The Treehouse: Bedroom Plans for the Kids

September 19, 2013

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By Gabrielle. Note: These images are “before” photos showing the belongings of the previous owners. I know, I know, I need to shoot some current photos. Working on it, I promise!

I’ve shared the story of how The Treehouse came to be ours. And I’ve explained that the house came fully furnished. But I haven’t really told you much about the layout or what our plans our. So I thought I’d dive in today!

I’ll start by saying the state of the house, renovation wise, is pretty much ideal for someone like me. The home hasn’t been resurfaced in a long time — for example, the kitchen looks to be strictly from the 80′s. Throughout the house, walls need a fresh coat of paint, worn carpets need to be replaced, and light fixtures need to be upgraded. 

I know that’s a lot of work, but it’s perfect for me! Because I’m someone who wants to make those sorts of decisions in my home. So if The Treehouse had been recently redone, then I would have felt awful about changing things up and wasting that work. (As I’m sure anyone would! I know Jenny, who has been doing major renovations, is feeling stumped about her kitchen counters. They’re not her style, but they’re so new she feels bad about changing them.)

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In addition to surface stuff, there are some fairly major interior structural changes we’d like to make. For example, there is a 3-quarter wall between the living room and kitchen that is driving us nuts! But we’re not feeling too much urgency about those bigger changes, because happily, the house is livable right now, exactly as it is. Which is such a blessing! It leaves us time to think, and to make careful decisions, and to save up for the renovations.

Though I feel like I’m fairly speedy at decorating and can style up a room in a flash, when it comes to architectural-type decisions — should windows be replaced in this room? do we need to improve the electrical system? should we use the same flooring throughout the house? do we need to upgrade the trim? — I’m as slow as a snail.

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The square footage of The Treehouse is smaller than our rental in France was (no surprise — La Cressionnière is a big old farmhouse!), and it’s even smaller than our old rental in Colorado, but it’s still plenty big. And the decks add a lot of living space.

One interesting tidbit: it’s a 3 bedroom home.

This can be tricky for a family of 8! And really, if the home had been publicly listed online as a 3 bedroom, we would have never even seen it, because during our real estate searches we generally looked for 5+ bedrooms. But we’ve got a good plan to make the bedrooms work.

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Off the hallway on the main floor, there are two bedrooms, and a bathroom. The previous owners used the bigger bedroom as the Master bedroom, and they used the smaller one as a little TV room.

The 3rd bedroom is upstairs and the previous owners used it as a guest room:

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It has it’s own balcony! (I’ll talk more about our plans for this room in a future post.)

We decided to use the space differently than the previous owners. Our first thought was to split the big bedroom in two. When the house was first built, that room was about half it’s current size, but was expanded when the house was added on to. And there’s a natural dividing line if we wanted to split it up, leaving each of the spaces with a closet and a window.

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But after living here for awhile, we shifted gears. Instead of splitting the space, we decided to keep it big and make it into one bedroom for all 4 girls! (I’m sure some of you are thinking: awesome! and others are thinking: no way!)

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This is our plan:

1) We want to put in 4 twin beds, with their heads along the left wall, and their feet pointed toward the mirrored closet on the right. Each bed will have a nightstand and reading lamp next to it.

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2) Across from the beds, on the right wall, there is currently a bank of 4 uneven sized closets. We want to remake these into 4 equal closets, so each daughter has their own storage space for clothes. We’re hoping we can customize the closet interiors to include hanging space, plus small drawers, and shelves for folded items and shoes. We shall see if the picture in my head can be pulled off in reality. : )

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3) On the wall next to the bank of closets is currently a dresser. If I can make the closets work for my kids’ wardrobes, I’d like to add a reading chair or small desk here instead of more clothes storage.

Note: I mentioned it above, but I’ll repeat here: all of these photos are “before” images and show the previous residents belongings.

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4) Maybe the most fun? Along the same wall as the bedroom door, there is an additional bank of closets. We’re going to say goodbye to these closets, creating a wall here. And then we’re going to add a bank of vanities instead, where the girls can keep their jewelry, paint their nails, store the hair brushes, etc.

I wouldn’t say our daughters are particularly girly girls, but I have a picture in my head of all four of our daughters at the vanity prepping for the day and it makes me grin! (Bonus: having the vanities in the bedroom should help free up the bathroom, which is bound to get crowded in the mornings.)

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I know it sounds crazy to get rid of half the closet space in a bedroom for 4 girls, but we do have good reasons. The biggest one: we need to add the two feet depth of that closet to the smaller, neighboring bedroom. That room is so little! It needs any add-ons it can get.

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The smaller bedroom is shared by the boys. Right now, we have a bunkbed in that room to the right of the door, and it’s just too overwhelming. It makes the space really awkward and unwelcoming. If we add the space from the closets in the girls’ room, it will enlarge the boys bedroom on the left by two feet, allowing this room to fit two twin beds. Which would be ideal!

The plan is to have a bed on each side of the door, with a dresser and side chair under the window. Then we’ll install hanging rods in the small closet — a high one for Ralph and a low one for Oscar.

And now I’d love to hear: What do you think of our plan? Would you ever put 6 kids in two bedrooms? Would that be total chaos at your house?

Because our kids generally spend their waking time in the shared spaces of our house, and use the bedrooms only for sleeping and dressing, this actually works out well for us. But I know there are families where this would be the worst. I’d love to hear what you would do with this space!

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{ 147 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brindy Ayn September 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

I love your idea of putting for girls in one room. Sure it might be challenging but with firm guidelines on keeping things tidy and respecting one another’s personal space the girls will thrive. A close friend of mine that lives in a house with seven people always told me that having to share one bathroom was a great gift for her family. It was an opportunity to grow in virtue. A great way to teach her children patience, respect for their siblings and self sacrifice.

