Filed under: house

small space living with two kids

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Back in May, I wrote about our ideas on how we planned to incorporate two kiddos in our small house. Now that we’re 3+ months into this dual kid routine, I thought it would be fun to stop by and update everyone on how we’re faring.

For the most part, we’re all cohabitating surprisingly well. I took these photos this weekend (and apologies on the quality, our DSLR died while we were in the hospital with Lillian (of course!) and it has not been replaced yet) and hopefully they have that “sorta cleaned up but definitely didn’t stage anything” quality to them.

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We didn’t want to make any major changes to Avery’s room right before or after her sister arrived, so we waited till last week to convert her crib to a toddler bed and move the glider and ottoman downstairs. Although she’s been able to easily climb in and out of her crib for a while now, she’s been such a solid sleeper that we didn’t want to rock the boat. But then Christmas came and went and quite frankly – we needed more space for her toys (she had four different Christmases this year!). So by moving the glider out and converting the crib, we were able to keep a spot to read books together while also freeing up more play space. After her first nap in the new bed, I found about five books and a dozen more stuffed animals with her but hey – she slept! We keep her room pretty dark so maybe that’s helped but overall we were pleasantly surprised that the transition went as smoothly as it did.

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One thing that we also started doing in the past year is rotating out books. Each month I’d buy a few more and pretty soon it was out of control and too overwhelming for Avery. So I moved all the baby board books to storage and put the remaining half (mostly the books that I just needed a break from!) in the fauxdenza. Although we don’t have any checked out at the moment, we usually also have 10-12 library books in the rotation too. (Pro tip – I used to impulse buy popular children’s books but instead I now check them out from the library first. If the book is still a top pick when it is time to be returned, then we go ahead and buy it.)

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Before Lillian came, we added the two top drawers to the wardrobe and tried to purge as much as possible. We use the bottom three drawers for toys and the top two for pajamas (for both girls), blankets, sheets, sleep sacks, swaddles, burp clothes, etc. The hanging rod is getting a bit cramped for both girls, but there are some things that could get folded if needed. (Each girl also has two drawers a piece in the dresser.)

Also, my sisters got Avery and Lillian dolls from Hazel Village for Christmas. I hadn’t heard of the company before but am totally in love.

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For the first month or so after we brought Lillian home, we had a stack of swaddles, burp cloths, diapers and wipes in the living room with a makeshift changing pad on the dining room table. Now that we’re in more of a schedule and not constantly feeding and changing diapers, we were able to return the living space to what it looked like before. Well, except for that damn swing. But I don’t care because that thing is MAGICAL. Both Avery and Lillian have napped for hours at a time in it so therefore it stays. For a few more months at least. :)

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When we bought this coffee table, we raved about its hidden storage but little did we know it would one day be filled with art supplies! The coffee table actually spent some time in the carport (when Avery was learning to walk and for a while afterwards) but is now used mostly as a base for Duplo villages and a vessel for crayons, playdoh, paper and stickers. The unanticipated design feature is that the pop up “lids” are just tricky enough that Avery can’t open them by herself, making it the perfect spot to store things that you don’t want your toddler to have free reign over. :) (The dark blue part also opens up and is where we stash old 24″x36″ drawing sheets that Avery uses to draw or paint on.)

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Avery still uses the Stokke Tripp Trapp (it had a harness that we’ve since removed). I’m not sure yet what we’ll do once Lillian starts eating solids – we still have and love our Inglesina clip-on chair (in fact, Avery used it up till she was about 2!) and I just recently saw that they sell a snap-on tray which I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT before. So maybe we’ll just use that or maybe we’ll get another Tripp Trapp? We could transition Avery to a regular chair with a booster but I have yet to see an option that would fit well on the Eames fiberglass chairs. :) Although, if Lillian is as messy of an eater as her sister, I could also see myself getting the small IKEA highchair with detachable tray. Apparently they’re easy to hose off in the shower.

