4 Moms Open House linky: Bedrooms, part 2

The other 3 Moms:

The bedrooms?  The kids’ bedroom?  Surely you jest.  That’s the door that we always close when companies comes.  That’s the door that I close for the sake of my own sanity and the safety of my children.  That’s the room where I imagine horrible, unspeakable science experiments growing under the carpet of clothing on the floor.

But it’s no worse than my fridge and anyway I need your advice, so we’ll open the door, close our eyes, and plunge onward into the fray.

Yes, the rumors are true.  Nine of our children share one moderately sized room.  We have a 3rd bedroom in our house, but they begged us to let them turn it into a dedicated library and we agreed, glad to have clutter-catching bookcases gone from every other room of the house.

Here is their room when it’s – get this: Company Clean.

OK, I exaggerated a bit.  It’s not always as dirty as I let myself believe.  It gets cleaned almost daily.  It just looks like it’s never been cleaned 10 minutes after they finish.

Really, it’s a pretty simple set up.  Just 2 dressers, each with 4 drawers and 3 shelves; a few baskets and door hangers to hold the multitude of shoes; 2 mirrors; 2 sets of bunks, and the upholstered bench that recently moved out of the living room.

The big fan provides extra ventilation to the beds on one side of the room at night.  There’s an identical fan that spends daytime in the kitchen and ventilates the other set of bunks at night.

Since they each have just one drawer, most of their clothes hang in the closets: 4 children hang their clothes in the closet in this bedroom, 3 in the library closet, and the 3 youngest have their clothes in the closet that Perry and I share.

Like the other bedrooms in our house, the floor is unfinished.  It’s near the top of our list of things to do.

But the beds – have you heard about our beds?  We love the beds!  Here’s a better shot:

…and another…

These are heavy duty pallet racks from Costco.  Each shelf is rated for 2,000 lbs. (that’s 8k lbs per unit) and they are the same dimension as navy bunks.  For mattresses, we cut 3″ memory foam into strips the width of the beds (a king makes 3 strips), then doubled them and sewed slipcovers out of sheets.  Finally, we cut queen-sized comforters in half to make perfectly sized comforters in fun, coordinating colors.

We’re very happy with the beds.

The dressers: not so much.  We need to replace them.  There’s a reason you only saw them from a distance.  It was nice of you not to show your shock at how run down they are, but we know they need to go.  We’re just not sure we want to replace them with more dressers.  Drawers just don’t hold up under heavy use, and they also don’t seem to make the best use of wall space.

We’re tossing around some alternative ideas, and would love your input.

Here’s our favorite idea so far.  The unit below is from IKEA, but we could also build it ourselves.

The kids could use boxes or bins like this in some of the openings to hold underclothes or odds and ends, and keep books in the others.

What do you think?  Will it work, and will it look nice?  Do you have a better idea?

Or do you want to skip ahead to the linky?  I don’t blame you.  Join the fun!  Your post this week can be about any or all of the bedrooms in your house.  Just remember to link to a single post (not your homepage) and link back to at least one of the 4 Moms.

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Upcoming topics:

  • September 9; Laundry Linky
  • September 16th: Storage Solutions
  • September 23: Questions for the Four Moms, in which we answer questions from our mailbag.
  • September 30: How to find individual time with our husbands without spending money


  1. We just love this idea and it’s come just in time before we redid our kids beds! One of our girls have been asking for their own room (not going to happen) and when I showed her these she said, “it’s ok if I don’t have my own room, bunk beds are COOL!”
    I’ve noticed on every rack I’ve found, and on yours also, that the shelves are wire racks…. Have you had any issue with the foam trying to squish through?
    Was there any particular reason you used the 3in instead of a 6in or thicker foam?

    • We laid thick cardboard under the foam – it could easily fit inside the slipcover with the mattress so it doesn’t show.
      We went with the 3″ because it was affordable and plenty thick for the smaller, lightweight children. We doubled it for the heavier ones, and maybe 6″ would have been cheaper for those, but having 3″ thickness gave us more flexibility and less upfront cost.

  2. I also love the beds!!! I have read all of the comments and even the one including the link for them from Costco- it doesn’t exist. I did a search too and couldn’t find anything on it. Does anyone have more info on this? thanks so much!!!

