could sleep "longways" down the bottom and once older, the eldest could sleep up top. Storage drawers could be fashioned for under the bottom bed. However, I don't think your current bedroom would accomodate that.

I then would likely go to the option of roll away futon mattresses (similar to use in Japan). There are good quality organic ones but these will not be cheap and will certainly blow your budget out of the water. I am not particularly handy so I don't know if they can be made for less. I agree that the cheaper mattreses you posted above are likely not going to work for long term use and they are most likely to have been made using chemicals that concern you. The second mattress we have used camping and it is really just meant as a barrier between you and the ground. I wouldn't want it for a long term sleep option. Cheaper foam will bottom out quickly so invest in good quality foam if you are going that way.

I must admit that if it were me I would likely put the boys in the large bedroom with bunks and move hubby and I to the LR with a fold out futon. But that is me.....and not you. I do admit that I find your quick dismissal of the idea somewhat perplexing because it seems to me to be one of the most logical options that promotes comfort for all family members. But again, you must have your reasons for choosing something else.

I guess the final thought is simply a double bed with the three boys sleeping longways and the use of an opposite wall for floor to ceiling storage (with shelves firmly affixed to the wall and storage bins perhaps). This allows for storage and sleep and since the boys tend to play elsewhere perhaps that would work.

Good luck. I am looking forward to hearing about the final result.

Daisy in Ontario (different than above Daisy)

Princess Jo said...

Emily, you do know that if crib mattresses contain chemicals etc, there is a high probability that your adult mattress contains the same chemicals (if not worse) as well? Kids mattresses do have manufacturings standards: at least they do here in Australia. So maybe you all need mats of some description.

I am pretty certain and if you swap rooms your bed wouldn't automatically get any smaller: meaning of course, you could still all snuggle before bed/during naps.

Unless of course, your reluctance is due to the fact that your bed wouldn't fit in the smaller room: in which case you have a big problem!!! Any kids room (with multiple children) that cannot hold a double/queen bed is, to my way of thinking, far too small to hold multiple children, even it is only for toy storage and sleeping.

Emily. Please. Think of your children and their right to comfort.

Embrace the advice: you asked for it, and you are getting it. Just because it is not the advice you wanted, doesn't make it any less valid.


sue said...

I agree with Anon 8:32am - we need the dimensions of the door and window. How high is the window off the ground? How far into the 8 feet is the window?


Our Family Is His said...

Can you give us room dimensions, draw a basic outline of the room (outline, where the door is, the windows, etc) so we can give our perspective? Without those, no one can truly advise what might fit because we can't tell what will go where.

Don't forget freecycle. With that you can double or even triple your buying power because of how much you can get free.

Anonymous said...

WHile you have a crib in the room you may want to move some large bins under the crib. I made a longer bed skirt that reached the floor and used under the crib for storage-this created room elsewhere that I could use for things that needed to be left out all the time.
a hanging shoe rack over the back of the door would allow for pockets to put small toys or something else in.
do some research on bedding recommended by montessori schools for shildrens rooms. Al ot of what I have seen is similar to your idea for a mat of some type on the floor that allows the child in and out of bed without injury. They also recommend paring down a childs items to what they could care for themselves-which isn't much for a three yo like I have. I think you will find solutions like that to be the ones you use the longest.

Anonymous said...

here is a link with some fancy versions of a montessori bedroom style

you don't have to post my comments :)

Julie said...

I would like to respectfully say that there is no possible way of designing a room that small to fit that amount of stuff. And most of us would not want our own children to sleep on foam mats, nor would they want your children to either.

Now if money was not an option I would recommend one of these space saving beds. My son sleeps on one, but I live close to the factory and was able to buy a second.

Emily said...

I thought that the 8 pictures I put up in the original post showed pretty clearly where the door and windows were? The window is behind the blue rugs, the door has the Johnny-Jump Up in it.


Elle said...

How about a real single matress then if you're opposed to the baby ones.

I've slept on the fold out futons when I first moved into my flat they suck. You need support for your back and they just don't provide it. And those camping rolls aren't meant to be used every day as a real bed. A thin layer of foam can only do so much.

Think of it this way. Would you sleep on an inch of foam padding on the floor and be comfortable? If it isn't good enough for you Emily then it just isn't good for your babies. If you have your heart set on not allowing them a matress then you could put all the boys on your bed and test run their room for a week.

http://www.bedexpert.co.uk/advice/medical-advice/ -Link on problems associated with poor quaility beds.

http://www.which.co.uk/advice/choosing-a-cot/buying-a-mattress/index.jsp -pros and cons of different matresses.

Amber said...

We have those Cars couch things and they are not a good idea for a bed. A child could easily suffocate in the corner as the material is loose. Please do not use those as beds for your children... especially since they really aren't even big enough to stretch out on. My 3.5 year old is too long for it!

I think that the 50.00 fold out mat thing is a better option than the hard, foam sleep mat. Seriously... if you're going to make your children sleep on the floor, more or less, then perhaps YOU should get rid of your own mattress and sleep on a mat on the ground, too. But obviously two of those fold out mats will be over your budget... but there's no way that two kids will fit on one.

Anyway, the only idea I have right now is to buy new or get a twin mattress from craigslist or Ikea (I think the one we have from Ikea was 120 and Levi sleeps on it on the ground, no box spring or anything), and have them share it.

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

I'm sorry, Emily, but you're reading that SIDS link backwards.

The chemicals that could be in the mattress don't cause toxic mold. Household molds could THEORETICALLY interact with the chemicals to give off a toxic gas.

What you are talking about doing is sacrificing the mattress with the theoretical chemicals in favor of solutions that could still grow the mold, which can be toxic without the presence of chemicals.

You can buy a test kit that will see if your home has toxic mold spores. It's about $20, but I think it would be a great investment, and really one you should see if your landlord would handle, as removing toxic mold is the property owner's job and has to be handled in a very specific way.

AnnMarie said...

My 5 year old doesn't need a bed at all. Nor any of those mats. She prefers to sleep on the floor. Sometimes with a blanket underneath, but usually only if we put it there. She usually just gets up in the middle of the night (or before falling asleep) on her own and lays down on the floor with a blanket on top. So, you could use nothing but blankets.

Of course, other readers would probably think that just awful. But really, beds are not a requirement for sleep!

Anonymous said...

Emily, how far from the floor is the window, is the room 72 inches across or a fraction wider?


sara said...

ok, just took a peak at the other posts pictures and what really stands out to me is all the stuff-I'm a minimalist at heart and my kids have a total of two bins of toys (three kids), if it doesn't fit in one of those bins, its in the garage sale pile :) Are you going to be weeding some of the stuff out? That will make a difference in how the room is decorated/set up. If your keeping it all in the room, then I have to factor that into my design :) My girls share a rubbermaid bin of their toys (stashed in the closet-which we all share!), and my son's toys are in the wood hope chest my hubby gave me when we got engaged :)
sara http://myfrugalfunlife.blogspot.com/

frugalredneck said...

Emily, At times on your blog it seems you can't win for losing. I think this redecorating contest is a great idea. Ignore the rest. I am not sure that I would be of help to you against your readers, My 5 year old boys sleep on twin mattresses on the floor, I think any ideas I gave you would also be ripped apart by readers, But good luck, I hope they don't rip you too much, It must be so really hard for some of them to live each day so Environmentally and Parentally and Everythinally perfect, Whew I am too lazy for that I guess. Michelle

AnnMarie said...

Okay, this is even funnier because I just read the Elle post above the comment box. I know you know, Emily, but seriously....it's only in Western 1st world countries that everyone sleeps on $1000+ mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. People survive just fine on just blankets, not to mention thin mattresses like your links. ;-)

Anonymous said...


I have never posted a comment on a blog before but am feeling it necessary now. I am shocked at your desire to get rid of a mattress/bed for your children to sleep on. It is beyond my comprehension that you truly believe it is OK.

It is well known that sleep is a key element for children to be healthy. Children (in fact all of us) need DEEP and RESTFUL sleep. How well could a child sleep on a sleep mat? This is an OK solution for a nap but for every night I can't imagine it is good for a child. Would you enjoy sleeping on one of those 'alternatives'? I know that I would not.

I understand your desire to live simply and while it's not the lifestyle I choose, I respect your choices. What I don't respect is that you seem to be wanting to live that lifestyle regardless of how it might affect your children's lives.

You may want to have more children but you can barely fit the three you have in this apartment. Children need more than you understand, in my opinion. Give your children EVERYTHING it takes to be healthy and not just what you care to spend.

Emily said...

Lori, it is the chemicals in the mattress that causes the mold to give of the toxic gas, not the mold itself. I'll talk to my landlord about testing though. Thanks for the tip.

AnnMarie, I find my son on the floor half the time as well. I think he might get up and play then fall asleep right where he is. Too cute!

Sara, some have been weeded, but not most. Blocks, books, cars and balls are all must haves. I might be able to talk my husband into putting the stuffed animals in storage...

Anonymous said...

As a mother of 4 children I think you are selfish to put your children on the floor while you sleep on the comforts of a mattress. If you feel the need to get rid of a mattress why not get rid of all of them...


Anonymous said...

I think I would go with a double bed mattress and raise it off the floor a bit. It needs air circulation to keep from getting damp & the structure( which you might be able to build), would give some support. Also, you could end-for-end at least 6 small children onto that bed. If the boys don't play in their room, perhaps find another spot to put their toys. That would free up some room.


Anonymous said...

Emily, I also need to know what are the dimensions of the wooden hanging shelves, the wire ones, and how many milk crates do you have in your house that I can use?


Meesh said...

Emily, I love the idea of the contest, but it looks like you've already made up your mind that your boys will not have an actual mattress. What a shame. If it were me, I would find a regular sized twin bed, possibly at a vendor's mall or ikea, and use a regular twin mattress. I've never heard of chemicals in mattresses, but a protective cover should be fine. Millions of people use them and are perfectly fine. Unless the doctors have told you it was probably the mattress, I wouldn't worry about it. You have no evidence his illness was caused by mattress chemicals; it's just as likely it was caused by mold from the mattress that was on the floor.

I just think your boys deserve a more comfortable bed than some foam on the floor. Particularly the second link you posted above --yikes! -- it just looks like a yoga mat! Not comfortable for everyday sleeping. Also, remember with something like the futon, they're going to outgrow that pretty quickly. (I'm assuming you'd put both boys on one?) Being frugal means watching your pennies AND your dollars, and a small futon is not a good investment, but I think two toddler boys could sleep on a twin bed together (one at each end) comfortably for several years.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

i would get rid of 90% of the stuff in the room. then get twin beds and put them on the floor with no frames (in case they fall off) i would get cheerful matching linens from walmart. my kids have red, white and blue OP bed sets.

this is pretty much how my boys room is. we live in 1000 sq. feet with 3 kids and 4 dogs.


chickennon said...

I really like cotton futon mattresses - while they do have the baddie chemicals in cotton, they don't offgas for anything near as long as new foam mattresses. (And I think this contest is a good idea - separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, as to "helpful comments" from people who really want to be helpful, and "helpful comments" from people who are rubbernecking.) Unfortunately my comment is going to make me mostly chaff, as I have to start from a room outline to get anything done! But the way I see it, your primary problems in here are crowding (as far as toys and possessions), cleanliness (I'm not saying it isn't clean now, but you need something that's easy to keep very clean), and air circulation. True Japanese-style futons, or other solutions that can be rolled up or folded up every day, might allow you to get the room really clean a couple of times a week, which would really help your mold concerns. Here is a link - now, do you have somewhere where you can sun a futon? Maybe on top of a car once a week? Are you and Dan handy enough to build a platform to keep it off the floor that is sturdy, maybe just six inches up so that the falling risk is small?

I really encourage you to take measurements and post a line-drawn plan of the room - you'll get a lot more respondents. Also, I know you're very interested in how people live in developing countries, and in America historically. I do want to point out that the strongest predictor of children's health in many of these countries and historical periods is how much time they spend outside, since inside is often crowded, with poor air circulation, wood smoke, mold problems, etc. Since your main room looks big and bright, with plenty of air movement, I think your point that the children don't play in there much is a good one. If there's a way to get more of the toys out there, and use the small room mostly for sleeping, I think it might help you meet your goals for health outcomes. I do want to point out that there's nothing wrong with small children sleeping on harder surfaces - it's healthy for the back, and as long as they're flat, it's pretty congruent with how humans sleep around the world even now. Americans like much softer mattresses than pretty much any other culture.

... If you post a room plan, I'll try to come up with something, because I do love playing with floorplans.