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For the first month or so, Lillian slept in a bassinet next to our bed. It was nice to have her close to me, but our bedroom is so compact that it also meant I didn’t have a nightstand during that time. And although I was feeling pretty positive about the bassinet the first go around, it’s not been as durable as I would have liked and even though it can be used as a lounger for older babies, neither girl seemed to love it so it’s back in the crawl space and will probably be sold at some point. Or maybe my feelings for it were just clouded by my COMPLETE LOVE of our mini crib. (Yes, that’s probably it.) We bought a used Bloom Alma mini crib from Craiglist and it has been fantastic. (In an interesting turn of events, the people we bought it from later became clients!) Even used it was still an investment, but I can say that we’ve been super pleased with the design and quality of construction so far. We haven’t had a need to fold and store it yet, but we do push it all around the house on a daily basis and the thing is solid.

Although I originally thought that we’d put the mini crib in my office/satellite nursery, we’ve found that it’s more convenient to keep it on the main floor. During the day we keep it at the foot of our bed (and she occasionally naps in there) and at night we roll it out into the dining room. Yeah, our 3-month old has been sleeping in the dining room for the last few months. And folks, it works. She’s far enough away that I don’t wake up to every little squeak, but close enough that I definitely hear the “I’m hungry!” cry. (And really, I’d hear that cry no matter where she was. It’s humorous to think that we actually used a monitor with Avery.) Eventually we’d like for both girls to share a room but it’s not going to happen until Lillian is consistently sleeping through the night. Even though Avery doesn’t wake up from small baby cries in the middle of the night, I think she would wake up if I was coming in and out of her room.

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The mini crib is also just a great place to put her down if say…I need to take a shower. My only hesitation with going the mini crib route was that it was a big investment for something that may not be used that long. Based on the reviews I’ve read, most kids tend to outgrow it by the time they’re 12 months and since she’s been in the 75th percentile thus far for length, we’ll be lucky to make it that far. So what’s our solution once that happens? Not sure yet – we have a few ideas, some of which would be the result of a complete reshuffling of spaces (more on that soon!) but bottom line is that I’m sure there is a solution that will work just fine. After all, we didn’t expect that her nursery would be that spot between the table and the pantry but it is and it works.

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The bathroom – not a lot of changes besides the addition of a step stool and tiny potty. We are not actively potty training yet, but started the propaganda several months ago. (The potty was purchased shortly after we found out we were having another girl. It was that purchase where I caved on the color pink.) And confession time – we hide the potty in the shower when we have client meetings at our house.

After searching for a aesthetically pleasing option, I found this step stool which is locally made in the Seattle area. Initially we wanted something that could fold up and be stored, but it really hasn’t been a big deal so far. Avery is still about a half-inch too short to fully reach the faucet handles, but I think it will serve us well for a long time (and it’s better than her using the toilet as a step stool!).

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The one thing I underestimated when designing our kitchen was the amount of space we’d need for baby/toddler paraphernalia. We now have an entire drawer in our island dedicated to plate, bowls, sippy cups, straw cups, bibs, place-mats, snack cups and who knows what else. Actually, I’m convinced that The Cup Conspiracy is the real problem here and if you’re a parent you know what I mean. Most cups are ok, but each one lacks in some department so you keep trying new cups hoping to find that perfect one (that doesn’t leak, mostly) but in actuality it DOES NOT EXIST. So then, you’re left with a drawer full of cups and broken dreams. Or something like that. The moral – I try hard to do my research and make smart decisions to limit the amount of STUFF we have but this one got away from me. (Fortunately, I’ve been a lazy pumper (for better or worse) this time around and so we’ve been able to avoid a lot of bottles.)

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Finally, here’s a few low-light photos of my office that I took today. Having the glider and a few other baby things down there definitely makes it feel cozy and is more practical since I typically have Lillian with me in the mornings. On the ledge is our surplus stash of baby board books that were recently retrieved from the crawl space. I know, I think I might have a problem. But with your first kid you just kinda acquire stuff over time and it isn’t until you bring it all back for #2 that you realize how ridiculous the situation is. I’ll probably go through and purge a lot of these books and then put half away until we grow bored with the others. I bought that Skip Hop activity gym to replace the more obnoxious Fisher-Price one we got for Avery but of course(?) babies have strong preferences and Lillian loves the Fisher-Price one. Sigh.

