Filed under: house

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…

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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.

basement bathroom palette

We haven’t finalized every decision with the basement bathroom, but I feel like we’ve narrowed it down enough to share our general design direction (click to enlarge).

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It’s a shocking departure from the rest of our house, right? Kyle and I joked about how it does have a lot of similarities to our other bathroom but what can we say – we did that space in 2008 and we still like it! Besides, the basement bathroom door is already painted the same aqua color (BM’s “Thunderbird”) so that was a good starting point. As mentioned in our last post, the room is also really small (only 4′-6″ wide) so we wanted to keep it as bright and airy as possible. For now, the bathroom will mostly be used by me while I’m working during the day, but will eventually become a kid’s and guest bathroom. So, something fun and playful yet simple and clean. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what we’re planning:

+ Shower/Tub: we already have a standard tub with integral apron (I believe it’s American Standard but I’d have to double-check) and we’ll be using a shower system from the Kohler Purist line. We don’t need another hand shower, so it will be a bit simpler than the system in our upstairs bathroom. The shower rod is from Moen (need to check that we can cut it down to size for our 4′-6″ width) and the curtain is from West Elm. We’ll likely do a simple white subway tile, though we’re looking for something with more of a rectified edge than the Daltile we used upstairs.

+ Vanity/Mirror: We already bought the IKEA vanity and integral sink (though ours is wider than the version shown). Since one side of the vanity will be exposed we’ve thought about mounting a piece of cabinet-grade plywood to just that face to make it look more finished and bring a little warmth to the space. (Back in 2008, IKEA didn’t have the integral sink/counter which is why we wrapped both the top and side of our upstairs vanity in teak plywood.) We’ve been hesitant about using IKEA’s faucets but decided to give the DALSKÄR a shot after hearing that people were generally happy with it. (Professionally, we get this question a lot so we decided to be our own guinea pigs.) The mirror/medicine cabinet is also IKEA and the sconces are the same ones we have upstairs from Resolute. They’re a bit of an investment but I swear I searched the entire internet and couldn’t come up with something we liked better. We thought about a linear bar light above but they’re not as effective and with the smaller mirror it didn’t really make sense. I’m also considering this floating shelf from West Elm to mount under the mirror. I’m not convinced it will work in real life but that’s what return policies are for, right?

+ Miscellaneous: For flooring, we’ll go with a similar large-scale (12″x24″) tile but are thinking something in the gray range rather than brown. (We’ll also do electric radiant heat below the tile.) We’ll do another Toto Aquia toilet as we love our other one and have had zero problems in the last 6 years. The TP holder shown is from Linnea, but we’ll likely try to find a more affordable option(!) The wood shelf and pegs are from IKEA’s PS line – I’m just showing one of the wood pegs as yellow instead of orange. We’ll have to experiment and make sure it works for holding towels but with an already narrow space I didn’t want a towel bar that projected too far into the room. (We could always do something on the back of the door too, though it’s nice to be able to grab a towel without getting out of the shower. Speaking of towels, we’ll need some new ones (and maybe for the upstairs too, considering we’ve been using the same 4 towels since we remodeled that room). I haven’t checked out these West Elm ones is person, but I like the colors. Finally, we’ll likely add a few small details to wrap up the space (flower image found here) and up the cheeriness factor a bit.

So that’s where we’re at. I’m sure we’ll tweak some things here and there but I’m pretty happy with this current direction. (Ooh…bonus points, the proposed palette also matches our blog!)

Once the space is finished, we’ll be sure to do a full resource list of everything that was actually used (including items not shown here like recessed lights, vent fan, switches, etc.). For now though, it’s back to construction. Kyle worked this past weekend and made some good headway, though we quickly realized that remodeling with a toddler is way more difficult than with a newborn! Even though the space is physically isolated from the main house, the loud drilling/hammering noises created quite the frenzy.

it’s bathroom + laundry time!

Well, we thought our building permit expired in mid-July but we got a notice the other day saying it’s actually the end of May. Oh, snap.

So, time to hustle.

