Too-Small House for Growing Family

Parent Q&A

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  • Kind of a random question, but one I've been thinking about more than I'd like in this crazy housing market. We have a preschooler (we're not planning to have any more kids) and a 2 bedroom house in Oakland where all of us share one tiny bathroom. We like our neighbors, our neighborhood is ok for now, and moving in this market seems overwhelming. On the other hand, housing prices seem to never slow down, prices have gone up way faster than our salaries, and I'm worried that if we don't move sooner rather than later we'll be priced out forever. 

    For parents of older kids - as your kids grew up did your house start to feel smaller? Or are we going to be ok living in close quarters and being less house poor? I know there's another line of inquiry about the investment value of the house, but mostly thinking about the space issues right now. Thanks!

    That is a great question. We're in a similar situation. The three of us are in a 1,000 square foot home that isn't well laid out for maximizing living space, and with 1 preschooler it's already crowded. But we live in a wonderful neighborhood and our mortgage is very manageable. I really look forward to the responses.

    We have a small Berkeley house and decided to remodel and add on when my youngest was in 1st grade. My two kids could no longer really share a room (boy/girl) and one small bathroom was making us nuts. We remodeled and added an upstairs with a laundry room, bathroom, and kids rooms in 2014. We went from 900 sq ft to almost 1500. No regrets! 

    I don't have an answer to this question, but we're in the same exact position (one child family, kid in preschool, living in an 800 sq ft. 2 bedroom), so I'd like to follow what others respond to. We've also considered doing an addition on our house, but even that seems so expensive and I'm unclear on whether the stress and cost of it would equate to that much more ease and joy with the bigger space. Following!

    We are in the same situation, except with two kids. I always assumed we'd move by this point, but we keep looking and to get a significant amount of increased space, we either have to pay an arm and a leg (which we don't have, even with the equity in our current home) or sacrifice on location, housing quality, or both. We ultimately gave up and decided instead to renovate our existing home to add a bathroom and expand our usable outdoor space. (We looked into adding another bedroom as well, but it was going to cost as much as moving, so skipped that.) Our house does feel small to me--it's certainly much smaller than the houses my partner and I grew up in--but we have had several candid discussions about it as a family and our kids (now upper elementary) are adamant that they want to stay in the house if the alternative is to move to a larger home somewhere where they'd have to change schools. We feel far more limited by the bathroom than by the bedrooms/square footage, but I think this would be manageable with one bathroom if we had just one child. We'll see if they change their tune by middle/high school (and if they do, we'll revisit a move at that point). With a preschooler, the major thing I'd be thinking about is where you plan to send your child to school and how that might be affected (positively or negatively) by a move.

    We are having the same (if slightly different) issues here. After exhaustedly running the numbers, we decided on a major remodel/addition. It boggles the mind, but it makes more sense financially for us to spend a LOT of money to add to our home then to move. The thing that really gets in the way of us moving is the huge jump in our property taxes. Our house is big enough for right now (5yo and 2yo), but we're expecting that in a few more years additional space is going to be important for our sanity. Barring unforeseen financial windfall, moving is not going to be in the cards until the kids are out of the house and we're ready to downsize. So we're going big. If you like your neighborhood then I think you should research cost of adding a bathroom. We added a bathroom and it was a total gamechanger. And so much more manageable than buying and selling. If it's in your budget, think about adding a third bedroom or small office. Or updating your garage if you have one. 

    We were in a similar spot.  We bought a small 2/1 (about 975 SF) before our son was even born.  By the time he turned 12, we felt like we needed a bigger space with a second bathroom.  What really sealed the deal was the onset of COVID; being in that small space with a tween every day made it clear that for us, the right decision was selling and buying a bigger house. 

    It's worth also exploring investigating adding or converting space in your existing house would make sense, though it's often fairly expensive unless it's something like finishing a garage or basement. People have often raised a small house to add a floor below it. There are often property tax benefits to doing an addition instead of selling and buying.