  3. Just thought I’d mention, in case it helps anyone, that Walmart has a collapsible rectangular shopping bag in gray with a leaf design in one corner for $4 with a fold down stiff bottom that makes a perfect sized “basket” for our Ikea shelves. The unit you have pictured looks like smaller shelves, but you might try the blue square bag at Walmart, same features, same price. You could cut the handles off if you prefer, but they might be useful for transfer from the laundry room.

  4. I was curious if you secured this to the wall or is it sturdy enough not too?

    • It can be secured to the wall, although we didn’t do it while we were using them. They are so heavy that it would take a concerted effort from two strong adults to tip the unit, so there was no risk of the kids doing it by accident.

  5. I was feeling guilty recently about putting 5 children in one bedroom, and six in the other, but this post has helped me with that immensly!!! We have a three bedroom, three bathroom house with a basement that DH and I sleep in with the varying number of cribs. One bedroom is for the girls (two bunk beds and a crib matress on the floor for a little one) and the other is for the boys (two bunk beds and a trundle which two little ones share). We use the third bedroom for storage/school/tv/computer/guests/nap time. We will probably have to turn it into a younger kids’ room eventually unless we do something like what you have, which I am seriously considering as our brood has just increased significantly. The ‘office’ as we call it is where the teens sleep when they want space/where anyone sleeps when they’re sick/where sleepovers occur as there’s a futon which is probably the most practical furniture I have ever bought (other than the stacking dressers). It’s also a very helpful room for naps as the babies sleep in play pens and the youngest ones crash on the floor/futon and the rest of us can continue our (now slightly quieter) regular day. We can’t put all of them in one room as we have teenage boys and girls who I feel need their privacy but we could certainly do this bed situation in each room!

  6. Where does the 9th child sleep? I only see 8 beds. Do two of them share a bed? I’m kind of impressed at the use of space in a single room.

  7. Hi Kim! We are seriously considering using this type of bunk bed setup for our boys. Where did you find the foam padding? Did you order it online or buy it locally? What was the approximate price (if you don’t mind sharing that information)? Are you still using this set up and do you all still like it? Do you think the total price for the shelves and foam pads was cheaper than building bunks?

    Thank you for your time and answers!

    • Bess, we bought 3″ mattress pads for $60 each from Overstock.com. A king size pad can be cut into 3 strips to fit these beds. A single thickness is plenty for small children, and we doubled it for the older ones.
      It probably would have been much cheaper to build, but I like that these are freestanding and easily movable, and can be repurposed when we’re done using them for beds.

  8. I loooove your bunk beds! They are a great space saving idea. As far as dressers go…. My husband and I were looking to replace the dresser in his 16 yr old’s room because it fell apart. While we were waking around at Sam’s one day I saw a workbench and cart set. The workbench is metal with two stacks of drawers and a thick woodblock top connecting the stacks. The sides of the stacks have holes like a pegboard that things can be hung on with hooks. The cart has a narrower set of drawers with a door next to them. The cart has a matching wood top and large heavy duty locking casters. The drawers and door all have locks (to keep other siblings out of his stuff –the keys are all the same). The set is very sturdy and has a grey powder coat on the metal. Not to mention it just looks really cool! (My husband wants to steal the idea for us but our bedroom set is in good condition still.) It also cost a lot less than a new dresser (I think $150 for the workbench and $50 or $75 for the cart, but don’t quote me on the prices). The dressers we had looked at were around $200 and up for particle board! And when he moves out he can use the set as he is now or actually use it as a workbench set. Sam’s also had a matching cabinet that could be used as a wardrobe (he has a large closet and didn’t need it).

    I figured the workbench set was meant to be abused and would hold up well. That was two years ago and it still looks new! Plus something like this would match the bunk beds.

  9. Hi Kim,

    How are the beds working out for you now? Do the children still like them as much as they did in the beginning? Do you still want to anchor the beds to the wall? Do you worry about them rolling out? Could a rail be put on?

    Would you mind posting more pictures of these beds?
    We are renovating (making livable!) a 2 bedroom home. We have a large family (10 children… 8 girls, 2 boys) and we are definitely going to be using these beds. I think they’ll be a great way to stack our children up with less space.