Miscellaneous gear: not pictured, but there are few other items that are worth the space they take up. We received a Boppy lounger and used it often during the first few months. She’s starting to roll and outgrow it now but I’d say still worth it. (I’ve also heard you can just throw a blanket over a Boppy nursing pillow but maybe not as effective?) We also own the ubiquitous Bumbo and it’s small and light enough that it gets moved from room to room. The jumper that we bought for Avery just came out for the first time last week and is easily stored under the couch or in the coffee table when not in use. There’s really no great space in our house for the carseat, so we just keep it on the bench next to the TV. It’s only a matter of time before it stops coming inside so we’re ok with the temporary solution. The stroller situation, however, is less ideal. We bought a double tandem stroller which I really like but it is kind of a beast and the only place it seems to fit is in the car. That works fine most of the time unless we need the extra space and then it just goes in the house. We also still own our Chicco umbrella stroller (it’s great for travelling) but use it so infrequently that it lives in the basement. (Fun fact: I bought that particular stroller because it reclines all the way back and thought Avery could nap it in while we were out and about or traveling. Well, that didn’t happen so much but we did find that it was AWESOME to put Lillian in (fully reclined) during airport layovers.)

So that’s how we’re managing with two little ones. It’s usually a little chaotic (I snapped the photo below while trying to write this blog post, Avery managed to turn my office upside down in approximately 2.5 seconds), but in a good way. We know that Lillian is still a baby and that the true test is yet to come but we’re staying optimistic. Although there are certainly challenges with living small with little people (such as acoustical privacy and isolating messy activities), I’d say one major advantage is that Avery can have a lot of independence without us worrying that she’s getting into trouble (since we can always at least hear her). I remember having a conversation with other moms expecting their second about what their toddler would do while they breastfed and it’s been a total non-issue with us. Avery simply plays like she would if I was unloading the dishwasher or doing something else. And even though she can create a ridiculous mess in no time at all, limiting what we own in the first place makes it pretty easy to return things to order at the end of the day.

Phew, ok – what are your strategies for living small with kiddos? I want to know!

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Want to read our past posts on living small with a baby? Here’s one from when Avery was a newborn, when Avery was six months, and then a more thorough round-up right before she turned one.

Psst…we’re wrapping up schematic design on the garage/carport remodel and plan on sharing it here soon!

a new rug for the nursery

We made a small update in the nursery several months ago, but I just realized we never shared it here on the blog!

Anyhow, new rug!

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The old rug was an off-white chevron rug from West Elm. There was a lot to love about it, but over time Bailey’s nails would snag the knotted design and it started looking pretty worn and dingy. I suppose I could have had it cleaned but decided to swap it out for something more functional instead.

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It’s no secret that we have a special place in our hearts for Flor carpet tiles (we now have them in Kyle’s office, my office, our bedroom and our mudroom). I started my hunt for a new rug by looking at various single-piece area rugs but couldn’t find anything that was quite the right color, size or price. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of having to have it professionally cleaned in the event of a major spill or accident. So, back to Flor. Since this is a kid’s space we wanted something a bit playful but not too “busy” as it would be highly visible from the rest of our house. I’d seen a couple of examples in their catalog of custom designs using triangular tiles (cut along the diagonal from full squares) and thought this might have some potential. (I know, triangles! We’re crazy!)

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We ordered several samples and ended up with the Made You Look line as it was a good balance between price, color options and texture. We sketched out a loose design (enough to order the right amount of tiles) and had Flor custom cut the colored tiles (totally worth the added $3/cut to get it precise) but didn’t decide on the final design till we put everything together. In theory, we could rearrange the tiles if we got bored with the current pattern, but so far so good.

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Best of all, the surface is much more conducive to playing on so we feel like we instantly gained a new play space for Avery.

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In our frenzy to finish the bedroom a few months ago, Kyle also made a valence for the smaller window in the nursery. (In the bedroom we used maple, but decided to stick with fir here.) It’s a small detail but hides the exposed hardware of the IKEA roller shade.

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We’re about a month away (+/-) from welcoming baby #2 and since we’re expecting another girl there hasn’t been much that we need to do to prep for her arrival. I’ve been making space in both the wardrobe and dresser for itty bitty baby clothes and diapers but the overall look and layout of the room will stay as-is for now. We still have plans to eventually set-up a makeshift nursery in my office downstairs (which will involve moving the glider down there and setting up the mini-crib that we purchased awhile back) but aren’t in a hurry since the space will first be used as a guest room by visiting family (and baby will sleep in our room).