    I am a single parent of one child, in 1000 sq ft with one bathroom. I would have liked a family room with a full bathroom, with the option to have turned that space into something like a studio apartment for my child when she was an older teen/young adult, so she would have a separate place to have friends over and keep her own hours, which are about 3 hours off from mine. However, truthfully, for two people we have enough space, it is just very communal. And now that she is a young adult and almost on her own, I don't need any more space for just me so I am glad I never moved. During the lock in phase of the pandemic and she was home, I was considering renting out my house and renting another with a better division of space. That may be the solution when your child gets older, renting a bigger place and renting out yours for a couple of years until your child goes to college.

    No, not really. We have lived in the same 3 Bed 2 bath condo since my son was born. He is now in middle school. His stuff takes up a lot less space than when he was a toddler so if you can manage pre 5 it only gets easier. We got a dog last year and still fit nicely. The thing that changed was we feel the need for more outside space as he grows. I would suggest focusing on your needs and what you can afford and not worrying too much about what the housing market is doing or may do. 

    I raised two kids in a 1600 sq foot house, which some people consider small! I loved it and recommend it! I really liked having a sense of where everyone was and what was going on. The one tiny bathroom you mentioned seems like it may get to be an issue as your child gets older. Of course manageable if necessary but maybe you could add on a half bath?

    As your child gets to be a teenager, they are going to want to hang out with their friends. With prior arrangement, we just went and hid in our bedroom, leaving the "great room" for the kids from time to time.

    I think 2 bedroom is fine for a family of 3, especially if there's a nook or a flex space that can serve as a small office. We are a family of 3 and were quite happy in a 2 bedroom house (about 1300 sq ft). We had 1 tiny bathroom, which was always an issue.  We did move to a slightly larger house (about 1500 sq ft). We didn't move because of the space but we moved because of schools and ended up being lucky to find a place that was a little bigger.  The house still has 2 bedrooms but has a little sun room that we can use as an office and has a usable basement space, although it's not up to code or permitted. It had only 1 small bathroom but we spent every penny we had left over and added another bathroom. I'm not sure about your child's personality but we are finding that as our child grows older, space is less of an issue. Unlike toddler years, our child does not require a lot space to run around and move about and does not have million little toys that are spread all over the place. The child often spends hours in a reading nook or plays video games. But, I cannot imagine living with a daughter hitting puberty with only 1 bathroom.  I think it's generally cheaper to add a bathroom. If you have an existing structure, maybe converting it to an ADU can add valuable space. Or is basement or attic conversion an option? We have friends who have kids in high school. They have wanted more space but are now realizing that in a year or 2, kids will leave and the house will feel quite spacious. 

    We lived in a 1000 sq ft house when our children were young. I liked it because I could always know where my children were. It worked through elementary school for us. As our children got older, there was a little more desire for privacy among both the children and the adults. We began to try to figure out how to create more space in a small house. Where could we create another room? The garage? A shed?  It all seemed too expensive with limited results. We moved. I can’t tell you when to move. There was a financial crisis and the prices all dropped in a timely manner for us. 

    I'm anxiously awaiting other responses, because I'm also curious about this.  Our family is in a similar situation.  We have 2 kids in a 3-bedroom house in Oakland.  With a tiny bathroom.  Probably even tinier than your bathroom!  Currently I'm using the smallest bedroom as my work-from-home office, which I really need for my profession.  But that means the 2 kids are sharing one bedroom.  Currently they are ages 8 (girl) and 5 (boy).  They're using bunk beds, which we don't like, but it's the only way to make the space work for 2 kids to sleep there.  It seems like the two of them sharing a bedroom can't last forever.  I don't think we should ask my daughter to go through puberty while sharing a room with her little brother.  And the tiny bathroom is already a source of stress, when multiple people need to use it at the same time.  So we're thinking we're gonna have to move to a larger place, with at least 4 bedroom and 2 bathrooms.  But I'm curious to hear from other parents, who have gone through this with older kids, what they think about this issue.

