In a bit of a mad dash to knock a bunch of home projects off our to-do list before baby’s arrival (Winifred Louise born at 3:18 am on February 1, btw), I skipped participating in the past few months of Small Family Home blogs. But I’m back today to share about this month’s topic: getting down to essentials in bedrooms.
After quite a bit of back and forth — both at home and here on the blog — we decided to turn our two bedroom bungalow into a three bedroom home, converting our den/office/playroom into a bedroom for our second daughter, Winnie. This room underwent a huge transformation in early 2018, so converting it from a den to a bedroom was as simple as adding some curtains, a door and swapping my desk for a crib.
This change means about 40% of our limited square footage is now devoted to bedrooms. Which brings me to my only real bedroom essential — that everyone have their own.
This is probably not a popular (or even possible!) opinion among people who live in smaller homes, but my gut told me that separate bedrooms for our girls was going to be key if I didn’t want to be up all night soothing one or both of my babies to sleep (um, I didn’t). We had plans to try room-sharing with Winnie for at least a little while, but she went in her own crib in her own room on night five (she lasted in our bedroom three nights more than her sister did) and promptly slept five hours straight. So that settled that.
Having known Winnie for a few weeks now, it seems crazy that I don’t think she would exist if it wasn’t for that den — I certainly can’t imagine us adding a second child to our old home in Toronto or to even some of the smaller, decidedly two bedroom homes we looked at buying here in Victoria. Separate bedrooms is just such a superior solution for my family of light sleepers that I think I would’ve talked myself right out of a second child if there was nowhere wholly their own to devote to sleep.
Wholly their own is what makes bedrooms so much fun to design and spend time in in a small home. The rest of our space is very open and communal, but I love that we all have a bedroom to retreat to, make our own and close a door on if needed. I look forward to seeing how the girls’ bedrooms reflect their interests and personalities as they get older, though I definitely believe in keeping bedrooms simple and uncluttered to promote relaxation and rest.
Here’s a look at each of the three bedrooms in our house! They’ve all come such a long way — Winnie’s room especially — in the two years since we bought this house.
Our master bedroom is at the back of the house and shares a wall with the kitchen. One window looks out over the backyard and the other — underneath which the bed is centred — overlooks our neighbours’ driveway. There are his/her reach-in closets on the wall at the foot of the bed. Nothing fancy but Pierre and I each have our own closet, which means I can keep mine as colour-coded as I like and he can throw everything in a pile on the floor and we’re both happy.
It’s really one of my favourite spaces in the house because it’s bright and simple and kid-free. I’m not above locking the door to our bedroom during the day just so I can climb into an un-rumpled bed once the day is done (which, let’s be honest, is never with a 3-year-old and 3-week-old).
We kept furniture/decor really simple — just a rug and the bed, two DIY bedside lights (going all the way back to 2011 for that link!) and that little woven wall hanging. The bed frame is such a luxury after so many years of a mattress on the floor! (Which is all that would fit in our old bedroom.) It’s from the 1960s, teak and all the components click together without screws. I found it — or, rather, pieces of it — for $800 at The Fabulous Find, a mid-century store downtown Victoria. I called and called again for weeks the summer after we moved in until they’d located all the pieces to assemble a complete bed.
Frankie Rose’s bedroom is in the middle of the house and shares a wall with the dining room. It has undergone a few changes since we moved in — since she’s gone from being a 15-month-old baby to a 3-year-old pre-schooler! I’m still in love with the giant floral wall decals, one of the first things I did in this house (after we’d cleaned and patched and painted and removed a huge built-in desk from this room, of course). Frankie’s room is a little busier than ours, with a couch and books and some toys. All of the artwork in her room comes from books that I worked on when I was working for a children’s book publisher in Toronto, which makes her room such a happy space for me. A lot of those same books are kicking around our house and I look forward to having her understand what I spent every day doing before I was her mom!
I love living in a bungalow with bedrooms on the same (only) level as everything else because we get so much use out of all our available space. Frankie’s just as likely to be playing in here as the living room, dining room or kitchen. I’m convinced it’s why our house feels so much larger than two-storey homes that are the same size (or even bigger!).
We keep clothing to a minimum (all hers fits in that four-drawer dresser with space to spare), so I was able to turn her closet into a play space. The play kitchen and fridge were made by the same Cowichan artisan, but I found both second-hand and separately. We keep dress-up clothes and scarves in here, too, as well as her dollhouse and stuffed animals. All her other toys and art supplies are stored in the built-in cabinets in the dining room.
Winnie Louise’s room is at the very front of the house, overlooking the front porch/street and sharing a wall with the living room. We renovated this room extensively, but it retains a lot of original features like a 12′ plaster ceiling, stained glass windows and fir floor. It gets amazing light at 4:00 in the afternoon (we face west), but it’s also the coldest room in the house in the winter (furthest away from our ancient furnace and 100+ year-old windows) and the hottest in the summer (that late afternoon sun). Right now we’re running a little space heater for her at night and we’ll have to look at cooling options for the summer.
I love everything about this room (most especially that she’s sleeping decently in it!). We found the 9′ 1910 map of Vancouver Island in the basement ceiling rafters and had it cleaned and mounted to a wood frame by Prestige Framing in Oak Bay. They spent about a month working on it and then we had to wait months for this wall to be ready to hang it on. The crib was Frankie’s and all the linens, including the rug, are thrift store finds.
The girls’ rooms share a wall, but it’s quadruple thick — the original plaster is underneath new drywall on both sides. Both their bedroom doors are solid wood as well and Winnie’s space heater provides some white noise, so we haven’t had issues with them waking each other up yet! (Winnie just wakes us up every three hours or so.)
The bedrooms in our house are all a little bit different, but have a few things the same — the beloved (by me) Alabax light fixture is in all three bedrooms and paint colours, flooring and door styles are consistent. The master and Frankie’s room are painted Navajo White with Extra White trim, ceilings, doors, etc. while Winnie’s room is painted entirely in Extra White. High gloss black, mint green and lambskin-something in every room, too. Frankie and Winnie both have an IKEA Soderhamn couch piece in their rooms, too. Frankie’s is a mustard-coloured two-seat section (moved from Toronto) and Winnie’s is a teal corner piece (shipped from Vancouver for a criminal amount of money).
I would love it if my girls wanted to share at some point down the line, but for now I’m really happy we opted (and were able) to do separate bedrooms for them. Do your kids share because they want to? Have to in a small space? And how’s it working out?