I love seeing how other people organize things and solve problems. Those what’s in your bag posts? Love them. For bedbound folks, the question is usually, what’s next to your bed? We want to know how folks set up their space for maximum efficiency, and find ideas we can steal for ourselves. I did a post about this last year, and showed how my bedroom was set up then. But I’ve continued to iterate, and thought it was time for a new post. It’s long. The show and tell of what is directly next to my bed is at the bottom.

I have included some links to some products, only in anticipation that some folks might ask. I have no promotional agreements.

Photo of hallway and entry to Rebecca's bedroom
Photo of hallway and entry to Rebecca’s bedroom. The hallway is orange, with visible natural woodwork. The bedroom is red. The bedroom door has greeting card displayed on it.

There are a couple of things to know from the outset:

I wasn’t bedbound when I moved into my home. I would have looked for a different kind of bedroom if I had been. I have not moved my bed to a living room or dining room, because my current bedroom proximity is only 10 steps to the bathroom and the kitchen, and that makes the most sense.

I do have a roommate now, and but lived alone for the five years prior. While she is a lovely human being, our arrangement is that she is a roommate, not that she has helper responsibilities. I have pet care helpers morning and evening. And I’m supposed to have a personal care aide most afternoons, but that situation waxes and wanes. This setup is to support me being alone and self-sufficient the majority of the time.

I spend almost all of my time in bed, but I can get up to use the bathroom and grab things from the kitchen. I try my best to minimize how often I get up, but I can still get up.

I use Google Home to control some of the electric devices in my home. I can do this with voice commands or through the app on my phone. I’m generally comfortable with technology and innovation.


Hallway

Let’s start at the very beginning, as it were: the hall outside my bedroom door. The wooden stool (From a rummage sale) faces my roommate’s bedroom. I can sit down while talking with her. The black drawers are a Hemnes chest from IKEA I’ve had for about six years. The drawers themselves hold all my extra or infrequently used medicines, supplements, first aid, heatable pillows, etc.

On top of the chest is a small desk lamp. The lamp has a wifi multi-color LED light bulb. I can control this light from my phone as part of my smart home system. I currently us it as an alert light; when it is on and red, my roommate knows I’m asleep.

Photo of the door to Rebecca's bedroom
Photo of the door to Rebecca’s bedroom/ There are three rows of greeting cards, hung under a bunting that reads “joy.”l it on my phone from anywhere. I currently use it as an alert light; when is it turned on and red, my roommate knows I’m asleep. 

In front of the door is a heavy velvet curtain hanging on a tension rod. It provides privacy, but also helps with regulating the temperature in my room, especially when I’m running an air conditioner.  I have a door, but I don’t use it very often. That was my animals can come and go as they please.

My door itself, serves as a gallery for greeting cards. I have a number of folks with whom I exchange mail, and they send some really great things! Funny, heartwarming, encouraging, handmade.  It’s just some hemp twine tacked into the door, with mini wooden clothespins on the line to hold the cards. The bunting over the cards reads “joy,” and was made by mother. Since my door is usually open, I can see this from bed.


Food/Beverages/Medicine/etc.

Right inside my door is my food/beverage/medicine station housed in a Billy bookcase from IKEA. It is about three steps from my bed. The bottom holds spare medical supplies, cleaning supplies, and large supplement containers. The middles shelf holds supplements and medications.

I fill my pill boxes two weeks at a time, The white plastic bins hold all my current bottles that I use to fill the pill boxes, as well as the strips for next week (or last week). To the right is a basket full of little vials. A friends helps me out by pre-measuring the fiber supplement I take, and the D-Ribose I use into empty prescription bottles and plastic vials. We store the filled ones in this basket, and the empties in the one to the right of it.  Finally, there is a plastic container that I put small food-related trash in until it gets to the kitchen for emptying.

The top shelf holds food related things. The basket on the left has disposable bowls, plates, hot cups, paper towels and fabric napkins. The basket next to that holds extras of frequently used snacks, like nuts and rice cakes. In infrequently used hot beverages. There’s some oatmeal over there too.

Photo of a black bookcase full of baskets and boxes
Photo of a black bookcase full of baskets and boxes. A water pitcher and an orange electric kettle sit on top.

On top of the bookcase is a bowl with shelf-stable half and half, tea, and containers of instant decaf coffee. Some plastic spoons that I reuse.

I keep an orange electric kettle. This kettle has a simple toggle on/off switch, making it possible to use it in combination with a smart plug. The default state is to have the smart plug turned off, cutting the power, while the kettle power switch is turned on. When I wan to make a hot beverage, I simply tell Google to turn the kettle on. This way, everything is ready to go by the time I stand up.  I can stand up, walk three steps, make a cup of coffee, and sit right back down. While I’m doing so, I just tell Google to turn the kettle back off, and I turn the switch on the kettle back on when I’m done with it. Then it’s ready to go for the next time.