Small space multitasking for the win!

sunset magazine

I started reading Sunset several years ago, usually during my lunch break at work. With its focus on the western U.S., each issue left me thinking I want to try that / I want to eat that / I want to go there! Now, I don’t usually gravitate towards “lifestyle” magazines, but for me this one has always been different, covering topics that I found both interesting and attainable. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest ten years ago, we’ve had several moments (usually in a beautiful setting, hanging out with friends and eating delicious food) where I had to pause and take-in the life that we’ve made for ourselves out here. Maybe it’s cheesy, but for me reading Sunset is like a little reminder to do more of that, to appreciate what’s right around us while also seeking out new adventures. And sometimes, it’s a chance to live vicariously through others while you’re spending weekends at the hardware store.

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So, you can imagine our excitement when Kyle and I learned that they wanted to feature our home (and specifically, kitchen) in an upcoming issue! It was also just the motivation we needed to wrap up some projects around the house (like ahem, our bedroom).

It definitely didn’t all happen overnight, but before we knew it a small crew showed up bright and early to shoot our house. Although it can be nerve-wracking to have your own home photographed by a big-time magazine, it ended up being such a fun day and everyone was really great to work with. It was also fascinating to look behind the lens of a professional (in our case, Sunset photographer Tom Story) and see how the same angles I’ve shot so many times could look 10x better when done by a pro. By the end of the day, we were exhausted (though I’m not sure why seeing as how we mostly let other people do all the work) and spent awhile just hanging out in the backyard, soaking it all up and having our own we live here! we did this! moment. Eight years (and counting!) of remodeling is a loooong time, but days like that make us really glad we did it.

To see more, look for us in the August issue (in print or the tablet version) or checkout an online slideshow here!

And finally, a big thanks to Jess Chamberlain and the Sunset crew for making it happen!

the (mostly) finished bedroom!

We’ve been making progress on one area of our house and surprise – it’s not the basement! Which can only mean one thing of course – yep, we were able to get another extension on our building permit. When I submitted the request I asked for a couple extra months and was excited to see that instead they gave us till October. A few days later, I realized it was October 2015. Guys, if we have not closed out this permit by October 2015, someone please stage an intervention!

Anyway. The bedroom! You may recall this post from October when we first talked about our grand plans to re-remodel the space (we first tackled it in 2008) and then there was this post from November about choosing paint colors. Well, those paint swatches lived on the wall until about 3 weeks ago when we finally decided to commit to finishing the room.

I managed to snap a few crappy photos on my phone of the progress, but we didn’t feel it was super important to document the process. Spackle, sand, mask, paint…ho hum. (We also completed most of the work in a single weekend, so it was very go-go-go.)

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There was no good reason for the delay other than it just wasn’t a necessity project. Kyle had already fabricated and installed the new headboard (which we uninstalled to paint as seen in the photo above) and we’d purchased the Flor tiles, decided on a paint color and bought the curtain track hardware for the wardrobe. Honestly, I think it was all the prep work that had us dragging our heels (that and the fact that Kyle and I both generally hate to paint).

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We decided to leave the bed in the room and cover it (along with the wardrobe). This worked fine although painting between the wall and the wardrobe was a little challenging.

I should also mention that Kyle was awesome and did 95% of the work in here while I kept a curious toddler at bay and maintained my long-held role of “finder of things” and “extra pair of hands”. I painted Avery’s nursery while pregnant and could have kept up the tradition but underestimated how difficult it would be to paint during nap time and after bedtime only (especially when my bedtime seems to be about 30 minutes after Avery’s these days!).

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One more progress photo before we get to the big reveal. We got a new (bigger) bed last year and had to get rid of our old headboard and frame. The new bed came with a simple metal frame so we opted to add a custom DIY maple plywood skirt around the three exposed sides (after painting and installing new carpet tiles). The joints are biscuited and glued at the corners and for now the assembly is just sitting on the floor. Eventually, we’ll attach it to the metal frame at the head.

Although most of the wood in our house is fir, we opted for maple in the bedroom to change things up and better match the existing IKEA PAX wardrobe.

