Ah, the Pinterest-famous bunk room. It’s up there with “outdoor kitchen” or “organized garage”—they exist mostly in magazines but they are part of the lifestyle-mafia “must have” checklist which taunts normal people on a daily basis. And I want one. Ironically, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been in a bunk room myself, so it seems like an odd thing to covet when I’m a virgin to its lifestyle benefits. But from what I can tell on social media, a bunk room ensures that my kids scamper to their room quietly, eager to tuck themselves into their own cozy spaces and sleep soundly through the night, waking at 8:30 am only to whisper adorable pretend-conspiracy dialogue to each other on their walkie-talkies.
Let’s revisit this fantasy land before I get into the fantasy plan…
It wasn’t exactly full of youthful magic when we bought the house. Please remember this was the window-less master bedroom. We made the nearby extra family room the new master and this will become the kids bunk room. We debated the other upstairs bedroom being the kids room as it has an attached bathroom, but there is something so secretly amazing about the location of this room…IT HAD TO BELONG TO OUR KIDS.
Here’s the original floor plan (with overlays of what we were proposing), followed by the final floor plan, where you’ll see those swaps more easily.
So before starting the design for our magical bunk room land, we look for inspiration, of course. And we found a ton.
The shiplap, the slate-y blue color, the little nooks and under-bed storage of the bottom bunk, the tongue-and-groove ceiling of the built-in…so much good here.
What I love about the above is the mix of wood and metal which feels fresh, but probably too cold for us. This image is actually from a higher-end hostel in Bangkok (so not built specifically for kids) but that material play is great inspiration. Also, a concrete floor isn’t exactly what our cozy cabin needs.
Ooh, but a blue and brass number isn’t exactly out of my wheelhouse like concrete floors are. This is probably not Scandi enough for what I’m aiming for in the mountain house, but it’s so wonderful. That rolling ladder is awesome (even though it’s on carpet so not sure how well it rolls without having to lift it up, but WHO CARES IT’S SO CUTE). Oh and um those draperies…I have mini curtain fantasies.
But where are the safety railings?
Do you want to kill your children?
Have you not seen this season of the “Bachelorette” where that one dude falls off the top bed and smashes his face with dramatic there-is-blood-everywhere commentary? HE WAS IN THE ICU FOR DAYS. I will not put my kids in the ICU on television with millions watching (or ever).
I love the darker color of the above shot. It feels cozy, functional and safe but special. The idea of stairs (versus a ladder) is nice, and these look to have storage so…that’s a plus.
The pipes and wood certainly feel cabin-y but maybe not totally right for the rest of the house.
We knew that we wanted something like all of the ones we showed you above, but we had some challenges. We needed to build around the master bathroom plumbing, which also had to be accessible:
Not impossible, of course, but…something we definitely had to work around.
In my effort to utilize the value of my talented team, I asked Julie to take a stab at reading my mind (and finding a solution/workaround for the bathroom plumbing). She knows this project really well (and has done a fantastic job so far) so with my direction, she designed the first round of our built-in bunk beds and after a few edits we got to this:
I’ll show you the first edits in my Instagram stories but honestly, they were so close to the final that it felt redundant to put in this post. Stylistically, we need to keep the theme of the house (reminder: a mix of refined-Scandi-chalet and rustic-California-cabin), and though it’s not easy, I think this is headed in the right direction. Here was the general direction I tasked her with:
1. Maximum bed space: We wanted two twins over a pair of full beds, so we can maximize the beds (also, so when it’s just our kids, we can read, cuddle and potentially sleep with them in the bottom bunks). Charlie is in a “please lay with me” phase and we are used to a full bed at our house so we’ll continue that phase as long as he wants (P.S. we give him the option of me laying with him for one, two or three minutes and he always chooses three minutes, but is generally ready for me to leave then).
2. Storage and shelving (in a clean, safe way): Because of some bath components and mechanisms in the nearby bathroom (the ones we showed you in the construction shot above), we had to build the wall out a bit at the bottom for pipes and electrical for my fancy bubble tub, so we inset some shelving and included a brass bar to keep books, water glasses and/or art intact.
3. Lighting: Each bed should have their own controllable on/off reading light with its own switch. The light needed to be safe (no bare bulb that could burn/hurt them) and not project too far out to hit heads.
4. Safety: We know that our kids and our friends’ kids are going to rough-house, play, take physical risks and probably misbehave. We are big believers (fine, I’M a big believer) that every injury without an ER visit is a SUCCESS and should be celebrated. It means their brain just learned more about risk-taking and their body learned more about their physical environment. So I don’t want to make this a fortress. A guardrail is important, but a cage will make them unsafe in the long run. Not that anyone does that, but I’m justifying my only one-rail choice. Will they jump from top to bottom? Maybe. But I’m not going to create a padded room. They’ll learn and they won’t be reckless.
We also have a railing going up the stairs/ladder to help with stability. I’m LOVING those brass details.
There are little-hidden cabinets inside, that don’t hold much but could house water, a nightlight and favorite books.
The outside of the cabinetry has the same grooves that WERE in the kitchen cabinetry (that we’ve since changed to be easier to clean) with cute little latches. When opened, it would have a pretty clad interior. This is the same wood that is at the back of the bed built-ins and some of the ceilings because it echoes the tones of the living room ceiling (we didn’t want to all of a sudden jump into a hardwood like walnut or teak and this cedar is really pretty).
The same cedar is on the headboard wall and adds a ton of warmth and texture to the room. We wanted a darker, cozier feeling in here so that dark green and wood combo does it and obviously feels very “mountain-y.”
I’m VERY excited for this. Our GC has an in-house carpentry studio and he quoted us $7,500 – $8,500. I was very scared it was going to be cost prohibitive after we did all the renderings, but since we had to do this build out with the wall, doing something custom was necessary or else we would have had to lose a foot of the room.
Here’s an “in action” walkthrough of it all:
I’m so excited about it and so grateful for a design team who can do these beautiful renderings that help get the design and details dialed in early on. But if you have any suggestions or concerns, speak up now because it’s going into production!