Making Our Space Work for Us

We have lived in a 2,100 square foot house for almost six years now. Our home is a split level with three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, and the dining room and kitchen all on the upper floor. On the bottom floor is a laundry room with a half bath, a den, and a two-car garage. We've done a good bit of work to bring our house out of the 1970s and into the 21st century.

Kitchen? Meet Dining.

One of the first things we did (and probably one of my favorite) was to knock out a wall between the kitchen and old-school formal dining room. We aren’t the formal dining room types anyway. This created one unified, good-sized room where we can all be together without being cramped. It also afforded us the room for a square, 8-person dining table and a kitchen island. 

Got to Get Away

Not long after our fourth child was born, Ron and I decided that we’d like to have our own, larger space away from the children’s rooms. We wanted a relaxing retreat that we could escape to at the end of each day. At the time, our downstairs den was a large, unused (and hideously ugly) room at the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. This was to become our new bedroom.

We worked for over a year to turn it into something pleasant and welcoming. We pulled up bright orange linoleum, painted the dark wood paneling a beautiful blue-green (one of my favorite bloggers/HGTV hosts, Joanna Gaines, says that paneling adds wonderful texture to a room so you don’t have to remove it), added crown molding and baseboards, painted the ugly brick fireplace and added a mantel made from a huge piece of cherry wood from Ron's old home place, and replaced the two gigantic wagon wheel lights (shudders) with brass chandeliers that we spray-painted a dark red. We lived with a bare concrete floor until deciding on an easy-to-install laminate flooring resembling reclaimed wood. That room is now one of our favorite rooms in the house, and we love retreating to it every night. So peaceful.

Mastering the Master Bedroom

Back upstairs, the former master bedroom became Z’s room for a couple of years. She then decided that she wanted Ron to build bunkbeds so that she could share a bedroom with L. So for a while the boys shared a room, the girls shared another room, and we had a guest room. The problem with this was that the guest room was very rarely used, and had become something of a catch-all for various objects. We came to realize that it was a waste of valuable square footage to have four growing children share two smallish bedrooms while the biggest of the three rooms was rarely used. 

We decided that if we were going to be living in this house until after the kids were grown we needed to make the available space work for us. Ron got to work swapping beds and furniture, etc. from one room to the next. After the girls got situated into the former master/ Z room/ guest room, we looked at the tiny room they moved out of to try to figure out how to make a queen bed and two other pieces of furniture fit. That’s when Ron looked at me and said, “We don’t need a guest room. We need room for our children, the people that live here 24/7. Why don’t we give each of the boys their own rooms? S can have this smaller room for himself, it’ll be plenty of room for what he needs, and E can stay in their current bedroom.” I have to admit, I was sorry I didn’t think of this myself. 

The girls are finally settled in their new space, and we put our boys in their own bedrooms today. 

Putting it All Together

It takes us quite a while to figure out exactly what I want in a space. Just because a room is labeled a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily have to use it that way. We made the “den” a master bedroom and the “master” a kids’ room. We don’t have a “dining room” and our living room is also used as a music room, computer room, play room, etc. We want what works for our family because we are the ones that spend the most time here. So if you plan to be a guest in our home anytime soon, be forewarned that you will be either sleeping on a twin bed or an air mattress in a room decorated for a kid.