One of our major hurdles in buying a house in Amsterdam was finding a second bedroom with enough space to accommodate both children (a three bedroom was out given our price range, unless we wanted to live well outside the city). And by that I don’t mean loads of floor space for playing. I just mean fitting in two beds. A lot of the second bedrooms in Amsterdam apartments have enough space for a single bed and maybe a small wardrobe or chest of drawers. We thought about bunk beds, but really felt strongly that since our kids are older and it’s already pushing for them to share a room, they each needed a well-defined space of their own.
In fact, I was thinking loft beds. And not just any loft beds, but loft beds that were a cozy little room all in one. Like this:I found this bed (the brand is Thuka) and knew it was the answer. As well as being a nice, sturdy loft bed, it incorporates a desk, a little set of shelves, and a comfy couch. This, as you might be able to guess, is Axa’s bed.
When I asked her what she wanted to use to decorate her side of the room (and showed her some pretty lamps, wall stickers, etc.) she told me about some dragon figurines she was in love with. So that’s what we got her. Along with this sign, which hangs on the outside of the bedroom door, and which was my own proud Etsy find. Raji also decorated his side of the room according to his own style. Here are his desk shelves, with his own little treasures. We knew the dimensions of the beds before we started looking for houses, so whenever we went for a viewing we took along a tape measure. Some houses were mere centimetres away from fitting the beds, and had to be knocked off the list. In other houses we realized that the kids were going to end up in the master bedroom because it was the only one that would fit their beds. This turned out to be the case in our current house, which only HAD one bedroom before we pulled out another one via sleight of hand in the form of some clever wall building. We didn’t build a wall in the kids’ bedroom, but we did set it up as much as possible to feel like two separate rooms. Here’s what the room looked like before, as a long and narrow (and rather uninspiring) master bedroom. And here’s what it looks like now. It was surprisingly difficult to get wide photos in this room, because there’s nowhere to stand far enough away to get the angle. This is taken from the same side of the room as the above photo, from the top of Raj’s bed.Here’s the same view, from under the loft.You can see, among other things, that we’ve dedicated one entire wall to a floor-to-ceiling modular wardrobe complex from IKEA. The bottom drawers hold clothes, the middle white cupboards hold toys and games, and the black cupboards above are more general storage, since they’re too high for the kids to reach anyway. We have cupboards of this sort high up in several rooms of our house, because we had to find some way to fit in extra storage. You’ll notice that the furthest cabinet doesn’t have any drawers beneath. That’s not only to make space for Raj’s little row of shoes, but also because of another cool feature of the magic loft beds. The little couch is perfect for story time or lounging. But it also makes into a nifty little additional bed. Perfect for sleepovers, which are very popular at the kids’ school. You can see how the foot of the bed fits neatly into the space under the overhang created by the missing set of drawers. The cabinets are wall-mounted anyway, so they hang just as securely without drawers beneath. A little farther into this corner, we’ve also wall-mounted a small bookshelf, right next to the little corner where Axa likes to perch and read. You can see that like most rooms in our house, this one also has a nice window seat. The curtains are the only true blackout curtains in our house. As we learned during a summer spent in Ireland, blackout curtains are an absolute necessity when you have children and live north enough of the equator that it doesn’t get dark until eleven at night. These were purchased on our very first post-homeowner trip to IKEA. I’d also like to point out here that we bought all of our curtains from IKEA, and I cut them off and hemmed them myself with iron-on hemming tape. That’s 24 meters (almost 80 feet!) of curtains, thank you very much. But it was probably a tenth the cost of having custom curtains fitted on the huge, irregularly shaped windows all over our house, so it was worth it. Although it is a tightly packed bedroom, this is not the only (nor the largest) bookshelf. Of course I managed to fit in another across from Axa’s bed. A homeschooling mom does not lose her compulsion to collect books for her kids to read just because her kids go to school. At the back of this photo you will see what is possibly the weirdest feature of our house post-renovation. Not the poster. That’s Axa posing in front of a mural she is painting as part of an effort to raise awareness for the need to keep the beach clean of garbage when we lived in Tunisia. The photo got blown up and made into a poster and put up all over Hammamet after we left, and our dear friend Jo Ann sent us a couple of copies, which we treasure as a unique and precious memento of our time there. But the weird house feature is the door where the poster hangs, which if you look very closely in the before picture of the room, leads into the bathroom (just a sink and bathtub. You met the house’s one and only toilet in the tiny powder room just off the front hallway). It wouldn’t be all that strange for the shower/bathtub in a one-bedroom house to be off the one bedroom as it was pre-renovation. It is a bit weird for us to have to sneak through our sleeping kids’ bedroom to take a shower at night. And even weirder for guests to do it (sorry, parents). But Amsterdam houses (especially those bought on a budget) tend to have their quirks, and we’ve gotten used to this one. Here’s a final view of the entire bedroom, taken from inside the bathroom (which you will meet in another post). You can see we’ve used pretty much every trick in the book to delineate separate spaces in the same room–individual carpets, different color schemes, furniture dividing the two halves, etc. We do anticipate that at some point during the next few years they will want their own rooms entirely (and believe it or not, we have another solution for that, which surprisingly does not involve moving house). But for now, it’s a tidy solution to having two kids in the same room.