    I’d just like more pics of them. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea! Are they wide enough? Our oldest is 18-girl and then 15-boy. Will they fit in them?


    • Janet,
      Overall, we love the beds. Although I do hear a complaint every now and then, nobody has suggested going back to the old setup. We still haven’t anchored them to the wall; I just can’t imagine these beds tipping without a concerted effort by at least 2 strong people. Rails can be ordered from the manufacturer – we have some and plan to order more just to keep bedding from slipping around.
      If your kids are open minded and of average build, I think these are plenty big. I snuggle in with a small child at naptime every now and then, and I am 5’6″ and 150 lbs. I also napped in there while very pregnant and found it just right. No extra room, but plenty to roll over, curl my legs, and get comfortable.
      My father-in-law spent 4 years in the navy and he thinks these are significantly more spacious than the accommodations he had.
      Thanks for the reminder – I’ll be happy to post some more photos soon.

  10. AWESOME beds! What a great idea!!!!

  11. Laurie Schrock says:

    Did you buy the heavy duty pallet racks retail from Costco? This idea would be perfect for my boys’ room.

  12. Of all the bedrooms listed, and even all the rooms in all the houses listed, yours are my favorite! God has truly blessed you, and you are a blessing and encouragement to all.

  13. Those beds are so fun!

  14. Carm, it seems to me that even if heat rises up, the fact that there is open air above them gives them a heat/cool advantage to the other three bunks, even without a ceiling fan. I’m sure the trade off is fairly equal.

  15. Who are the poor children who have to sleep on the top bunks – the heat must be horrendous.

    • Carm,
      I don’t let the younger ones sleep up there, though they can’t wait to be old enough. So far there has been no shortage of volunteers among the older ones for the top bunks. With a vaulted ceiling, a well-insulated roof, and ceiling fans overhead, I hear it’s quite comfortable and well-ventilated.

  16. Just came home from Lowe’s with their version of “Kim’s Bunk Beds” 😉 I love the way they went up and they are rated for 2000 lbs. Our girls can’t wait to try them out. Thanks for the idea

  17. If you’re willing to build the cubbies, I would consider building them partly into the wall, between the studs, if this is possible in your house. That way they will take up minimal floor space. They would probably have to stick out some to accomodate bins, but not as much as if it was a free-standing piece of furniture.

    My husband has a dream of cutting holes in the ceiling and making a closet that raises up into the attic and lowers into the room via a garage door opener. He saw this done someplace and is very into this. But I know that if I had grown up with an elevator closet, the very first thing I would’ve done is to ride in it, so I am sure our kids would do the same.

  18. Can you buy those “bunk beds” online? The nearest Costco is 4 – 6 hrs from here, but we have been looking for navy or military bunks for a while now.
    We have 6 kids, 3 girls, 3 boys. Our middle daughter likes to room with the boys so we just stuck her in there with the rest lol. We have recently converted our playroom into my oldest sons bedroom but we seriously need a library/computer room. The boys do a lot of school work on the computer and all of our school books take up a ton of room. I want to evict him (being as he ends up with everyone in there crashed on the floor anyway) and get our library.
    Anyway let me know if u think they have them online or if I am up for a weekend outing? Also do I just ask for pallet risers?
    I love your blog, I follow with great anticipation, you’re so down to earth, it makes me comfy visiting here.

  19. I LOVE your bunks beds!! Thanks again for the fun tours!

  20. I have that shelf from Ikea (only in ‘birch’) and it is a marvelous thing. We only have drawers on the bottom row but it holds and ton an looks fairly tidy in my son’s room. He loves it too. We got the cheapest drawers at ikea made of fabric and they are holding up incredibly well and are stuffed full of legos and other building sets as well as board games and various toys. Hope that helps.

    I love your bunk beds, brilliant!

  21. Ok, I see now that they are not sewn on, and that they are removal for washing. That answers my question, I just needed to be more observant! 😉

  22. I have admired those beds for some time on your blog. I am hoping to incorporate them into my home for my kiddos too. I do wonder though if the sheet covering the memory foam is sewn on the memory foam or if it is removal? I was just curious to how you would wash that sheet.