    This may not be the answer you're hoping for, but: Our family of four was living in a neighborhood we really liked, in a 1929 house that we enjoyed but that felt quite tight (long before the pandemic). We wanted more living space and knew we could expand the home's footprint into our sizable backyard, but would then a) have to live through a remodel and b) would still be living in small bedrooms with small 1929 closets, with no money left over to overhaul a kitchen and bathrooms that literally hadn't been updated since the 1970s.

    My spouse and I both switched jobs specifically in pursuit of more $$ (the work was also an improvement) and we found a larger home in our neighborhood, five blocks from our too-tight home. EVERYONE in the family was delighted with the change. Kids stayed in the same neighborhood schools, saw their friends, had more space to hang out with friends at home. Husband and I each had a private workspace in the home during the pandemic. 

    For years after the move, I said, "I know money can't buy happiness, but...sometimes having more space means more happiness." 

    We have struggled with the same issue. We have a two bedroom one bath home about 1200 square feet and we have been torn for years whether to move or expand. We like, but don't love our neighborhood, but we also really like not being house poor, because we've owned our home for so long. We have one kid at home, but not additional family space outside of the living room, and would like a third bedroom for guests and when ommy bonus daughter visits. Ideally we would like to build a second story and add two bedrooms and a bath and then add space for a family room downstairs. We're also not sure what to do. 

    A good friend of mine bought a small 2br/1ba house in Berkeley with his wife and two kids. They anticipated moving to a bigger house when the kids got bigger. Over time their income and investments didn't keep up with the RE market so they decided to stay in their house. They also loved their neighborhood. They did a renovation within the envelope of the house. They actually carved out a second tiny bathroom out of one of the bedrooms for their kids to use. That divided bedroom now just held a bunk bed and closets. It basically became a place to sleep. They added a tiny building in their very small backyard. It consisted of a finished room (electricity but no water or heat), maybe 6'x8', that they used as an office and occasional guest room. It also included significant storage. It works for them because the kids are super active and rarely home. One parent uses the backyard office, the other works outside the home.

    We on the other hand we looked initially for a 2000 sqft house for our family of four, mindfull of the experience our friends had. After biding on many, many houses, we wound up buying a much larger house. During the shut down we realized that despite the large amount of square footage, our house didn't have many doors (and the doors it did have had large gaps between the bottom of the door and floor). This meant you could hear everything everywhere. Which was good when you have very young children but not so good when working from home or doing zoom school.

  • My two kids, partner and I live in a small house in Central Berkeley. The kids (ages 10 and 13) are rapidly outgrowing their tiny room, and we're trying to get them some more space. We own the house but can't add on because of the size of our lot. We're thinking of selling but we'd like to stay local until the kids finish school and the housing market is daunting (we're both teachers, and we bought our house 20 years ago). I'm trying to think of any alternatives. Rent and rent? Find an older couple who wants to downsize and be in a walkable location, and swap houses, paying them the difference? (I know that probably sounds crazy; at this point I'm open to any ideas!) Thank you for considering.

    One of my relatives raised their two kids in a small 2 bed / 2 bath condo.  As the kids got older, the bedroom was used for sleeping and storing clothes only.  The kids bedroom barely fit two twin beds.  The kids would study at the kitchen table, at the library, Starbucks, or at a friend’s home.  

    Your kids are getting old enough to downsize the toys and just use the bedroom to sleep.  If there is absolutely no other place for your kids to study, you could try building two separate twin loft beds with a desk underneath for each one.  It might be the size of many small college dorm rooms that hold 2 kids (just for perspective).

    I was born in another country where the density of the population makes San Francisco look sparse and the houses here gigantic. Whenever I go back to visit, I am astonished at how people make such good use of the little space they have. So my suggestion is--if you love your neighborhood, your house, and your school, don't move! Try purging the stuff in your house, or spend some money in renovating some of the rooms, turn an unused space into another bedroom etc. Another option is to turn another room in the house into a study for schoolwork, computer work etc., and keep the kids' bedroom just for sleeping. That way they have space to spread out and also a space to retreat to if they don't want to be in the same room.