Emily said...

To clarify, I don't want CRIB mattresses. A regular twin mattress is fine.

Anon, most of the world sleeps on the floor, and yet the Western world with mattresses is where people complain the most about sleep.

Lindsay, we have underbed stoprage, but I would call our bed luxurious.

Ethel, The wooden shelves are 2'9" long. The wire shelves are 4' long. You can use as many milk crates as you think would be good. I can also build cubbies and am open to new shelving ideas.

Elle said...

AnnMarie said...

Okay, this is even funnier because I just read the Elle post above the comment box. I know you know, Emily, but seriously....it's only in Western 1st world countries that everyone sleeps on $1000+ mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. People survive just fine on just blankets, not to mention thin mattresses like your links. ;-)
February 16, 2010 9:26 AM

Oh but honey. Do you think those people love sleeping on the floor? Or do you think that if they had the oppourtunities to give their children comfort, beds, clean blankets, sheets and such they'd refuse. This is what Emily is doing.

Holly said...

I usually like you and like reading your blog, but the thought of you making your sons sleep on a mat literally made me sick to my stomach. You say it is because of the chemicals in a mattress. If that is the true reason, then when do you plan to get rid of your mattress and buy you and Dan some napping mats? Have you researched organic mattresses? I haven't researched this, but there has to be another option. Those nap mats are not comfortable and there is no way they offer the support the boys spines need. They are called NAP mats for a reason.

And please do not tell me it has anything to do with money. Making your sons sleep on that to save money when you made an extra $1000 last month from this blog is not right. Please do more research. Please do not do this to your sons.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,

Have you thought of getting Nap/Toddler Cots?


Here is another site where they are a bit different and cheaper.


Either cot is washable and sheets can be purchased or you could probably make them.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Emily - Are you sue you can't paint, even if you paint it back to white when you leave? It seems you've put a lot of holes in the walls already, isn't painting less damaging that holes everywhere?

Unfortunately, I think most people are going to come up with ideas you don't care for.

I too would consider a futon in the living room for you and dan, putting all three boys in your room, and making the smallest room storage/office space.

And I do think you need to declutter. Everything is stored well, but bottom line, it is just too much stuff. I've really found that when I've released my "extra" and leave it up to God, He always provides what I need when the time comes.

Would you and Dan consider getting rid of more things? Most of the world lives in a very little space (as you've pointed out before), but they also have way less belongings than you do.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Emily, you said that you didn't want to switch rooms with the boys but what about just switching beds with them? They could have your mattress, which you said is less harmful and why you are keeping it, and then you and dan can sleep on mats with your baby in the pack and play.

Atheist Mama said...

In response to: "Anon, it is the chemicals in baby mattresses that pose the most risk."

This is simply NOT true. PBDE's/fire retardents are in all non-natural/organic mattress, not to mention furniture in general, and it's just as hazardous for you to be sleeping on a mattress because the toxins get into your breast milk, and then you nurse your babies and they get the toxins and so on and so forth...

So that argument is pretty much null and void. Besides, the offgassing that your mattress or furniture does, especially in such a small place, would still be inhaled/whatnot by the kiddos...it makes no difference who is sleeping on the actual mattress or not.

Really, you guys do need to just suck it up and switch rooms. I get what you are saying about you and Dan being less people but *weighing* more...but...what does that matter, really?

As far as I'm aware, adults need rooms to sleep in and have sex in. Kids, on the other hand, play in theirs. Have tons of toys in theirs. Therefore they need more space.

I did say in your other post that dh and I have a larger room than DD (and ds will be joining her sometime...) and we have no intentions of switching rooms...but thing is, although ours is bigger, it's not bigger by much - and DD's room is still around 12'x10' (or a tad larger, not sure). That's not including the closet in their, either.

So...*that* is enough room for two people. It can fit 2 twin beds plus all the books and toys and craft stuff their little hearts desire...with floor space for play.

I really think you oughta just suck it up and switch...that's just my opinion ;)

Anonymous said...


I admire the way you manage to live on so little. It has certainly given me some ideas on how to save money. I also admire your 'Show me a better way' attitude in this post.
However, you have set an impossible task. There is now way you can redesign this room on $50 because the main issue is the beds and the beds will cost money. Yes there are people in other countries who sleep on mats but is this really what you want for your children? Doesn't it seem a little selfish that you and hubby get to sleep in a bed while your kids have to sleep basically on the floor?
Everything you do for your children is creating memories for them. DO you really want those memories to be 'We slept on the floor so Mom and Dad could keep their savings?'. Dip into it and buy them some bunkbeds with a double sleeper on the bottom. If you look on eBay, you could probably find one for fairly cheap if you are willing to pick it up.

(My name is Tammy - I had to post as anon, it wouldn't let me do anything else)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I need to know how wide the doorway is

Emily said...

chickennon, I am uploading empty specs now, then I'll put some up with furniture and shleving measurements.

Anon, I asked if I could paint when I first moved in, and the answer was no.

chickennon said...

p.s. chemicals of concern are present in all foams that aren't specifically VOC-free, and will be present in foam pads. Do you have a Tuesday Morning or other similar retail outlet nearby? They often sell memory foam bed toppers that are VOC-free; one nice thing about these is that they can be cut down to size. My younger brother - who is a student and had $75 total to make a bed - sleeps on one of these on a plywood support. There is some formaldehyde concern with plywood, but the smell is not anywhere near as bad as a new, low-end mattress. It is very comfortable, and often comes in double, which, if you're planning to have your kids share a bed, is a good thing. It can also be taken outside and sunned, rolled up and put away to use the bed as a desk or play surface, etc.

P.S: flat-out, I'm going to say this - while it's your decision how you interpret your religious views on family planning, I feel like there's firm Scriptural evidence that babies in the Old Testament were being breastfed for long, long periods of time - through three or four years - and amazingly, that's also what most public health professionals will tell you is ideal child spacing, when they look at which children grow up healthy! So there you go; if we were designed, we were designed with a way to make sure each child grows up well before the next comes along built right in. All that's required is making sure babies are still nursing a little before every time they eat, every three to four hours, and bam: most women don't ovulate. I'm sorry if this is an immodest thing to post, and welcome screening if you feel that that's best, but I think it's interesting given your earlier observations about how many families we would call "Quiverfull" look nothing like the Amish.

Anonymous said...

Could you put something like this on the floor and the two boy could share a bed?

Anonymous said...

Actually this one is cheaper with better reviews.

Sue said...

I know where the door and the window are - however you don't want them to be blocked so I am asking how much wall space they take up. They both can come at different widths. Thanks!


Robyn said...

you can make your own natural, chemical-free mattresses for under $35. All you need is fabric and fresh, dry straw:


stack them against the wall during the day for more floor space or build a simple platform and store clothes and toys underneath in bins.

Emily said...

Athiest Mama, As I said, there are more activites happening in our room than in theirs and we have 3 people, they have 2.

Tammy, bedding can be found inexpensively on cragslist and sometimes freecycle.

chickennon, we are planning to breastfeed much longer with Thomas and subsequent babies.

liveoncejuicy said...

When my daughter visits her grandparents, she sleeps on an air mattress. She loves it. I've seen twin-sized air mattresses on sale for $20-$25. They could be inflated and deflated nightly, although I'm not sure if that would decrease it's life span.

These toddler ones are cute, and they get small enough to fit into a backpack.


When I was a kid the most comfortable bed I ever, ever slept in was a stack of quilts when I visited my grandmother.

I definitely see your point about switching bedrooms. My five-year-old, just by the nature of an odd housing design, has a huge bedroom that she is NEVER in. Since my husband works graveyard shifts, she almost always falls asleep with me and is carried asleep to bed by her daddy in the early morning. During the day she pulls whatever toy she wants to play with into the living room so she can be near everyone. My teenagers didn't start really using their bedrooms until they were...well...teenagers.

I think I'd probably just do what I did when my two big kids were small and get a twin bed for the floor. Or some thick foam and cover it. My daughter wasn't comfortable on a high bed, so we always had the bed on the floor. And they shared until they were 4 and 5.

All this shock and awe about bed alternatives is silly, IMO. If the kids are miserable, they can say so and Emily can adjust. I'm assuming she doesn't duct tape their mouths at night. It wouldn't take long to figure out if some alternative is uncomfortable for her children.

(Rather than switch bedrooms, if you were really wanting more space for your kids, you could put them in the living room and move books and a desk and stuff into the small room. That way they can play and spend the day in the same room they sleep in.)

Emily said...

Robyn, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that idea, and may make one for Dan and I, too! I think I could just sew two sheets together to simplify the process and cut costs.

Some asked if I live near Ikea. I am about 2 hours away, but make a suggestion and I might be able to improvise.

Anonymous said...

There are so many differences between us. I really try to understand that everyone lives differently and we need to respect each other. I just can't comprehend a mother who could sleep in a "luxurious" (YOUR word) bed and put her kids to sleep on a thin mat on the floor. I know kids can sleep anywhere and sometimes do. It's cuter than cute. If it's a "global" thing, then it should be good enough for you and Dan. Of course, I couldn't open Christmas gifts if my kids didn't have a decent Christmas and by that I don't think it has to be a fortune spent. The car pan - I understand the thought but really it's more for you. You think it's cool. All the frugality - it's for you. Hoping your husband doesn't remember to ask for snacks. Serving meals without side dishes. For what? I'm sorry - I don't even know what I'm trying to say. Home to me is comfort-and trust me I don't live in a large home. I'm really curious - what is "home" to you?

JennyWLS said...

Is a twin trundle bed set up ruled out as well? I am considering it for my boys and think that it's way more feasible than bunk beds. Plus I like how it can all "hide" during the day, or the boys could sleep in the same bed if they felt like it.


I've seen them reasonably priced just about everywhere: Big Lots, furniture stores, etc. I am only looking to spend about $300 on ours.

Patty said...

Hey, sorry to ask for more specs but how tall are your ceilings? Also in your drawing the "tree" looks bumped out from the wall, is this correct? (B/c if so I have to start over on my plans...haha!)
I think asking for advice is a fabulous idea as collaboration is how a lot of things get done. You may end up picking parts of different designs and creating the best overall that way and I'm cool with that.
Once you put the idea out you never know what you might find. I would suggest you casually mention you are re-doing the boys room in a transportation theme to Dan's co-workers, classmates and your church. You never know if someone was in the process of throwing out XYZ which would be perfect for your needs.
Good luck! (and I'll either be back or be e-mailing you later I think...too fun!)

Emily said...

Anon, sorry, I meant I would NOT call it luxurious. It is covered in duct tape to keep the springs in. Home to me, though, is family.

Patty, the wall is 7'2" tall, yes, the tree juts out.

Ange said...

Hey Emily ~ I have a couple of comments. First, I think MOST of the comments from last week's blog were people genuinely concerned about the safety of your children. It's not that they "didn't like" your design, they just wanted to point out a couple of safety issues.

Secondly, I really like the idea from last week about using the boys' current room for storage, moving the boys into your current room and you & Dan moving to a futon in the living room. However, if you're not planning on being in that apartment for much longer, that would be a giant waste of time and effort.

I agree that it doesn't seem worth the $25 to design a whole room with so many limitations. Why don't you just take all of the many suggestions you've received into consideration, pick out what will work best for your family and use that $25 towards the redesign of your boys' room?

And finally, when our son was very ill as a baby, his pediatrician asked us to remove all stuffed animals from the home. She never once mentioned any reason to be concerned with his matress (which was covered, of course). I think if you're going to remove the mattresses, you should think about removing the big old dusty stuffed animals that are probably carrying way more dust mites and chemicals than any of your mattresses. I'm assuming the big dog in the bathroom was won at a carnival, originally, and I'm almost sure you said you got it at a thrift store so who knows what kinds of creepy stuff is lingering inside him. ;-)

I also have a random question: What about a pet? You may have already covered this, but what about getting your boys a fish or something? Our 3-year-old loves being in charge of feeding his fish (just a cheap goldfish in a bowl, nothing fancy) and I love that he is learning a little responsibility.