    I love this series of posts from the 4 moms! I am inspired by many of your ideas!

  23. I want to weigh in on the replacement of the dressers–yes yes yes, go for the IKEA bookcase. I decided to get rid of my mismatched school shelving and replaced it with that same bookcase. Best thing I did to organize and make everything just appear neater! I divided the case into grade level and subject: older kids in same books all in one cubby, younger kids in same books in another. I have my own cubbies for my master plan, teacher books, stuff I don’t want them seeing yet, etc. I may just have to go with this for the bedrooms eventually as well, I really like it that much. Also, we went with your “stack the kids” theme and put our boys triple stacked to open up the entire bedroom. Just lovin’ my livin’ space.

  24. Oh my goodess!!! It must be SO MUCH FUN to be a kid at your house!!!!! I’m in my 40s but would love to be sleeping on the top bunk every night!!!

    I too would like to know if they’re attached to the wall or free standing. Living in earthquake country, that’s always a key question. 🙂 If they’re free standing, what keeps them upright when 4 kids are hanging over the side?

    Love the cute way each one is decorated too.

    Good job, Girls!

    • Norah,
      We haven’t anchored ours to the wall yet, but we intend to. Honestly, they’re so heavy that it would take some serious group effort to tip them (more than just hanging over the edge), but it really does seem like a good idea. We also ordered some extra rails to add to the upper levels. The girls insist it’s not necessary, but it will make me feel better.

  25. Nicole Handfield says:

    If you end up deciding on the Expedit from Ikea, check craigslist first. I think you could probably find it used for cheaper than you could make it.

  26. I love the bunk beds. I have been wondering about making ours triple deckers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  27. Wow, thanks so much for sharing. As a mom of almsot six I have always wondered how many children can fit in one room. Your beds are really amazing.I will never again think that I can not live in a certain home because of the number of bedrooms.
    By the way I would be gratful if you 4 moms would do a bathroom post.Like how many you all have, how the space is shared, and alternatives when to bath room is ocupied. Like a toddler potty or a tree….sorry to be crass, but it is another area I wonder about with a growing family.

  28. Your beds are amazing, and so are you for thinking of them!

    I have used cardboard boxes for clothing on shelves, for books, for toyboxes, and they worked well for me. I have one that is going on over ten years of use.

    The secret: Liquor store boxes. They are built to hold heavy bottles without breaking. I slapped contact paper over them to make them look nice, and I think that helped, too. You can always reinforce corners with duct tape.

    We’ve done without dressers altogether at times- I had pocket shoe holders on the door for socks and underwear and everything else got hung up. Sometimes underwear got hung up, too, just looped over the coat hanger of the outfit it was supposed to go with.

  29. I love the bed idea!

  30. Roxie Meiske says:

    Have you ever watched the show 19 Kids and Counting on TLC about the Duggars?

    I enjoy their program very much…anyway I love the way they have set up their home for all the kids. In the laundry room with 4 washers and 4 driers they have the “FAMILY CLOSET” and a lot of cubbies (like the ones you talk about) with dish pans (with labels) for things like socks and underwear. The whole thing is in one room and everyone who helps with the laundry has it right there…

    You just take the clothes you need to the bathroom for showers and to the bed room when you need to dress for going out etc.

  31. I love your bunk beds! We are a family of four…but God willing more will come. I get upset when people tell us that we will have to move to a bigger house if we have anymore. Then I just tell them there is this lady who has a blog…. It’s great, then they just be quiet about it.

  32. We have that shelf from IKEA too! We really like it, and it’s pretty sturdy! We did NOT buy the baskets they recommend for it, we bought smaller ones that fit much easier. We use it for a toy shelf in the boy’s room. Hubby could’ve built one like it, but he said it would take too much time, so we just bought the one in the store. It’s made it through 3 moves so far!!

  33. I too love your bunks! We’ll probably do something similar when we need longer ones for ours. I hope it’s okay to do the linky at your blog and the DHM’s. That way you can see our “unconventional” beds too.

