Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Abby's Room Makeover

Last weekend was devoted to updating Abby's room a little bit.  This wasn't really a project on my radar, but a few months ago, a woman was literally giving away an IKEA Tromso loft bed...  They were moving and her son no longer needed the bed, so she said whoever wanted it could come pick it up for free.  I immediately pounced on it, because Abby has been fascinated by loft beds ever since she got her American Girl doll last year--her doll is McKenna, and in the books about McKenna, they describe her room in detail...including her loft bed.  So of course, Abby wanted a bed like McKenna's!  I hadn't really given much thought to upgrading her bed until that loft bed basically fell into my lap--I picked it up and we put it in the garage, pending a decision about our move this summer.  I told Abby that we would put the bed up at our new house after we moved, or put it up in her room here if we weren't moving--so since we aren't moving, we picked out a weekend when Dan's parents could come help us set up the new bed, and that was this past weekend!

Abby's pinkalicious bed area, before makeover!

I realized pretty late to the game that I wasn't at all ready for putting a new, different-size bed in her room...  Abby has had the same toddler bed since we first moved her from her crib when she was 2 years old, and the new loft bed is a twin bed--so we needed a new mattress and all new bedding, just for starters!  I got on my computer during naptime last Thursday and Friday, and googled ideas for loft beds in girls bedrooms.  For one, there are a lot of good, cute ideas out there!  For another, it was a little overwhelming...and a lot of the ideas had no instructions to go along with them--and I am not a crafty, figure-it-out kind of girl.  I need clear directions, people!  I found a lot of ideas for what I wanted to do with the space under the bed--she definitely needed a bigger desk (her previous desk was a nightstand that we had converted into a little table for her), and I wanted her to have "hangout" space under the bed as well, for reading and playing.  To make the space more private, I wanted to put up some sort of curtain so that she could have a little fort under there.  Some of the pictures I saw of loft rooms showed twinkly lights under the bed, illuminating the space underneath, and I thought that was a great idea--so I added lights to my list!  She keeps a clock and a box of tissues on her nightstand every night, so I was concerned about how to address that issue with a loft bed...I think I spent hours googling "clamp on tray for bed" or "bedside table for loft bed."  I couldn't find a lot of options for that--I considered having a friend in England order one and ship it to me, because apparently the English have the market on those tray things, but they won't ship to the US!  I also knew from having a bunk bed in college that she might like a light up on her bed for reading or whatever--so I wanted to look for a clamp light while we were shopping.  It was a long list, and I wasn't entirely sure I had covered all my bases for this new bed set up...but off to IKEA we went!

IKEA is not for the faint of heart--it's awesome, amazing, confusing, and a total maze.  IKEA with three kids in tow is basically the idiot's way of shopping there...and that's exactly what we did.  I told Dan in the parking lot that IKEA has a "kids zone" where the kids could go while we shopped, but he nixed that idea as soon as it was out of my mouth--he said he didn't want to deal with them melting down when we left them there.  Of course, they saw the kids area as soon as we walked in and begged to go in and play, but I told them they were too short (little white lie...Alex may actually be too short, but Abby and Jake are not)--to which Dan replied, "No, they're not."  Clearly he was not on the same page with me about lying to them for the greater good--if we say no because we're mean Mommy and Daddy, then we get whining and fussing, but if we say no because the rules say they can't go in, it's not our fault.  Urgh.  We trudged on, with both boys in the bed of a shopping cart, and Abby walking with me.  The boys beat each other, fought over toys, and stood up in the moving cart more times than I could count, and I thought Dan's head was going to explode.  Even with all that, we managed to come out of the store two hours later with an impressive (and expensive) array of goods:

  • twin mattress, bedding set, sheet set and comforter
  • new pillow and throw pillows for against the wall on top of her bed
  • a desk and desk chair
  • 2 strings of twinkle lights
  • a clamp reading light
  • grip strip for the bed ladder (the used strip was worn off)

I had intended to go to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond after IKEA, but seriously, it was 6:30pm when we left IKEA.  We were all starving, and I don't think Dan could have handled more shopping.  We drove to the Red Robin near IKEA, and the wait for a table was 20 minutes.  I did quick math in my head and thought I could scramble to the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond (just 2 shopping centers over!), grab what I needed from there, and get back in time to get seated...but just in case, I left Dan and Alex at the restaurant, and dragged Abby and Jake through Bed Bath and Beyond in record time.  I grabbed sheer curtain panels to help create the little fort under the loft, and I bought a "BunkPal Bed Shelf" that I thought might work for the floating nightstand--I thought I would give that a try before I special ordered from England!  Since Abby's new bed is metal, I wasn't sure if I would be able to attach the table...and I was also concerned about how to attach the curtains under the loft because of the metal frame.  But I hoped for the best with what I got, and we had a good dinner...and only got the kids in bed an hour after bedtime.

