This is a guest post by Jesse Crow, Owner of Rest Right Mattress
“Sharing a bedroom” can mean different things. We usually think of it as sharing a room between two people, like a dorm room or a kids’ room. But you could also share your bedroom between two purposes. A bedroom is a very personal place, so sharing that area means being aware of boundaries and privacy, no matter how you're dividing it. Here we identify some key aspects of sharing a bedroom, in both situations, and how to make it work.
Issues to Address When Sharing a Bedroom
Whether two kids or two college students (or more) are sharing a bedroom, there are similar issues to address. Decorating, privacy, and shared space are all important. These questions should be discussed before moving into the room. Make sure to have this conversation with your kids, or ask them to have it with their new roommates, before planning what goes into the room. Setting the standard ahead of time will avoid fights later.
- Maintaining individuality – Everyone wants their bedroom to be a reflection of their personality. No matter what age, each person should be encouraged to convey their unique qualities through the use of bedroom décor. Dorm rooms are usually easy to separate into space for each person. If a room isn’t set up to do that conveniently, decide ahead of time who gets what space. This should be done before anything goes up. Designate a wall to each person for their own use. Each person should have complete control over what goes in that space. There is the possibility that something may go up that offends the other person in the room. Roommates should discuss ahead of time what falls into this bucket, so no one spends time or money on something that causes friction.
- Maximizing space – No matter the size of a bedroom, once it is being shared between two people, it seems much smaller. Making good use of the area will maximize the space and prevent clutter. Bunk beds can be a great way to do this, or loft beds where the bed is elevated to allow for additional floor space underneath. If you’re in a dorm room, many dorms will allow adding in a loft bed upon request. Efficient storage is very important. Floating shelves add functionality to a bedroom and can be elegant or casual (just make sure to check on any possible damage to the walls before you buy). Headboards with storage provide an extra place for small items that would normally require use of a nightstand.
- Defining personal space – Despite the effectiveness of drawing a line down the middle of a room with chalk or tape, this strategy can be replaced with much more aesthetically pleasing alternatives. A large but thin storage unit, for example, enhances space and can be used as a barrier between the two sides of a room. Room dividers don’t have to literally divide the room. Furniture placement can communicate where one person’s personal space ends and the other person’s part begins.
- Creating a necessary level of privacy – When privacy is a consideration, personal space can be established using a curtain. Curtains can be hung on cord to avoid installing fixtures that might damage the walls. Other ways to boost privacy in a shared room include hanging a canopy above the bed(s) and employing Shoji screen room dividers. These allow light to enter the space while maintaining a certain level of privacy for everyone.
- Establishing shared space – A part of each bedroom that is shared should be shared space. This is where both people can come together and play, watch TV, or use the microwave/refrigerator. One way to designate a shared area is by putting down a rug or carpet remnant in the part of the room which is a common area. This space should be neutral so that neither person in the room feels that the personality of the other is overpowering. Make sure to discuss boundaries over shared items, such as time limits on the TV, or foods that cause allergies in the fridge.
The Dual-Purpose Bedroom
Depending on your needs and your space, the bedroom can be more than just that. Especially in a studio apartment, it may act as a living room, office, and kitchen, all in one place. This kind of bedroom sharing is more complex. The room must accommodate all those needs, and still be presentable for company. It must also be able to comfortably fit pretty much everything you own.
- Creating Boundaries in a Dual-Purpose Bedroom – The same tricks used to enhance privacy and separate space can also be used here. For example, hanging a curtain can separate a private sleeping space from a public living area. If you have an office or work area in your bedroom, find a screen or other divider so that you can work without disturbing your partner. It’s also a good idea to keep the spaces separated so that you’re not staring at your work when trying to fall asleep.
- Use different decorating in different areas – While you can go overboard with clashing colors in a small space, try to add in more aesthetics by creating a separate feel for each area. Choose relaxing colors in the sleeping space, and clean and efficient décor in a work area. In an efficiency apartment, you may not want to combine a lot of colors. Instead, try adding different accents. Where you place things like plants, artwork, and décor can give each area separation and personality. So instead of scattering everything throughout, be mindful of what feel you want for each area.
- Maximizing space – The same as with sharing the space with another person, if you’re sharing a bedroom with multiple functions you’ll need as much space as you can get. A lot of the above tips apply here. However, unlike sharing a room with another person, you have the option to cut down on a lot and you don’t have to worry about anyone objecting. Get rid of excess furniture, and choose pieces that are smaller. Hide storage above the entryway and on the inside of closet doors. Maximize closet space by placing things in bins that you can stack, instead of a single object taking up all the vertical space. This can also work under your bed. If you choose a bed with more height, you can use the space underneath for storage.
Find a bed with room for storage, such as a platform base which eliminates the space needed for a box spring.
- Choose efficient furniture – To really get the most out of the space, try versatile furniture that can be multi-purpose or can be moved out of the way. For example, a futon that is both couch and bed – just make sure to change the coverings for guests! You can use a folding table for a desk, or even a roll-away bed. If the furniture is portable it can also do double-duty. Something like a rolling coffee table can also be used as extra kitchen counter space.
Again, the best thing to do is to plan ahead of time. Get an idea of the space you’ll be sharing, either with other people or with yourself, and create a strategy to maximize the area before moving in. In the end, the most important thing is that you have a space where you feel comfortable enough to relax and get good rest. Healthy sleep is an important foundation to everything you do, so make sure to protect that, no matter how you're sharing.