I've begun to talk up the plan of Ellie and Margaret sharing a room. We've already combined their bedtimes, and it seems to be working really well. Margaret's going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier, and Ellie's going to bed 15-30 minutes later, and we aren't spending an hour putting people to bed and sitting on them to stay there. Peer pressure is marvelous. "Look, Ellie, Margaret is going to bed. Don't you want to be like Margaret?" "Look, Margaret, how good Ellie is being about bedtime. She's turning into such a big girl, isn't she?" Because we're not above that. Not even a little bit.
I also think it would be nice, because they don't play in their rooms right now; rooms are entirely clothes storage and sleeping, and so I see no reason to tie up that much square footage in just clothes storage and sleeping. We could have a den. Or an office. Or a room that always stayed clean and one could go into (carrying nothing) when one wanted to spend some time meditating.
Anyway, I've been trying to build popular support for this idea, and one of the first things that I did was to spend an afternoon cleaning and organizing Margaret's room, including remaking her bed in the bedclothes that match the curtains and make her room look like a place that reasonable people want to be.
This also involved removing books from all the places that she had embedded them (literally) in her bed. She had books shoved under the mattress, books buried down at the foot of the bed, books layered between her sheets and the mattress, books shoved between the blankets. It was a bed made more of books than anything else. On the bright side, we found a lot of books that we didn't know where they were. On the less bright side, apparently Margaret has been sleeping on a pile of books, and we hadn't noticed.
When this was done, and the bed was remade in an attractive-looking pink and purple polka dot, Ellie and Margaret both decided that they were going to go to bed in their room.
We weren't planning to combine rooms at this point. I was just putting out feelers. They maintained their conviction that they were now sharing a room through dinner, and bath, and bedtime stories, only to both have meltdowns when it was explained to them that they were going to be sleeping separately. I really, really wish I had recorded it so that when they throw a fit about sharing a room, ages 11 and 13, I could play it to them. But (alas!) I did not have the foresight to record their bedtime tantrums.