Crazy bunk bed update

Wow!  Thanks for the great response!  We may be close to our goal already but we still have a lot books left, all discounted by at least 50%.  I just finished adding new ones and breaking up the Elsie set.

Remember, everyone who places an order of any size will be entered in a drawing for a free Liberty Doll, also from the Vision Forum clearance shelf in the retail store.  Just go to our little online shop to place your order (it’s all easy and automated now, with Paypal checkout) and leave a comment here to let us know that you want to be entered.

I’m hoping to start the grand project next week, but here’s a before image of the bedroom.  Ready?  Are you sure?  We’ll start gradually, by just peeking in the doorway.

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This currently houses 5 of the 9 children.

On the left wall, we have the beds, with the dresser tucked behind the door.  Deanna sleeps in the twin bed on top.  Megan, Natalie and Perry share the full size bed on the bottom.   The cat sleeps wherever he falls.

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They all share the dresser and closet except Bethany, whose clothes are in my bottom drawer and a small section of my closet. The drawer with stuff hanging out?  That’s Natalie’s.  Let this be a lesson to her.

Standing in the doorway and panning to the right, we see this.  This is after they cleaned their room.  I’m not kidding.

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Bethany sleeps in the playpen.  The basket is Megan’s laundry and other stuff that people have been nagging her to put away.  Let this be a lesson to her.

The Boy’s toys are in a 5 gallon bucket, since most of them stand upright like wooden swords, foam swords, baseball bats, rifles, and popguns.

The book shelves minus all their accompanying clutter will move into the other bedroom, which is going be converted to a library.  In the big jar on the right is Henry the tarantula  – Harry for short.

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He might move to the future library, along with the gerbils and snakes.  I’m sure the predators will enjoy watching the gerbils care for their juicy pink little babies.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll soon have 4 navy-style bunks, each 11’3″ long.

The top 3 will each be divided in half, one end 5’3″ and the other end 6′ long.   The bottom will be divided into three parts for the 3 littlest children.  Each bed will be hinged and will flip up to reveal a wide shallow storage area.  Mattresses will be 3″ memory foam with slipcovers made from sheets.  I have no plans for lockers like in the photo above, though the kids would love it.  I did set up an automatic search on craigslist so I’ll be notified if any lockers come up for sale in our area.

After we tear down the current bunks but before we build the crazy new beds, we’ll need to finish the floor under that area.  This will include laying down another layer of plywood, leveling it, sealing with paint, and applying vinyl tile.  I’m hoping we can also trim the window while we’re at it.

So we’ll need to:

  1. develop a materials list
  2. disassemble and store the beds
  3. move the dresser
  4. buy building materials
  5. order mattress pads
  6. lay plywood
  7. apply leveling compound and wait for it to dry
  8. paint, and wait for it to dry
  9. lay tile
  10. measure, cut, and assemble the bunks
  11. paint bunks and wait for them to dry
  12. cut mattress pads to fit
  13. sew slipcovers
  14. finish the rest of the floor
  15. move the bookcases to the other bedroom
  16. move the other dresser into the bedroom
  17. disassemble and store the bunkbeds in the other (former) bedroom
  18. blog the first 16 steps

Who thinks we can get this done in a week, starting next Monday?  Who thinks we actually will get it done in a week?  What about just the first 13 steps?  Who is laughing at me?


  1. I like your idea Mrs. Coghlan, 🙂 something I’d like to do with my kids in the future DV, is hammocks strung from the ceiling joists.

    My dad is a great builder and has perfect the art of making a swing set, I figure with a bunch of heavy duty hardware pieces like he has used for swings in the past, (rated at hundreds of pounds each) I can put a good number of kids in a room at once, and then be able to take the hammocks down during the day, so we can use the room for other purposes. 🙂

  2. Emily,
    We’re buying the mattress pads from – they seem to have the best price around and the one we have our eye on gets great ratings from customers.

  3. I must have missed it: What color are you painting the bunks?

    • Roxanne,
      Well, I was hoping for next week but we still have 2 projects that hubby wants to finish up first – our first 2 ebooks! So I guess the bunks get bumped for a week or so. I plan on painting them glossy white when they’re done, though that could change. I haven’t asked if anyone else in the house has an opinion on the matter.

  4. I don’t need to be entered in the contest (only 1 kid), but I LOVE what you’re planning to do!

    You have SO got to get the lockers, too.

    Looking forward to seeing the finished project–next week, did you say?