    I feel for you. I am a single parent and my ex partner and I bought our home at around the same time. I am looking into renting out my house but I am worried about the pending ballot initiatives that would extend rent and eviction controls to single family homes. If they pass, I would be very reluctant to rent out my home and face the possibility that I could never move back in. 

    I feel for you.  Several of my friends are about to be in similar situations in the next few years.  

    If you stay in your house and adding sqft to your house is not an option: 

    - remodel your garage into a bedroom

    - turn your dining room into a bedroom

    - put in a partition into your living room and carve out a bedroom (…)

    - put up a shed, yurt or canvas tent in the back yard and use as a bedroom (…)

    - see if one of your neighbors will rent out a bedroom

    - install a murphy bed into the living or dining room

    - buy a pull out couch for the living room

    OK, I have 2 crazy ideas:  First, if you've owned your home for 20 years, I wouldn't sell and become a renter.  At all.  Check CL to see what rent is these days. As for buying, prices are crazy- even if you had the money, you'd have much higher prop. taxes.  Have you thought of building UP? Is that a possibility? There's a big permitting process you'd have to through- you'd need to resolve any opposition from neighbors. In our neighborhood in central Berkeley I know of at least 3 such renovations- 2 in which the homes were lifted (one a Victorian, another very modern), and another home that had a full basement excavated and finished (and french drain, etc. etc).

    You could finance this with a 2nd mortgage on your home- having owned it 20 years you might have sizeable equity in it.  And its value has shot up too.  You might be able to double your square footage. And, consider making some of that new space an apartment to rent.  Could you imagine a 2 br/1ba apt, or a studio at the least- in addition to the new living space you're trying to build for your kids.  Then rent that unit out to help offset your costs (plus, you can deduct from your taxable income all the costs associated with a rental: interest, depreciation, repair and maintenance, helping your further reduce your costs).  Design it so that you can easily rejoin everything into a whole at a later date if you wish.

    Here's something (did a search on 2nd story addition):…

    Looks like Kathy Rogers of Sogno replied- we used her for our kitchen remodel and are very happy with the results.

    If this is completely out of the question, then...

    Is there the possibility of building a shed on your property?  The ShedShop will come out and build a shed for you. They have finished versions. For under $20K.

    Uh oh says they're not permitted for living.  Oh well.  Guess that's totally, completely, 100% out of the question!  Like I'm sure the City of Berkeley would inspect to make sure no one was sleeping there, no sirree....

    Good luck!

    1) First question: where are your jobs? You can move and get more space but it's not a good tradeoff if one of you winds up with a hellish commute.  So bear that in mind before moving.

    2) Are you determined to keep your kids in the Berkeley School system, or do you just want them in a "good " school system?

    3) If you can't expand "out", can you expand up (add a story), or down (basement) or work with some architects to make better use of your interior space with built-ins, etc.?

    4) Anyway, start with finances. Have a realtor visit and give you an estimate regarding what you could sell your house for.  (I'd say go on Redfin but you need specifics.)  Figure out what you'd have to pay in taxes, commissions, etc., how long it would take to get market-ready, etc.  That way you can look at what your net would be.  Your house may have appreciated a lot more than you realize!

    You can rent out YOUR house but that is more unpredictable, and perhaps not the best idea for 2 busy parents who are not inclined towards business. It may work out great but there are a lot of headaches (dealing with tenants, dealing with state and local laws & regulations, fixing problems in the house). Even experienced landlords can wind up with problem tenants. If you do go that route, house maintenance and other expenses are tax-deductible. However, tenants are often quite hard on a house. So investigate before you become a landlord.

    Also investigate what your financing options are (we got the best deal through our credit union).  What would it take to get a new loan? Or a home equity line of credit?

    Once you have an idea of your financial options, and how much commuting a move might entail, you can evaluate remodeling and adapting the interior (as I suggested above) versus the hassle of shopping for a new home and moving.

