do we need a murphy bed?

looking for a new apartment/house continues to depress me. we’ve looked at a couple of places, but they have only made us appreciate how charming & well-located our current house is. if only there was some way to just add a second bedroom to our house! all of our problems: solved! (though it would also be nice to have a washer & dryer in the house, as opposed to the unfinished, spider-infested basement. still, it beats going to the laundromat with a hamper full of dirty diapers!)

we have a few more showings set up for the next few days, but jared crunched the numbers & determined that for what we’d be spending in extra rent for a two-bedroom, we could buy a custom-made murphy bed & turn our “library” (half the living room, which is outfitted in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on most of the walls & separated from the “real” living room by french doors–another reason we love this house) into a bedroom. but it could also still be a play area for ramona during the day, when the bed is closed up. we both love murphy features. we bought a murphy table a few years ago (but have never lived in a place that is really suitable for it), & my first solo apartment in portland was a cute studio with a murphy kitchen! really! the entire kitchen, except the fridge, closed into the wall when i didn’t need it! people don’t believe me & this is before the advent of digital camera so i have no photos of it, but i swear it’s true.

we’re lucky that we have a large enough living room to contemplate this possibility. we just love our house so much, our landlady is fabulous, the rent is so cheap, the location couldn’t possibly be improved upon…the only downside to the murphy bed idea is that we wouldn’t really have a bed to escape to during the day when we are sick (though we could just keep the french doors shut & torment ramona with a slightly smaller play area for those periods), & i wouldn’t be able to shut myself in the bedroom when i’m “off-shift” with ramona (which i rarely do anyway–only on days when i am feeling particularly run down). we’re only going to be in lawrence for one more year…this might be the way to go, instead of stressing out looking for a new place, packing, moving, paying more rent, having to get used to driving more if we’re not in such a walkable neighborhood (we currently only have to gas up the car once every month or two because we so rarely use it).

apartment-hunting is such a bummer. the rents people try to charge in lawrence are crazy. like over $1000 for a three-bedroom. this is lawrence, kansas! how do they think that’s going to fly? but i guess it does because of the university & parents that are willing to pay their kids’ rents at college. most of the landlords are slumlords who don’t make any effort to maintain their properties. i’ve seen houses that i was actually scared to enter because the foundations were so wrecked. one house actually had squishy, bouncy floors, like a trampoline. it felt like it was going to collapse any second. not that this is necessarily the landlord’s fault, but another house had a litterbox that had clearly never been cleaned. the cat owner just dumped more litter on top whenever she decided it was necessary. the entire box was full & pouring off the sides…on to the dingy, gray carpet. the entire apartment reeked of cat piss & pot smoke. the person showing us the place was like, “we’ll open some windows & air it out before you move in.” or, try this: we will NEVER live here. it makes me understand why a lot of landlords don’t permit cats. (we’ve had to skip a few decent-looking places because we adopted lula in february.)

we looked at a place the other day with big, airy, spacious bedrooms with clean, new hardwood floors & closets, & a recently remodeled HUGE bathroom with a tub, washer, & dryer. water was included in the very reasonable cost of rent, & it was just a few blocks from our current place! but. there’s always a but. the kitchen & living room were tiny & dark. not that we live so large, but we do need space for our desks, our books, my sewing table, & room for ramona to play.

we’ve decided it’s okay to be really picky, since we don’t have to move. that makes things a little more bearable.

in other news, i am contemplating my next dress project. i think i’m going to make mccall’s 6503, version C. i like the sleeves & i have no need for a bunch of frills across the front of my dress. i just can’t decide on fabric. i’m torn between the anna maria horner “social climber” fabric in the gold colorway (it’s a bright golden yellow with hot pink roses), the pink “mermaid play” from the out to sea collection, or this cool sea urchin print fabric, colorway to be decided (purple is easier to come by, but i’m responding more to the aqua). maybe i’ll get all three, & use the runners-up for other dresses in the future?

when i started getting curious about making dresses, i stumbled across a few blogs written by people who made it a goal to sew one dress a week. one dress a week! that is crazy to me! i was like, “wow, those people do not have kids.” at least not little kids, right? maybe they have school-age kids. the mind boggles at what i could get done in a day with ramona off at school for seven hours. but sewing up a dress isn’t nearly as time-consuming as making a quilt. an experienced seamster really could bang out a dress in a day or two. so maybe it’s not as bonkers as it seems? my goal is simply to make one dress a month. & i’ve already made five, so i’m ahead of the game for 2014.

i also learned about something called “me made may”. the goal is simply to spend the month of may striving to incorporate more of your handmade garments into your wardrobe than you might ordinarily. but i already wear my handmade clothes all the time. i guess when it’s cold, i often default to a store-bought thermal, hoodie, & corduroys, but now that the weather is getting nice, i’m constantly wearing the dresses & skirts i’ve made. i mentioned it to jared & he said, “sew yourself a couple pairs of pajama pants & then you’d really be all set.” because the truth is that maybe i wear my dresses & skirts when i’m taking ramona out somewhere…but i usually change back into pajamas as soon as she goes down for her nap. mostly because i don’t want to get my handmade clothes all gross by wearing them to wash dishes or clean the bathroom or whatever. i probably need to work on sewing myself some more casual items, like maybe some tops that i can wear with jeans or shorts. i’d undoubtedly get a lot of use out of them. but shirt/blouse patterns don’t excite me as much as dress patterns.

another piece of the puzzle is that i completely disappear down the rabbit hole when i’m sewing. who are these people who are able to sew up a dress a week? or even more?! maybe they’re just faster & more experienced than i am. but if i get really sucked into a series of sewing projects, everything else falls apart. the dishes don’t get done, library books pile up, unread, the checkbook goes unbalanced…it’s still a struggle for me to pull myself away from a sewing project once i really get into it. i have to take breaks between projects so i can attend to the other parts of my life. i don’t even sleep well when i’m in the midst of a project because i lay awake thinking about construction details & i have weird anxiety dreams about my sewing machine malfunctioning somehow.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “do we need a murphy bed?

  1. For what it’s worth, friends of mine recently built a murphy bed in a shallow closet to turn their one-bedroom into a two-ish bedroom, and they absolutely love it. I wish I could see your murphy kitchen!

    1. that’s very encouraging! i really like the murphy bed idea. the only question mark is that the wall we were going to mount it on is just a hair too narrow. it could work if we also included the door jambs (the wall is between a regular door & a closet door)…otherwise, we’d have to put it in the living room proper, which we’d rather not do because it can’t be closed off from the rest of the house.

      the murphy kitchen was really cute. it looked like a giant cupboard, & when opened, there was shelving on the side of the doors & a little countertop, sink, stovetop, & oven inside. & a light, & maybe a few more shelves. it was 14 years ago, i don’t completely remember the details. it was definitely cute enough to be wasted on my youth & naivete.

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