There’s a beautiful glass pitcher that I refill with water every night. That way I have water nearby to refill the kettle, a water bottle, or the humidifier. And every serious spoonie needs a stuffed sloth mascot overseeing things.

On the floor to the left is a humidifier. I run it all the time in the winter when the heat is running. It has over a gallon capacity, and can be refilled simply by taking the lid off. It does not need to be picked up.


The view from bed

I have a large-ish upholstered chair that I love. It is sized so that I can sit in it comfortably while cross-legged. I have a footstool of sorts in front of it, but it not really a footstool. It is a step stool that can be pulled out for use. And on top of it is a meditation cushion.  Both this and the chair double as places that guests can sit when the come to visit.

Photo of Rebecca's room, featuring a black dresser with a large TV.
Photo of Rebecca’s room, featuring a black dresser with a large TV. An upholstered chair is to the right. Marigold, a dog who looks a lot like a golden retriever, lies on the floor looking at the camera.

The floor lamp in this corner is also controlled by Google Home.

My dresser (a Hemnes dresser from IKEA) is the primary surface in my room for displaying things. I have a 43″ television, which is also part of my Google Home setup, has Android TV and Google Chrome installed. I can cast things to it from my phone, tablet, computers, which means that in addition to TV and movies, I can cast say, a concert happening on Instagram Live. There is a wooden sign inspired by one of Glennon Doyle’s favorite sayings, “we can do hard things.” I have a digital clock here so that I never have to move to know what time it is. A snake plant that needs hardly any light, Some statues, figurines, rocks, etc that have meaning to me. The flowers are all from local gardens, and I get them as often as I can afford, or as friends bring them from their gardens.

Marigold dog rarely poses for photos, so this was surprising. She does, however, spend the majority of her time in here with me.

Photo of a tall black bookcase, filled with books, sweaters and yarn.
Photo of a tall black bookcase, filled with books, sweaters and yarn. The foot of the bed is to the left, A black dresser is to the right.

There’s a fairly large closet next to my dresser where I keep all the shoes I never wear, and the piles of laundry. Not interesting. 😉

There is a tall IKEA Billy bookcase about two feet from the end of my bed. This holds lots of things I don’t need daily, but use frequently. My real camera. Sweaters. Yarn for crocheting. Office supplies, blank greeting cards and stamps. Books I want to reference or hope to read soon. Cookbooks for when I have aide care. File boxes to hold the unending paperwork involved in health care and benefits.

This window is my only window. It faces my neighbor’s siding, which is about six feet away. I have blinds, so I can control a lot about the light and the ventilation.  In the spring and fall, I can put a window fan in. I am very sensitive to heat, and use an air conditioner in the summer. I don’t use a window unit. I have a portable unit on wheels. It is much easier to take the hose vent and plate in and out of the window frame. I can open the window from the bottom, put the fan in or take it out, put the A/C in or take it out, all pretty easily. I have a friend who takes it up and down the stairs for me so I can keep it in the basement in the off-season. I mentioned the curtain in my door above, and that really helps keep the cold air in.

At the end of the bed is an old, very solid trunk. It stores spare blankets. But it also serves as a step for Marigold so that it’s easier for her to jump up onto my bed.


The bed

The bed, of course, is where I spend all my time. It’s a queen size Kvalfjord from IKEA that I purchased in 2019. It has a very solid velvet-covered headboard, and storage space underneath. I use the under bed space to store long, plastic under bed boxes of all my sheets and bed covers. They are easy to grab out, and easy to push in enough that I can use my overbed table if I want to.

I have deliberately chosen not to get a hospital bed, but rather to add accessories for positional support. I have two substantial bed wedges that I lie on all the time. I have a sheepskin from a regional farm on top of my fitted sheet, and a pillow i keep under or between my knees. I have plenty of space for the dog and cat.

I eat all my meals in bed on a wooden tray. I carry it back and forth to the kitchen twice a day. It has sides that are just tall enough to keep anything from sliding off. It’s a little heavy, which makes it easier to balance in bed. Using the tray also helps contain some of the crumbs and things.


Bedside Storage

Storage within arms reach is a primary challenge for most bedbound folks. And I have a pretty limited amount of space in which this can happen. You may notice that my bed is recessed into a set back section of wall. there is only about 13″ between my bed and the wall, and only on one side. So I’ve tried to make the most of it.

Photo of Rebecca's bed and various carts to the left.
Photo of Rebecca’s bed from the foot of the bed looking up to the gray velvet headboard. A variety of carts to the left of the frame. The sheets and walls are intense, warm colors.

Directly next to my bed is an old metal cart I found for free on the side of the road. My trash can is stored inside it on the lowest shelf. The other shelf holds a box with all my face wipes and moisturizers, nail clippers, and makeup. I also have a lighted mirror that I can recharge with a USB cable.

