Kids can live large in a small bedroom

September 16, 2006|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Copley News Service

Q: My daughter has just moved back into town and we expect our three grandchildren, ages 6, 8 and 9, to spend a lot of time with us. Our retirement house only has two bedrooms. We want to alter our second bedroom so all three of them can stay overnight, and had planned to buy a bunk bed but the ceiling is too low. Can you suggest a way to arrange three beds so it doesn't look like a barracks?

A: Depending on the sex and compatibility of your three grandchildren, you might consider a convertible sofa (with two sleepers inside) and a single bed you could treat like another couch with bolsters and a tailored spread. This would leave free floor space and make more of the room available for other activities between bedtimes.

Or you might take inspiration from the attic room we show here, designed by architect John Silverio and borrowed from the idea-rich "Babyspace Idea Book" by Suzonne Sterling (The Taunton Press). Three single beds, pushed close against the walls, give each sibling an equal share of the room and still allow ample open play space in the middle.


By positioning the lamp tables strategically, there's comfortable lighting at the head of each bed. Other furniture is minimal, a shared wicker chair and benches at the feet of the side beds. The simple blue and white color scheme keeps things looking fresh and uncluttered, despite its busy traffic pattern.

Q: I am about to marry a man I just learned has two self-storage bins filled with stuff he says he just can't throw away. I'm a widow with a nice little house and a garage, but what about this? He's really nice and normal in most other ways.

A: Actually, renting space to store excess belongings is pretty normal these days, according to the Self Storage Association, the trade group for the $145 billion industry that's been created by Americans like your fiance who go out and rent space for things they either can't throw away, or need to store for a while.

I'd say stay away from the issue unless he decides to bring it all home to your garage. Then you might want to look into some of the new garage storage systems that offer sleek, sensible racks and cabinets sure to cure the most serious clutter. One to investigate - love the name - is Garage Envy at or 888-249-1766.


Now you can croon along in the tub, too. We guess it had to happen: a Montreal-based bath furniture maker called Neptune has introduced Neptuner, a bathtub that turns itself into a giant speaker. When powerful acoustic transducers are attached to the tub, the bather is enveloped in sound waves, says the Neptune spokesman, because the water "amplifies and enhances" the music.

The audio technology can be applied to any of the company's bathtubs, so you could have the spa works at home, including hydro-massage and aromatherapy in tune with your favorite music. Seeing is believing at

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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