Ok, I hope you have a great day and you get the boys' room all sorted out soon.


tarynkay said...

what a fun contest! and good job making lemonade from the comment section. a good place for small space living ideas is apartmenttherapy.com. it's often unbelievably pretentious, and often inadvertantly hilarious, but they do have some good ideas about making tiny apartments awesome.

i believe someone mentioned this above, but i would go japanese style and get a futon mattress which could be rolled up during the day. the mattress options you showed are unfortunately not made for sleeping on every day, and they won't hold up for long. i wouldn't get any kind of frame or stand with such a small room. with such small boys, i would just get one twin or full sized one and let them share for now. sharing beds with siblings is perfectly normal and safe! and as you've mentioned, you'll likely be moving before they get too big for this to be practical.

you should be able to find futon mattresses gently used on craigslist or freecycle. (i think that as long as you meet the people and see the home where the mattress came from, this is safe. plus you can wash the cover.) i would put a rubber mattress pad on the futon, under the cover, then make a couple of sleep sacks- just flat sheets sewed up on three sides. these are easy to fold up during the day when you put the bed away. since the space is so small, i would take everything off the walls because it just makes the space look so much smaller (and is more dangerous).

honestly, i would get just rid of most of the toys. kids tend to want to keep tons of toys, but they don't generally actually play with most of them. it's also good to teach kids to let go of material possessions when they're young. i would just keep a small toy-box full of favorite toys. that way, all of the toys can be out of sight at bedtime. if a toy box is impossible, maybe a set of bookshelves which lives behind a curtain at night. since it's a room for sleeping, i would possibly even keep these toys in your room, or the living room. i would paint the room something soothing, like a pale sky-blue. then if you wanted something transportation related, i would do maybe some planes, just a few, nothing too busy or overwhelming or bright. maybe some hot air balloons. maybe some nice peaceful clouds, perhaps the odd bird. such a small room shouldn't take much paint. i would roll the rugs over the windows up and put them someplace else or get rid of them if you don't need them, and just get a nice light curtain for the window. this will catch less dust than the hanging rugs and can be washed easily

hope this helps!


KatrinaE said...

I have an idea that I think would be great for you, maybe not now, but in the future if you are able to have a larger bedroom for the boys and can afford to spend a little more.

Buy a bunk bed with a full size mattress on the bottom. The three boys can sleep on the bottom bed sideways. The top bunk can be used for storage for toys, clothes, etc.. You can also store toys underneath the bunk bed.
You can also take away the ladder until you feel they are big enough to climb up it without injury. Later your oldest can sleep on the top and the two youngest on the bottom. I think it would be a great investment that they can grow into.

Robyn said...

Emily, yay! I thought you might like that idea. Sewing two sheets together would probably work fine and sheets are very affordable.

It's also a great idea for anyone with an antique bedframe because you can customize the mattress size without having to buy an expensive custom-made mattress to fit.

My DH has to sleep on a futon on the floor for his back and I prefer the floor, too. Having portable, homemade 'straw tick' mattresses makes it easy to pack up and move easily, saves space, and you can replace the insides as often as you want to avoid mold and allergies . . .

Deconstructed Life said...

A bed like the cars folding out bed are good, but only for the short-term. I had one while I was a student and my sister slept on it for the entire summer and by the end of the summer it was pretty much shot. I was able to continue using it as a couch and an infrequent guest bed for family, but daily use would have been impossible.

Have you considered bunk beds? My uncle lives in a small NYC apartment with twins and they found free bunk beds on craigslist.

I also have to do some research (or you can do some research), but perhaps they make kid-sized murphy beds.

Anonymous said...

Those nap mats are great for children who are consistently napping out of the home (daycare, Grandma's) but they're really not meant to be a full-time solution for sleep. SIDS risk is greatest until about 6 months of age, and honestly - and this is coming from someone who is very concerned about environmental toxins - I'd stick with mattresses.

I think that the best solution would be to move the boys into the larger bedroom and to set up a futon or sleep sofa in the living room for the adults and any cosleeping babies, as has previously been mentioned. While the adults do weigh more, everybody needs room to stretch out and get in a comfy position, to roll over, etc. and the boys are only going to get bigger.

The other thing that's standing out to me is the amount of stuff that you have. We are living in a very small space right now as well and we have to be ruthless about decluttering. We're storing some toys & books under our son's crib, some in a storage ottoman in the living room, and the rest (not many) are the back of our closet, to be rotated with the other toys when they start to get boring. May I recommend the book "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh for you and for Dan to read? It's available at our local library, and it was very helpful at changing our thought processes about what stuff we really needed to keep. Are the stuffed animals enriching anybody's life? I know they're fun, but if they're not adding much but they are taking up valuable space, then they need to go. Same with toys that aren't getting played with on a very regular basis. If you sell them on Craigslist, you may even be able to increase your budget a little bit.

As far as homemade storage solutions go, would you mind letting us know what tools you have available? (Either in the apartment or available to borrow from a friend.) Also, do you have things like paint and brushes (for furniture, not for the walls) or would those need to be included in the budget?

And finally, to whoever was talking about long-term breastfeeding reducing fertility - I followed all of the "rules" for lactational amenorreah and I still started ovulating at 3 months post-partum.


Anonymous said...

My son is 16 years old and 6' 4" and sleeps on the floor with a somewhat similar mat that you have as your first link. He also has about a 2" mattress pad top thing on top. This is by his choice. He has a bed in his room and chooses to sleep on the floor on this combo. He has done this for several years. I can't figure it out LOL

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Emily - I really like the boys room, but that might be because my daughters slept on crib mats on the floor until they were ready for big girl bunk beds (and never in a crib) they just didn't like them. From Cradle to matress.
I will be sending you some suggestions, because I like the idea.
My suggestions will have links to pics, but with ways you can make it yourself as well.
Good Luck with this.

Elizabeth said...

I have to laugh at the straw bedding idea, especially with kids. Straw could have any amount of chemicals in, we all know how farmers grow things these days. Bugs and allergins can also be found in straw. And on bedding where little boys sleep...uhm...cleanup would be horrible and impossible with a straw mattress. Really, sleeping on the floor would be better than sleeping on a straw mattress.

Sorry, I don't see what all the hoopla is about this. Basic thinking would tell you to buy a twin mattress and get rid of the whole crib setup. Stick a twin mattress on the floor with a sheet and call it a bed for both boys. Or buy a frame that is higher off the ground and buy a side rail for the bed to protect from falls and then you have a bunch of underbed storage as well. The boys could at least sleep on this for a few years before needing a bigger bed.

I actually am confused about your whole crib/playpen setup. For someone who lives in such a small space and co-sleeps, I see no need whatsoever for a crib or playpen. Baby stays in your bed until he is weaned and then moved into a big boy bed. We have no crib and no playpen...baby moves from us to a toddler bed when he is old enough. It seems that you have a goal to live in small spaces but really have too much stuff to do so comfortably.

Melissa said...

As others have said the little couches are not made to last. We have a Dora one and it is already lumpy in spots from kids jumping on it. It is also smaller than it appears in the link.

I honestly could never imagine having my kids sleep on any of those mats. I would get rid of the crib and keep Thomas with you until he is able to sleep with his brothers. With the crib gone I would use that space for a full size mattress or an inflatable air bed. My first choice would be a full size mattress with all the boys sleeping together. I would put it right on the floor and flip it regularly to prevent mold/mildew. If you can not get the mattress my second choice would be a blow up air mattress. We have one that is a decent size and it came with a foot pump so you can inflate it very easily. The benefit of an inflatable bed is tht you can deflate it in the morning for more space. Like I said before though I would go for an actual mattress first.

I can't wait to see the finished pics when the room is done! Good luck on what ever you decide!

God Bless,

nepamom said...


You just can't win, can you? People complained about your boys' room, you give them a chance to fix it...and they still complain!

I'm excited to email you some ideas. I think it's a great idea. If I stand in what was supposed to be the closet door to my boys' (former!) tiny room and ignore about 2 feet to the right, I'm looking at an almost perfect copy of your boys' room. You post last week actually motivated me to finally move my boys out into a bigger room and make their old room a spare bedroom for when the older kids are here...but I had the extra rooms to do that. I'd planned on waiting until we could afford to remodel the new room completely but you've really gotten me thinking about frugality and using space more wisely even more than I had before. So thanks for that and I'll be sending ideas for your boys room soon!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick two cents.

I am always a tad concerned about the rationale..."it is good enough for other's in the world, they have survived". I agree we live in a decadent culture and need to be mindful of that! However we also live in a safe culture where children become ill and die less often than other parts of the world. Children is less developed places in the world get sick at an alarming rate....granted the reasons are complex and linked to all sorts of issues..not just where they sleep. However, a bad idea is a bad idea. For example, my parents will point out that we and they survived quite well without approved car seats or seatbelts. BUT, the point is....many did not. In the end we would scoff at that reason to justify NOT using car seats.

At this risk of being a tad assertive I think you need to suck it up and buy a decent bed for your children. Whether it is a futon style, a twin/trundle bed, bunk bed, decent mattresses that are simply placed against the wall during the day...or a double/trundle/bunk bed in doesn't really matter. If the room they are in cannot hold accommodate a decent sized mattress then you need to think about where else in your apartment the children might be able to sleep.

Ultimately I would like to think you would worry less about the "theme" of the room and more about the quality of beds/bedding your children use.

Daisy in Ontario

Anonymous said...

We also live in a very small space. My girls share a small room, but we make it work for us by using bunk beds along one wall. I also like a daybed/pull-out trundle idea, it helps save space.

I think the biggest issue in the boys' room is too many toys. I would definitely try to consolidate the toys into a bin or two, rather than letting the toys take over the room. You also have a lot of space in the kitchen where some toys could be stored. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Tell you what, I will buy you 2 twin mattresses. Put them on the floor for the boys to sleep on and during the day put them up against the wall so they are out of the way. Use the money to babyproof their room and buy them some decent sheets and blankets.


Anonymous said...

Then we have found where we agree - home is family! As a mother and wife, I want to provide a home that is a place of comfort for my family. I do love your contest-and one of my favorite things to do is create a place of comfort within a budget. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Robyn said...

One more thing: don't be afraid to keep the bare minimum amount of toys. we have one large toy bin and whatever can't fit in there has to go. For our children (all girls), we have that one toy bin filled with misc things, a bucket of blocks, three dolls each, a few balls for outside, sidewalk chalk, a few board games and puzzles, and that's it.

If you pared down your toys to one or two baskets or bins on the floor, you could save lots of room.

Then, you wouldn't have to have a fabulous organizing solution. All the toys could fit into one or two bins on the floor, instead of having to have lots of shelves on the walls.

Stack the mattresses against the wall during the day, store clothes in milk crates on the opposite wall, and store the 2-3 bins of toys underneath the crates of clothes. Whenever you get more toys, just get rid of what won't fit in those 2-3 bins.

There you go. Simple, cheap, and space-saving.

Devon said...

I guess I'm still not getting it. If you switched rooms, then they could play AND sleep in the big room. Why is this not a viable solution? Will your bed and the pack and play not fit in the little room? Then YOU sleep in the living room on mats and let the boys have the bed and the room. You can use the little room for all those books.

I guess I'm not understanding the point of having your children sleep on mats. It's drafty on our floor and we're in freaking Texas, so I can't imagine how cold the floor that your babies would sleep on would be. Just because people in other countries sleep on mats on the floor doesn't mean your kiddos have to. Your reasoning in this is confusing.

Anonymous said...

"You just can't win, can you? People complained about your boys' room, you give them a chance to fix it...and they still complain!" Was posted above.....

I didn't think MOST people complained about the room. I think it is all how you interpret it. Some were cranky yes (you will always have trolls), but many were honest and concerned posts from people who were concerned about Emily and her children. Some were asking for clarification.

Emily then went on to suggest a remodel BUT with very stringent requirements of what would be acceptable or not. I still think that MOST (though not all) posters are trying to be constructive. The hard part is that it does feel very difficult to offer constructive comments here. Sometimes it feels that Emily is SO attached to the thinking outside of the box strategy that she isn't willing to even consider some traditional "in-the-box" stuff that might work (i.e. switching bedrooms, pull-out couch for folks in LR or whatever).

I agree that I am interested in Emily's non-traditional take on life and I think she has some interesting and valid ideas about how to re-think things and be creative. I like many of her ideas and am intrigued by others. To be honest, I do think some of her ideas are baloney and lack credible reasons to support them. I also think at times she makes poor decisions (i.e. no life insurance, retirement plans, emergency savings and these are probably as much of a concern).

Some of her ideas are legitimately cause for concern, or at the very least a reasonable dialogue, and I think, if one is posting on the internet ASKING for feedback, then it is reasonable and fair for posters to try to politely offer that feedback and equally polite for the blogger to engage in some constructive dialogue (vs. rapid fire rebuttal).

I realize this will be a controversial post and I am sorry for it. But.....

Daisy in Ontario.

Chrissy said...