    If you move out of Berkeley, what would you want in your new community besides a good school district?  There are good schools in Danville, Orinda, Fremont, Marin county, elsewhere, but the culture is certainly different.

    Rent versus buy: You can rent, but the odds are rents in the Bay Area will continue to go up over the next 8 years, even in the outlying areas.  So check on rent control.  OTOH, your taxes will be higher if you buy, and prices everywhere have gone up.  Consider that a large-sized condo in a well-maintained complex might give you more room at a cheaper price than a house. A house in some outlying areas (Petaluma) will be cheaper than in Berkeley, although more expensive than it used to be.

    So a lot of issues to consider.  Good luck!

    Hi Betty,

    I would be interesting in talking with you about your swap idea. I currently live alone in a 4 bed/2 bath home in the gourmet ghetto and would definitely be open to downsizing, but I could not buy a smaller home at current prices for less that I paid for me large one 5 years ago. Please send me a message if you would like to talk about how this might work.

    Thanks, and good luck!


  • We are expecting a baby in October and we live in a 2/1 craftsman. We're 
    looking for advice from other families about sleeping arrangements with 
    a 4.5 year old son. Right now, our son is sleeping quite well in his 
    crib (converted to a toddler bed) and we are next door in our own 
    bedroom. We do not intend to co-sleep and have been considering placing 
    the newborn in our son's room because it is still set up for a baby 
    (crib, changing table, glider for nursing) and then placing our son in 
    the family room. Other than the bedrooms, the house has an open-floor 
    plan so the family room connects to the kitchen but we can put up 
    blackout curtains to divide the room. This would also insulate the room 
    so our son could stay toasty and we can even turn on the central heating 
    to make sure he sleeps comfortably.

    We have a few questions about this arrangement, such as ''Are we crazy 
    to change our son's sleeping arrangement since he's doing well?'', 
    ''When can we put the two kids in a room together?'' and ''Will it be OK 
    if we just put down a mattress for our son in his play room?''

    We had considered putting the baby in our bedroom but it's just too tiny 
    in there to add the nursing and changing component. We wouldn't likely 
    put the heat on in the rest of the house so it would be tricky to nurse 
    and change in another room, but certainly that is an option. Please 
    share your experiences, advice, and pearls of wisdom. We know that most 
    families don't have a bedroom for each child so certainly there is lots 
    of experience out there!

    Your son is probably (hopefully!) old enough to transition easily to another room now -- that sounds like a good plan to put him in the family room or put down a mattress. It'll feel like camping to him! When my son was 1 and daughter was 4 we put them in together, but we could have done it sooner - basically as soon as we finished sleep training!  They've just now separated at 5 & 8. 

    Re heat, we've found the oil-filled radiators work great as space heaters in the kids' rooms so we don't have to blast the (extremely drying) central heat all over the house all night long.

    First and foremost, every family has different sleeping arrangements and that is fine. Whichever way everyone gets the most sleep is the way to go! And what works with a newborn may not necessarily work with an older infant, so my advice to be flexible and make changes if necessary. Since you already have a kid, you've been through this before, but remember that every kid is different. My first kid co-slept with us and was a horrible sleeper until we finally figured out he needed his own room; the second one is a night owl and would quietly mumble to herself until she fell asleep. They are 2 years apart. The older one had his own room; baby slept in our room in her crib; we moved her into his room when she was about 9 months old. We would put the older one to bed first, then put her to bed a few hours later (just the way the sleep cycle worked). A few months later (they were 3 1/2 and 1 1/2) we moved to a new house and put them both together in one room with a twin and a toddler bed (we also had space issues).

    One thing you might consider is putting the baby in the family room, or even in the hallway temporarily until you get a better handle on how the sleep stuff is working out. After the baby is born, everyone's sleep is messed up, including the older kid, but then once things settle down you'll have a better idea of how the new baby fits into your family and then you can decide when to put the baby in with the older one. 

    Hope this helps!

    I wonder if being moved out of his room would compound any jealousy or sense of disruption your son might feel. Would having a space that's his help him feel some sense of control?

