Creating new bedrooms out of open space *updated with pics, post #21* - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids are driving me (and each other) crazy. They're cooped up inside and are bickering ALL. THE. TIME.

Currently the kids are sharing bedrooms- the 2 girls are in one room and the 2 boys are in another room. I think it may be time for separate bedrooms. The plus side is that we have an unfinished basement, and room for the kids to spread out. The down side is that the basement is unfinished, and it's not in the budget to finish it right now.

So my idea is pretty simple. I'm thinking about hanging old sheets, blankets, and curtains from the ceiling in the basement to make bedroom "walls" and moving the boys downstairs. I know it won't be the most attractive thing ever, but it fits in our budget and I think that the negatives of having an unattractive basement will be outweighed by the peace that will result from each child having space of their own.

My grandparents have done this in their basement, so I have a pretty good idea of how to do it, but I'd LOVE suggestions from anyone else who has done this or seen it done before. My plan is to put small hooks into the studs in the ceiling, and then run old clothesline (or thin rope) through the hooks. Then I'll attach the old sheets to the clothesline, either by using clothespins, snaps (I have a snap press), or by sewing a small pocket along the top of the sheet. Along the sides, where the sheets come together, I'll do the same thing, either use clothespins or sew the sheets together to keep the "wall" from having gaps in it. I'm uncertain as to how I'll arrange a door. My grandparents use a clothespin system that opens and closes from the top, but my boys aren't tall enough for that. So I'm not sure if I should try to jerry-rig some sort of door that can be tied or pinned to the side, of if I should just leave a gap between the sheets that can be walked through.

I'm planning to place bookshelves and other furniture against the "walls" so that it will seem a bit more solid, and hopefully it will cut down on kids playing and running back and forth through the sheets. We do have carpet remnants that we can put on the concrete floor to make the rooms more cozy. I've also considered painting/decorating the sheets that we hang up, to make the space feel less austere. We obviously won't be able to hang framed pictures on the walls, but I don't want the areas to feel totally devoid of life.

Any other thoughts or suggestions for making this work as a short-medium term solution?

*updated with pics, post #21

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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We did this in our basement when I was growing up (before it was finished, which, you're right, is pretty expensive). It was for my mom's brothers, though (long story).

Anyway, rugs work better than sheets. If you look around, you may surprised at how inexpensive they can be. Look for carpet remants, too. You can get carpet binding for the cut edges if this is a priority for you.

Hang them two at a time, so the "floor sides" face each other. This creates "next door" rooms, or, if you want the rooms far apart, minimizes noise and helps insulate.

The bookshelf idea is a good one, but can be difficult to execute. The shelf should be *very* heavy/stable, or bolted to the ceiling and floor.

Try to build the rooms around windows, if possible. Blankets cut around the window and hung on the exterior wall work well.

Of course, put rugs on the floor.

You will also needs lots of lighting and probably two space heaters.

Good luck! If you do this, pics would be great.

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:10 PM
 
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Oh, one more thing: We had sheets or lightweight blankets as the "doorway" into the rooms. If you do this, your boys will still be able to have the joy of running through their "walls" without, yk, all the destruction.

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hhhmmm.... I hadn't considered using carpet for the walls. I was a bit concerned about sheets being too lightweight- my grandparents used heavy blankets and/or heavy curtains to make walls. I had considered sewing dowels into pockets at the bottom of the sheets to keep them from blowing around... but rugs might work.

Of course, I'm trying to be as frugal as possible with this, since it'll only be for a year or two (I hope). So if I can do it with materials I already have, I'd prefer to do that.

Thanks for mentioning the space heaters. Not sure what I'll do about that. When I was growing up, my bedroom was in an unfinished basement. My parents put up panelling to make my room, but the rest of the basement was open and had just a concrete floor. I had two walls that were concrete block, and two panelled walls. I had cheapo carpet (no pad) on the floor. It did get chilly in the winter, and my parents did eventually buy me a space heater. But they were paranoid about it being a fire hazard. And as messy as my boys are, I wonder if they'd do well with space heaters or if I should just invest in extra slippers and sweaters.

