By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.
Would you like to see my daughters’ bedroom? If yes, this is the post for you. I have tons of photos and lots of details to share. This room came together slowly. There was lots of sketching of floor plans, moving of walls, trying furniture in different configurations, and pondering about closet space. We eventually took it down to a 14.5′ x 22.5′ blank canvas and created from there.
But all the work and patience paid off. The room is terrific! The girls love it. It meets their needs easily and it looks fabulous as well.
As you may remember, all four of our daughters share the same room. That wasn’t the original plan when we moved in. But we hadn’t actually seen this house in person until after we’d purchased it, so we didn’t really have a true sense of the dimensions of the rooms and the best way to use the space.
I receive quite a bit of email asking me about this shared room situation, so I thought I would start this post with a few FAQs, then, you can click through if you want to see all the details and the thinking behind the design decisions. At the end of the post, I included four shots of the room taken from each corner, so that you can get a good sense of the overall space.
Why Four Kids in One Room?
While doing renovations on this space, we could see that the bedroom in question was originally two bedrooms, and we weren’t surprised at all. Without knowing the history of the house, we considered doing the same thing — splitting the bedroom into two.
Interestingly, Maude, who has the strongest feelings among our kids about room-sharing, much preferred the idea of four people in one room, instead of two people in two rooms. When I thought about it, I felt like I understood where she was coming from. When there are two of you sharing a room, and you’re irritated about something, it’s easy to direct that irritation at your roommate. And those recurring negative experiences can make for a tense relationship. But if there are four of you in the room, the irritation gets dissipated. It’s easier to see that 3 people aren’t intentionally bugging you, that you are simply bugged and it has nothing to do with the people in the room.
That’s an oversimplification, but hopefully you understand what I mean. : )
Anyway, that’s how we ended up putting all 4 girls in one room, instead of splitting the room into two or trying some other household configuration. We also tested it out for many months before we jumped in and started renovating. By that time, it was easy to see the four-sister-in-one-room situation was working well for everybody.
But how does it work? Do the different ages make bedtime difficult?
Good question. So far, bedtime hasn’t been an issue at all. The younger two go to bed around 8:00. They go through their bedtime routines (bath, pjs, etc.), we read a book, and then they’re off to dream land. By the time the older kids come into the room the younger ones are already fast asleep.
I would say it also works for us, because we have a specific theory about kid bedrooms. We set aside bedrooms for sleeping and dressing only. We have other spaces in the house for homework and toys — even other places for reading. It’s not a strict rule — we do keep a shelf of books in the bedrooms, and the youngest ones like to have a stuffed animal or two around. But in general, our bedrooms are only used for sleeping and getting dressed/ready for the day. I realize that not every house works like this — if you have a tiny apartment, the bedroom and playroom are likely the same room!
Don’t kids need their own space as they get older?
Yes. I think they do. And we work hard to make sure the kids have personal time as needed. But I don’t think that means every child needs their own room. For most families in the world, the idea of each person getting their own space is simply not possible, and for big families like ours, sharing bedrooms is a no-brainer. In fact, I’ve shared a bedroom my whole life — with siblings, with college roommates, and with my husband. But I always figured out ways to get alone time when I craved it.
For our girls, since the bedrooms are generally empty of people during waking hours, if someone wants to be solo, their bedroom is usually the go-to option. But they can also use the reading loft, or one of our decks, or the family office, or even the master bedroom.
I suppose sharing a room is not for everyone, but it’s also not out of the ordinary in any way. And I’m confident the alternative, a sprawling house with 7 or 8 bedrooms, would not be a good fit for our family at all.
So if the idea of 4 kids in a bedroom is stressing you out, just know that you don’t have to do it. Hah! Also know that it’s working for us, and that if it stops working for us, we’ll try another solution. Simple as that.
BEDS & BEDDING
I’m going to start the tour with beds and bedding. Each girl has a standard size twin bed. The mattresses rest on a boxsprings with legs attached, and the closets act as headboards.
We kept the color scheme super simple. Black, white & red. Though really, I used very little black, and instead focused on grey and charcoal instead. The far wall is painted in Peppercorn by Sherwin-Williams. The poster is a photo of all four girls taken by Sarah Hebenstreit during our French Greys shoot. It’s an inexpensive poster — the printout was made on an engineering printer at Office Depot and was only five bucks!
