ditching the bedroom

I haven’t slept in a bedroom in six years. The last bedroom I had–at least in the truest sense of a bedroom–was when I shared a way-too-large two-bedroom flat with my ex-husband in the stately section of a small East-coast town. The room had space for a queen-size bed flanked by two nightstands, an overstuffed loveseat, a coffee table, and a large dresser, with room to spare. Off the bedroom was a walk-in closet. The rest of the flat was spacious enough for two that the bedroom could function exclusively as a quiet respite for sleep–you know, a clean and minimal hotel-esque haven for weekend brunches in bed and late wine-and-candlelight evenings, complete with dove-white Frette linens, cloud-like down comforters, and grey cashmere throws.

Could have functioned as such. In reality, the sheets were wrinkled and mismatched, the polyester comforter was always balled up inside the duvet, and the pillows were sad and deflated. But it hardly mattered what was on the bed anyway since most of the time it was covered with a mound of clean laundry waiting to be folded. The nightstands were cluttered with books, magazines, foil packages of sleeping aids and allergy pills, loose change, and a tangle of electric cords. And the cozy soft-grey suede loveseat? Needless to say, no one was curling up on it with a cat and a book because that would require digging through a few feet of clothes that just never made it into the laundry basket or onto a closet hanger. The walk-in closet was similarly swamped.

It was a disaster, a room we only entered when absolutely necessary, and then usually with the lights off, since otherwise the what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-my-life thoughts would cause nightmares and night sweats.

It was also a waste of square footage and money spent paying for that square footage. (Although I will say that it was useful during a “we were in the area and thought we might swing by for a quick hello” cleaning panic.)

My sleeping spaces since then have all been in tiny European studios, boarding rooms, and for a few months, a miniscule shared dorm room. Sleeping, working, eating, and living all happened in the same space. This never particularly bothered me since I had spent the majority of my adult life banging my knees into furniture in equally tiny Boston flats, but it never ceased to annoy me that the bed–a place where I did nothing other than sleep and watch the occasional movie–took up such precious real estate. Oh, what I could do with all that extra space…. yoga! a proper dining table! a full-length sofa! dance parties! danger-free drunk stumbling!

So when my partner and I decided to move into a two-room flat, both to save money on rent and to necessitate a move toward a more “edited” material lifestyle, we decided the bed would only be making an appearance at night. Since both rooms are the same size, using one exclusively as a bedroom, thereby squeezing both the kitchen and a living space into the other, was a ridiculous waste of space. We decided instead to make one room function as a living room/office during the day and transform into a bedroom at night, allowing for a larger kitchen and dining space in the other room. (We were in the enviable position of renovating the flat, so we were mostly in charge of these decisions.)

Our sofa and lounge space sit on a low platform that covers about half the room. At night, we pull out our bed from underneath. There is storage at the end of the bed for pillows and blankets. The entire process of setting up/putting away takes about 2 minutes. (Photos and quick video to come!)

Instead of a dresser, we store our folded clothes in a huge segmented drawer that also rolls out from underneath the platform. Sheets and additional linens are also stored in this drawer. On the other side of the room from the platform is a large sideboard for storing laptops/cameras/purses/keys/sunglasses/etc and a cozy reading nook that can also be used as a mini “office” when the desk is pulled up from the wall and suspended from the ceiling (all of this is detailed in another post).

As for our 10-month-old daughter, she has co-slept with us from the beginning, and her clothes/toys are also stored in the large pull-out drawer. She has never had a nursery, although we soon plan on converting our one closet into a small sleeping/playroom for her with a lofted bed and playspace underneath.

We have discovered many advantages to this set-up beyond not paying rent on an extra room. The bed is so well-hidden that guests have no idea there’s an entire bedroom underneath the living room—they only get a confused look on their faces when, after what is a 1-minute tour of the flat, they realize there is something missing. Not having the bed visible and beckoning from a corner of the room means much less likelihood of collapsing into it for “just a super quick snooze”. And the opposite is true at night–once the bed is out, it’s not easy to navigate around the room, so we’re more likely to adhere to bedtimes. (As for when one of us heads to bed earlier, there is plenty of space in the kitchen for the other to do work or watch a movie on the computer.) It also forces us to “make the bed” every single morning, which yes, really does make one feel like it’s been a successful start to the day. Mismatched sheets and poor hospital-corner skills no longer create an eyesore on display. We have found our clothing space to be more than adequate, as long as we keep our wardrobes smartly-edited (and no, we are not anywhere near a capsule or 30-item wardrobe, although we are working on it).

Overall, we are more than thrilled with the space and money we have gained with this arrangement. We are definitely totally over bedrooms.

 

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