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Old 02-13-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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How about sewing a tube along the bottom of the sheets and filling it with beans to keep them weighted down. You could have the 'door' just be a spot where two sheets meet/overlap and you push through.

Rugs are heavy and tend to droop. If you want to hang them on the walls for insulation you can take a two by four, hammer nails through it along the whole length and then use them as hooks.
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:03 PM
 
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What about using sliding doors on tracks for the walls? The tracks would be fastened to the ceiling - kind of like a barn door? They would be fairly substantial walls, and hollow core doors really aren't that expensive. Just a thought!

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Old 02-13-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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A mural might help make it more cozy and personal.

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Old 02-13-2009, 07:06 PM
 
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A mural might help make it more cozy and personal.
I was thinking the same thing. The beauty of using sheets is that you or your boys could decorate or paint murals on them.

OP, what you have planned sounds like a good idea to me. Let us know how it all works out!
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Old 02-14-2009, 03:32 AM
 
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I guess what jumped out at me in your post was your writing about your kids being cooped up inside. My kids would go insane if we didn't do a major outing every day -- preferably an outdoor adventure. Parks, nature trails, beaches (even in winter!), snowshoeing, going to the pool, going to indoor playspaces, drop-in gymnastics, homeschool activities, library, museums, etc., etc. -- these outings are necessary to get through the day. I'm just wondering if you need a shift in your routines rather than in your home?

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Old 02-14-2009, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ksenia- thanks for the suggestions. My kids do get out every day. They've all chosen to attend school, and they run around during recess and PE each school day. It was tough to get outside when it was -15, but it's warmed up quite a bit and the kids usually play outside after school now. All of them play sports- right now the girls are dancing and the boys are playing basketball. We're pretty active as a family and we hike and play outside throughout the winter. But STILL, they have abysmal attitudes and are just picking on each other horribly.

I do think that they would do better if I had more activities planned for them during the day. They all do just fine when we're away from home. But once we get home and we're hanging out inside, they seem to be at a loss for things to do. They have a million and one toys, and I can suggest ideas, but of course anything I suggest is dismissed as "boring." I think it's just the winter doldrums. But I will try to work with the kids more, in addition to providing them with their own spaces.

Anyway, seperate bedrooms is something we've been considering for awhile now. The boys especially are sharing a VERY small room. And all of the kids are thrilled with the idea. The boys are excited to have their own space and not have to deal with someone else's mess. I can understand how they feel. I think I was about 10 when my parents let me move to a room of my own in the basement, and it felt so nice to have a space that was all mine. I got along with my sister much better once we weren't sharing a room.

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Old 02-14-2009, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What about using sliding doors on tracks for the walls? The tracks would be fastened to the ceiling - kind of like a barn door? They would be fairly substantial walls, and hollow core doors really aren't that expensive. Just a thought!
This is an interesting idea.

But I think we're going to try to avoid spending any unnecessary money right now. DH and I are in agreement that when we do finish the basement, we're going to do it right the first time. So for us, that means saving the money to have it done well, before we start building anything. We have an agressive savings plan in place, and the temporary bedrooms will only be used for a year or two.

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Old 02-14-2009, 06:10 PM
 
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annethcz -- totally makes sense . I remember being desperate for my own room around 12 -- I didn't care where it was, I just wanted my space. I think you're on the right track getting creative with how to make it happen .

