We don’t hear much these days about subdividing a bedroom when two bedrooms are needed. Redistribution of space is simply unacceptable, especially if you’re a teenager lobbying to have your own bedroom instead of sharing with a sibling.
In some cases, an elder sib may head off to college, giving a younger sister or brother a chance to lay claim to the newly vacant bedroom. In others, families actually sell out and move to larger homes in order to shut up that nag-nag-nagging kid.
Or, as a more moderate solution, a room may be added onto a home.
Our situation is a little different. I built the Border Fort with comfort and space for two in mind, designing bed-and-bath rooms for Pam and me, each room the mirror image of the other–keeping in mind, of course, that we’d have space enough to fit in other people someday, additional caretakers to help me take care of my disabled spouse.
Not counting the porches, this house encloses a total of 1,296 square feet. When I was growing up in a log house on a Montana ranch, five of us lived comfortably in 900 square feet of space.
We could certainly figure out a solution when the time came.
What we did not foresee is that the time would come as soon as it did. Pam’s friend called in desperation from a homeless shelter in Missouri. She needed a bus ticket back home to Arizona and a place to stay.
She didn’t ask to stay with us; that was our idea. She could use a secure place to flop, and we could use the help.
But…where to put her?
By the time we had an agreement on Friday, we knew she’d be showing up at the bus station late Tuesday evening…and I had a plan.
It had to be my bedroom that was subdivided. If we put her bed in the kitchen, she’d be underfoot. No go on that one. Pam’s bedroom was likewise out of the question.
“I’d be tripping over her!”
Yes, dear. Yes, you would.
There’s barely space to walk in the utility room. Ditto for my office.
By default: my bedroom is it.
The deadline was a blessing. Without pressure, I hadn’t cleaned up that half of my room since 2010. Literally.
It took me 15 man hours of labor to muck that area out. What. A. Mess. Four hours Friday night, quitting at midnight. A much earlier (a.m.) start on Saturday, but the last of the stuff wasn’t out of there until nearly midnight, topping off an eleven hour shift.
By allowing myself no more than a small, 12″ wide walkway between the end of my bed and the new wall, I could enclose a second bedroom for our new resident that would be 8′ wide. The length would also be 8 feet for half of the width; the remaining width would have 11 feet of reach.
Hardly humongous, but I’ve seen worse.
The first construction step was to install an eight foot 2″ x 4″ stud wall that would mark the border between the two bedrooms. Most builders (me included) usually put up all of the stud walls first, then add sheathing. I decided to change that pattern this time for one specific reason: It would save at least a few minutes of put-together time.
A few minutes may sound unimportant, but we were under a deadline. Construction began Saturday evening. Our new resident would be sleeping in the new bedroom Tuesday night.
There was no time to waste.
Locking a home improvement stud wall firmly to the ceiling is a piece of cake. Since that (the ceiling) is made of OSB strand board (which I use a lot), the header 2″ x 4″ is simply nailed to the ceiling, and that’s that.
The floor is a different matter. Ours is all loose lay, rubber tiles over OSB strand board over black plastic. That’s not much wood thickness in the subflooring. Penetrating the moisture barrier plastic with a nail tip would be a very bad idea.
However, tacking the sill plate (bottom board) to the rubber tiles is a surprisingly simple process. The key is to use 6d nails. They’re just long enough to go through a 2″ x 4″ plus the rubber, with a teeny tiny bit–no more than an eighth of an inch–left over for the strand board.
It’s not really solid, nailing into rubber, until the sheathing is hung–but once that’s finished, it’s a mighty solid wall.
Squaring the sheathing away underscored one of the numerous eccentricities inherent in the way I built the Border Fort. Approaching the west wall of the house, there’s a sizeable dip, deepest right at the edge of the wall.
No big, but also no surprise that this most dramatic lack of level ground turned up in my bedroom. All of the most challenging quirks show up there; don’t ask me why.
There’s no need to insulate this wall; it’s a hollow wall.