    I think the Ikea shelf would be a great idea. Much cuter than old dressers. And it looks very uniform, so it would match your beds in that way. I used to have my folding clothes in fabric boxes on shelves and it worked very well. We ended up buying a king size bed with large drawers underneath so I use those now instead of the boxes, but just so I can put more books on the shelves. I’d like something similar to that unit in my girls’ room for their clear plastic toy boxes (one for each type of toy) We’d probably have to build it ourselves since the boxes are larger than ordinary fabric storage boxes.

  34. I think it’s a great idea! I notice that most kids (and even adults) do best when they can actually see what they use. Drawers keep things out of sight and out of mind (neat and tidy) but part of the reason things don’t make it to the drawers is because they like being able to see them. I applaud people who manage to use traditional furniture and whose children function in that way but I don’t think that’s typical.

  35. Do it, do it, do it! Just make sure it is sturdy (they WILL climb on it) and anchored to the wall. Good luck!

  36. The beds are great! Have you seen this website? http://ana-white.com/ It gives lots of plans for furniture you find in I call “drool after” stores broken down so you can make it yourself!

  37. I LOVE those shelves from IKEA. They’ve been on my wishlist for quite some time. I think it’s a great idea and have been toying with the same one myself. Target also has some nice canvas cubes that come in a multitude of colors and so far have held up to our roughness. They are usually priced at $6.99 but they go on sale all the time. If you aren’t needing to buy one for ever space it may not cost a fortune and they always have them so you can buy one here and one there.

    Thanks for sharing. Our kiddos have one assignment today and that it to clean the condemned area known as their room 😉

  38. Hey, Kim. We have these IKEA shelves and (if you assemble them using wood glue in all the attachments) they hold up amazingly. We have had them for years – 1 for our school room (large one) and one for each kid room. We don’t have clothing in them at this point (but we are busting out of the closets and drawers), but all of the kids’ books and bins with toys work great. Each kid has a basket containing their “treasures and things” in the shelf – when it won’t fit, it’s time to purge. IKEA also sells these great baskets that fit perfectly and would work really well for undies and socks (no one would ever know what was inside). We have loved our shelves.

  39. We also have the same Expidit I believe it is called. It has served many purposes in our home. Once for a long time we used it as a headboard for our queen bed. Love it. Now it is in our playroom/ bookroom. LOVE LOVE it. It is such a sturdy shelf. Holds sooo much and I would venture to say it is some of the best money we have ever spent. We bought the drawers that go in some of the cubbys. Yes, might be difficult for bulky clothes. For clothing I would maybe just fold and put in the cubbys. But BRAVO for holding alot of stuff. I would post a pic of how delightfully full ours is but I don’t know how…lol. Maybe on FB. Ha.

  40. I think the shelves are a great idea. If you are building them….I have seen them a lot of different ways. I think the cardboard wouldn’t hold up well. Just speaking from experience, toddlers pulling down boxes sitting or stomping on them. I saw where someone used milk crates and also someone else that used the rubbermaid plastic wash tubs for under things and milk crates for extra shoes, etc in homemade shelving just the one pictured. I also love the beds, what a great idea!

  41. Do you have any friends in the cabinetry business? We use these amazing drawer slides that stand up to huge amounts of abuse. (They are kind of pricey–about $17/pr at our wholesale rate?) My company uses them for all the drawers in our woodshop, and believe me, those slides take huge amounts of abuse. Anyway, The are called Blumotion slides.

  42. I am amazed my those beds. I would never have thought of that and yet….it works!

    I have that exact bookshelf from IKEA also and I have to disagree with Charissa….I love it! You can see it in the pictures I posted today in my boys’ room. I love it because it keeps everything tidy. Even when the books are falling over on one shelf, they are still standing on the next one. So easy! The boxes and baskets I use fit perfectly on there and it’s very versatile. I say go for it. Why build your own when they are so affordable at IKEA? Lisa~

  43. We have that exact shelving system from IKEA for our master bedroom to hold our clothes and we absolutely hate it. The baskets that fit in them are exactly the wrong size and shape to work well for clothing. They are too deep and you have to dig to get to things, creating a huge mess. We are planning on switching that system to my craft room for yarn and fabrics and going with shelves and shallower baskets for clothing.

