Tip # 140: Brainstorm, don’t buy.
You probably don’t need new stuff. You just need a minute to think.
In finding a way to make a small space tolerable, it’s easy to head to the nearest computer and do a search for a miracle product. Guilty as charged. Especially when kiddos are involved. But time and time again, the easiest way to make life in a small space more tolerable is to not add anything new at all.
A recent example: Faye’s new bed. It’s a big-girl bed (read: twin). It’s a new thing we needed to add to our tiny apartment, and like other apartment additions, its coming into our home posed a few logistical challenges. There were toys that needed to be shifted and books that needed relocating. Questions about windows and bars. Pondering about dressers and footstools. For the time being, a lot of that is still a little free-flowing. We’re working on it.
But let’s focus on the bed itself:
We started off with it as a mattress on the floor. Who needs a bed frame? It looked so sweet and cozy snuggled into the corner of her room; like the perfect little nest. (An added benefit: She could climb into it herself!) But the reality of nests is that they’re unruly little things. Making the bed and keeping the room looking tidy became a daily challenge. And the mattress on the ground proved to be altogether too trampoline-like for a daredevil toddler. One very close encounter with a black-eye later, we decided to put the bed on a bed frame. And then came the question of how to keep a toddler from catapulting herself off that cliff. More benignly: How to stop her from accidentally rolling out of bed in the middle of the night.
The fastest solution was to head to Amazon and look up toddler rails and put one of the fifteen or so available mesh barriers in my cart and click Buy. For twenty dollars and two days of waiting I could have the answer right here in my house. Simple. But I hesitated. First of all, and no surprise, because they’re ugly. Second of all because how long would we really use it? Third of all because surely there must be a hundred of these things lying around apartments (or sitting in trash heaps) within a ten block radius of our place and the thought of buying a new one made me shudder.
I could DIY this, couldn’t I?
I began to think about soliciting my dad’s help and the use of his table saw to build a little barrier myself. I took to eBay. Vintage options, I figured, had to be less ugly than modern ones. (Turns out, no.) I didn’t find anything promising on eBay and the reality of building a barrier myself felt more than a little ambitious given the circumstances.
I began to figure that if I did find a used mesh barrier, I could make a simple linen slipcover to go over it. Hide the ugly, keep the safety?
Next I took to Pinterest where tutorials abound for homemade versions using foam pool noodles. But I wasn’t sure I wanted Faye cozying up next to a pool float every night and where would that end up once we were done with it?
A bolster pillow, I reasoned! Tuck that under the fitted sheet at night and make a foam-free barrier instead! I returned to the internet. $60 worth of wool batting and linen pillow cases later I had the prettiest and most expensive option all cued up.
Until it dawned on me: a blanket. Duh. A rolled-up blanket that we already own, tucked under a sheet if need be, for an innocuous and easy solution to help teach a toddler to stay safe in bed. Zero dollars. Zero new additions to our tiny space. Zero ugliness. Loads of use after the rolling-out-of-bed period comes to an inevitable end.
Sure, when it’s tucked in there, the bed looks a little like the snake that swallowed an elephant from The Little Prince, but if a kid’s room isn’t a place for literary allusions, then where else? Inexplicably, or maybe not, Faye caresses it at night and calls it Baby. I think we’re good to go.
For the curious: I think just about any fitted twin sheet would work in this scenario. We’re using a fitted percale sheet from Parachute Home and there’s plenty of room for stuffing and still allowing room for the sheet to fit snugly around her mattress!
Tiny Apartment Survival Tips #1 – 139, RIGHT HERE.