How to Fit 6 People in a 3-Bedroom Townhouse...and Love It

My youngest brother called me last week and said, with a note of regret in his voice, that he was going to have to unsubscribe from my blog if the nature of my posts didn't change. I guess all the talk of pregnant watermelon bellies and rupture of membranes and bloody show got to him.

Duly noted, Jon. Thus, I present a pregnancy-free post. (But I can't promise this will stick. After all, I'm scheduled to be induced next week. This is only a temporary reprieve.)

Here's a real-life story problem for you.

How do you fit six people and a dog in a cozy-but-not-so-big, 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse?

My mind started chewing away at that puzzle last September, about five minutes after we found out we were expecting Baby #4.

Right up front, I want to say: We love living here. It's our home while we wait for our ex-house in Tiny Town to sell. And we are keenly aware that at 1900-square-feet, it is bigger than the dwellings of most of the world's population.

But we also knew it would take some rejiggering to fit us all comfortably.
At the time, Connor and Natalie shared a room...

...and Teyla enjoyed her own space, the better to corral all the baby gear and keep the disruption of midnight wakings to a minimum.

Corey and I threw out a few different possibilities during the first half of the pregnancy. (Put all the kids together in one room and leave the extra room for the baby? Look into renting a bigger house while we continue to wait for our ex-house to sell? Put the baby in with us?)

But it wasn't until we found out we are having a boy that a good plan came together.

First, we decided change the rooms into a boys' room and a girls' room. Not only did it make the most sense to split the kids evenly, but it meant we didn't have to repaint. (The girls' room is pink; the boys' room is green.)

Then we settled on bunk beds as the only way to fit everyone into the 10-by-10 spaces.

Then I did the grunt work of measuring most of our upstairs furniture to see what would fit in the new rooms. (Things that didn't fit were sold on Craigs List. I'm ruthless about keeping things lately. I even sold the glider rocker when it was determined it was just too big.)

Then, when the kids were on spring break, Corey took a few days vacation to dismantle the current bedrooms...

... (creation is a messy business, yes?) ...
... assemble beds ...

... and get the new rooms ready for occupancy.

And when we were finished, I clapped my hands for joy. Literally. The new rooms are even cuter than I imagined.

Thus, I present to you: The new girls' room...

...and the new boys' room.

The one vital piece of furniture I couldn't fit in the bedrooms was the changing table. So that went into the hallway.

Actually, that's a fine compromise, since both Teyla and the new baby will use it for the time being.

I also had to move my old office, which was tucked into the nursery closet...

...into a corner of the master bedroom.

End result: I. Am. So. Happy. The rooms are adorable. And the kids love their new spaces. (This also served as Teyla's transition into a big girl bed, which has been a fabulous move for all of us. But that's a story for another day.)

The only problem outstanding is how to change the sheets on bunk beds. Because, good night, it took me stinkin' FOREVER to get them on and tucked in the first time. Right now, I'm thinking they will get laundered once a year ("It's the day of Laundry Jubilee, kids!") or when they get contaminated with bodily fluids. (Sorry Jon!)

Any tips from bunk bed veterans?


  1. Yes. Both of my boys LOVED their sleeping bags. Believe it or not, they put them ON TOP of their comforters and when they needed it, I washed the sleeping bags. REALLY...they did this for like three years!!

  2. That's funny, Nonny, because that's pretty much what Connor is doing. He has yet to sleep under his comforter. Most nights, he just lays on top of the comforter and covers himself with a fleece blanket. (He says the covers are "too tight" now that they are on the bunk.)

    But that makes me wonder if his quilt will be getting too much wear and tear. Not a huge deal, especially since they bathe every night before bed. But I love his comforter. That surf stuff for boys sucks me in every time.

  3. My sister's kids have bunkbeds. Her husband's job is to change the sheets. She explained to him that she needed his strong arms and played up to his masculinity. Worked like a charm. He takes them off before he goes to work once a week and puts them back on when he gets home.

  4. Those rooms are adorable! Congrats on the amazing use of space. My boys have bunk beds and our changing operation has been for husband to pull the beds away from the wall and change the top. Once the boys learned how to do it, they crawl on top and get the sheets on--respectably well. We use the sleeping bag idea when a friend sleeps over to cut out at least one changing o'the sheets.

  5. what nonny said. sleep on top of comforters in sleeping bags. they love it, best solution.

    we had the same problem in our 3 bedroom house with 3 girls and 1 boy our mess was a little more complicated. it's still tricky when the 5 year old wakes up the 1 year old he shares a room with.

  6. No advice on the bunk beds (I barely manage to get the sheets on our regular beds changed even once a month, so I am obviously not the best person to discuss this), but I just have to say how much I love that your kids help your husband with projects. So many time you see parents who are more interested in getting the job done than involving their children—I just smiled and smiled at all the pictures of your three working happily away alongside their dad!