First off I can't believe this many people will see a couple of pictures on your blog and totally judge how you parent your children. If you like the room and the boys like the room then keep it how it is and redecorate with the new theme. Plus I have to say the whole sleeping under the crib debate and people saying the crib could fall on top of your child...just like bunk beds are tested to support weight don't you think the crib is tested to support weight so it wouldn't fall either? That argument is the stupidest thing I ever heard. Let him enjoy his little man cave. Oh, I seriously doubt if a toddler cares if there is a sheet on his mattress. People need to use their heads more.

I do like the idea of a futon or something like that as they get older. I would think you could just use a regular matteress, build a small frame around it that would be low to the grand and would probably be pretty cheap. You should check out this blog, this lady has redesigned expensive furniture to make it cheap and easy to build yourself. Tons of storage ideas and bed ideas. hope it helps... http://knockoffwood.blogspot.com/

Good luck with the crazy judgemental people who read your blog!

mrs. c said...

try to stay away from used bedding from ANY source, my daughter just had a run in with bedbugs, not from used bedding, but from living in a n apartment building, and someone dragged them in. she had to throw away all her bedding, and yes, 1500.00 mattress/ boxspring.you should also get actual FACTS about how many children have become sick, died, due to mattress mold. it doesnt seem too widespread, otherwise we'd be hearing it trumpeted very loudly in the media.i SO get frugality, but my dad always used to say.." never go BACKWARDS in life, always move forward". the futon is a good idea for the older ones, and my little guy slept in the pack and play till he outgrew it around two. then you may have other arrangements.

Julie said...

I vote that if you absulutely MUST keep them in the small room Just have a single mates bed with drawers underneath for clothes. Get rid of everything else in the room except for maybe one stuffed toy each to sleep with.

Maybe you could get a toybox and set it up somewhere else in your home, like in a hallway. My kids only have two wooden toyboxes. Once those are full we get rid of unused toys before we add more. Works for our family.

Razing Ruth said...

I'm going to hate myself for suggesting something other than a proper bed, but it beats the current alternatives you're planning.

Look at www.discountschoolsupply.com.
I suggest the Angel's Rest Cots with one of the $12 mattresses on top. You can stack and fold these when not in use and they are quite comfortable. We used them in our home church/nursery. If you google coupon codes for discount school supply, you can often get 30% off AND free shipping. These have no foam mattresses, can be cleaned effectively, are compact and comfortable. It would also get them off the floor.

chickenon said...

I want to note that Japan and Sweden are both first-world countries in which people sleep on thin pads on top of harder surfaces, customarily. Most European beds are one (often thin) mattress on top of slats. I am speaking from my personal prejudices here, because I hate cushy beds (they hurt my back), and I grew up on a European-style mattress (old-school IKEA) on hard planks. It's not a choice between sleeping on the ground under newspapers and sleeping American-style!

I am, on the other hand, dead-set against putting kids in hammocks - I do know plenty of babies in Central America who nap in hammocks during the day, but for long-term sleeping they are objectively very hard on your back, and they do pose a small but serious strangulation risk. Also, as far as straw: if you are going to go that route (which is, honestly, not a bad option at all, provided you're planning on sunning the mattresses frequently and replacing the straw every year or so) it might be wise to invest in mite-proof covers from Wal-mart or similar. I used to handle a lot of straw (I went to a farm school) and I got chiggers from it a lot. If you can find cheap wool online (maybe the fabric.com $1.95 a yard sale?), it's a good choice for an inner liner, because it's naturally fire-retardant, which is always good for peace of mind. If you're sewing, maybe you could make a couple of thick, washable mattress pads (maybe even with fleece or terry). If you make the bed with sheets tucked in so that the boys can't get under the pads, you've still got something you could wash and get very dry (seriously, cartop drying is awesome for these things) which would help keep the bed healthy.

Also, that's actually what I meant, Emily: that because you're doing the daily work of nourishing your baby the best you can, you'll likely have time to be ready to house future kids. I think a lot of people in here don't realize that. (Heck, I think a lot of "Quiverfull" families don't realize that, because a baby every year just isn't natural biology - it's usually what happens when people wean early, like they would if they were going to be entering the workplace.)

Anonymous said...

Have you seen these? I believe they are easily removable without ruining the walls, but I have never tried them my self. Very cute, might be too much of your budget, but maybe you can think of a way to make something similar yourself with posterboard and paint.




Melissa said...

I have 5 kids and we are due with our last in July. Our bedrooms are good sized, but with only 3 bedrooms (and the fact that we homeschool-so we like a room for that) we have had to creatively work around space issues.

The first I can suggest is to get rid of the crib. We used a crib for our first and second, and then realized that it was just mostly a big waste of space bc no one actually slept much IN the crib. My kids would sleep in our beds/and then a pack and play next to bed until they were old enough for a bed.

The best thing I can suggest for the older ones is a bunkbed with a trundle. Its such an amazing space saver!!! Once you have one, especially wtih 3 or more kids, you can't believe you ever lived without one! We have a bunk bed with a twin on top, full on bottom and trundle underneath that (and twin over twin over trundle as well, but kids prefer sleeping alltogether on one for now). My kids could sleep on these until they are old enough to move out! Like someone suggested, you could totally use the top bed as storage until boys are old enough to sleep up there. It would be one piece-do just about it all furniture. Even if you could start off with just a twin bed with a trundle, you could get a LOT of use out of that (my 2 year old twins share a twin trundle right now).

I know its a pricey expenditure, BUT you may be able to find something on freecycle or craigslist...maybe even Ebay. If you know anyone into woodworking, they might be able to build one even. Ours is VERY rustic (we bought it from a store that sells handmade bunk beds), and when they brought it to our house to set up, it was JUST a pile of 2X4's, that created these 2 amazing bed systems. If you made that one decent purchase, you would solve space/bed issues/storage issues (with bunk bed on top) for a LONG time. One of our bunk beds with trundle right now sleeps 5 children, ages 6 and under VERY comfortably-with room to spare!

The last thing I can suggest is get rid of whatever you can. Stuffed animals are the worst-they just multiply! We have thrown out/given away so many toys. The less my kids have, the more they play with the stuff they do have. There are the staples that we can never get rid of (crayons, paper, coloring books, blocks, puzzles, cars, trains, barbies) and then ALL the other toys. Watch your kids all day and make a list of everything they play with that day. Repeat the next day. And whatever is NOT on that list after 2 days, get rid of!

Anyways, just wanted to add a few suggestions. We live in a 1200 sq foot home with almost 6 chilren, but when we have set it up right, our house feels "dare I say" spacious. We have had our fair share though, of experimenting/setting it up wrong/being overcome by clutter/toys as well! Its most definately a learning process, that probably will never end. :)

Anonymous said...

Please give us a straight answer why you won't let your children have your bedroom, the two adults sleep in the living room and the smallest room/closet be used for storage. Beyond that you make no sense to me and I'm feeling frustrated for your kids. As a mother, you sound like you strive to keep your children as healthy as possible but your actions are not showing that. Every child deserves a comfortable nights sleep. To feel warm, snug and safe. I would gladly give up my own comfort for theirs anyday. That's what we are called to do... If you are comfortable living on a low income. Great. If you want a large family.. Great. In order to live that lifestyle in a respectable manner, you have to be willing to make many sacrifices. Giving up the only appropriate bedroom and providing them with comfortable, warm places to sleep should be a no-brainer.

Scottish Twins said...

I will buy you a twin sized mattress for those boys. I will purchase one online and have it delivered to your house. Just tell me where to send it.

Gizmola said...


Just buy a real trundle bed (go on Craigslist). Get a toy chest (Goodwill, Ikea, Craigslist) and put the toys the boys play with often in that. Give the rest away or put in storage.

Take all the shelving and crates off the walls. I thought you used the Rubbermaid totes in the kitchen for their clothes anyway?

Take the rugs off the windows and put up a simple shade. Remove the tree as it's too large for such a small space.

Get a real door (see if you have a Habitat for Humanity resale store in your area - you can pick up a door for $5-$10) for the room or leave it open - the hanging fabric makes the room look small and dark.

Repaint the crib white - the half-painted black looks yucky and makes the room look smaller.

Please have real mattresses for your children. I agree with the poster who said that they need support for their spines. How would you have felt sleeping on a mat while pregnant? Rule of thumb - if you wouldn't choose it for yourself, don't choose it for your children.

crabcakes said...


When is your deadline?

I'm not so "busy with my own life" that I don't have 10 minutes to sketch something out and submit it. 10 minutes is worth $25.00 to me. But then again, I don't have a huge income so I guess it's more worth it to me.

Also, I like a challenge.

Just let me know when the deadline is and I'll come up with something. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of amused that so man people think the floor is uncomfortable and therefore selfish on your part.

And to the person who said people in non-Western countries WANT to sleep in beds...I say nuh uh. Many of them think beds are ridiculous and not because of price or availability.

Some of my suggestions are to get rid of the Johnny jump up until it's time to use it. Ditch the crib for sure, and possibly consider a bedding style that would allow both boys to sleep together. There are things like those racks for pots and pans in the kitchen...something like that might be good (sturdy) to get toy storage up and out of the way. I'd also consider more foldable-type of furniture...roll up mattresses (or no mattresses), etc.

And honestly, I would do no mattress before doing the mats you linked. They really suck. :(

Lynn (it won't let me post with my name like the other day)

Green In OC said...

Emily, I LOVE that you have become aware of the dangers of conventional mattresses.

However, the idea of ditching conventional mattresses for foam is kind of like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire! Foam is a petroleum based product and is highly toxic.

If I were in your situation I would first contact various natural latex bed manufacturers and explain your plight. They do have miscuts and returns and they might just have a solution for you.

If that didn't work, I would choose a used conventional mattress, clean it up and then put protective covers on them. Choosing used would mean that the toxins would have had a chance to offgas.

In your case I would get something like these (take the free mattresses and protective covers they are offering - it's a steal!):


Remove ALL the toys from the bedroom. I would get under the bed storage and whatever fits in the underbed storage are the toys that are kept. Everything else gets donated. Then the implementation of a new hard and fast rule, "nothing in unless something goes out".

When the baby is ready to join his brothers, you could get this:


lanie said...

You have issues with mattress chemicals but are A OK with your child sleeping, permanently, on a foam yoga mat made in china or those ridiculous disney fold out beds with more chemicals than
Wrap your kids mattress, sleep with your husband in the living room and take the proceeds of this blog and buy your children proper beds & mattress pads.
Is this so difficult?

Anonymous said...

My suggestion: get concrete blocks from a home depot type store 4 one for each corner of a twin matress.6 might make it more solid. Cover front two by supergluing pillows on them for protection. slide under bed storage boxes *long but shallow)for out of season clothes, etc and in front of those small crate or baskets to hold toys books. sew together thick mattress protectors(not the plastic kind.sorry sick today and brain not working for names)

hanging "Kitchen" tiered baskets *the kind for vegetables)ateach corner of the room to hold some overflow toys and stuffed animals. might be able to hang two in each corner.

tack over the door shoe holders to walls for small cars/toys.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand: the "window" to the boy's room is to a hallway? What hallway? Do you mean a stairwell (common entry in the building?) I would assume then this is a closet and not a bedroom?

Why don't you switch rooms with the boys and put all three of them in your old room and you and dan sleep on a pull out in the living room and use the old boy's room for storage.

momto9 said...

I'd put one big matress in the kids room but my first choice would be what someone else mentioned.....a futon in the living room for my husband and I while the kids use the big room and the little room I'd turn into a play/book/computer room. Even if the kids do play in the living room...the small room would make a great place to organize it all so there is a good place to put them at the end of the day.

Mary Jane said...

If you use a plastic mattress now as to avoid having to wash sheets when little Dan wets the bed, how on earth do you think you'll clean a straw mattress? Unless, of course, you cover it with some sort of vinyl or plastic mattress pad in which case you've got all of the off-gassing issues again.

Also, I don't think that sewing sheets together would work. You need a thicker weight material, something sturdier than a standard cotton or cotton/poly blend sheet. A thin sheet would rip too easily and the straw would poke up through it.

My own two kids share a similarly small bedroom and there is absolutely no room for anything other than their beds, a dresser for their clothing and a very small bookshelf (we have a separate playroom.) Trying to cram three children and all of their assorted toys into such a small room is just not practical.

We did, however, find a special custom-made toddler sized bunk bed that accomadates a crib sized mattress. They are quite low so even a 3-4 year old should be able to sleep on the top bunk safely. If you know someone who is a woodworker it shouldn't be difficult to build such a set.

If you're willing to expand your budget, something like this could also be a good choice. Once again the top bunk is low enough that it could be used by a preschooler and you can put a second twin sized mattress on the floor under the bed.