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A few accessories later and here we are! We still need new night stands – these are actually the discontinued Offi TV stands that we bought in 2008. We like them but had to turn them 90 degrees to fit which is a little awkward. Sadly, we haven’t been able to find any that we liked and could also afford (ahem, like these Blu Dot ones in “smoke”). There’s always the DIY option but again, too many other projects taking priority at the moment.

We’d also like to do something above the headboard. A single piece of art doesn’t seem like the right solution so we’ve been thinking of a narrow ledge for smaller art and objects (that can be changed out similar to what we have in the dining room) or maybe something more three-dimensional like a textile or sculptural piece that stands off the wall. I’m also ok with maybe doing nothing – I kinda like keeping the color on the bed and pulling the eye down towards that. I think it helps maintain the horizontality of the headboard.

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We never really loved the curtain and track solution of the previous remodel (an IKEA tension wire and two brown curtains). We considered adding custom doors instead (either DIY or Semihandmade) but this would have been a more expensive solution and we would have had to move the fan/light to accommodate a door swing. After installing the ceiling-mounted KVARTAL track in Avery’s room, we decided to give it a go in our room. We were even willing to go with custom drapes (with a color! or a pattern!) but could never find something that we both liked. So in the end, back to IKEA. This time we used three panels instead of two which works so much better. (The middle unit mostly houses dirty laundry, jeans and other odds and ends so we were ok with this solution.) I think the lighter gray compliments the darkness of the walls while feeling airy and bringing some lightness to the space. I was worried that the linen material would be too transparent but that hasn’t been an issue at all. (Yeah, they could be hemmed a little bit. I washed them in hot water and was excited to see that they shrunk the perfect amount…until I ironed them. I’ll get to it.)

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The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s “Ashland Slate”. It’s not quite as dark as Avery’s room (where we used BM’s “Baby Seal Black”) but we really like it. Kyle did two coats using BM’s Aura line and finished the whole room in just under a gallon.

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The plywood skirt hides the bed frame and box springs but is still short enough that we’re not hitting our legs on it when we get in and out of bed. Although we’re all about using every inch of space in our house, the bed frame is low enough that we couldn’t get much usable space under there anyway (it had mostly become home to dog hair and errant tennis balls). This detail also allowed us to run the carpet tiles only partially under the bed (like a reverse area rug), saving us a few bucks.

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The duvet is from IKEA (already owned) and I picked up the pillow and blanket from West Elm. We’re not big into accessorizing but I think these two additions really help tie everything together. The overall color palette doesn’t stray from the rest of our house, but what can we say – we like it! Besides, when you live in a small and fairly open house there’s a good argument for keeping things simple.

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Another project we took on was building a custom valence to go over the window. Last year we swapped out the ugly brown curtain for a blackout roller shade from IKEA. It works great but having the shade face-mounted above the window (we have a translucent roller shade mounted within the window frame) always bothered us. So, Kyle built this valence out of maple trim boards (with a few coats of polyurethane for good measure). We also switched the positions of the roller shades so when the blackout shade was down there would be less light leakage at the sides.

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The bedside sconces are from the Artemide Tolomeo line and the same ones we splurged on six years ago. Fortunately, the distance between the wall and shade was enough to accommodate the new headboard and we like how the two overlap each other.

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Now, if you have a keen eye you may have noticed in that first photo that the new headboard covers the switches for the sconces. Fortunately, we found a solution in a Pico product line from Lutron. It’s a wireless remote that uses RF technology to operate the light. It has an “on” and “off” option and also a button that goes to a presetting of your choice. While at a lighting conference a while back, one of our friends dubbed this the “sexy time” button. Naturally, it’s the one button Avery always presses first.

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Since we have about 5″-6″ of extra space between the wardrobe and the wall on each side, we decided to use the corner piece from the KVARTAL system and extend the track back into the recess. That way, if we wanted we could push the curtains back fully into the recessed niche. When they’re in the extended mode (as pictured above) there’s enough extra curtain that they can partially recess which helps to make the system feel more built in. For the money, I like the system a lot but it’s not perfect. Although we installed everything with as much precision as we could, the curtains don’t glide seamlessly over the seams between tracks.

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Here’s a close up look of how the track is installed.