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We haven’t really talked about the unfinished bathroom and laundry room much in the last two years and that’s because we haven’t really done anything (see what I mean, it’s like the space that time forgot). The area has mostly been used to do laundry and collect things. These pictures (taken today) are far from inspirational, but the space really does look so much better now that we’ve taken the first step of purging and clearing out all the stuff.

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Fortunately, we already have a lot of the supplies on hand as we thought we were going to wrap this up two summers ago (hahaha).

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The IKEA temporary door (aka “curtain”) lives on, hiding our unfinished work from the rest of the house (and our conscience, apparently).

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Kyle spent a few hours this afternoon assembling a plan of attack. In years past we would work on nights and weekends but now that we have a more flexible (albeit busy) schedule and a toddler we’ve been brainstorming the best schedule that will allow us to somehow squeeze everything in. We’re still really busy with Studio Zerbey, but decided it would be more hassle to coordinate several different trades for such a small job that is already in progress. So the plan is to dedicate a couple of hours a day to the bathroom and cross our fingers that it will be enough.

As a reminder, here’s the design for the basement in its entirety. Obviously, we still need to finish framing out the walls between the bathroom/laundry/storage areas as well as add doors to the laundry room. (We also haven’t updated the plan since the guest room became my office instead of the original plan to make it a media room. Probably a good call as we only seem to turn our TV on once a week and it’s usually for Dinosaur Train.)

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The spaces are modest in size but we plan to squeeze every usable inch out of them. Most of the decisions for the laundry room are already in place or not construction-related, so we’ve been focusing on the bathroom this week. We’ve already purchased some things – like the tub, shower valve, vanity, sink, faucet, and vent fan but still need to select and order the shower fixtures, toilet, tile, radiant heat mat, lighting and accessories (and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting).

On most of our projects, we try to make all the decisions and order supplies and materials before we get too far into construction. That way, we have everything on hand and are less likely to have those “oops” moments when it’s Sunday at 10:15 and the hardware store has just closed. (Not to say that there won’t still be several last-minute trips to the store, but the less the better.) So although we’re a ways off from installing accessories, we’ve been thinking through things like mirrors and lighting this week so we’re not making guesses when it comes time to run electrical.

On that note, I’m thinking about doing a materials palette board once we make a few more decisions. The space will mostly be a secondary bathroom for kiddo baths and me while I’m working, but also used for guests (as my office will still double as the guest bedroom) so we want it to be playful but not “kiddie”. And because this is a basement bathroom and a tiny one at that, we want it to be light and airy without a lot of visual clutter.

For now, the focus is on running the rest of the plumbing and vent lines (the plumbing rough-in is done), insulating and roughing in electrical. (Yes, we’ll be hiring out the drywall again!) Kyle and I just ran through the list of what needs to happen before drywall can start and it’s overwhelming to say the least. In fact, I’m writing this post next door in my office and I’ve already heard his “remodel sigh” a few times.

YES WE CAN!

nursery + childproofing updates

Thank you all so much for your kind words on last week’s post! We’re excited about the changes ahead and prepping our house for another little one!

I meant to put together this post in January, to share how we managed to fit Avery’s Christmas bounty into our already cozy home. Since our last nursery post back in August, I’ve also been meaning to show what’s changed and how we’ve had to childproof our house. But y’know – there were two things I needed to hang in the nursery so the post got delayed for months. Last weekend I finally got around to hanging them and it took me all of seven and a half minutes.

So, now that we’ve got procrastination out of the way…

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We haven’t changed the nursery too drastically since last summer. When I was nursing Avery I liked the idea of the glider facing into the room and feeling a bit more cozy, but a few months ago we decided to flip it to the other side as we’re mostly using it for reading before bedtime. Her storage boxes then moved to the other side of the wall. We’ve played with a half-dozen or so configurations but this more compact stacking seems to work well for our current needs. Although we envisioned it being used more for toys, it is almost all book storage now. I love that Avery loves books and have, rather eagerly, added quite a bit to her collection in the past six months. (We also regularly visit our local library branch and usually have 10-12 loaners in the rotation.)