The surfaces of the cart is limited, so very strategic choices: My sun simulator alarm clock is never used as an alarm anymore, but a dimmable lamp and a clock. An old letter sorter holds my paper planner, important papers, note paper, pens, pencil, scissors, current use crochet hooks, tablet and the remotes. They all have their own slot and I cannot lose them. A glass dish holds my favorite lip balm, lipstick, nail polish, etc. A tiny little ceramic pinch pot I made as a child holds the earplugs I’m using in a give week.  portable thermometer shows the room temperature. My Google Home mini speaker is right next to my bed. There is enough room for a mug, my phone, and my watch. The charging cords for my USB devices are wrapped around the corner post of the cart so that I can’t lose them and can always reach them. My primary Power strip is directly below the cart.


There is also a three tiered set of wire baskets. it was designed to be hung on the wall, and I previously used it to hold gloves and hats at my back door. But the bottom is flat, and it uses vertical space, so it works well here.

The bottom basket holds moisturizer, nail file, microfiber cloth, eye mask, hand sanitizer, fresh ear plugs.

The middle basket has tissues, makeup brushes, hair brushes and combs, baby podwer, dry shampoo, a spray bottle of water.

The top basket has some medical supplies, baby wipes, and pet supplies – like brushes and calming chews.

A few things are hung off the sides – like a tape roller, my masks ( I wear them during the COVID pandemic whenever others are in my home), a medic alert button, my favorite tapestry needle.

The little wall to the side of my nightstand has a Command Hook mounted to hang my ear defenders. The ones I bought also have Bluetooth so I can use them as headphones when watching TV or listening to music. And a few notes to myself as daily reminders.

Photo from Rebecca's bed, looking to the right.
Photo from Rebecca’s bed, looking to the right. It shows a close up view of her carts and nightstand.

About 15″ from my bed is a 20 x 20″ set of drawers on wheels. This is an elfa storage unit from the Container Store that was originally part of my organizing solution for my art studio. I have a second one that is is my current creation space, and can be wheeled in an out if I want to use it in here. But this unit is here all the time. I *love* how customizable these units are. You can choose size, height, how deep the drawers are, etc.

The surface fills up, then gets cleared, rinse, repeat. It’s usually where people put my mail when they bring it in for me. There is a desk lamp on top  pointed at the ceiling. My room is quite dark much of the time, and I use this when I’m on video calls so that folks can actually see my face. There’s usually a dish for teabags, used spoons, etc. here as well

I use the top drawer for my laptops (I can keep them plugged in this way), my journals, a back up charging brick, my headphones for my phone/tablet, and a bin of paint markers.

The next three drawers are deeper. One holds miscellaneous things I want nearby. The bag I grab if I’m going to leave the house, with my wallet and keys and such. Paperwork I’m currently dealing with. Books I might be reading. a box of earplugs. An extra face mask. I use two of them to hold all my current crochet projects, and my cases of hooks, needles, stitch markers, etc.


Next to the white drawers is a teal cart, one of the ones that every artist on Instagram seems to have purchased from IKEA, myself included. And in fact, it was originally in my painting studio. This cart is on the kind of wheels used for rollerblades. It is incredible easy to move. It often sits in the narrow space between my bed and the white drawers. I use this cart constantly. It holds all my current pill organizers and bottles of meds and supplements, electrolytes, salt, pain relievers, etc.. My toothbrush, toothpaste, and a spit jar with a lid. A little dish I can put my meds into when I take them. A fabric napkin. Current containers of snacks, so that I never have to get up to get some calories. My water bottles and a ceramic tumbler. I use the bottom of the cart to hold recycling, and empty it out whenever the household recycling is going out.


I do have an over the bed hospital type table. I don’t use it nearly as often as others do. I use it for projects, especially for batches of paperwork, or for painting. I often keep it on the other side of my room out of my usual walking path. But during the pandemic it has served an additional purpose, as a coffee delivery system. I have lot of friends who volunteer to help me out with pet care, and who ever has the morning shift is also in charge of making and bringing me coffee. It’s a good reminder that we’re trying to stay 6′ apart. Folks can just reach into my room and put my coffee on the end of the table, then I can just pull the table over to me to grab the coffee.

Photo from Rebecca's bed, looking across the room.
Photo from Rebecca’s bed, looking across the room. Visible are a tray with dishes, the black dresser, TV, upholstered chair.

There you have it! I think. I think I covered most of it. Hopefully this can give you some ideas of things that might work for you. This is just what I’ve iterated too at this point. I’m sure it will continue to change.

I’d love to hear what things have been particularly helpful for you.

Bed-tethered Lifehacks: May 2020 Update
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3 thoughts on “Bed-tethered Lifehacks: May 2020 Update

  • May 26, 2020 at 2:22 am
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    Fabulous Rebecca, lots of great ideas here, thanks x

    Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm
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      Thanks, Di!

      Reply
  • August 27, 2020 at 6:22 pm
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    SO glad you can take care of your basic needs on your own! Give my love to the kitty and the doggo.

    Reply

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