  7. Those rooms are adorable. But while I was reading it, I was thinking "How is she going to get the sheets changed?!"

  8. I have a bunk bed that is huge and does not move away from the wall, even with help. I have yet to make the top bunk. I need to cover that top mattress with something sometime soon. If the top bunk starts getting used, I'm taking that sleeping bag idea. In some ways we are the cheapest Joneses on the block. But, we managed to buy the biggest, heaviest and most expensive bunk bed in the store.

    Your rooms look great! I love the white bunk bed in the girls room! You are correct about your square footage statement. Our tour guide in Israel raised three girls in a two bedroom apartment. And, my best friend from high school is having her 7th baby in May and they have a small 3 bedroom house that is about the size of your condo. Their one 'office' is in a closet in the upstairs hallway.

  9. I have bunkbeds for my girls and I find the easiest way to change the sheet is to literally pull the matress off the bunks, put the fitted sheets on and throw them back up there and then crawl up there and put the top sheet and comforter back on...or in the summer when they don't really need the comforter just fold it and lay it at the end of the bed.

  10. I think the rooms look great! I love bunk beds!

  11. Those rooms (before AND after) are ridiculously cute. I so do not have the decorating gene. We do, however, have a bunk bed. What's wrong with changing sheets once a year? "Laundry Jubilee" sounds so festive! :-)

  12. What a great setup! The rooms are beautiful and cozy.

  13. Very cute, Kelly! My girls have bunkbeds and making up the top bunk and changing sheets is challenging. I don't make the top one up. I just fold the quilt and put at the end of the bed. At night, my daughter covers up with it plus about 3 warm blankets that we keep in the closet. Sheets are hard to change. I usually do it on weekends when my husband (taller and stronger) can help me!)

  14. Those rooms are ADORABLE. I love both of them and I can't wait until Mr. little man is around to enjoy his side of the boy room! You look adorable too (from the post before this one). I know it's what I'm "supposed to say" but I really, really do think you're about the cutest pregnant lady EVER. Hang in there! ;)

  15. I had a bunk bed growing up (shared with my brother) which I loved. I later shared a room with my baby sister which I loved a lot less.

    I don't remember sheets being an issue at all. I think we had a comforter cover which was washed periodically. I don't think my mom bothered with a top sheet. The mattresses might not have been right next to the wall though. I sort of think that getting the fitted sheet on the bed was our job (the kids). I'll check with my mom though.

  16. Ok, Kel....your posts usually cracked me up, and this one did not let me down! Referring to your brother's distaste of the 'pregno' information....hilarious! The rooms are ADORABLE, and as for the bunk bed issue...! If you had asked me b/4 you bought them, I would have screamed..."DON'T DO IT!" By the time I get done changing Chase and Trey's...I'm panting, sweating, almost crying and in the mood to curse! Sorry, but it's true. Let's just say that it's a good thing you haven't had them while you were carrying a watermelon in your belly...that I would have LOVED to have seen! But I get the 'lack of space' issue..thus, US, being the proud owners of the awful things! A 'once a year change' sounds like the ticket to me! :-)

  17. So cute! I still haven't posted "after" photos of our re-do because I haven't hung anything on the walls. So sad. Plus, now Husband decided we're absolutely GOING TO SELL this summer no matter what. Le sigh. Right after we did all that work. Such is life, right?

    Anyway, I love the new rooms!

  18. ADORABLE! Love the new look! And yeah, I hatehatehate changing sheets on bunk beds! No suggestions here.

  19. I heard a tip once: sew the fitted sheet and the flat sheet together all along the bottom, around the bottom corners, and up a few feet. That way you'll only have to cover the mattress with the fitted sheet! It'd help with with flat sheet coming untucked between washings, too. BUT I've never slept in or owned a bunkbed, so I might not know what I'm talking about. Ha!

  20. First, I love your bedrooms :) They are perfect for small fries who don't actually need as much room as we think. Second, when you figure out how to fit 7 people into a 900 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 1 bath apartment (with no dining room), please, let me know! :) I'm currently expecting number 5 (my second girl). :)

  21. How to change a bunk bed. By a former child who lived in the top bunk for frickin' ever. And now her kids have 'em.

    There are two ends to a bunk bed -- the unexposed end (in the corner of the bedroom) and the exposed end (the end that you can see.)

    The pillow MUST go at the unexposed end, in the corner of the room.

    Climb up onto the bed and tuck the fitted sheet over the unexposed end of the mattress. Climb down and tuck it into the exposed end.

    Flat sheet: Put a kid at the pillow end of the bed, and hand them one end of the top sheet. Fluff the sheet from the other end, and tuck it in. Kids love the fluffing -- it's like the big parachute in PE.

    The blankets go on the same way that the flat sheets did.

    Pretty soon, you'll be able to get the kid to climb up there and tuck the fitted sheet in the corner. THEN you're golden.

    Voila! And yes, those are the cutest room ever...

  22. Late on this one, but had to say- we are a family of 6 in a 3 bedroom 2 bath house (1250 sq ft!) and it's nice and cozy this way. :)

    Love your kids' rooms!