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2 sarah September 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

so this is going to sound crazy, but we have the opposite issue in our house–more bedrooms than kids–and are still considering consolidating the kids into 1 room purely to facilitate that feeling of togetherness. With 2 boys, i love the idea of the brotherly closeness and camaraderie that can come from sharing a room. so when our youngest (now just 1) is out of a crib and sleeping more independently we think we’ll put both boys together in 1 room and use the other bedroom either as a room for dressers and clothing, or as a play space. if for some reason sharing a room doesn’t work well for them, we know that we’re very lucky to have the option of separating them again. so i think your plan sounds lovely :)

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3 Emily Foley September 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I never shared a room with any of my 5 siblings so that would be hard for me. But my husband has 5 brothers and grew up in a small 3 bedroom house in Benicia (Bay Area) and they had 4 boys in one room, the rooms are teeny so they had 2 sets of bunk beds and that’s it. But my husband is way less maintenance than I am and I always want more than what we have, so I think he probably grew up better than I did. Your kids will learn good lessons from sharing at a young age.

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4 Michelle September 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm

When I was growing up I shared a room with my three sisters. Of course there were times when it was difficult, but there were plenty of times when it was so much fun! And our room was very small for four girls… There was hardly any room for anything besides the beds! Now my two daughters share a room and I love and they love it! It’s fun when you get to be with your best friends all the time…

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5 Ann Wyse September 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I’ve been thinking about that image of your 3-quarters wall between the living room and kitchen for about a week now. I had a thought – which perhaps you’ve already had – but I’m sending it along anyway:

Architecturally, separating a wall and ceiling is an attempt to emphasize Surface as opposed to Mass. As in – “The surface of the ceiling is slipping above the wall…” or “The wall is floating gently between the ceiling and floor…”

However, in this case, the concept is clearly lost. Could be the proportions are just off. OR it could be that silly trim detail that frames the entire wall! As an “easy” fix, you might try removing the trim and see if the 3-quarters wall is still bothering you as much. Maybe it will feel more “right” when the wall is treated like a thin, minimal Surface instead of a bulky Mass.

Good luck!

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6 Beth September 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I love this plan. We lived in a 3 bedroom right after Chuck got out of law school. I had all the girls in one room and my favorite part was listening to them giggling together every night.
The vanity is the best part of your plan. Knowing first hand the challenges of large-family-bathroom-sharing dynamics, getting the girls primping in their room will solve many issues!

Oh..and my vote on the floors is to take the wood out of the kitchen or a bedroom and finish off the dining area. Then have fun in the kitchen with the vinyl! Unless you think you might take down that 3/4 wall, then I would try to keep all the floors the same.

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7 Karen September 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I am the youngest of 6 kids who shared 2 bedroom growing up. My sister and I shared one, and my four brothers shared the other. It was noisy, but it was absolutely fine! We all have hilarious stories we still tell when we get together. I think if that’s all you know, well…..that’s all you know, and it’s completely normal.

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8 Tina November 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

Hello there,
I am so happy that I found your blog. I am reading about how you found your fabulous house in the hills of Oakland. Let me just say that I am your neighbor, and welcome back to California . I live in brentwood , which is about 30 mins from Oakland . Brentwood is near Tracy, ca. We are the farming community! Also, I have 6 children myself. Four girls and two boys. The same as you. So I think your plan for the bedrooms are PERFECT! I know how it is to juggle the room situation and how to come up with creative ways to store everyone’s personel belongings. I can’t wait to continue to read your redecorating journey on your home.

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9 Jen November 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I haven’t read the comments, but do have a response to your idea.
I love the thought of keeping one big space instead of giving everyone their own identical shoebox-sized bedroom. But 4 beds in a row and 4 vanities lined up sounds just as impersonal (sorry, can’t think of a softer word) to me. I know it’s important to keep things “equal”, but is there a more creative way to do that, perhaps starting with 2 beds & vanities where you’re thinking of putting the beds, and 2 where you’re thinking of having hte vanities? Also, do they all need vanities, or can those be somehow paired up or “saved” for older girls while younger girls get some other kind of “me” space? I don’t think I cared about that kind of thing until I was around 7th grade; by the time your youngest is that age, won’t the older ones be out of the house?
I’m not trying to be critical, and I love that you’re sharing your whole planning process with the world wide web! I’m just trying to be helpful by opening up more ideas.

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10 Chad January 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I think your kids will do great sharing rooms. We have 7 kids, 16 and under, and they would practically sleep on one big pile if we let them. In our house I was able to carve small “sleeping nooks” out of previously unused attic space. And the other commentors are right…less space means less stuff, by necessity.

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11 Susan January 7, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I am just now reading this post and I want to tell that when I was in high school my dad turned a garage into a bedroom for my sister and I. Since there was only 1 bathroom in the house for 4 kids and my parents, my dad had a vanity (like you mentioned) installed on one wall of our bedroom. It had a mirror along the entire length and at one end was a sink. It was so cool and allowed us to sit (we had little stools) and get ready and not have to use the bathroom for washing faces, brushing teeth, cleaning up spilled make-up, etc. Great idea for your girls!

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12 The Vintique Object January 15, 2014 at 11:37 pm

The best advice I got when we moved into our 2 bedroom/1 bathroom was to teach my girls to use the bathroom for washing/potty only. All my grooming things are in our room now, by way of example. And I am also planning vanities in my girls’ room for their future grooming space. Will be so interested to see what design you come up with!
Camille

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