I do not think that a trundle bed is a good solution for your sons' room; there probably isn't even room to fully pull out a trundle. As for my children, we found both the custom made toddler bunk beds and the low loft on Craigslist. That being said, they were such unique items that you would potentially have to watch Craigslist for years before you ever found a set in your area which is where some wordworking skills or the willingness to fork out some cash would come in handy.

Regardless, I do sincerely think that if you're going to insist of keeping 2 or 3 children in such a tiny space that you're going to have to store the toys elsewhere. You've already stated that the boys play in the living room- why not incorporate their toys into that room instead?

Emily said...


I've read a bunch of comments and don't remember who asked what- oops!

The deadline is by next Tuesday. Next Tuesday is the vote.

I have explained why we won't switch rooms. If you don't like it, that is fine, but we won't switch rooms. This is our life, not yours.

I like having less stuff in the living room and kitchen as that is where we spend most of our time. I prefer to have it look less cluttered and keep it to a limited color scheme. We have some toys there, but storing most out there is out of the question.

Also, I'm not interested in offers of free mattresses. I'd like to do this within the budget and I am certain it can be done, but thank you.

Our Family Is His said...

Emily, the reason we need measurements is ff a wall has 2' and then there's a door, we couldn't suggest at 28" item. KWIM? That's why we need specific measurements. We aren't there to see the room in real life, so you have to help us or much of what we suggest might be worthless to you.

I guess, if you can't give us room measurements, I would suggest moving all those big pieces out of there (hang them on your wall since you are adults and probably not in your room as much). Then, get a nice toy box to put the rest of the items in. Go to the free sites and get one free that someone would like to give away. Thus, you spend no money.

Fitting three beds in there will prove impossible. That's the size of a storage closet. So you need to figure out how to use the space the best. If you could find, again on freecycle, a bunk with a twin on top and a full on bottom, that would really be great. Your two older children could take the bottom part for now. And when your older son is a bit older, he could move to the top bunk and the two younger sons could move to the bottom bunk.

This would also give you storage space under the bed. You could find some bins of appropriate height (this is the first money I am including out of the $50 budget, though if I win, please go ahead and keep the $25 gift card and buy a fun bedset, sheets, or storage thing for the boys that they would like) and put any rarely used items in those. Mark what's inside on the side of the box facing out, and you have instant storage that takes up no more square footage than the bed. This should pretty much take care of your entire room. You have storage, toy access, beds for all three children, and a lot of freed up wall space to decorate as you like. All that for under $50.

Anonymous said...

An organic crib mattress DOES NOT put off any gas.

Meaghan said...

Emily, I doubt you'll publish my comment, but I hope that since my sentiments reflect those of many of your other concerned readers, you'll consider them.

I find it appalling that you are strongly leaning toward having your kids sleep on nap mats. I realize that most of the world makes do without beds, but don't you want something better for your children? I also find it hypocritical that you let your kids sleep on nap mats on the floor, while you yourself sleep in a bed.

I know you have stressed that you want the boys' room to remain the boys' room and you will not consider an alternative, but wouldn't be the best bet be to use another layout for your apartment? Make your bedroom the boys' room, and let the boys sleep on your bed. You and Dan could sleep on a pull-out couch in the living room. The boys' current room could be used as storage, or a nursery for the baby.

Anonymous said...

Re: the straw bed. Do you have any source of clean, dry straw? Do you know how often you have to change the straw? How will you dispose of the straw? Even horses get their straw replaced every week or so.

There are some decent suggestions that people have posted that are reasonable. You don't have to go to the most far out post to make your point.

Mary Jane said...

Oh, and I forgot to add a couple more links:

Good, sturdy toddler bunk beds that can be purchased (although certainly not for $50 or less):


Also, it's really difficult to find, but Little Tikes once made a loft bed for kids that you can occasionally find on Craigslist. Google "craigslist little tikes rare bunk bed" and check out the first few links on the first page to see what they look like. Or, just click on my name and I'll link to an example. You would have to luck into one, but you never know...

Furthermore, I really don't think that any of your readers want a $25 gift card. I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of us would rather you keep the money and spend it on your boys.

Anon said...

I'm not sure your budget is reasonable given that you are starting from scratch in terms of bedding. You will have to buy bunk beds and mattresses. You really don't want to buy used mattresses.

Also, why can't anything go in front of the window? If it just goes into the hallway, I don't see why you couldn't put a bed or low chest in front of it, as long as you can still open/close the window and access it in an emergency?

I would start by getting bunk beds. They have safety rails and are nearly impossible to fall out of these days. Put it in the corner in front of the doorway.

Buy a chest of drawers that will fit at the end of the bunk beds for clothes storage.

Buy 2 large under bed storage containers for toys. And buy one of those hanging corner nets to store soft toys if you have a lot (stuffed animals, dolls, etc.) Hang it over the bed in the corner and only put soft things in it.

You should still have half of the room open for play space and larger toys. Purge anything extra that doesn't fit.

Lea said...

HI Emily,

I just found your blog a couple of weeks ago. I'm finding this whole thing a bit amazing...that people can be so vocal about kids sleeping on the floor especially.

I agree that the comments left on your earlier post were about the safety of your children, not your decorating. However, I think that expecting everyone to have their children sleeping a mattress all the time is a bit much.

Why? I have a son who sleeps on the floor next to his bed because he finds the floor more comfortable!
Also, I find that as an adult my weight causes more pressure on joints etc than the much lower weight of my young children. I am not overweight, just about 100 lbs heavier than my 4 year old! It makes a difference.

I like the idea of a trundle bed, but what about plain old sleeping bags? Roll them up in the morning and unfold them at night. We started doing that with my son since it was obvious he wasn't going to sleep in his bed unless we forced him too - which wasn't that important to us. They make sleeping bags designed for kids that are safe, washable and cute.

Just my 2 cents!

Enjoy this challenge and I hope someone comes up with a really fun idea for your boys' room!


Our Family Is His said...

Oh, and when I said that should take care of everything (guess I should word my posts a bit better), I meant eveything off the walls. Once everything is off the walls, that room will feel a lot bigger. I know you said they play in the living room, so that would work great. Sometimes it not how much square footage you have, but how big it feels.

enchantedrina said...

Holy wow there are a lot of comments.

Anyway! This is such a wonderful idea for a contest! Do they have any tonka trucks etc? You could put them on display surrounded by motifs on the walls. Are you allowed to stencil them? I had that when I was a child and around 15 or so washed off all the bunnies and such. It didn't take long either. And my mom said that stenciling isn't difficult once you get the hang of it. That way you can "paint" the walls. But not at all permanently.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time understanding, Emily. You won't switch rooms because you want to keep the living room and kitchen less cluttered. I agree to keep things uncluttered! Wouldn't it be even less cluttered if you did move the boys into the large room... storing the toys they already have in their current room? Putting the rest of your 'stuff' like books in a neatly organized storage space made from the small room would greatly clean things up. You could make up your and Dan's bed in the morning and the living room could still look the same as it does now. Everything else that doesn't fit should just go! I think many of us just want the best for you all. Just imagine how nice it would feel for you as parents to tuck your children in to beds rather then a floor space in a cluttered little room.

Domestic Goddess said...

I'd stick with your current MO of hanging things on walls and putting them on shelves for clothes/toys.

For beds I'd either get a double bed mattress and just put it on the floor (no rolling off!), with a mattress protector to make it waterproof. It will be comfy and be able to fit all three children.

Or, get a trundle bed. One that pulls out from under a single bed. You could even get a double, use the space underneath to store clothes and toys.

Danielle said...

Hi Emily,
Just wondering if you would consider springing for 2 of these for you boys.

Melanie said...

Emily, they make toddler sized bunk beds. I know you want to only spend 50 dollars but I think they would be a good investment and take up less space than traditional bunk beds.

Anonymous said...

The only real sleeping solution I can see in this space would be a twin trundle bed. Emily's children are too young for bunk beds. A twin sized bed with a trundle mattress that pulls out is the best solution. I don't know if it can be done for 50$. The decor and paint and cars theme is the last thing that Emily should be concerning herself with. Worry about a proper bed. Get a mattress cover and be done.


Anonymous said...


This is what I am talking about. Walmart has them. I assume your husband gets a discount?
This one has shelves over the headboard for books.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen this woman's blog (www.walkslowlylivewildly.com)? She lives in an RV with her husband and 2 children and it's beautiful, spacious and clean. Her daughter sleeps in a really nifty loft and they use the bottom for storage. Sara, the owner of the blog is also a Christian who strives for a simple life free of materialism.

I am sure that it cost more than $50, but if I was in your position, I would swallow my pride and take people up on their offers to help your children.

anon said...

Why don't you store a lot of the toys in your room, if you won't switch? that's where they play a lot anyway, right?

vm said...

Scottish Twin, I'd go halfsies with you but then I remember the extra income Emily made this past month through the site.

Emily, I understand that what happened with Daniel has rocked you to your core, but I don't think you're on the right track going with plastic foam beds for your children.

Also, consider bedbugs when looking at used mattresses.

Happily Frugal Mama said...

I don't see a problem with the sleeping options you are looking at, I wouldn't go with the thinnest one, just out of a comfort standpoint.

American's are one of the few cultures who sleep on raised beds...

Many Asian and African cultures (and I'm sure many others) sleep on thin mats every single night of their lives.

I'll put my creative cap on and see if any lightening strikes to send you!

Good Luck!

Marcie said...

How many toys are you willing to get rid of? I am coming up with an idea of how to arrange the room, but it won't work unless you are willing to let go of all that stuff! Remind Dan that we are to store up treasures in heaven, not here on earth. By hoarding items and depriving his children of a safe sleeping area, he is not doing that. Do you have a good freecycle in your area? Not for bedding, but for other items?

Emily said...

Marcie, I got rid of the rocking doggie hanging on the wall, and the tricylce and slide are now in our room. I might be able to put the stuffed animals in storage. Cars and blocks I'm not budging on, though. My kids play with them all the time and I find them to be valuable toys.

Melanie said...

Emily,(and fwiw while I felt concern about those shelves I did think your boys room was cute...I know about trying to squeeze a family into a small space and we can't all afford to have Laura Ashley personally decorate our kid's rooms)Anyhow lol...I don't know if it fits into your plans but I stumbled on these directions a couple of weeks ago;


They could be adjusted to meet your needs. I've been drooling over the plans on that site ever since. Like you I'm pretty handy with paint and a hammer and I've been trying to convince DH to let me carve out some money in the budget for wood. In our case the kitchen is my personal storage and space nightmare.

I do agree that those foam foldout couches seem like a great solution at first but they utterly disintegrate and quickly...we've gone through a couple of them before giving up. I'd keep your mattresses but zip a good waterproof cover around them, or if you decide to go the nap mat route also pick up some dense foam cushioning to lay underneath(WalMart usually sells it, near the furniture&bed and bath stuff)

CappuccinoLife said...

Cool idea, Emily!

First thought: Floor-sleeping is a perfectly valid sleep option and not a habit of the poor alone. It is quite common in Japan and has been for centuries, and not just for poor people. And on mats that many of us luxury-raised Americans would find uncomfortable! Conversely, in many cultures, even the poor will devise a way to lift themselves off the ground for sleep, either by a wooden frame with rope supports, or hammocks, etc. For them it is important in order to be somewhat less available to rats and cockroaches that come out during the night. It is really a matter of practicality and comfort, and that varies hugely from culture to culture and family to family.

What I would do with the room....

Get either a small double bed, or a futon. Either of these could be space-efficient for different reasons. For a bed, it would need a sturdy wooden frame with crossbeams (not just one of those metal frames that require a box spring in them). You can lay down a piece of plywood under the mattress to prevent sagging, and that should keep the bed at a reasonable hieght and allow lots of good under-bed storage.

A futon, on the other hand, would be able to fold up and give you several more feet of play space during the day.

Either way, I'd put the bed along the far 8 ft. wall.

I liked your use of wall space with the orange crates. I might keep those. But one thing that would *really* help the room look and feel bigger is to have most of the stuff out of sight, behind either curtains or doors. So I might keep those for storage space but put up curtains over them. If you are allowed to anchor things to the walls, I'd look for tallish cubbies or bookshelves that could be fit into what wallspace you have, and could be safely and firmly anchored to avoid tipping. If they didn't have doors, I'd get some cool bedsheets and turn them into curtains for that storage space, using tension rods to hold them in place.

Meesh said...

Emily, here is a free twin mattress from Craigslist. Not sure where you are in Maine, but here you go: http://maine.craigslist.org/zip/1581064808.html

Susan said...