  44. I love the beds…we got rid of all of our dressers a while back and switched to 7 bookshelves (the $30 ones from Walmart), lined with baskets for their clothes. I doesn’t take up near as much space as a dresser and everything can be stacked up to the ceiling!

  45. Tracy Shelley says:

    We have that bookcase from Ikea, as well as two of the 2 cubbies by 4 cubbies sized ones. The smaller ones are laid so they are two cubbies high by 4 cubbies long in the family room and basement, because we needed the long flat surfaces as desk tops. The large one is also in our basement and where we store many of our homeschool books. We’ve had it for a year and love it! You can also purchase drawer and cabinet door inserts. We’ve done this for one of the small ones, because it acts as a “desk”. The inserts are expensive, but the bookcases themselves are so very affordable for the storage space you gain. We love them!

  46. Do you read the Grocery Shrink? She did a post a little while back where she covered her daughters’ bedroom floor with drop-cloth canvases and varnished them. The cost was minimal and it didn’t look bad at all. Sounds like something that would be right up your alley. Check it out!

  47. I love the beds! I also love seeing how happy the kids are on the beds.
    We have built in drawers in two of our bedrooms. Our boys room has just shelves in the closet. I love it! They have a container for their undies and then they just fold the rest of their clothes, besides what gets hung up. It’s great because they don’t have to dig through a whole drawer to find what they want. Since my boys are 3, 8, and 10 they don’t always keep it folded as nice as I’d like…but they try. I also keep dh and my clothes folded and stacked in our closet, even though we have drawers. We had the smaller set of those IKEA shelves in our living room. We used it as an entertainment center. They are pretty heavy duty, but it will need to be secured to the wall. Love IKEA!

  48. I love your bunk beds!! Can you get those at any Costco or are those something they use in the store? My hubby made us triple bunks for the boys and the girls share a queen size bed…bunks like that would be great!! As for the dresser thing, I’m with you. Alll of our are crumbling at a rapid rate!! We saw some shelving units w/ bins at Harbor Freight that we thought would make excellent storage….

    • Karsten,
      I think you can get our “bunk beds” at any Costco. They cost $150/set when we bought ours.

      The 2′ foot width seems perfect. I’ve taken naps in there when I was very pregnant, and it was enough room to roll over, curl my knees, etc. The beds were meant to be temporary, but the kids begged to keep them – they like the flexibility of being able to move them around, instead of the fixed unit we were going to build onto the wall.

      • Hey,
        WOuld you be able to give me more info on the costco bunk beds? I was looking them up on-line but they have an assortment and I would want to get the ones like yours. How tall is the shelving?
        I love this idea and it would be such a space saver in our apartment and someday in our house.. Great Idea! Love it so much….
        Anna Faye

  49. I LOVE those beds – I remember when they were going to be temporary. Obviously they’ve worked well for you. How do the older kids like the 2 ft width? I’m assuming the shelves are attached to the wall and the children just scramble up. I’ve told several of my friends this idea, and have been seriously considering using these in 2 of our kids room.

    I love the bookshelf on top of the dresser! Been there, done that. The shelf idea for dressers is nice. You may want to put doors on – perhaps with a piano hinge and a magnet to keep them shut. I have a cubby shelf in our school room and I plan to put doors on to keep the dirt and dust out – it builds up quickly. I want to make some doors chalkboards and others whiteboards.

    I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but L-brackets work well for holding dresser drawers together for juuuust a little longer. We’ve also thought of taking the drawers out of a dresser and reconfiguring the main frame (if it’s sturdy enough) to make a shelf unit.

    For shoes, you might want to consider long shoe bag units hanging on the ends of the beds – something you can take outside and shake out. We used to use our cubby shelf for shoes, and no matter how much we brushed the shoes, it just got full of sand SO quickly. (Or you could line the shoes, especially church shoes, along the top of the wall – littles couldn’t relocate them! LOL)

    If you look at my children’s bedrooms post, you’ll see we just switched to shelves in our boys room – we haven’t gotten any bins yet in there, but the boys really like the shelves for clothing and other stuff.


  1. […] large family has only two children’s bedrooms.  If that worries you, be sure to check out how Kim C. at Life In a Shoe makes use of one bedroom for her children!  You can see more bedrooms at […]

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