After the eight foot wall was completed, a shorter four foot wall was installed at right angles. This closes off part of the new room, and I finally realized the way I’d put this thing together, the closed off portion was not exactly eight feet to a side; seven feet, eight inches was a lot closer.
The shorter wall forms one side to a walkway that (a) provides the new room’s occupant with easy exit from the room and (b) makes it possible for either one of us to reach the bathroom.
Those walls added up to a tough job for one reason. Carrying a full 4′ x 8′ sheet of OSB strand board does not normally present a problem, but this was a special case. The new bedroom is in the “far back corner” of the house from the front door, which is the only real possibility for moving large things in or out of the Border Fort. We’ve moved furniture here and added construction tidbits there until routing through the entire residence is a bit of a serpentine adventure. In a couple of places, it’s not possible to grab under the edge of the board with a full hand.
Instead, the board must be lifted and carried by gripping its top edge only. With both hands, to be sure, but at this point, gravity is definitely not a friendly force.
Especially since I generally wear leather gloves if I’m going to be moving strand board any significant distance. They do protect the hands, but they also slick the thumbless grip a bit. The first two boards were merely a grunt-and-focus challenge. The last two were inclined to slip right out of my hands and go thump on the floor.
At two in the morning, the old man was weakening a touch or two.
The walls got built, all right, but that seemed like a decent stopping point for the shift.
Sunday required a whole lot of errands in town. Among other things, the new bedroom’s new occupant would be needing a few things. She’d gladly sleep on the floor if that’s all there was, but no. We could do better than that. My haul for the day included a queen size air mattress, sheets, a snuggly-soft blanket, a quilt, pillows, towels, towel rack, clock, two pictures, carpet style rugs, a lamp, and probably lots of other things I’m not remembering at the moment.
Once again, I didn’t get started building until after dark. Trim boards were added, the easiest and most pleasant part of the entire project. Then it was time to paint the new walls–in her room only; there wasn’t time enough to tackle my side of the equation.
Yeah, there’s something I forgot to mention from the shopping run. Two gallons of pale yellow paint with various painting accessories. As it turned out, the new room’s interior required just one gallon, but it was close.
Furnishing the new room went well…until the new brown blanket came out of its shopping bag. That POS turned out the be a shedder. It shed loose lint-thread pieces all over the top sheet and pillow cases. Bouncing it around in the dryer didn’t help. In the end, frustrated by a dumb purchase (soft and cuddly but cheap cheap cheap), I turned on the water supplying the laundry shed and washed the blanket, dried it with two Bounce fabric softener pieces, and…
…and the blasted thing still shed a bit. Not only that, but there was water blasting up out of the ground over by the water tower. The green irrigation control valve cover wouldn’t release its lid and had to be yanked bodily from the earth. Plunging in the nearly freezing mud and water to the elbow–ah, contact; got the valve shut off.
What the dickens caused that? My plumbing’s never that bad. Well…almost never. I finally remembered: This was the place where, for the first and only time in my life, I’d shattered a piece of PVC water line with the spud bar when digging it out to rework and pressurize the lines. I’d thought I’d cleared the shattered area, but hadn’t tested it after making the connections–and hadn’t gone past the next union, dumb me.
You’d think I’d have known better, and in truth I did…but laziness won the day. Hopefully it won’t take more than a day to rectify the situation.
In the meantime, back at the new bedroom, it was time to top everything off with the new quilt, take one last look around in what was now bright sunshine, haven’t been to bed and it’s 11:30 a.m.
But the deed is done. That’s how to handle the redistribution of space by subdividing your bedroom into two bedrooms.
One way, anyway. You might have a story of a home remodeling job that went a bit more smoothly than that. Or then again, maybe not. Most of my friends, when they have a remodeling story to tell, begin with something like, “On a dark and horror night….”
To top that off, our new 300 lb. occupant gallops into town tonight, riding the big gray dog. Thirty-eight hours on a Greyhound bus. After that, our friend ought to be ready for a couple of days of unconsciousness.
And to top it off, it’s a full moon tonight.