Creating two bedrooms in a small space

Dwell magazine featured a “Kids’ Room Renovation” project recently on their site that shows how a small room can be transformed into two unconventional, yet spacious, bedrooms:

Rather than simply building a partition down the middle of the 140-square-foot bedroom, which would have created two constrained rooms, the architects decided to build up and within. “The idea of putting the bed on a higher level came up quite quickly in order to win space,” explains Santiard. “At the same time we decide to incorporate many ways to use the bed/partition (storage, office, climb, hide with interior windows, doors, etc).”

The bed seems to soar above the playing space, held up by bookshelf columns and a carefully angled staircase.

The result is a massive piece of what is essentially furniture, crafted out of several large sections of painted MDF and secured to the ceiling to keep it from toppling. Six-year old Eva plays and sleeps in the upper level, while small cubbies hold her toys, books, and dolls. There’s also a built-in desk for schoolwork and drawing. Jean, now almost two years old, mainly scampers around on the bottom level, where easy access to his bed and toys defines his area.

Building up provides for each child to have a designated area, without having to feel cramped and claustrophobic. The built-in storage and bookshelves also keep the rooms clutter-free and organized. I think it’s a very creative solution for a small space.

(Image from the Dwell article. View the complete slideshow.)

24 Comments for “Creating two bedrooms in a small space”

  1. posted by stagepin on

    That might be the coolest thing I’ve seen all week. I love the design of the desk.

  2. posted by Lose That Girl on

    Very cool! Kids today are so lucky. Our bedrooms were so boring in comparison.

  3. posted by Olga on

    Wow, that looks amazing! They must have pretty high ceilings though, I can’t imagine this fitting into my condo.

  4. posted by Alix on

    I appreciate the theory behind it, but the execution is hideous. It just screams “look at all this architecture!” Unlike a room with a simple divider down the middle, here’s no way to integrate this space into a whole, if/when desired; this monstrous piece of furniture swallows the entire space. Doesn’t appear to be any safety rail on that loft bed — there’s an accident waiting to happen. And from a feng shui perspective (if you’re into that sort of thing), all those sharp angles are nasty chi… and personally, I’d worry about kids whacking their heads into all those corners. Epic design fail.

  5. posted by Benbenberi on

    I noticed the absence of a safety rail too. Ouch!

    And while this design may work ok for them now, when the kids are small, I can’t see it being so functional when they grow, and it doesn’t look like it was built with any reconfiguration in mind.

  6. posted by Bill, parent of five on

    This is a nice design by a person without kids for parents who don’t really understand that they are responsible for the kids’ safety after they pick them up from daycare. What were they thinking?? The fall from the top tier could even hurt the six-year-old, let alone the poor two-year-old. What a bunch of misguided effort.

  7. posted by Adam Jones on

    Not to be too much of a naysayer here, but 140 sq ft, i.e. 10 X 14 is actually pretty large. The 10 foot tall ceilings also give the designer plenty of room to utilize vertical space. Compare that space to most college dorms.

  8. posted by Lehcarjt on

    I’ve got four kids sharing two bedrooms and feel like an expert at shared space. Ditto to what Alix and Adam said and here are a couple of other items.

    How do they keep the 2 year old from climbing up the ladder? (on our bunkbeds, we remove the ladders – the older kids can climb the frame, and the younger remain safely on the ground.)

    While all this white and blank space is great for adults, it’s really boring, bland, and unstimulating for children. I’ve never seen a pre-school or gradeschool that looked like this.

    Does this family not allow their children to use crayons? MDF is a crayon (not to mention pencil, pen, marker) magnet! I’d have to have to clean all that white after my kids had lived in it a few days.

  9. posted by L. on

    I wish uncluttered didn’t so often also mean white-painted MDF austerity.

  10. posted by Kathryn on

    It is cool to look at, but it’s not really two bedrooms. Baby Jean’s portion does seem cramped and small, even with nothing but a crib in it. I agree it doesn’t seem quite safe for a room shared with a 2-yo, and with mixed-gender sibs, it’s only got a couple of years of usefulness before it becomes, IMHO, less-than-suitable.