    For now, we have our baby in our (tiny) room (there are some great mini cribs), and we put the rocker and changing table in the living room.

    Re: heat, if you would turn on the central heat for your son, could you turn it on to keep the glider and changing area warm? That said, between the hot baby, thick socks, and a shoulder shawl, I never needed the heat while rocking.

    Good luck!

    I would not put your son in the family room unless you can truly convert this room to his permanent (bed-)room. I would have both kids share your son's room. I was about your son's age when my brother was born and we shared a room for a number of years. No big problem.

    First, let me echo the "every kid is different" mantra - find what works for you.  But I'll also note that you don't need a separate "nursing and changing" component to keep your newborn in your room for just a few months (sleeping in the same room as parents is advised by both AAP and WHO). Is there absolutely no space to fit a bassinet/moses basket? Even if you don't plan to routinely keep baby in bed with you, you can certainly nurse in your (safely prepared) bed (most comfortable with  somewhat reclined laid-back, and side-lying positions). Or if that really isn't a comfortable fit for you, you could take baby into your older son's room  to nurse (you'd have to go there anyway if baby was sleeping there, so it's no more or less convenient in that sense). Having baby nearby also lets you respond sooner to your baby's hunger/waking - BEFOE he/she gets too worked up ; that often makes nursing easier.   Keep a few diapers and wipes and a changing pad in your room (in a basket under the bed?), and you can change baby on your bed, in the bassinette, or on top of a dresser or desk.  Even on the floor if you're limber! Use a small, tightly focused, dimmable light to reduce risk of waking a lightly-sleeping partner (if there is one!). And depending on the kids, there's not official reason they can't share a room (for all or part of the night) as soon as baby is ready to move out of your room.

    I second the worries of a previous poster who wonders if moving your older son's room might compound any possible jealousy issues or sense of disruptiuon (i.e. ....feelings of, 'a new baby comes, and suddenly I don't get my own room anymore? what gives? Not fair, not ok!'). Personally, I would figure something else out. I also had a new baby when my older son was 4. We also had a 2 bedroom but didn't have the option of turning a spare room into a bedroom (we were house-sharing with another family at the time and taking over another room was not an option). What we did was to make do with having the baby's crib in our room with us, and then when the little one turned about 1-1/2, we began preparing them for the eventuality that they would share a room soon, helping them feel excited instead of anyone feeling like their space was being invaded or left out. When our littlest one turned 2 (when his older brother turned 6), we moved the little one's things into his "brother's room" and it magically became "the kids' room," with an addition of a cool new new bunk bed for our 6 year old (which is "off limits" to his younger brother unless he gives his little permission to go up there!) as a present. At the same time I created a "library corner" for both of them, as a way to change the room up, make it more welcoming for both of them.  For your situation, my ideas would be: 1, do something like this if you think you can make it work. Or, 2, have YOUR current room be turned into the nursery for the new baby and move your and your husband's room into the family room. Get some Ikea bookshelf/dividers to make it more permanent-feeling / stable if you would like. Then, when your kids get older, maybe have them move into one room together? It was different for us since we didn't have a family room to possibly use like you guys do, but I wanted to share my thoughts and experience, offer my perspective. Our kids are very close, don't mind sharing, and my husband and I are now rediscovering a little occasional privacy which is fun. Whatever you decide, good luck and congrats on your new baby joining the family :)

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Family of 5 in a 2-BR apartment

Dec 2011

My family of 5 lives in a 2 bedroom apartment. My 7 year old twin boys share one room. My 4 year old daughter sleeps w/me in the big bed. My husband sleeps in the family room! Our unused crib is finally gone and we'd like to get my daughter into her own bed. She's very excited by the prospect of having Hello Kitty sheets! My question is whether it's appropriate for the kids to all share a room. My 7 year olds are very body aware at this point (but as 7 year olds, find it all silly and provocative), my 4 year old is a bit less so, but we do emphasize privacy, private areas, etc. in our house. My 4 year old also likes to have alone time to ''wiggle'' as we call it. So in writing this I'm thinking no, but my husband would really like to get back into our bed. Unfortunately, putting a mattress in our room would pretty much take up all the floor space, and limits adult privacy as well. Any thoughts or ideas? anon