Because Avery loves to read (err…look at the pictures), I bought her the Land of Nod chair (against my more rational, space-conscious side) for Christmas. Turns out she’d still rather sit on the floor and flip through books but maybe that will change as she gets older? Or maybe I’ll just put it in the basement for a while and free up some space in her room?

Also, have I mentioned that this girl is obsessed with trash trucks? In Seattle we have three different trucks that roll by each Monday and it’s pretty much the highlight of her day.

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I’m keeping things real by keeping the Disney princess car in this shot. She’s more into pulling it out and re-parking it, so maybe it will live outside once summer comes. By the way, the rug is going bye-bye. We have some ideas for a replacement and ordered samples last week. (For the record, it’s Bailey who trashed it. Dirty paws and claws that get caught in the loops of wool are to blame. Besides, we’d like something with a more level surface for playing on.)

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As another Christmas gift, I ordered Avery this custom growth chart from Etsy shop, PaperRamma. Tracking growth is just one part really, it’s more of a modern infographics baby book and as you can see I haven’t actually filled any of it out yet. (In hindsight, it would be been better to get before or right after she was born since we’ve already passed many of the milestones.) I do love the colors and overall design though.

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Not much has changed with the wardrobe organization either. We keep surplus books and art supplies at the back of the laundry basket shelf and use the bottom three drawers for toys, blankets, sheets and extra diapers and wipes.

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Hey, I also finally hung the “Z” that had been sitting on her dresser for the last 20 months.

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The big addition to the main living area is the IKEA play kitchen that Santa brought. This chunk of wall was literally our last free space so it was fortunate that the kitchen just barely fit. I researched a few kitchens and came back to this one for the price, design and size. Many of the others were quite small and I liked that this one comes with plastic extenders that go on the legs as the child gets taller.

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We’re still using the under-bench space for additional toy storage. The bench is at a good play height for Avery right now, so we took the cushion off and stored it under the couch.

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Avery is also really into blocks and building right now so this is typically her construction area. (I totally gave Kyle a hard time for buying her the girlie Duplos but she loves them. Although, I think she’d love them if they were primary colors too.)

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She also rediscovered her Grimm’s rainbow recently and its endless configuration options. Take note, rainbow cuffs are the hot new toddler trend for Spring!

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Now, onto childproofing. The good news – we really haven’t had to do much. The fauxdenza has had the most attention and primarily because it is parallel to a main path of toddler travel. Although we haven’t had any issues with our fancy, architect-designed pulls in the kitchen, Avery has had a couple run-ins with the ones here. So a few months ago we bought some foam padding, cut pieces to size and adhered them with some double-stick tape. (We put up the foam corner guards last fall when she was less steady on her feet.) She’s at the point where they could probably be removed, but it will only be a matter of time before we’ll need them again and yeah…who likes removing double-stick tape?

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The downside to installing the foam is that it made the cabinet doors easier to open. We had bought some door catches from IKEA six months or so ago but just couldn’t bring ourselves to install the fussy hardware. So instead of childproofing, we tried child-deterring instead. Yup, we used a good ol’ fashioned rubber band around each pair of door pulls. Surprisingly, it worked. She fussed with them for a couple of days and then eventually gave up. In the kitchen, we have mostly drawers within her reach and she doesn’t really open them. I credit this to the drawer dampers that we installed, making them just a tiny bit harder to pull open if you have the strength of a toddler. (I should mention of course that we don’t keep anything dangerous in any drawer or cabinet within her reach. If she got into them, it would be a nuisance more than anything.)

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Sadly, we do not have a wonderfully creative solution for stroller storage. We keep the full-size one here in the mudroom and the smaller umbrella one in the back of the car. I know that with #2 our stroller situation is only going to get bigger, but that’s a topic for another post. (Our mudroom was limited in size because it’s in our front yard setback so we had to work with the existing footprint – had this not been the case we definitely would have gone bigger and incorporated more storage.)

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The only other childproofing measure we’ve taken is to put corner guards on our table. These started out at the corners of the fauxdenza but as she’s grown they’ve migrated to the table. I know it will only be a matter of time before they move to the island, especially since she’s already able to stand on her tip toes and swipe things from the edge (which has led to enforcement of the “12” rule” where everything (like knives!) gets pushed in 12″ from the edge).