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I regret not taking a photo of how the headboard is installed, but this shows how it does in fact stand off the wall by a few inches, creating a nice little shadow line and working with a room where the walls are not perfectly plumb and square. The detail is actually pretty simple – we made a French cleat out of tapered 2x’s with one attached to the back of the headboard and the other attached to the wall. The headboard cleat sits on top of the wall one (basically like this), ensuring a snug fit.

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Like the nursery, we opted to leave the ceiling white. In this room, that meant repainting in “Super White” over the really bad yellow “white” paint that we used years ago.

A few more detail shots:

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At the base of the IKEA wardrobe, Kyle installed a new piece of maple trim (glued in place to avoid exposed fasteners). This helps hide the edge of the carpet and the wardrobe toekicks that we installed backwards on all three units. (Until now, we had a piece of scrap masonite cut to size and glued to the raw MDF face.)

This room was the only space that had fir floors and during the first go-around we tried to salvage them as best we could. Over time, Bailey did a pretty good job gouging them out again and because they were never really great floors we decided to cover them with Flor carpet tiles (we used tiles from the “Suit Yourself” line in Pumice). We love it! The install was fairly easy – Kyle just removed the base shoe at the other three walls and then re-installed it a bit higher (before we repainted) to allow the tiles to slip underneath. (The shoe was originally installed because after we replaced all the lath and plaster with the thinner drywall, there was a small gap between the base trim and finish floor in some spots.)

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Here are a few more detail shots of the valence. Kyle glued and biscuited the joints in his shop and then attached it to the wall using long screws that go through the top of the end pieces at an angle. We left the top open to simplify construction and keep it from becoming a dust shelf.

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In the end, we didn’t really pick one of the three schemes that we originally blogged about but I think it’s a hybrid between a few of them. Although I’d been crushing on that West Elm chair, I finally decided it wasn’t all that practical (having one kept me from being able to open my drawers all the way) and that maybe, just maybe, not having one would force me to actually hang up my clothes. So far, so good!

All in all, we’re really happy with the space. It’s cozier and more peaceful than it was before (and way less frightening than when we moved in!). We’re finding that we spend more time as a family in there too – mostly on weekend mornings or in that hour before bedtime when everyone is winding down. Working our way through a stack of children’s books (a few of which have been read so many times that I had to hide them to save my sanity) is a nightly ritual and our bed has become a welcome alternative as both Avery and my belly get bigger and it’s been more of a challenge to fit on the glider in her room.

Most importantly though, the room is golden-approved. A light breeze through the window and Bailey will gladly nap for hours on end in there.

making room for #2

As soon as we found out we were expecting baby #2, I started thinking about exactly how we were going to fit another small human in our house. There’s not an obvious solution (like an extra room!), but people live in much tighter living situations with two kiddos so I feel confident we can come up with something that will work for us.

Last week, we learned that we are having another girl(!), so we thought we’d go ahead and post about our current ideas. Gender doesn’t really make a difference for our immediate spatial needs, but it is fun to scheme about long-term plans for growing in our house. In fact, the ultrasound technician may have been a little perplexed as Kyle and I excitedly chatted about doing a “someday” addition with a sleeping loft for the girls. (Girls!) But for now, the focus is making it work without adding on. Like we did with Avery, the new baby will sleep in our room for the first few months. Avery actually slept better in her crib (meaning we slept better!) so we might try making the transition even sooner this time depending on what feels right.

As for where the baby will go – the options really come down to Avery’s room or the downstairs bedroom/office.

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As a reminder, here’s the current layout of Avery’s room (above). It’s a decent size room, but with the two big sliding doors we really only have three walls to work with. This limits layout options and makes it largely impossible to add a second full-size crib (and I’m not sure that’s the best solution anyway). Spatial logistics aside, I think our biggest goal will be to encourage sleep which will translate to being flexible. Since we don’t know how their schedules will mesh (I’ve heard some kids sleep better apart and some together) we don’t want to back ourselves into a single solution. (Also, the distance from our room to either space is about the same, so that isn’t really a factor for us.)