Just let your community of friends, Dan's co-workers, and your church know you are redecorating the boy's room. You'll never know what will come your way.
If it were me, I would look for a twin bed with a trundle. If you are gifted used mattresses,I would place them in vinyl covers to protect the boys and the mattress.
To store toys I would look for extra strong shelving units like those used in restaurant kitchens and machanic shops. Be sure to attach them to the wall studs with 'L' brackets. Then I would use milk crates lined with fabric to corral the kids toys.
We used to go through our daughter's toys with her a couple of times a year. We explained there are children without toys; she could help them out by giving them toys she didn't play with anymore. Worked like a charm.
If I get some time, I'll work out a drawing. If I win, I would like you to keep the $25 to put towards the boys room.

Meesh said...

And here are TWO free twin box springs and mattresses! This is what you need!


Marcie said...

What about the tents? Can those go or at least be downsized to only one? How big are they when set up? What about the yellow plastic piano?

Meesh said...

Free dressers. I would definitely get one to store the clothes and maybe some toys. That's all I would put in the room. A twin bed and a dresser. You can always paint the dresser, or get some Cars decals to go on it, etc.:




p.s. There are numerous free washers and dryers available. Have you thought about those, if you have the hookups in the apartment?

Amber said...

Um what are you going to do when you child has an accident on a straw filled mattress?

Meesh said...

Get this, and paint a free dresser red:


SO CUTE! You would need a comforter though, as this is just a duvet. Do you have one you could use?

You could use a mattress on the floor to start out, if you can't find a bed frame free or cheap.

Me said...

After reading most of the comments here is my suggestion and thoughts. First ALL mattresses are full of horrid chemicals that off gas. The flame retardant chemicals are awful. Getting rid of that one element will not make the apartment that much safer.

Here is my suggestion if you are really determined to get rid of the mattresses and have all the kids in there. Buy a futon mattress on Craigslist of something similar. Sometimes you can find the mattresses cheaper without the frame. The mattresses are going to need to be elevated somewhat to promote air circulation. Find some wooden pallets. The are ugly but they are usually free and have the same basic concept as a futon frame. If you get a larger futon mattress consider cutting it in half and using half of it on the wooden pallet as one bed and half on the floor for the other bed. During the day you can stack the floor futon mattress on the pallet futon bed to make more room. To promote air circulation you would have to rotate which mattress was on the frame every couple of days or so. Also you would need to cover the pallet frame with a sheet or old blanket to keep it from ripping into the mattresses. I will leave the rest to you but I think this could be done for next to nothing.

Meesh said...

Matching rug for $3.99. I LOVE IKEA!


Buy matching fabric for $7.99, and fashion a window treatment: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40167936

Storage baskets, if there's room: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90163257

Transportation lampshade at walmart:

Cutain rod: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Twist-and-Fit-Decorative-Curtain-Rod-Satin-Nickel/5700361

Lamp base: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90156879

Take down the tree, it doesn't go with a car theme and takes up space.

I think everything I have posted so far is about $40. Plus you will need some paint for the dresser, and for wall decorations, you could make cars as you did the horses.

Put the bed opposite the doorway, horizontally against the wall, and the dresser on the right as you come in. Put the storage baskets under the window.

Look at the goodwill for a twin bed frame, they almost always have something, and paint it to match.

By the way, can all of my posts count as my "submission?" Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

IF you have a big lots near you-check out their bunk beds. The bunk beds with a full size on the bottom is usually a futon-which is lower to the ground. my youngest sleeps on the lower bed and has since he was about 15 months old. He could get on and off with no problem. you could then get underbed storage boxes for clothing that easily slides in and out. I would get rid of the stuffed animals-they are basically housing for mites and dust-do some research on stuffed animals and what a lot of them are stuffed with.Especially any that came out of claw machines or carnival prizes. store everything on the top bunk like aprevious poster mentioned. the ladders are usually totally removable and then you could use the beds differently when the kids get older and one can sleep on the top.YOu wouldn't even have to buy a mattress for the top bunk since it would be for storage.

One month of your blog income would more than pay for it.

Kelli said...

First, I would get rid of the crib. Try to find something like this (I think this is about as cheap as they come unless someone just wants to get rid of one):


the boys can sleep on the bottom mattress until the oldest is ready to move up. Position it so that the head is up by the tree (is this a tree in the house that can be gotten rid of?) At the foot of the bed, toys can be stored in a toybox, cube, whatever. Find a free or inexpensive dresser to put next to the head of the bed (you will have to get all the dimensions together, but it should work), something similar to this:


It will store all of the clothes/diapers, whatever. You can then store other things under the lower mattress.

Some transportation type fabric can create a little curtain to go over the window. Some inexpensive bedding can also be made from the same fabric as the curtain. Take the decals off the wall, as the bunk bed will now cover that part of the wall anyway. Maybe have the kids draw some pictures and frame those over the dresser.

Anonymous said...

these may fit the bill if you really want to do away with the traditional bed

Emily said...

On the budget, the budget is set at $50 and that isn't changing. It is coming out of blog income, but I am sure my children would much rather we were able to build a real home quicker than have a more decked out room, so what I made from the blog is irrelevant except for the fact it is providing the $50. Thank you blog readers for making this make-over possible, but isn't having a home and yard more valuable to my kids than a certain mattress? Thus, I am not using more blog income for a temporary redesign.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't trying to be snarky-when I said one month of blog income would pay for it. I would consider the purchase of furniture to be something that you would benefit from for years. Our bunk beds have been in use for 11 years-you move them with you when you move. Having a lot of kids almost guarantees you will need bunk beds at some point ;)
so using one month of the blog income would buy something you would use for many years for many kids hopefully.

Elizabeth said...

With your last comment, I think your kids would rather have a bed and an organized space rather than a matching room. Forget all the decorations and car theme. Get a bed and a dresser and organize the room. I think that is all that is needed. My kids have a very simple room with a bunkbed and two dressers and an end table (everything was free except the bunkbed and mattresses). It is silly to waste money on decorations when all kids need in their room is a bed and a place to store their clothing and a few toys.

Emily said...

Elizabeth, I have no plan to spend any money on artwork, I plan to MAKE artwork AND furniture. I think people are stuck in a "buying" mindset but that is not what I have in mind for this redesign AT ALL.

Marcie said...

Yeah, I would totally ditch the theme idea. Get items that can be used for years and years. The current dresser in my girls' room was my husbands when he was a child. It is just a plain wooden dresser, but it works great. I personally don't think it is wise to waste money on temporary themes and would rather pay a little more and get something that will last a life time. And I wish you would raise your budget to at least $75. I keep coming up with ideas, but unless you have an unbelievable freecycle, I can't get it under $50. Also, what about those tents?

Green In OC said...

Okay, the measurements have been bugging me all day. I finally pulled out a measuring tape...

My small "walk-in" closet is 8' wide by 4.5' deep. So now I have my mind wrapped around what you are dealing with and it makes perfect sense why you and Dan will not switch rooms with the boys.

Looking at my closet I figure that I could fit three small kids in the area BUT it would take a lot of sacrifice.

It would mean beds against the 3 largest walls (not the wall with the door; it would mean 2 small toddler beds and a small crib/bed for the baby.

The toddler beds would have to be small, like either of these:



For the baby a Happy Hang-Up like I posted before or a small portable crib on wheels.

Another option would be TODDLER bunk beds. Right now both older boys could sleep on the bottom bunk until Daniel is old enough to graduate to the top:


For me, I would choose an option like this on with a trundle which would be able to sleep at least 3 at some point (obviously it's pricey, but I would see about having something custom made locally):


The big sacrifice would be ZERO toys in the room. The toys would have to be greatly reduced and then stored elsewhere.

Di said...

Why don't you turn the room into a family closet and move all clothes and books and stuff in the bedroom. I think that is the most efficient use of that space and will cut down the clutter from the rest of the house. I would take the crib and matress out and maybe spread the wall units so they look less cluttered or use milk crates to store clothes and toys.

Buy a futon for the living room and have the boys sleep on there. Look for fabric at garage sales, craiglist, thrift stores etc for fabric with a transportation theme and sew them a sheet and some pillows. During the day it can function as a couch and at night a bed. Search craiglist or ask on freecycle for a futon. Block off the bedroom with a gate so the boys can't get in. The room is really small but I think turning into a big closet will be a good use of space.

~T said...


Please, please, PLEASE reconsider your thoughts on mattresses. Children are growing and need the support for their spines. I have scoliosis. One night on a bad mattress (or a futon, "nap pad", or anything other than a quality mattress) and I'm not able to move well the next day. I could go on and on right now about the benefits of a healthy spine and the dangers of an unhealthy spine....but I'll sum it up in a few sentences. Your spine is connected to all of the nerves in your body. If your spine is unhealthy, there will be other parts of your body that are unhealthy. Really, it all starts with the spine. Back pain is not fun and can really wreak havoc on all of your body systems. And the claims of, "Oh, my child likes sleeping on the floor!" - that's great, but that doesn't mean it is the best thing for his spine. It also just isn't sanitary.

One thing I wish you would stop doing is comparing yourself to the rest of the *world*. You make more money than most of the rest of the world - but that's not comparable. You say most of the rest of the world doesn't sleep on a mattress. Well, unless they are in a third world country....they probably do! I have family in both Korea and Japan and they both sleep on mattresses. You're now comparing a mattress purchase with saving for a home/yard. "Splurging" on a mattress (without a boxspring or a frame) is not going to put you back any when it comes time for the down payment on the house. Not when you're raking in over $1000/month in extra revenue from your blog. **YOUR** goals should not have to be at the sacrifice of your childrens' health or comfort.

Really, if you are just going to live off of a crockpot and nap pads, why not buy an RV or just get some tents and sleeping bags?

Glorifying poverty is not pretty, Emily. It's really not acceptable to sacrifice mattresses for the sake of your savings account. That is just silly.

Please reconsider your thoughts on the mattress issue.


Di said...

Since you said you would make furniture. Here is a good site plans.


You can look around for furnitre to organize the room. Here some of the things I liked.




Elizabeth said...

Okay, Emily, I understand that. With what you have in mind, let me tell you what I did when I was wanting to design my first child's nursery:

At garage sales I found: a crib and mattress for $10 (FYI...we never used the crib as we decided to co-sleep!)
Found sheets, curtains, pictures, a lamp, nightlight, and knick knacks in a Noah's Ark theme for $15
Changing table for $5
Glider rocker and ottoman for $15
Got a dresser from the garbage for free

It was the best decorated room in the house and we spent $45 for the whole room. It took about three months to find it all.
So my "suggestion" is to post "wanted" posts on freecycle in your area for a twin bed, futon, or bunkbed. Whichever you can get you can arrange where the crib is (and just get rid of the crib altogether). If you happen to find a bunkbed for free, use the top bunk to store the stuffed animals and other sotrage until little Dan is old enough to sleep up there. The two youngest should be able to fit on the bottom bunk for a few years together. The top bunk wouldn't even need to have a mattress at this point...the storage would sit better up there without a mattress. I do see bunkbeds on Freecycle sometimes, or you have a chance at finding one cheap on Craigslist. Otherwise, a futon or twin bed (or just mattress) would sit well where the crib is.
Advertise for a dresser or bookcase for free or cheap. If it is a dresser, use some drawers for the boys clothes and then some drawers for toys. If it is a bookcase, use some baskets (or your milkcrates) to store the boys clothes and some of the toys.
Garage sales would be awesome places to find fabric or sheets with car designs and other things to tie the room together. I think that by posting on Freecycle and Craigs List and searching garage sales this spring you really could do a complete makeover for under $50, including a bed. But this idea won't work for the contest as it would take several months to find the right things at the right price.
Good luck though. I actually saw nothing wrong with the boys room before except for the shelf hanging above the crib and the mattress without a sheet. I think that you do have creative storage ideas, but also see a few things that could be improved.
Oh, another idea, is to ask Dan and Bobby what they want and if you do search garage sales (in the spring), have them help you pick out certain things to decorate with. They will love having a say in it! :)

Di said...

Here are some futons on craiglist that are 50$ or less




SoMo said...

Okay, I know this is bad, but I didn't read the replies. I have somethings to do, so I am crunched for time. If this is a repeat just delete the comment.

