The Mountain Fixer Upper: Bunk Room Reading Nook
In our quest to not waste any space (in either project—Portland and Mountain), we searched for ways to create function in empty walls all over the house. Once a house is demoed and the walls are opened up, you can see where you can possibly build in to create more storage…and so we have, particularly in the bunk room. Previously, the room (which used to be the master bedroom in the original floor plan—see below—was a dark, windowless rectangle, and right outside of it was a pull-down ladder that led to an almost finished attic.
The ladder was charming in theory but kind of a death trap. As you can imagine, the kids were OBSESSED with going up there and in my attempt to “say yes” as often as possible as a parent we would help them get up there. But Birdie was too little so I’d carry her, and one time I fell and, in an attempt to protect her, I didn’t catch my fall with my hands and fell HARD. I thought I had a concussion (or at least whiplash) and looked down to find a massive gash in my leg. It was kinda terrifying as you can imagine and both kids were freaked out (but still wanted to play, of course, because #kids). So that made that decision, and not because the kids couldn’t be taught to do this safely, but because this is a house that we’ll likely bring up friends and their kids so the danger and liability would stress me out (and this is a completely “stress-free” house). But, we wanted to utilize the above space because once up there, it was a cute finished attic with a window. More on that later, because today’s post is how we created the stairs, the oh-so-important reading nook, and make-shift closet.
ORIGINAL FLOOR PLAN: SECOND FLOOR
PROPOSED FLOOR PLAN: SECOND FLOOR
This room had the biggest walk-in closet ever. Oversized, actually, especially for a weekend cabin. That space was needed because we wanted to A. put in a stacking washer and dryer and B. build proper stairs to the attic playroom.
So we had to steal from the closet to do this, which many of you warned against but we don’t really use the kids’ closets at home for clothes and up at the mountain house, we’d need the closet even less as they’ll mostly be in casual clothes (i.e. no need to hang any of Charlie’s dress shirts or Birdie’s dresses). Sure, we need storage but a proper hanging closet would not trump the attic playroom.
As a reminder, here is what is happening in this room:
On one side, we have their built-in bunk beds, which we wrote about here. Many of you made some very good suggestions on this design that we are considering, so stay tuned on that; we’ll do an update post with the suggestions from today, as well.
On the opposite wall are the stairs to the attic playroom and our nook.
If you are wondering why the windows are placed where they are, it’s because the lower roof line peaks like a triangle right there. Putting in natural light was crucial to us (in every room) and we worked with Marvin to maximize the light and function but this room was tricky. We will likely put a piece of furniture in between them to make it feel intentional and we all agreed that more light was more important. It doesn’t look like there is that much space in that angle, but there is a lot of clearance between the stairs and a piece of furniture that could fit in between those two windows.
As we demoed out, we saw this space in the wall that didn’t go all the way up so we couldn’t actually push the stairs, but it was enough space to do something with, surely.
For scale, here’s a photo of Velinda (left) and Julie sitting in the nook. These two, always doing what it takes to get the job done.
So obviously, it seemed the perfect place to put a little reading cave for two or more little humans (or two little humans and an adult). So Velinda took on the task of designing this nook and rendering it all out. We went through a few edits:
We went through a few options for wood cladding, stair detailing, pull-out storage, etc. At one point, the ceiling shape didn’t allow for a curtain, and I had to get that curtain in.
We landed here and I LOVE IT.
We took the stair railing floor-to-ceiling which is both mid-century and good for safety. It is in a 2×2 wood and, spaced out, it ends up being two per tread. While we haven’t settled on a carpet (although I do like this one) the stairs and this room will be carpeted for safety and softness.
To get to the nook, you kinda have to do a step up into it but once inside, Velinda really maximized it and tricked it out.
While the exact textiles aren’t chosen, we designed it to have a curtain track on the inside so that the kids can close it and feel like they are in a secret hangout. On one side, we have some built-in storage that has a closed cabinet at the bottom of it and shelves with our brass rod detail above.
We designed these narrow vertical cuts on the face of the cabinets, which is what we had planned for the kitchen cabinets but we ultimately rejected it because it would be harder to keep clean. The whole space is clad in our rough cedar tongue-and-groove, which was driven by the ceilings in the living room to help the whole house feel consistent and not like a brand new build.
Then, Velinda channeled her inner mischevious child and put in two secret drawers that look like unassuming shelves. IT’S SO MUCH FUN.
These will be opened by a magnet “key” that will be installed nearby (think like a pediatrician’s office) and each kid will have their own treasure drawer.
The space under the stairs is up for grabs and obviously an opportunity to bring in more storage.
On one side, we have some hanging storage for guests that are so inclined. We will also have a wardrobe in this room, but having this feature is also nice. We realize that if we Airbnb it out, we will have grownups in here and some “adults” put away their clothes while on vacation.
On the other side is room for suitcase storage and a shelf with a lip for T-shirts/pants and a top narrow shelf for socks and underwear. Velinda did a FANTASTIC job of really maximizing it in the smartest way possible.
We are SO excited about this room and it’s definitely the one that we are furthest along on design-wise. We’ll need some furniture (dresser, and wardrobe) but otherwise it really doesn’t need much. I’m still on the hunt for perfect playful yet modern and fresh carpet for them, would LOVE some suggestions.
Here is the whole room in action so you can get a sense of how both built-ins exist in the same space.
Per usual, we’d love your suggestions if you have done anything like this. You guys are honestly SO helpful and we’ve found that we are tweaking the design of this whole house based on your suggestions so THANK YOU.