So, two options:

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Share a room – We’re big fans of room-sharing (we both shared with our younger siblings until we were teenagers) and I think this will definitely be the plan once the girls are a bit older. But until then, we will go with the setup that is best for sleep. This layout is cozy to say the least but I think it could work. The changes would actually be pretty minor and include:

Storage: the existing IKEA wardrobe and dresser have enough room to accommodate another kiddo for a while so I’m not too worried about that. There is some purging that can happen and we can replace the laundry basket (that currently sits on a shelf in the wardrobe) with a narrow hamper that sits between the dresser and wardrobe. I’ll probably remove another shelf and add two more drawers above the ones we already have. (I recently saw that IKEA no longer carries the plastic Pax drawers – I was bummed until I saw the replacement. Pretty!) The plywood toy/book storage boxes would still fit in this scenario but it would be tight.

Second crib: There’s really not enough room for a second full-size crib and I don’t think Avery will be ready to transition from hers anytime soon. (She has made no attempts to escape, so we’re not pushing it!) I tried rearranging to see if Avery’s crib could go somewhere else and free up more space, but it is in a good spot now as she can’t reach any switches or window shades/curtains. As a temporary solution, a mini crib makes sense. I think I would be completely sold on this idea if the one I wanted wasn’t so dang expensive. From what I’ve read, the reviews are mostly positive with the exception of just how long the crib can be used for (some babies outgrow it by 12 months and others can last until two). I think if we got at least a year out of it then Avery would be ready to transition to a “big girl” bed and baby #2 could move into the regular crib. I also feel confident that we could easily resell it on Craigslist and recoup some of the costs. Of course, the more pragmatic and logical side of me says to just use the Pack ‘n Play that we already own. It is bigger in size (somewhere between a mini crib and regular crib) but could probably fit. (It would be more cumbersome to move up and down the stairs, but I’ve done it before.) That said, it just feels too temporary to be a 12-month+ solution. #2 is already getting all the hand-me-downs from Avery so my less frugal and design-focused side says that we can afford to splurge on a few new items.

But I digress…

nursery_basement

Set up a satellite nursery in my office – If we find that it works better to have the girls in separate rooms, then the downstairs bedroom will become a guest bedroom/office/nursery. I’d have to do some purging and organizing (it still looks more or less like this, just messier), but I think we could make this work too. Because the space is already serving dual purposes, we keep all of our shared resources in Kyle’s office so I don’t actually have that much stuff. The desk and sofa bed would stay, leaving us enough room for a mini crib (or Pack ‘n Play, I guess…), the glider and the IKEA cart that’s already in the space. We would still keep most of the baby clothes and supplies in Avery’s room, but store extra diapers/wipes/clothes/etc. in the cart. We could also set-up a makeshift changing station on the chaise portion of the couch. Although we expect to use this room for visiting family after baby arrives, she would be in our room at the time so I think the overlap could work. And if we had guests later, we could just move the mini crib to our room or another part of the house. (I’m building a good argument for the mini crib, right?)

I admit that having a PC in a nursery is not very soothing (for baby or me!) but I think there are strategies to reduce the techy vibe. This setup could also work well during my “maternity leave”. As of now, I’m planning on working a reduced schedule after baby comes and as I get into the groove of having a newborn again. We would still have our regular nanny come to watch Avery during those first three months, leaving me more time to focus on #2 and work. With Avery, although my schedule was a little sporadic I was able to do quite a bit while she slept so maybe there’s something to be said about the two of us being holed up together in the downstairs room.

The good thing about these two options is that really, we can do both. We’ll probably start with the satellite nursery and go with that until we’re ready for the girls to share. Once Avery’s in a bigger bed and #2 is in a full-size crib, we’ll have to readjust again. At that point though, I think we’ll have a better idea of our long-term office plans (we’re still toying with the idea of remodeling the garage into a shop/office space). If we end up doing that, then the downstairs room could become a dedicated second bedroom or we convert that to a sleeping room for both girls and use the upstairs nursery as a play area. And if we eventually outgrow that, then we’ll do a small addition off the back of the house – a large family room of sorts with a third bathroom and sleeping loft above.

Anyone else out there making it work in a small house with two kiddos? Anyone used the Bloom Alma crib? We’d love to know what has worked (and what hasn’t!). I realize that the success of either scenario will depend on the kiddo and that one week may be completely different from another, so another reason we’re trying to stay as nimble as possible.