As for a quick update on high chairs – we’re still mostly using the Inglesina clip-on chair at the island (it’s more convenient), but she does sit at the Stokke a few times a week and we also use it for crafty activities like coloring. I know she will eventually outgrow the clip-on chair and it will be passed on to the next sibling so the Stokke still has a long future ahead of it.

So that’s our update. And if you didn’t notice – we have done nothing with the loft ladder! I know, we’re surprised too. I’d like to think we taught her not to climb it but really, that’s just her temperament. She’s a bit more reserved and quiet and that’s probably a big reason we haven’t had to do much to our house. I know it will change at some point (can’t keep a kiddo off a ladder forever!) but because Kyle’s office is up there and he uses the ladder multiple times a day, it’s been nice not to have a gate or contraption to deal with.

Of course, I probably just jinxed us and #2 will be the polar opposite and we’ll have padding all over our house.

playing catch up

Hello!

I didn’t really intend to take this little break from blogging, but these last few months have been busy. I know, that word is almost trite these days, but it’s true. Busy (really busy) with work, busy with life. Although we have a few post ideas in the hopper, the blog has been like that stack of magazines on my nightstand that I just can’t seem to get around to.

My thoughts on blogging have also changed a bit since I got back from the Alt conference and I’ve been trying to process what that means for chezerbey. Expecting to come back re-energized about the direction of the blog, I instead felt a bit underwhelmed and unmotivated. The conference itself was great – very well organized and orchestrated, especially considering how many people (I heard somewhere between 600-700) were there. I also finally got to meet Jaime, Nicole and Dana! Dana and I shared a room and stayed up way too late each night, mostly talking about things outside of our blogs.

That said, I was a little disappointed by the seminars and presentations. Perhaps it’s because ours is somewhat of a niche blog (in the greater “design blog” sphere at least) or because it’s one that isn’t monetized, but I felt like most of the topics didn’t really apply. It also made me realize how much blogging has changed in the last several years and maybe that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go. (I went to a seminar about how to monetize your Pinterest account and it left me so overwhelmed that I had a Pinterest nightmare a few days later and haven’t logged on since. Seriously, I had no idea what a juggernaut it had become for some people.)

So, here we are. Our blog has been personally and professionally valuable to us and we have no intention of stopping. But moving forward, we are going to reevaluate a few things. In the beginning, I mostly blogged about what I wanted to, when I wanted to. The last few years brought more of an agenda though, with intentions to blog twice a week, to do more quick posts, to go outside our normal focus…to do more. But here’s the thing, once a week is challenging as it is and even my “quick” posts take at least 2 hours to write. So I’m going to abandon my previous ideas of what I think I should be doing and instead focus on what I want to do (realizing that this is what got people reading in the first place). Without the pressure to make money off the blog (something I’d been considering off and on for a few years), I want to instead focus on the opportunities it can afford and the relationships we’ve made and can continue to make. Since we started our architectural firm, Studio Zerbey, almost every single remodel project (we do about 50% remodels, 50% new construction) or consultation has come to us through the blog. People have hired us not just for our design aesthetic but because we’ve gone through (and documented!) the experience first-hand. This has made us more relatable and approachable and guys, that feels pretty good. That’s where we want to be, the kind of architects we want to be.

So we’re going to keep pushing in that direction and maybe we won’t post as often as we’d like, but we hope each post is interesting and well-done. Also, we are still not done with this house! Although our DIY accomplishments this year have consisted of 1) fixing the bathtub drain, 2) lubing the door locks and 3) repairing the screen on our return grill, our to-do list is more ambitious. In fact, we have a few deadlines in the next several months (including a photo shoot and an expiring construction permit) that will mean some serious PROGRESS on the home front!

Finally, thank you to those who have stuck with us through the years, offering your continued support and encouragement. Even if the blogosphere feels a bit different these days, I continue to be inspired by so many of you – whether it’s the comments you leave or the posts you write.