I like bins, especially for all the loose pieces that kids seem to have. I was looking at some foldable storage bins at Target, today, and I think they were only $7.99 a piece. There were different sizes and since you said you are handy with a hammer maybe you could make some shelves for them to slide into. Like this: http://www.target.com/RiverRidge-Kids-Storage-Unit-Espresso/dp/B002FPAK2G/sr=1-2/qid=1266356787/ref=sr_1_2/181-7499432-8206018?ie=UTF8&search-alias=tgt-index&frombrowse=0&index=target&rh=k%3Astorage&page=1 I this better than shelves on the wall, because can clean up themselves which I think is an important part of play.

As for sleeping arrangements I like the futon idea. It can be folded flat for sleeping 2 small boys and then folded up for when it is play time. I find my kids don't need a big open space to play. They make do with what they have, so even if the futon was open during the day they would still have a flat surface to play on.

What about making their room strictly a play room and letting them sleep on a pull out or Futon in the living room. Just an off the wall suggestion. Sorry, but measurements mean nothing to me, I would have to see the actual room to get a grip of the size.

Good Luck and glad you took the suggestions and not the criticize.

Anonymous said...

Emily, I wish you would answer my question about the weight and what that has to do with switching rooms. If you have posted, then I haven't noticed. Thanks in advance.


Anna said...

on straw ticks (straw mattresses) I have slept on them most of my life, my daughters sleep on them now they are on/in conventional beds though. And yes they are comfortable and no they don't have bugs and my kids sleep really well on them. But sheets aren't thick enough for straw or hay (I use hay, we raise ourselves). It is extremely sharp once it dries and will go through a plain sheet like nothing, if you can't afford ticking (I raided my grandma's attic and bought it off of ebay for very cheap) than I would suggest quilting about four layers of sheets together with your sewing machine. Use Quilting thread for sewing them together and for sewing all your seams upolstery thread is even better especially with ticking.

I would ask on freecycle for sheets, ticking, and thread people have this stuff just hanging around. Hay works very nicely, in place of straw and is much more likely to be pesticide free in my area (the west) than say wheat straw. The reason being that what hay sells for by the ton does not pay for spraying it with expensive chemicals just thought I would throw that in on behalf of farmers and ranchers. Buckwheat hulls make an awesome pillow incidentally. I haven't looked at the link that Robyn gave you but just wanted to emphasize that if you go this route it is very important to really pack the straw/hay the best way is to stomp it into the ticking (in a small mattress this is an excellant exercise for a small boy they love it.) You want it really packed tight, like bounce a quarter on it tight sort of, this is because the hay will break down and loosen up pretty quickly and you don't want it to be lumpy.

The filler needs to be changed twice a year I coincide it with spring cleaning which is the old way. The nicest smelling is to get your hay after it has finished drying and is still in rows. You won't be able to get any this time of year like that though so I would suggest making sure that 1. your boys are not allergic to grass pollen etc, and 2 that the hay isn't dusty, if it has alot of dust you DO NOT want it. The same goes for if it has been rained on you DO NOT want it because you are guaranteed to have mold somewhere, if you are buying out of a stack buy the second layer from the top its the best. If they are allergic I would get some of those dust mite covers. Also I always pack dried lavender from my garden into mine, along with rosemary and oregano this repels bugs and lavender helps you sleep sage is good too.

As to waterproofing you can get or make old fashioned oil cloth it does a pretty decent job if you don't want to just put cloth pullups on Daniel I made my own pattern for those using PUL but I imagine you could do something similar with wool.

I would definitely reccomend this for you and Dan the only reason that my husband and I spent the money on a temperpedic was because a cow broke some vertabrae in his back a couple years ago and the doctor though it would help relieve the pressure on his back (it did) and I love our bed but I still find our guest bedroom bed to be very comfortable too and its a straw tick.

Wool stuffed into ticks makes a fabulous bed too. You have to be able to wash it though and that might be a little beyond your current facilities at the moment.

I like your contest idea, I may email you a plan too. And people harder surfaces are better for you back and spine which is why they tell you to put your baby on a FIRM mattress to prevent SIDs we were designed/evovolved whatever you believe you guessed it sleeping on the hard ground, so this is not child abuse.

Anonymous said...

These beds are out of your budget, but you might be able to find them on Craigslist.


They're made with "green" materials and are very safe. They're not terribly expensive by any means, but obviously more than 50 dollars.

Ami said...

Emily, a few questions.

1) Can you move the tree or is it 'set' in place? In other words, if I want to move it to the other side of the room, can I or no?

2) Materials cost. Should I calculate everything brand new or figure that some percentage (say 25% to stay safely 'high) will be used/freecycled?

3) How tall are your plastic rubbermaid bins?

4) Are both matresses crib sized?

Tim Majorins said...

Emily, My boys (5 and 3)have a homemade bunk bed that is crib mattress size. It has a ladder and a slide. It has railings to keep them from falling off the top bunk. They absolutely love it and it is great to have an indoor slide in the winter.

However, my son's and daughter (7 has a twin)would rather sleep on the floor in their sleeping bags any day! And did for two years! Every night they decided whose bedroom to sleep in and all three would drag their bags to the right location. They would still prefer to sleep like that. I got two nice blue eddie bauer sleeping bags at a garage sale for $5 each.

Sleeping bags also make great forts during the day and the kids can wear them up side down to be monsters. Oh, and don't forget riding them down the stairs is fun. Sleeping bags are the way to go!


Emily said...

1) The tree is like an old chimney or something, so it can't be moved.

2) Materials are guess-work. Much will be used or free.

3) 16"

4) yes

connie said...

Personally, I would get rid of more stuff.

I'm not sure why you don't want a mattress but I'm going to suggest an air mattress. you can get a good used one from CL and not worry about bedbugs. My guests tell me they cannot tell they are sleeping on my air mattress because it feels like a real one. I don't know about long term use, but I think it would be ok for children since they don't weigh much.

The air mattress is easy to move from room to room if you choose to experiment with other living arrangments. Its also easy to resell if it does not work out .

Elizabeth said...


I think that the reason why people are in a "buying" mindset is because there are basics that you really do need to buy to make the room a safe, comfy place for your little guys to sleep. They need some sort of bed (not just a mattress on the floor), they need mattress protectors over those mattresses, and sheets. They need some sort of storage that is very well anchored to the wall and that won't pose any problems if they try to climb on it. If you had all of these things, a $50 budget would be much mroe reasonable. But a twin mattress alone will run you more than $50. And while the furniture building plans are awesome (the website someone linked above is actually set as my homepage...) even lumber costs money.

I sent you an email entry, but I just looked back at my budget for doing our "nursery" and we spent less than $50 out of pocket which includes a new crib mattress. We did that by buying almost everything else used or at Ikea, and by selling a bunch of stuff that we were no longer using and putting that money towards buying stuff for him. If you're willing to sell things like the crib and add that money to the budget, the project will probably be more doable.

--Elizabeth (a different one)

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. The boys' room is 6x8? Really? I am right now sitting in my office area that is 8x8 and I cannot IMAGINE trying to fit 2 children in here, much less 3 eventually! One child? Sure. My daughter currently has a 12x10 room that seems so huge for her at 2 years old. Probably because we have purposefully limited her toys.

See, up until 2 weeks ago, we lived in a 2 room apartment. Just a kitchen and a living space. We had lived there for 3 years, two of them with our daughter. We just moved into a 900 sqft home and I feel like we are living in a mansion! For the first time in our life together, we can buy an actual couch! When you purposefully choose to live in small spaces, you have to be prepared to give up certain comforts that people with larger spaces can indulge in.

I would love to have shelves and shelves of books. But I have mindfully limited myself to a single 4 shelf bookcase. If I choose to purchase new books, then something has to go on that shelf to make room for them. The same with DVDs, the same with toys, the same with CLOTHES. Whenever something was purchased, it was with a mind as to our limited amount of space.

I think part of the issue is that you have a large house mind-set in a small house life. The typical de-cluttering protocal typically goes "If you don't use it, need it, or love it; it goes." In a very small space, that changes to "If I do not touch this item everyday or need it at least once every six months or love it so much that I would be heartbroken with it; it goes."

I don't think you are there yet, Emily. I look at the photos of your home and think "This is a lady with a big house mindset with a little house reality." Until you understand that and embrace that you need to change your outlook on things, all the re-decoration plans and contests in the world aren't going to help you.

I sincerely wish you luck and hope you iwll put aside your pride to really listen to some of the advice that you are getting before dismissing it out of turn.

Delia said...

I'm not going to read through 160 posts to see if this has been mentioned, so forgive me if it has (and, in that case, consider this a vote for this option)

1) Get a sleep sofa and you and Dan start sleeping in the living room.
2) Move the boys into your bedroom
3) Turn their "bedroom" into a much-needed storage space (as I"m sure it was designed to be. I've never heard of a bedroom being only 6 feet long- my bed is longer than that).

Your apartment will feel much bigger and cleaner if all your clutter is stored in one room, and you and Dan don't need a bedroom while your boys are young- put them to bed and the whole apartment becomes your bedroom.

This is the only option I can endorse. 6x8 is not large enough for three kids and THEY NEED A BED.

Oh, and BS on mattresses causing toxic mold that put your son in a coma. The article you referenced deals with SIDS, not comas, and all that means is that you should wrap the mattress. Kids need back support. If any toxic mold caused your son's coma, it was because he is sleeping on a pee-soaked mattress next to a heater.

Marcie said...

Any answer on those tents and the yellow plastic piano? I trying to figure out exactly what all is going to be in the room. Getting rid of bulky items like the tents would free up a lot of space.

Suzanne said...

My advice would be to take a good look at the toys first and cull what isn't beautiful, natural and doesn't foster imagination and open-ended play. I would get rid of the plastic for sure. I would paint the walls a comforting color such as a peachy color, maybe add some baby blue sheer curtains. I would have beds with mattresses as sleep for youngsters is documented as one of the most important part of any childs routine. I would use 100% cotton sheets and warm comforters to keep their bodies warm. I did a blog post if you care to read it:


Another excellent resource for help in providing a calming environment for a child is the book Simplicity Parenting, probably available through your library. It talks and instructs on how to start removing the clutter and creating a peaceful and nurturing space.

A few changes is probably all you need to do, thereby reducing what you spend. But, I would definitely get rid of some of the plastic toys and buy quality, eco-friendly items.

Emily said...

Marcie, soory, the tents fold up flat and take no room. The kids love them and we aren't getting rid of them. The piano I may be able to get rid of though.

Kate, who asked about mattresses, I'm really looking for an alternative.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the layout, I'd suggest a set of twin bunkbeds placed along the long wall across from the door. Don't put the ladder on the bunk bed yet, and use the top for storing toys or out of season clothes. That'll take up most of the long wall. You can probably freecycle bunks or get them cheap via craigslist. Remember that you'll be able to take them with you and they'll be useful for many years. We've had bunkbeds for several years and we'll be using them for several more years. If you're really opposed to the idea of bunks, I'd suggest a regular twin bed instead.

Underbed storage for in use toys and clothes. 1' deep shelves between the window and the door for more storage. Leaving space to open the door, obviously. If you want to keep the tents, they can go on the top bunk or at the end between the beds and the wall if there's space.

My kids have foam mattresses on their beds. After 6 years of constant use, they've seen better days, but we definitely got our use out of them considering the price. A twin sized bed is big enough for two under 5 kids. My 8 and 6 year old sometimes sleep together with no probems. Waterproof mattress pads are essential.

I understand that you don't want an expensive temporary solution. If you're going to be in your apartment for at least a year, then consider how much bigger Daniel and Bobby will be by then. By the time Thomas has outgrown a packnplay, Bobby should be able to sleep on a top bunk, leaving the younger two to share the bottom.

Marcie said...

Judging from the picture, they do take up a lot of room. How many are there and are you willing at all to downsize to one? How big are they when opened up?

Ms. Clear said...

What I'm learning as I become a mom (I'm pregnant now) is the motherhood is an intensely competitive sport for many many people.

That said, all the controversy generated here must be a lucrative source of side income. And in this economy, that can hardly be considered a bad thing.

Kelli said...

Have you looked at: http://knockoffwood.blogspot.com for directions, inspiration, etc on how you can build your boys a bed? There are several suggestions there that have storage underneath that would work, in addition to lots of storage options. It could be much more cost effective if you guys are handy to build quality pieces than throw away more money on Walmart junk.

Robyn said...

just wanted to say thank you to Anna for the straw tick mattress tips. the idea of making our own straw ticks is very appealing, but I haven't done too much research yet. (I didn't realize how sharp the straw pieces could be, for example.) thanks Anna. :-)

Sara said...

When are you going to get them matteresses? Will they sleep on mats or straw until they are teens? Just curious.