  5. Check out in your area. Maybe you will find some items to use.

  6. Where are you getting the mattress pads? Sorry if you’ve already answered this, but I couldn’t find it. By the way, I have every intention of stealing this idea when my family of almost five becomes a family of 11 or more, hopefully, someday. I hope that’s okay! (:

  7. The more I think about these beds. (They are just so cool, so yes, I think about them a lot, hehe). Anyway, the more I think about them I am reminded of an episode of The Munsters and an episode of I Love Lucy where they go on a train, back in the times when there were bunks like this instead of private sleeping cars. (Well, more like in addition to.) Those are some very funny scenes! But I don’t think I’d be very comfortable sleeping with just a curtain between me and a bunch of strangers! This situation is of course, different because you are all related. But on a train! I don’t think I could do it!

  8. Mrs. Bowen says:

    I placed order in support of the bunk bed fund. I’d like to be entered for the doll giveaway. Thanks!

  9. Please enter me in your contest.
    Thanks 🙂

  10. I can’t wait to see how this turns out, but I have to say I wouldn’t want to sleep on the bottom, I don’t do well with small spaces.

    Good Luck with the project!

  11. Oh man! Seeing those navy beds brings back some memories. I’m in the Air Force, but I had to live on a navy ship for two weeks once, and (hiss! booo!) I had to sleep in those horrible beds. It wouldn’t be so bad as a kid, but I have broad shoulders and I couldn’t sleep on my side. I can’t sleep if I’m not on my side!

    Good plan though. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s done.

    Did you know that all those navy beds have privacy curtains? Are you thinking of putting some in for the kids?

  12. Oh, not laughing at all. Possibly shaking my head, but I’ll be full of admiration if it’s done in two weeks and 36 steps. Good luck!

  13. My Boaz’s Ruth,
    Most of their clothes hang in the closet, so in the drawer they have mainly underthings. We wash daily and try to keep on top of the laundry.

    Series for boys? I don’t know. We haven’t quite reached that stage yet. For slightly older boys, Ballantynes are rich and exciting, with a strong gospel message interwoven throughout. You might try those as read-alouds starting at ~8yo.
    The girls also recommend the Lamplighter series for boys – all of the Boys of Grit titles, for starters.

  14. PS Are there any series for boys like the Elsie series?

  15. ALL of your kids clothes fit in one drawer? How often do you wash? My one son has clothes in all over the 5 drawers of his little dresser (and the tops drawer is overflowing, though the shorts and pants drawers could probably be combined). And I still feel sometimes like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. And wondering how we’ll manage when number 2 comes (soon, please, thank you)

  16. I had been brainstorming for possible solutions … without any good ideas. That’s a great idea to use the interlocking foam pads if more cushion is needed!

  17. oh, you definitely Can do this in a week. Now whether you will or not??? 🙂 I hope for your sake that it all comes together smoothly. I’m impressed that you have a list of steps. That should help.

    I’m curious as to whether or not you’ve done a “field test” with 3″ memory foam. It seems to me that the foam will flatten when the kids lie on it and they will feel like they are sleeping on plain ole plywood. That might be fun at first, but every night for years to come? I’m thinking of this being an issue with the older, & consequently, bigger girls. My hips and shoulders hurt just thinking about it. Maybe I’m just a wimp :). No maybe, definitely!

    • Melanie,
      That’s a great question about the memory foam. We haven’t tried it yet; only researched online, and sources seem to indicate that 3″ is enough to use on the floor. If it proves to be insufficient for the bigger (heavier) children, I’m thinking we’ll add some of those 3/4″ thick interlocking foam pads underneath – the type that is used to pad concrete floors, or on children’s playroom floors. They’ll soften the base without adding a lot of thickness.

  18. Kim,
    I’m soooo curious… and yet, maybe lost somewhere… or my English not so good… because I counted that with your system you’ll have 9 places to sleep (6+3) but… and the tenth baby when she or he grows up?

    • Gatxan,
      You’re absolutely right. We’re not planning for a place for the baby to sleep yet. It will be quite a while before the baby is born, and the baby will sleep in an infant bed or play pen for at least a year after that. But eventually we’ll have to come up with more beds. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

  19. Where will everyone sleep during construction? That may be a big motivator to get the project finished and all the kids back in their room!

    • Katie O,
      Great question! We’re not sure yet, but you are right about it being a big motivator! We’ll leave the old bunkbeds set up in the other bedroom, so we’ll only have 4 displaced children. They’ll probably share the 2 sofas and the living room floor. In nice weather they sometimes camp out on the deck, so maybe they’ll do that.