I spent a few hours that night cleaning up the metal bed frame--it had been in our garage for months, so it was dusty and grungy...and plus, it had been used by a little boy for years, so I wanted to make sure it was as good as new.  We also needed to attach the new grip strips to the ladder so that Abby's feet don't slip off!  After that project was all done, the bed was ready for assembly the next day.  The assembly wasn't all that hard, but it definitely required more than 2 people to hold the frame upright and attach everything together--we were so glad and grateful for Dan's parents' help!  I had put the sheets on the new mattress on the floor, so that was ready to go once the frame was up.  I remembered the twinkle lights at the last second (literally, Dan and I had the mattress and were getting ready to hoist it up top when I remembered I should probably do the lights first!).  I took both strands of lights and laid them on top of the bed frame itself, and let the lights fall in between the grid so that they wouldn't be crushed by the mattress.  We arranged the lights the way we wanted them, and then laid the mattress on top of the strands.  It looked great!

purple jewels and white flower lights under the loft

We had to break at this point in the project for dinner, and then I raced back upstairs to try to clean up some of the mess we had made in Abby's bedroom before she had to go to bed!  I put Abby's pink fluffy rug under the loft, and arranged her new desk and chair at one end.  Then I stored the bins that had been under her old bed next to her desk, out of sight but still accessible to her.  I moved her "bear chair" (also from IKEA, but from a few years ago--it's been a staple in her room for 4 years!) to the other end of her new under-loft area to create a little reading nook down there for her.

new desk with a pink swivel chair!

bear chair reading nook under the loft

I still hadn't figured out how I was going to hang the curtains to close off the loft area and give it a fort feeling under there.  I couldn't put up a tension rod, and I didn't want to drill anything into the metal.  I thought about fishing wire at the last minute--maybe I could tie it onto the bed rails inconspicuously, in a way that would hold the curtains and also allow Abby to open and close them as she wants to.  Dan's parents didn't have any fishing wire, but they did have beading thread, which is similar--they brought that with them for me to try.  I didn't have much time before Abby's bedtime, but I ran the beading thread through the rod pocket of the curtains and then tied the thread in multiple ways around the bed frame.  I pulled it as tight as I could, and I tied the two front panels up in the middle so that it wouldn't sag too much.  I hung one panel on the open side of the bed, to fully enclose the loft area.  The beading thread worked out pretty well--I was pleasantly surprised that my jerry-rigging idea was successful!  The thread is rated to hold up to 12 pounds, and it does sag, but I think it's a cute effect.

the finished product!

with the curtains open

you can see the beading thread hanging the curtain here

Then it was time for the finishing touches up on top of her bed--I added the pink clamp light, and I tried the bedside table...which worked!  You can see it in the photo above--it's wood stained, so I think eventually, I will paint it to better match the bedroom.  But it's a perfect shelf--totally sturdy, and it fits her tissues, her clock, her nightlight, and a cup of water.  I also put the throw pillows up top to create sort of a couch-like effect if she wants to sit up against the wall on top of her mattress, and she put all her bed friends where they belonged.

reading light and bedside table

Abby said her bed is like a hotel bed--so comfy!  :)

The only thing I didn't think of with this project is the fact that hot air rises, and Abby's room gets particularly warm in the summer (and cold in the winter)--so it's fairly warm way up there.  Abby has been sleeping in shorts and tank tops to stay cool, but I also just ordered a clamp-on fan to add to her accessories up there!  I ordered one without a blade, so hopefully there won't be a danger of hair getting stuck in mom had to cut my hair out of a fan once when I was little, so I was conscientious about that possible issue--I don't want Abby's hair to meet the same fate!

Abby absolutely loves her new bed and room set-up--she begs to play in her room after school, and she actually asked to go to bed Monday night so that she could enjoy her cozy little nest up there.  I told her that she's like Rapunzel up in her tower!  She really is up high--I can stand under her bed without having to duck, and I'm 5'3"'s a high bed.  But she adores it, and I'm so glad we made this change for her--she was ready for a big girl bed to match her almost-7-year-old life and needs.  I loved doing this project for her, and seeing it come to fruition like I envisioned--it really makes me smile to see her so happy in her own space.

perfect for my girl!


  1. May I ask where the bed is originally from?

    1. the loft bed is from IKEA--it's called the Tromso bed. I hope that helps! :)

  2. Where did you get the curtains to hang on the fish line

    1. Bed Bath and Beyond! I was specifically looking for curtains with the pocket for a rod, so these worked out great and weren't expensive.

  3. We have the same bed, and I've been looking for ways to make a reading nook underneath for my 9 yr old daughter! =) I also want to add a desk, for homework time. Which desk did you get from Ikea?

    1. The desk is the Micke desk from IKEA! Fits perfectly under the loft, and as my daughter has gotten older, we have added the side Micke drawers to go with it and expand the desktop space and storage.

  4. I have the same loft bed frame but am having a hard time finding the right mattress. Do you remember the brand and what thickness by any chance?