We just got loft beds...I highly recommend them. Get two, for the 7 year olds, and put a twin bed under one of them (perpendicular to the loft, or a futon on the floor lengthwise) for the 4 year old. That way everyone has their own space, and your floor space will increase considerably. There are many available. We ordered ours from heidilee

There are several ways to make bunk-type beds to divide even a smallish room into separate private spaces by making a bunk bed that has access to one side for the lower bunk and access to the upper bunk from the other side only. Seems you'd need a triple-decker with two beds open on one side and one bed open on the other side.

We got to be inventive during graduate school, living with kids in a tiny one-bedroom on-campus flat.

For us, the one tiny bathroom was our greatest challenge.

Hi there i shared bed room with my older brother from 3 to till i was in high school(when i got my own room). and for most reason it was quite ok for me. I shared the room with him almost equally till i was in my 5th grade and then we started fighting for our space so we had some rules between us to work around it.

but till about 4-5 grade we were absolutely fine with the sharing. i believe it helped us both a great deal with sharing and understanding. about the privacy part, they will learn quickly. you might have to insist on a few things and make them understand but they will understand and work with it as time goes.

about having her own little space.. may be you can come with an arrangement where in your daughter could use your bed room for her little self time during the day. hth s

First off, I have no idea what you mean by needing alone time to ''wiggle.'' But that said, our three children share a room--they are a 10 yo boy, 7 yo girl and 4 yo girl. We have only two bedrooms also. So far, it's fine, no issues. They mostly like being together. Go for it. Mom in a small house

follow up on ''room to wiggle'' - i just figured this was a euphemism for the joys of self-pleasuring. lots of little kids do it - a 4-year-old is big enough to want a little privacy around it - i think any of the loft/bunk bed situations recommended (plus maybe a little curtain or canopy or just a great big pillow to hide behind) could certainly do the trick. i may be reading too much into ''wiggle'', though, so this may not be relevant at all. my kids are ''wiggly'' too

Making one bedroom into two for 10 & 12 y-o's

June 2007

Our two boys ages 10 and 12 share one very large bedroom. They want to have their own bedrooms. Any advise on how to erect a wall cheaply or on room dividers? Any other advose on this idea of private space? anon

I suggested this to a friend years ago for splitting a small bedroom and it worked fantastically. Basically make or use a bunkbed. Place it in the middle (where you would split the room). Close off the side of the bottom bunk with plywood, shelves or something like that. You want to secure it. Close off the opposite side of the top bunk all the way to the ceiling. You can make it longer than the bed if you have the space. Good luck. I think I originally saw the idea in one of those books on kids rooms in a hardware store about 20 years ago. Wish my parents had done that.

Funny you should mention this! Last year, as our two kids reached 10 and 11, we split their big bedroom into two. It took a bit of cleverness, but has been quite successful.

The main bedroom was about 11 feet x 12 feet, and we built a wall of 2x4s laid the flat way (so the divider is actually 2 inches wide). We attached 2x2's to the ceiling by screwing them through the plaster and into the studs.

We didn't want to damage the wood floor, so we put low-stickum painter's masking tape on the floor where the divider would be. We then used double-sticky foamtape to stick 2x2s on top of the masking tape. We then built the wall framing between the ceiling and floor 2x2's. When the framing was up, we put up 3/8'' plywood over all, and then finished with wooden beadboard. We insulated the space to cut down on noise transfer.

We added a little slot to let the kids pass notes between the rooms. Also, it's easy to add electric outlets on a new wall, so we did.

Our daughter preferred her bed to be in a closet, about 5 feet off the floor, with a desk beneath. The bed fitted in perfectly and she loves the cozy space. However, during the winter, water vapor from her breath condensed on the walls, ceiling, & window. Later, I solved this by adding a small ventilation fan and heater duct.