  11. posted by Christie on

    The MDF is actually painted blue, very light blue, but still, not as bad as WHITE!

    I would have put in bunk beds and much more nifty storage. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t seem very functional and it takes up WAY more space than bunk beds would. Like Kathryn said, for a mixed-gender/age room, this may function for a couple of more years, max!

  12. posted by Ruth Hansell on


    I’m largely in agreement with the other opinions expressed here, and will add a couple.

    Stuff falling from the upper level is going to ding up that lovely hardwood floor.
    There’s a lot of MDF covering up structural pieces, just for the sake of a smooth appearance, and it’s not appealing, to me at least.
    Making the upper level bed? Changing the sheets? Tending to a sick child? Or comforting a kid that wakes up with a nightmare? Or even carrying a sick or sleeping child up those stairs? That upper level makes it very difficult.
    There’s really not enough actual storage that the kids can reach and use, IMO.
    The book shelves above the crib – so, unless you really, really plan ahead, you’ll be reaching over a sleeping baby frequently. Not a good thing.

    It really looks like design for design’s sake. Blech.


  13. posted by Jay on

    A bunkbed, small desks, and shelves would have achieved the same result, with more flexibility . . . .

  14. posted by Patrick on

    Everyone keeps pointing out the poor safety of no rail, but if you look closely the crib is also 6 inches from the radiator!

  15. posted by Gina on

    What strikes me is how cold, sterile and uncomfortable the space feels. Lots of hard edges everywhere.

  16. posted by chacha1 on

    Kind of hate it. This is very showy, but looks like it was built *just* for show.

    I would have done a half-depth partition wall halfway down the long side, and put in the bunk bed that has a desk underneath for the older child on one side, basic crib set for the little ‘un on the other.

    I’m not as panicky about safety as some, but just in terms of ease of use (for the PARENTS) this fails.

  17. posted by Mike on

    What’s with all the toys neatly (O.C.D.) placed in cubby holes, some even out of reach of the children? It is a shame these kids have to literally live their parent’s austere modernist fantasies. Fail.

  18. posted by martha in mobile on

    Designing a mixed-gender room is a sensitive issue. Designing a room for two kids with two equally desirable “territories” is even more sensitive. This doesn’t work on either issue. But it is pretty. It would make a really nice room for one child who likes to sleep up high, or if the bed were big enough, two same-gender kids.

  19. posted by Tracy on

    All those sharp corners. OOOWWWW!

  20. posted by Richard | on

    Wow. That’s a really nice design but also really weird looking. Sharp corners do look like a bit of a hazard. Maybe you could round them off somehow.

  21. posted by Richard | on

    Wow. That’s a really nice ideas but also weird looking. The corners do look like a bit of a hazard. Maybe you could round them off somehow.

  22. posted by Charity on

    I wouldn’t have that in my house, no way! My nearly 5 year old has bunk beds but is not allowed on the top yet as she can’t manage the ladder safely by herself (she is very short). The set-up in the picture is very dangerous indeed – she or her toddler brother would certainly bounce off that top bed.

    It is also very boring. Mine both love the colourful art they have on their walls, the rugs on the floor and so on.

  23. posted by Charity on

    Oh and the description implies that the kids never play together in the same space. That seems like a real shame.

  24. posted by Karen on

    As an adult who once broke her back after falling out of a lofted bed (in college), I have to say there is no way on earth my kid would be sleeping on that. It looks dangerous and boring. Surely there was a better, safer, more kid-friendly way to divide the room space. My three boys (ages 9, 5 and 3) all share a bedroom. No bunk beds, and it’s not a big room. We simply put all their beds close together, and they adore it. They can jump around on the beds (soft, safe play surfaces). Their toys and books are kept in the common areas of the house; we don’t consign their belongings to one room of the house.

    I have never understood–after falling out of one–the appeal of a bunk bed. Sure, it clears up floor space, but why can’t kids play on their beds as well as the floor?

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