At ages five and seven-and-three-quarters years old, my children were sleeping in matching toddler beds from IKEA. On one hand, I thought “Poor Julian. Almost eight and still sleeping in the tiny bed he got when he was three.” And on the other hand, I thought, “Kids in other countries don’t even have their own beds. It’s not a big deal.” As his birthday approached, my Western sensibilities won out and I felt strongly that it was time for a real bed.
My kids, by their own choice, share a room, and the most logical solution was to upgrade them both to bunk beds.
I coveted this twin-over-full bunk bed from Room and Board that I saw at my friend Quyen’s house, but the price tag stopped us. $1800, which does not include mattresses. Um, no.
I also had my eye on this beautiful bunkbed from Oeuf, which has a really small footprint, and because it can be “unbunked”, I began convincing myself it would last forever, even when my kids decide they want their own rooms. When Ryan heard the price, he still made a face. $1500 without mattresses. I was in favor of it, but this is a partnership, so um, no.
Soon my friends let me know that they had moved their kids into a new set of beds and had an IKEA set in their garage which I was welcome to have. The price, zero dollars, was right, and even better because it wasn’t 100% disassembled, the beds were just 27 steps away from being put together instead of the 427 steps it would have taken if we had gotten them straight from IKEA.
With my dreams of a fancy bunkbed put to rest, I turned my attention to The Big Reveal. We plotted to let our children fall asleep “camp-out” style on our playroom floor at 8 pm on the night before Julian’s birthday. With them out of the way, we would work on putting the beds together into the night so that when they went to their bedroom to get dressed in the morning, they would discover The Most Amazing Bunk Beds in the world.
I ordered mattresses and began searching for linens. I had some pretty specific ideas in mind, wanting them to be both matching and gender neutral. This is a challenge because boy bedding tends to be very boyish and girl bedding tends to be very girlish. To say I spent way too much time on this endeavor is an understatement, especially when, at the end of the day, after combing Pottery Barn Kids, Garnet Hill, The Company Store, Overstock.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Pinterest, what I ended up with was grey jersey sheets from Target and duvet covers from IKEA.
I ambitiously imagined that I was going to “hack” the bunkbed as well, having seen these images online. I gathered the materials to execute my fantasy customization.
Alas, time ran out and the bed was revealed to two thrilled children, dressed in the bedding with which I was quite pleased and customized only with a tension rod and piece of fabric which provided the bottom bunk dweller with a privacy curtain. Victory!
This story is not over. I got even stupider as the month progressed and invited 11 kids over to our house for a playdate during a school holiday. Though we had ample activity in the backyard, they all wanted to be inside, and I did not enforce any limits on how many kids could be on the top bunk. Do you sense where this is going?
Three boys were sitting on the top bunk and one was climbing up. Three little girls were camped out underneath, enjoying the dark cave of the bottom bunk. With a crack, the wood frame of my free IKEA bunk bed broke, hurting no one, but becoming unusable and unsafe.
Now, just a week or two after assembling the bed, it was our task to disassemble and dispose of it, as well as deciding on a bed to replace it. Exactly how my husband wanted to spend another Friday night. NOT.
For the next month or so, the kids slept on their mattresses on the floor. So much for my fancy pants bedroom fantasies.
Finally, we found a happy medium with this affordable, metal-frame bunkbed set. Not free, but not thousands of dollars. After a ridiculous amount of delay and missed delivery windows, the bed arrived for our assembly pleasure, (one more Friday night of hot Allen wrench activity – the last one, I swear!)
Here’s how it looks in my house.
The children are happy with their new big kid set up and I am happy that the saga is over. Whenever I visit someone’s house who has those popular IKEA bunks, however, I feel a tinge of bitterness.
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