This divider was probably overkill, but it's withstood plenty of bumps & kicks, and has provided just the privacy that the kids wanted. The project took about a week, and materials cost around $500 (I did all the work myself) When we remove the divider, there'll be some minor plaster repairs. Cliff

I've seen this done with two men sharing a bedroom. Floor to ceiling sheets became a wall - one of the guys had a couple sheet walls to make his space a box, and the other guy had the path around that and his own space outside of the enclosed box. Nice and cheap

Remodeling: should we add another bedroom for future sib?

Nov 2002

We are starting to do some remodeling and one of the questions is whether we should add enough space for two rooms (or divide the available space) for kids. We only have one child (girl) now, but I expect that we'll eventually have two.

My husband shared a room with at least one brother until college, I am an only child who always had her own room. We both think it would be fine to have two daughters share a room, but are wondering at what age would we want to separate a boy and a girl into their own space?

And a further question: is it important to have the kids' room (s) on the same floor as a bathroom? I have visions of our now 6 month old as a toddler, needing to go to the bathroom at night and either falling down the stairs, or giving herself a bladder infection by holding it in in fear of the dark stairs.

Any advice would be appreciated. Remodeling Mom

As long as you're going through the trouble and expense of remodeling you might as well add the extra room....if it ends up that your future 2 girls share a room forever, fine, you'll have an extra room that will certainly find a purpose. If you have another boy, at some point they will want separate rooms. My 2 boys shared a room till the older one was 10 and then he started asking for his own room. We have one spare room which he now sleeps in though his clothes and stuff is in the other bigger room...someday we hope to remodel and have that extra room or two. My advice....go for it. Good luck surviving a remodel. I hear you'll need it. cramped mom

If you have the space, go for the extra bedroom. My oldest two are boys who didn't get along until the oldest left for college! They shared a room for the first half of their childhood and had their own rooms the second half. Much better if they have their own space, even if it's tiny. I hope yours are great pals and get along together well, but if they don't, your entire family will be grateful for the separate rooms. Ginger

I think if you can fit two rooms in, you should. It gives you more options later. Even if you wind up with siblings who want to share a room, they can share one bedroom and one playroom/study. As for the bathroom, well, *I* wouldn't want to have to climb stairs in the middle of the night, so given the option I wouldn't want my children to have to do so either. But these things never seem to come out perfectly, so only you can decide whether having bedrooms without a same-floor bathroom is acceptable given whatever space challenges you have. Holly


3rd child in a 2 bedroom condo

Oct 2002

We are presently a family of 2 adults plus a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I just found out I am pregnant. We cannot afford a home in the Bay Area so we bought a 2 bedroom condo before our 1 year old was born. I feel we are going to get funny looks from other condo owners and I don't feel this is an ideal situation, but I'm too stressed to move and we love the Bay Area. I'm sure this situation will work itself out, but any suggestions?? Thanks!!!

I have three sons 16, 13 and 9. We're in a two bedroom house in Albany and due to financial setbacks I never could add on. I'm amazed at how my children have managed to carve out space for themselves. I always had their toys in the living room because I wanted them near me. So their room is for sleeping and dressing. The oldest does his homework there, too. He puts on his CD player and he has his own world. He reads a lot in his bed. The other two have desks in the living room.

It's really worked out alright, I'd say they are closer emotionally than if they had their own rooms.

One strange thing is that they fear being alone much longer than I think is usual. But the 13 and 16 year old are fine.

One day I overheard a conversation my sons were having about big houses -- ''In some of the houses the kids don't even SEE each other,'' my son said.

So my experience has been that you can define their own space -- their own book shelves, toy shelves...It's cozy, too. Cornelia

We have a three bedroom house with four kids. We manage to fit. When the children were younger we were all within two of the bedrooms. All of our babies slept with us until they were almost three and the kids of opposite sex shared rooms until they were about seven years old. You will manage to fit within your space. It might become more difficult when the children are older. But you have many years to figure it out before it should really be a problem. Susan