I wanted the bedding to be coordinating but not identical. The idea was to make each bed feel individual.
Most of the bedding is from Ikea, but I sourced accents from lots of places. Hanna Andersson recently came out with a Scandinavian-inspired home line, and lots of their wares fit the black, white, and red scheme. So I ordered several items from their collection (including the red-striped sheets, and the black-striped throw blanket pictured here).
There’s enough space between the beds and closets that the kids can walk between them, but they typically don’t. The paths that go around the beds are easier to use.
Also, there are two big cozy rugs that lie beneath the beds. My sister Jordan picked them up in Morocco. You can see them in the overall pictures at the end of the post.
Instead of bookshelves, we used this rolling cubby as a moveable library within the room. We love these Ikea carts and own 3 — two in the office and one here.
I’m really into the wireframe closets. They are relatively affordable, they have an industrial vibe that I’m drawn to, they’re lightweight and easy to move around, and they’ve been really fun to customize. The girls thread scarves through the wires, use s-hooks to hang purses and bathrobes, and display tomorrow’s outfit by putting a clothes hanger on an outside door. Here, Maude shows off her cross-country medals .
To prevent them from falling over, we’ve attached them to the bed frames with zip ties.
We hung the backs of the closets, which function as headboards, with a simple curtains + hooks. The curtains keep the closet contents a bit more private and provide a simpler background for the beds.
Inside, we placed a set of wire drawers that don’t come with the closets, but look like they do. : ) They fit wonderfully to one side, and eliminate the need for separate dressers.
Another nice thing about the free-standing closets, is that if we tire of this set up, we can move them against the wall, and move the beds against the wall as well, to open up the middle of the room. Or, we can even retire a closet as sisters move to college. I love the flexibility!
We left plenty of space between the closets and the wall to create a dressing area. The closets also become almost their own wall — giving privacy to the dressing area.
Note the giant mirror at the end of the dressing area (it used to be sliding closet door — there’s a second matching door that is hung over the vanities/desks).
These adorable hampers are as good-looking as they are functional — they’re another Hanna Andersson find. I chose one pattern with more white and one with more black, with the idea they’d be used for sorting dark and light laundry. Sometimes that works, sometimes they’re all mixed in.
Don’t laugh, but I moved the hampers so we could also get a shot in the natural light.
We rolled two red-striped wool runners through the space. They visually lengthen the area, add a cheery pop of color, and provide a soft surface for bare feet.
We’ve tried a few different jewelry storage options over the years, but I think this is our best yet by far! We tried one of the vanity drawers, but it quickly turned into a mess of knotted necklaces. Our solution: bulletin boards covered in charcoal grey fabric! We attached them directly to the wall, at a height that is accessible for all 4 girls. Standard pushpins hold the accessories.
Should the girls tire of baubles, the bulletin boards can hold notes or cards or magazine tears equally well.
We wanted the dressing area to be well-lit, so we installed an overhead light in front of each closet. We used a combination of these and these. Ben Blair rewired them to be plug-in lights, and also rewired them to have an on/off switch at a height that even little June can reach.
Sometimes all four lights are on, but late at night, or in the early mornings, the girls can turn on only one light so it’s not disturbing to the others.
I intentionally let the cords hang out in the open against the wall because I thought they looked interesting — sort of a wild or organic feature in an otherwise orderly space. But the neat-freak in me is wondering if I should have the lights hardwired into the ceiling instead — and have wall switches installed for each light. I’m still on the fence.
As you come into the bedroom, immediately to your right you’ll find two simple desks that we’re using as vanities. The drawers hold things like hair brushes and lip gloss. One of the old mirrored closet doors hangs above the desk. Moving some of the grooming tasks to this space means the kids’ bathroom is less crowded on busy mornings.
In theory, the girls could use these for homework as well, but really, we have other areas in the house that are better set up for studying.
The aluminum chairs we’ve had since our New York days!
FROM ALL FOUR CORNERS
I know it’s sometimes hard to get a sense of the whole room in a tour like this, so I specifically requested photos from each corner of the room to give you a better idea of the space. I think it’s easier to see the walkways in these photos as well.
I hope you like the tour! If there’s anything I forgot to source, please let me know. And I’d love to hear what your experiences have been with shared rooms.
P.S. — You can find all the posts about our Treehouse renovations here.