  20. Kim, I don’t think you are crazy, or at least I didn’t until you told Anita you were like that! lol. Me, when I get it in my head to do something, I get hyperfocused on it and I don’t stop until I come to a hitch. Sometimes the hitch throws my concentration entirely, but other times I improvise, and usually come out liking the improvisation better than the original idea.

    I think the flooring will be the biggest procrastination-fueler, because you are only doing it because its necessary to do the project. I find those are usually the things that drag a project out the most. 😀

    I am curious about the pictures: I remember once you mentioned you had the messies in one room and the neatniks in the other. Then you posted pictures and let those pictures be a lesson. Is this the neatniks room or the messies room? I think I can guess, lol!

    Will Bethany be on the lowest bunk or still in the playpen? (It doesn’t really matter to me, I’m just curious.)

    If I had time to come visit next week (which I don’t) I’d love to come help, because this sounds like so much fun!

    • Jennifer,
      Most of the messies are in that bedroom. Bethany will probably be in the lowest bunk – we’ll see if she’s ready to make the transition once the new beds are ready. It’s always nice to be able to pack it up and put it away for a while between babies.

  21. We too have a VERY small house(2 bedrooms and 1 kitchen/lounge for 8 ppl) so am always looking for ways to maximize space.Flip-up beds sounds good,wondr where u can get’em..
    Tarantulas present no pro,we’ve got 8-less trouble than goats,which we’ve got 100: )

    • AnnaH,
      8 tarantulas?! Wow! I agree that they’re no trouble. They just sit and watch the world go by, and eat very little. I would love to hear more about how you fit your family into such a small house. I’ll bet you could teach us a lot!

  22. Ohhh, Shannon, too bad I don’t live in Texas.

    I’ve read in other entries on your site about your being tired at times. And yet . . . I am amazed at what you accomplish in any given day. I have no doubt that you are capable of completing the task. As to whether it actually gets done in the allotted time, well . . . But, I do know that setting a goal and pressing toward it will get you waaayyy farther than just talking about it. Can’t wait to see the results.

  23. Email me and I will share a secret webiste for you where I bet you will be able to get some lockers and dirt cheap. It is an auction site in Texas that primarily auctions off things for the public schools. I bougth 14 modular chest of drawers and 3 large compiuter desks for a grand total of $43 dollars. Shannon at [email protected]

  24. If I hadn’t been reading this blog for a long time, I might have been laughing. But any woman who can remove a toilet in 10 easy steps and live to tell about it can certainly do all of this.

  25. Lisa Beth W. says:

    I hope your kids enjoy those bunks better than I would! Ack, the claustrophobia! Maybe not for the little ones so much.

    I think you can do it! Just eat, sleep and breathe that project and it will get done!

  26. OMW If you can do this in one week, then you will be my DIY inspiration for life! We are terrible about doing our projects like this: talk about it for several months (or years), plan it for a few more months (or years), come up with 3,092 excuses as to why we haven’t started yet, finally start the project, draaaag the project out for months (or years), and then we might actually finish it. If you pull this off, I will be compelled to rise to the challenge and rip out my carpet this month and put down the new flooring (money is being gifted to us for this purpose). No more ninny excuses for me!

    And can I just say “Ew!” about the tarantula.

  27. All I have to say is… You can set up an automatic search on Craigslist and be notified when an item is listed!? You learn something new every day! (I can’t wait to see pics of the finished project!)

  28. Ok. I think you CAN do it…! You go girl!

  29. Anita,
    We do the same thing. That’s why I’m making a public declaration of my intention to finish this in a timely fashion. I’m hoping that the prospect of shame will motivate us. 🙂

    Anxious to see it finished? We are too!!!

  30. I am not laughing…I am amazed at the project you are taking on AND plan on finishing! I am also very anxious to see the finished product.

  31. Cool! Looks like fun! I’ve pretty much always shared a bedroom with my sisters. Being by yourself in a room is rather boring.

  32. I’m laughing!! But only because we get in the middle of a project, stop and come back to it in a couple of years. Like my boys’ bathroom which was gutted two years ago. We finally got the plumbing taken care of earlier this year, but that’s it. It has been a great storage room for two years now, but I think the girls would like their bathroom back.

    Hope you actually can get it all done in a week! Looking forward to pictures.

  33. I’d love to be entered in the drawing for the doll, as I have 3 daughters. I’m excited to receive your family’s book, too!

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