I think a key to making the room look and "feel" better is to minimize toys- get rid of things that aren't played with. Also, try to find storage where the toys are hidden in a drawer or with a lid. I think rooms look cluttered when everything is out in the open.

Emily said...

Marcie, there are two and they fold up to be less than an inch thick. The kids play with both of them several times a week in the kitchen. They are not negotiable.

stephanie said...

Emily, does your town have a Goodwill, DAV or other kind of thrift store?

Amber said...

Emily, you could get a twin mattress and put the kids in your bedroom, too. Then you could use their room for toys/storage and not even have to worry about fitting everything in. You can move your books and shelves to that room and then you'd have space to put the boys in your room, too.

We all sleep in the same bedroom now and always have. We have three bedrooms here, but the boys don't feel comfortable yet being in the other rooms so we have beds for them in our room.

Scottish Twins said...

Emily - if you're going to get alarmist about the mattresses, are you also concerned about the amount of plastic that is in the toys in their room?

I personally do not worry about mattresses - I use mattress protectors and realize that if I worried about toxins from the mattress I would also have to worry about it in my couches, carpets, rugs, chairs, etc. You can't eliminate it and I can pretty much gaurantee that the mattress isn't what caused your son's coma.

But plastic toys - just google the dangers - could be just as dangerous. Why not get rid of all of those too? And then you would need to get rid off all of your cookware that contains plastic. And I also read about stainless steel cookware not even being safe anymore. What type of nipples do you use on your sippy cups and bottles? You may need to toss those. And clothing - is yours made entirely out of organic cotton, because I heard that is a cause for concern.

You see the slippery slope here? You have to draw the line somewhere. I am someone who is very concerned about the health of my family and do what I can to avoid toxins in our environment. But there comes a point where you have to say that the comfort and quality of your life is more important. Get the boys a mattress.

Emily said...

stephanie, we have a several thrift stores and two freecycles in my area.

Scottish Twins, I am quite concerned about plastic and don't buy my kids many plastic toys, but family members do and the boys love them. There are some things I can control, like mattresses, and there are a lot of comfortable alternatives to factory made mattresses. I cannot control what loved ones buy for my kids though. That's a great place to draw the line, with what you can and cannot control. Also, if you know what caused my sons illness, I would love to know, as would the dozen or so doctors that spent a week trying to figure it out.

Juniper said...

I know this is out of budget but I thought I would throw it out there anyway.. you might be able to find one on freecycle or craigslist.


We bought our girls this setup and love it! They have a small room and this allows for so much more space. You could even use amazon giftcards from swagbucks.

It is solidly made and very sturdy. Something that would last a long time.

good luck!

Scottish Twins said...

You may not be able to control what your loved ones buy, but you can control what comes into your home. If it is a concern of yours, why hold onto the items? Just to have them? Because the boys like them? The boys are young - take the toys away and they will forget about them in a few days. I've done it with my boys.

Your logic doesn't make sense.

Juniper said...

Sorry for the second comment! Here are their actual beds...



Mary Jane said...

Given the dimesions of the room I don't even think there would be room to pull out a trundle, especially if all of the toys and other items are to remain in the there as well.

And Emily, the boys really don't care about you saving money to buy a house. They don't care if you rent for years to come. All that matters to kids is that they're loved, have plenty of food to fill their bellies, are well-cared for, treated kindly, read to, tickled, and a comfortable place to call home. Come on now, surely your boys' comfort is worth more than $50?

Sue said...

The best idea you've got so far is for you and dan to move into the living room on a futon or sleeper sofa and let the boys have the other room. Your current boys bedroom is not a room, it is the size of most walk in closets. Imagine how much nicer your home would look if your things were all organized in that room. There would be plenty of room for you and dan and the youngest baby to do whatever you need in the living room. This is your best advice. Take it!

Anonymous said...

The little sofas aren't very good to sleep on. You want something to be comfortable to sleep on as well so they are more well rested and stay healthy. I'd suggest to first switch bedrooms now then work on fixing it like you want. You'll have a much bigger space and you'll be able to have more children like you want.

Also, little kids get big fast. Daniel will be a big boy in 3-4 years and he will need that space to share with his brothers.

Get mat for you and dan to sleep on. Not the boys. You can get a mat plus a temperpedic top (knock off brand) and you will be so comfortable.

If you put sheets and mattress covers on the beds, the mattresses will last longer. Good luck, I truly mean that.

Lisa said...

I'm going to give Scottish Twins a big thumbs up here. Toys hardly seem more important than a safe, comfortable sleep space. Also, what about your furniture, like your upholestered sofa? Aren't the materials - and the risks - similar to that of beds and mattresses?

Emily, so let's get this straight. Your boys' new room will *not* include mattresses? And you and your hubby will continue to sleep on your mattress in the bedroom? Just making sure we have all the facts here.

Anonymous said...

You don't really want any ideas or advice do you? You've shot down just about everything people have suggested.

Libby said...

I don't know how handy you are with tools and what you have to use, but this is my favorite website of the moment:


She has simple, well built FREE plans and instructions to make many types of furniture. I know there is a plan for bunk beds and for a trundle bed. She even prices out how much supplies would be at a store like Lowe's. It's usually well under $50.

Like I said, I don't know if you would be up for doing it. But it would give you quality furniture that would put up with many years of little boys using it.

Suzanne said...

I agree with Scottish Twins, you do have control over what comes into your home. We went through it with all the plastic junk. We explained our views and some family respected us others thought we were nuts:-) After awhile, they noticed the items they bought weren't in our home and now they do ask us what the children might like that meets our approval. We don't shun all plastic, but a good majority of it.

Emily said...

Scottish Twins et al, my boys don't have their face on a toy or couch for 10 hours a day. My son slept on and under a factory made mattress. Agree or disagree, they will not be part of our home. There are a lot of mattress alternatives that I am fine with. Dan and I are discussing how to replace our own mattress, but it will take more work as ours is bigger and we have underbed storage. Our boys are the first priority.

Anon, not true. Official submissions are via email. None of these comments are submissions. One submission via email will be chosen and implemented.

Our Family Is His said...

Here's a great website for you. This woman and her family have lived in LESS space than you guys do and do it well.


Right now they live in an RV (a lot smaller than your apartment) and this post was SO timely with your post.


Here are pictures of her little house she used to live in with her family. I want to move there. Heheheh.


Here's how she did it:


And here's the little place that was only 382 square feet. She has lots of pictures so you can really get some good ideas. It doesn't look that big because it's so decluttered, has a lot of visual space, and lots of things to look at. This family really believes in not consuming just to consume, not spending lots of money (they used a sofa that was in the house they moved into because it was there).


Our Family Is His said...

Oh, so none of these ideas will be considered? They are only going to be considered if we email them? OK, I am done then. That was a waste of my time. I hope someone might have benefitted from my suggestions and site postings.

stephanie said...

Here's another link for a make-your-own-mattress:


* Jumbo toy hammock ($7.69) -- http://www.amazon.com/Jumbo-Toy-Hammock/dp/B0000634QM/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1266371766&sr=8-10

* Closet shelf organizer with drawers ($10.00) -- http://www.walmart.com/ip/13-Shelf-Organizer-and-2-Pack-Drawers-Orange/10967485#ProductDetail

* Dowel rod to hang organizer -- can be purchased from Lowes, Home Depot or hardware store

* Shelf with pegs from Hobby Lobby/Michaels -- http://www.amazon.com/Shaker-Peg-Shelf-Pegs-39/dp/B000LJG93C/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1266371566&sr=1-9

* At least two bins like this -- http://www.walmart.com/ip/Neu-Home-Canvas-Collapsible-Storage-Crate/10569434

* Bookshelf
* Futon mattress or components for making your own mattress
* Fun bedding?

* One storage ottoman (15.00) -- http://www.walmart.com/ip/Homz-Kidz-Small-Storage-Ottoman-nbsp-for-Boys/12177635

* Paint -- Color schemes: yellow/orange/red, or green/blue/purple

Following your diagram, I am calling long blank wall #1, tree/window wall #2, wall with door #3, and short wall #4. Take out all current furnishings.

Wall #1: arrange mattress/futon/bedding. With crib out of the way, you should be able to have the bed be down or pushed up against the wall. You can also use this wall for decorations like the horse -- maybe a cute train and track curving around in a fun way?

Wall #2: In between the "tree" and wall 1, hang a dowel rod so that the closet shelf organizer can be hung. It looks like you've got about 18" of space and the organizer is only 10" wide. Use those shelves for all of the boys clothes. I use them in my closets, and they work wonderfully.

In front of the window, place the tricycle and ottoman, if you get it. The ottoman can hold extra clothes, blankets, toys, etc. If no ottoman, than other bulky toy can go there.

Wall #3: Hobby Lobby/Michaels have great unpainted wood shelves/ledges that you can get for fairly cheap. Purchase one with pegs similar to the one linked above. Since they are unfinished wood, you can paint it in fun colors -- the pegs different from the base or something else. If possible, use this shelf for toys that are on top of current shelves, or the tents. Use the pegs to hang boys coats, etc. You can also put decorations on this wall -- cars chasing each other?

Wall #4: Hang jumbo toy hammock high in corner between wall 1 and 4. Fill it with stuffed animals and/or tents. Place bookcase along wall 4. On bottom shelf, fill two bins with cars and blocks. The next shelf up can hold all the books. Other shelves can be filled with leftover toys and/or more bins for storage.

Elle said...

"My son slept on and under a factory made mattress."


Sondra Rose said...

Hi Emily~ No time to take part in your contest, but I have been thinking of passing on this great book I've had since college. It's called "The Moveable Nest" and has hundreds of creative, cool and cheap ideas for making rental dwellings more homey and organized. Email me and let me know if you'd like it!

Boysmom said...

Emily, I read the article about the off-gassing. It's just a theory with zero support. The offer correlational evidence to support the theory. Correlation does not equal causation. I do not think that not having mattresses for you children is a viable option. And why are you so worried about SIDS? It's only a concern for children under the age of 1. Your babies sleep with you for that long it sounds like. What happened to Dan did not sound anything like SIDS, SIDS is when a child stops breathing suddenly while sleeping. Dan had been sick, completely different situation. I have 4 children and they all slept with me and/or my husband (we split up the twins so I could sleep.) They all sleep in conventional mattresses now, nothing organic as that's too pricey for us. I have a background as a Chemist and that article was extremely poorly written. It is a theory with zero research support, I would not change your whole life around over an unproven theory. There are PLENTY of those around and you can't believe them all.

Alisha said...

I have read through a lot of the post here. Could you invest in a twin mattress that could maybe prop up against the wall during play time? Or even in the living room, slide behind the couch and lay it out to sleep at night? Even if its in the living room - two small boys could sleep on it for a while. Also a nice futon would be a nice choice, their usually full size and both boys could sleep on it as well and sit up during the day. :)

Princess Jo said...

No, but kids do chew/suck on toys, Emily. Which to my way of thinking would be worse for them then lying on a mattress with....yep, you guessed it, sheets.

Mind you it also could be seen as unhealthy that your little kids are lying on a mattress held together with duct tape (which is how you described your adult mattress), even if it is only for naps and snuggles.

My point is that virtually everything can be seen as dangerous or bad or unhealthy. It is about being balanced. Right now, you are obsessed with being right, forsaking all reason and sense. My heart aches for your babies, Emily. As a person that lives with infertility, seeing children restricted, not allowed simple comforts such as a mattress because of their parent's obsessions kills me. I would say that you do it because you want what is best for them, but a lot of the time I don't even know if that is true. I usually see such a prideful "I am right, everyone else here is wrong" spirit in you, that it concerns me, particularly in terms of your relationship with GOD and the repercussions your heart attitude is having on your children.

You keep pointing out how other countries live this way, but the facts are they live that way because they have no other choice. They would kill to have the opportunities you have, including the possibility to have a mattress.

And why the obsession with email?? For varying reasons, I don't wish to give you my email address, and I am sure there are many others like me.


Mrs. Wonder said...

My son's bedroom is bigger than ours, and he's 4 months.
The children's well being should be a priority- instead of sticking them on thin mats and 'redecorating', switch rooms with them or find another arrangement than multiple children in such a small space.
Having a little 'contest' is not cool If you add that $25. you can have a toddler bed or two!

Amber said...

Emily, would you consider using the boy's room for book and toy storage and putting them in your room with you guys?

Aimee said...

I read each post you make and love to read your suggestions and see you grow through the thoughts of your readers.

I nominated you for the Sunshine Award. Feel free to head to my blog, www.ourlifefromscratch.blogspot.com and accept your award. Thanks for spreading smiles.

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