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Old 02-16-2009, 04:35 AM
 
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FWIW, my brother moved into the basement when he was about 10 and he seriously had the ugliest "bachelor pad" you've ever seen in your life...but he loved it! My mom is a total neatfreak and loved having her messiest child's room out of everyday sight, and my brother loved having a rather rough-looking space where he could actually relax and just be himself without getting in trouble all the time, so it really suited everybody. It did eventually get renovated to make it more of a finished room, but in the meantime, nobody minded waiting. I do think it helped that he was a stereotypical boy. I know I personally would have hated living down there as I'm pretty particular and like everything just so, but my brother was fine with it and just grateful to have his own space.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:50 AM
 
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We have some friends who built the basement to their (then) new house, got the frame above erected, closed in the basement really well, and moved in.

They used sheets to divide the space but she put grommets in them and hung a series of nails so she could rearrange them as necessary. I like the idea of sewing pocket in the bottom for a weight.

I think the boys will likely run through whatever you hang but that more than likely, the novelty will wear off. I would want a hanging system that was easy for me to deal with if/when things got knocked down because of the running - something not fussy.

In addition to the rugs, can you try and find padding scraps to give some floor insulation?

Good luck!

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Old 02-16-2009, 02:12 PM
 
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Do you have windows in the basement? Or another exit? I would be worried about the boys’ ability to get out in case of a fire, especially if you are considering putting space heaters downstairs. Also, it may not be too expensive to simply run the heat downstairs since you are intending to finish the basement anyway. When we finished our basement, we did the electrical and heat first then continued projects as we had the money.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you have windows in the basement? Or another exit? I would be worried about the boys’ ability to get out in case of a fire, especially if you are considering putting space heaters downstairs. Also, it may not be too expensive to simply run the heat downstairs since you are intending to finish the basement anyway. When we finished our basement, we did the electrical and heat first then continued projects as we had the money.
Oh, I should have mentioned. Both boys have full size egress windows in their spaces, and there is a sliding glass door as well. So no problems with emergency exits. Of course, this also makes it easy for the boys to escape easily. You win some, you lose some

We do have heat vented to the basement currently. The reason I was concerned about heat was because the basement has an unfinished concrete floor, and only partially insulated walls. But we moved the kids downstairs last night, and with an extra blanket, they were both toasty warm. So unless they complain about being cold, I think we'll leave well enough alone.

We're still working to get all of the furniture and toys moved, as well as the sheets painted. Once we have that done, I'll post pictures

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Old 02-18-2009, 08:11 PM
 
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Maybe shower curtains would be cheap and also heavy enough?

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Old 02-18-2009, 08:15 PM
 
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Really interesting idea. I just saw a blog that did something like this. Will have to think about what it was called.

:

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Old 02-19-2009, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe shower curtains would be cheap and also heavy enough?
I do have a couple of old shower curtains, but they weren't long enough.

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Old 02-19-2009, 10:06 PM
 
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Rugs are heavy and tend to droop. If you want to hang them on the walls for insulation you can take a two by four, hammer nails through it along the whole length and then use them as hooks.
This is very true.

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Old 02-22-2009, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As requested, I took pictures of the rooms. They're not completely finished yet. We're going to shuffle a more pieces of furniture around. The rooms have beds (with headboards I had to pull out of the rafters in the garage- ugh, I do not like heights!), nightstands, and dressers. One room has a bookshelf. Pretty soon we'll add desks to both rooms and a bookshelf to the room that doesn't have one yet.

The kids decided NOT to paint their walls. Instead, they're going to color pictures to hang on the walls. I've been using safety pins to pin the pictures to the walls- it works pretty well. *I* think that big murals painted on the sheets would look better, but what do I know, I'm just the mom?!

Anyway, the boys LOVE their new rooms, and are SO excited about coloring pictures to decorate the walls. So all is well I was was a teeny bit concerned about how they would do, since the basement is cold and dark at night, but I haven't heard a single complaint this week.

Here's a link to my blog with pictures:
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?f...ogID=472393500

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Old 02-22-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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That's really great. I have to say, as a Southern Californian, I'm so jealous of people with basements. They don't really have them here - I assume because of fault lines - and they seem to add SO much space to property!
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:28 AM
 
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that looks great. lovely natural light.

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