When Gabe and I moved in together, our focus was nearly entirely on the children’s transition. All of our time was consumed by setting up the house, and making it a home for our bunch. We carefully considered the balance of new vs. old, the need for a fresh start vs. familiar objects. We painted rooms and put up posters and hung canopies. We gave each child a room budget and tracked it, hunting down office chairs and lava lamps at Goodwill to stretch the kids’ dollars. Pictures of our family, in all its variations, went up on the walls. We rushed to set up comfortable places for the kids to land, in public in the common areas and in private if they needed to retreat.
We completely forgot about us.
Our master bed and bath were a jumble of boxes, homeless bits of furniture, and other odds and ends. We gave no thought to how we arranged our space, rather we dumped our things and ran to address the comfort of other people. A month after the move we were still weaving our way to bed at night through a maze of “things that are going to get put away just as soon as…”
One morning, I noticed that after showering I left the bathroom and crossed into the bedroom for panties then left the bedroom and re-entered the bathroom and crossed through to the closet for socks. Zigzag silliness like that abounded. The jumbled mess didn’t serve us. It was time for change.
We decided that as the leaders of this boisterous bunch we wanted a space that fit our needs, nurtured and relaxed us, and simplified our routines. It was a tall order.
We addressed the components and organization of our room first. Gabe is well over six feet tall, and had never had a bed that he could lie on without his feet curling over the end. We researched our options and chose a California King mattress. We both like to read in bed, and so we picked an upholstered headboard. We brought in our favorite sleek leather chair and set it up as a cozy spot to call the kids at night, or sit and put on shoes. We added good reading lights and a fan, because I sleep best when the temperature is cooler. We chose new furniture with hidden charging outlets and a modern finish. We thought about how we each prepare for the day, and set up the bathroom and closet accordingly. Gabe likes to get up and go, and he puts all his things away after every use, so he took drawer space around the sink. I leave my toiletries out, so I have the larger share of the counter space.
While the rest of the house is awash in color and pattern (and patter!), we kept the bedroom very quiet. Our duvet and curtains are white, our walls and headboard gray, our furniture ebony. Even on the craziest of days, it is calm in there. We decorated with pictures of the two of us, and places we’ve been, and song lyrics that are important to us.
It seemed daunting at first to buy a new bed, new dressers, and a new rug, but we did so carefully and consciously. We sold every.single.thing we didn’t need after the move, making more than $1500. We spotted the furniture we wanted on a flash sale website. We bought an inexpensive rug and used thick padding underneath to give the comfort we wanted without the cost of a thick wool (i.e. pricey) rug. We bought our lamps and linens locally at discount stores. When it was all said and done, we had a new bedroom to start our new life together for less than $500 out-of-pocket.
A new start, with very little to remind us of our former marriages, made an immediate difference. The room suddenly told the story of Gabe and Kate.
The next step in establishing our space was thinking about how to share it with the children. The short answer? We don’t.
Without any big fanfare or pronouncement, we have gently communicated to our brood that this space belongs to us. That means if you’re third in line for the shower and desperate, the answer is no, you cannot use ours. Need to borrow a straightener? Absolutely fine, take it to your room. Someone is already watching a movie in the family room and you’d like to use our tv? No, sweetheart, you’ll have to wait your turn. Nightmare? By all means, come in for a snuggle. Mommy will walk you back up to your room safely. The children have not pushed back, and with routines in place, it’s easy to keep the space a (mostly) grown-up only space.
Establishing our bed and bathrooms as ours – both in choosing our furniture and décor and establishing them as a kid-free zone, created a safe space for Gabe and I to be newlyweds. So much of our life carries over from the past, but we don’t have any history with that room but our own. Our house, filled to the brim with children and sports paraphernalia and craft supplies is an ode to our family of eight, and we could not be more delighted about that. Our bedroom is devoted to the couple at the center of that family, and functions as a reminder to nurture and protect the love that started this story.