By far, the best part of my twin pregnancy was designing and decorating the nursery. (It certainly wasn’t the 60-pound weight gain, constant heartburn, swollen feet, or sore back.) Since I was having boys, I chose a Western theme complete with cowboy bedding, a few choice antiques, and framed prints of the Southwest. I came up with a unique way to hang the nursery curtains, too. Instead of a metal pole, I used a long, 2-inch thick tree branch that I found in our backyard. This wooden rod gave the whole room a rustic feel and tied the motif together. What creative fun that was!
One problem though. My baby boys quickly grew up. And then their little brother came along. Suddenly we didn’t have enough room for our growing family. Over the next decade, we were forced to shuffle three growing boys between two small bedrooms. We tried various scenarios including having each boy take a six-month turn with the solo bedroom but that got old very quickly as no one wanted to reorganize their belongings with every move.
But then we hit upon an idea that has worked well for us. Maybe it’s just the ticket for your family of growing multiples, too.
We use one bedroom as an office/playroom while the other acts as a dorm used solely for sleeping. Both of these rooms function surprisingly well since we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on offering each child a bit of personal space. But since the rooms measure a mere 11 feet by 11 feet each, the key to success was concentrating on a design that maximizes space as well as choosing products that are not only smaller in scale but efficient.
Take the office, for instance. Instead of three separate desks crowding the room, my husband designed and built one long desk top that seamlessly wraps around a third of the room. He rounded the corners of a butcher block slab and then added four metal desk legs—all purchased from IKEA for about $150. To save even more space, we used low stools on casters that slip right under the desk and out of the way. (We started with stools from IKEA but sadly they were poorly constructed and broke one by one in the span of two years. These current tractor stools are from WalMart. They’re much better built and more comfortable. I highly recommend them.) Each boy gets a wall-mounted desk light in his chosen color (also from IKEA), three-tier file tray for organizing school papers, and shelving for his own personal library. A tall filing cabinet stands in the corner—each boy gets two drawers to stash his files.
Making room for a computer station was easy, too. We mounted a 12-inch deep piece of that same butcher block (with mitered, rounded corners) on an empty sliver of wall space between the closet and the door. We used a set of brackets from the hardware store, and then attached a pullout keyboard drawer. A tall bar stool from Target adds a bit of sophistication. All done for less than $100. The narrow profile from both the wraparound desk and computer workstation keeps the floor area clear and open.
The dorm or bedroom, on the other hand, presented a bigger challenge. With three beds—a set of bunk beds and a twin bed—there wasn’t room for much else, namely nightstands. I came up with the idea of creating small, wall-mounted boxes to act as a side table; my husband designed them. We call them “Boxers” to give our sons’ small room a “fighting chance.” (Corny but we thought it was funny.) There’s the left opening “Southpaw,” the right opening “Right Hook,” and the four-sided”Knock Out.” (The boy on the top bunk gets that one; it’s mounted on the side wall.) The Boxers give each child some bed-side storage for alarm clock, book, and dream journal. Once again, IKEA lights offer some illumination for bedtime reading.
With the nightstand dilemma solved, it was time for organizing clothes. A captain-style twin bed with three drawers underneath was a perfect match. Each son uses one small drawer for pajamas, socks and the like. And when we purchased our bunk beds, we opted for the deep pullout drawers below the bottom bunk—a $200 upgrade that was money well spent. A tall bureau rather than a wider and longer dresser, stores their remaining clothes. Double rods in the closet gives everyone a spot to hang dress shirts and pants.
Although all three are now teenagers, the layout still works for us. No one has grumbled for his own room. Yet.
Here are a few other tips when it’s time to design your twins’ bedroom.
- Talk with your twins about what’s working in their room and what isn’t. Then brainstorm ways to make it more functional.
- Look around for inspiration—magazines, design websites. For instance, I got the idea for the wraparound desk from something similar I saw at my neighbor’s house.
- Look for items that do “double duty” such as a bed with drawers underneath or chairs with storage under the seat.
- If you can’t find what you need, make it yourself! For instance, I knew I wanted some sort of wall-mounted storage for my boys’ bedroom but after searching IKEA, Pottery Barn and a host of other catalogs and coming up empty handed, we decided to create something to suit our exact needs.