Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Changing Rooms

Since Christmas, Bella and Angus have been campaigning to share a bedroom. I say campaigning, for it was a campaign. Their main motivator was the lure of bunk beds - they spent some time sleeping in these (which they loved) while we stayed with family over Christmas, and so they have been asking to share bedtime stories in the same bedroom, playing together in a charming fashion and just generally getting along and being nice to each other. 

Our house is your typical three bedroom semi-detached layout; that is, two "double" bedrooms and a third "box" room. The box room was always the nursery and then Angus's bedroom. It's so small, it's ridiculous. It is, however, just the right size for an office, which we could really use at the moment as laptops, printers and filing cabinets are scattered all over the house in a really disorganised fashion. So, it's been all change round here these last few weeks; wardrobes and drawers have been emptied and organised, toys sorted and labelled, boxes carted to the loft, charity shop or tip, on it goes. Bella and Angus are now sharing what was Bella's room and the box room is currently full of boxes. Soon we'll repaint it and turn it into an office. You all know that when I say office in my head I hear "craft room", right? (A craft room, yaaaay!!)

But this whole process has really made me think about meeting the needs of a seven year old girl and a four year old boy, about giving them areas which are their own in a shared space, and how it's all going to work. I should also say here that I'm well aware that in a couple of years they will no longer want to share. (I don't know what we'll do then. Move, probably.) Eventually there will come a time when it's inappropriate that they share a bedroom but for now they are little and they get along, and these times are precious.

So, would you like a tour? (You can see what it looked like before here.) This is what it looked like a week ago. As you look into the bedroom from the landing straight ahead is Angus's toddler bed, where the desk once was.  A nice little corner for him with a lamp and lots of books, his beloved pirate ship and other favourite toys.


And Bella's bed is on the other wall. This worked nicely as an arrangement as they each had their own "side" of the room,


Bella had her area with her bed, bedside table and desk and I think it was important for her to have this space that felt like hers (she still refers to the room as her bedroom)


And this is the view from the window back to the door. There was a reasonable amount of floor space and it was working nicely. 


The plan was to see how it all went before investing in bunk beds. Angus still had a fair bit of room in his toddler bed so there was no urgency to buy him a single bed. But then, out of the blue, my parents offered us the bunk beds that my sisters and I had when we were children (still decorated with 1980's Care Bear stickers). They had no use for them as they never used them in their bunk bed form, and they wanted two new single beds for their spare room. We were thrilled. Yes please, we said. They brought them up in the car last week and all we had to do was buy another single mattress and my Dad and John assembled them.

So here is what the room looks like now. The desk is back where is was...




And on the other wall are bunk beds, assembled in an "L-shaped" position. So far it's working beautifully and they both agreed which bed they wanted without any arguments, to my huge relief. Angus sleeps on the top. I was worried how he'd cope with the ladder but he manages it really well.


Bella loves her bottom-bunk cosy corner, with her fairy lights, chair and baby crib for her dolls. 


The picture shelf is handy for toys and books but doesn't stick so far out from the wall that Angus bumps his head on it.



And there is a fraction more floor space than there was before. Every inch counts here.



This is what I've learnt so far:
  • The kids have to be tidy. I have to be tidy. We all have to be veeeery tidy. The place looks like a bombsite in about two seconds so we try to tidy toys away at bedtime, rather than leaving them out all the time. 
  • Every inch of storage is vital. Under the bed, in the warbrobe, on top of the wardrobe. All the soft toys are in one of those hanging net thingys, I need John to fix it into the ceiling.
  • Managing bedtimes is a learning curve and we are being flexible. We usually switch their light off at 7.30pm. Angus falls asleep very quickly and Bella quite often switches her little lamp back on then and reads or plays quietly for a while. We can't force her to fall asleep at the same time as Angus, who is two and a half years younger.
Do you have any experience of different sex siblings sharing a bedroom? I'd love to know how you made - or make - it work, how you decorated, any tips you might have. Thank you!



56 comments:

  1. Hi, when our works were at their most disruptive my then 11 year old boys and 5 year old girl shared for a few weeks and they, surprisingly, got on great. It would not be ideal for ever but I reckon you''ll know when it's time for them to go solo again. My boys shared too until they were about 7 and 9 until, one evening, they were bickering like mad and I split them up, moved a bed there and then and they never shared again apart from holidays. Good Luck, sounds like your two are sorted for the time being. Result x

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  2. Oh you've done a fab job with all of this Gillian, I am totally impressed with this beautiful space and so many sweet 'final touches' to make the room bright and appealing like those lovely painted photo frames and pom-poms, not to mention the vivid colours from the toys. Well done, and I'm sure Bella and Angus will happily share for some time to come! Joy x

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  3. The room looks great Gillian, it looks like you have adapted it perfectly for the needs of both children. My brothers shared a room and they had bunk beds...I was a wee bit jealous of this, I must admit, I always thought that bunk beds were really cool!
    Marianne x

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  4. I haven't done this but I probably should have, a couple of years ago. I think it looks great. They each have their own special things and decor. The bunk beds are wonderful! What a nice thing to have. Your parents must have a huge car to be able to move them for you. They look like really nice pieces of furniture.

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  5. This room looks so inviting! My brother and I shared till I was about 9 - he was about 16 and was tough on him. Mum and dad had no choice as only a two bedroom house. Mum went back to work and they were able to modify an outhouse/ laundry, well basically got rid of the laundry for my brother. He is still there 40 years on! We recently underwent an extension of only one room but some pretty major modifications inside which has completely changed our lives. For the better and not so better. Each of our three kids has their own room which is wonderful and I have a sewing / study. However with almost doubling or mortgage it has been tough. The sacrifices we have made to afford this mortgage are well worth it in our lives as I now have a home I don't like to leave. Even for a short time.

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  6. Our eldest two (girl and boy) shared until they were about 8 and 6 and then my youngest (also a boy) moved in with his brother. When we moved house, the boys shared a room with bunk beds - great excitement - and my daughter had the teeny tiny box room. The 5 yr age gap between the boys was fine when they were little and played together but would a 16 yr old want to share with an 11 yr old?
    Fortunately for us they remained close enough to work out any problems (mostly!)
    Now is that the others are at uni our youngest wants to make the bedroom his own and I want that much coveted craft room - but the eldest two keep coming back (and a with boyfriend in tow!!)

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  7. What a great shared space ... the bunk beds are ideal ... i like the L shape configuration and the little cubby it creates for Bella's chair ... our two boys share a room in two singles ... not in the best layout for floor space but it works for now ... and the little fairy has her own room ... I had thought she might be lonely but it seems to be okay so far ... I shared with my two brothers until I got my own room ... I think I must have been about eight or nine ... I do remember we had a ball ... there were three single beds and we used to bounce from one to the other ... not entirely sure that's what my parents wanted but it made great memories for us ... Bee xx

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  8. I have no words of advice for you Gillian sorry. But I do really like this space. It looks like it would work really well. I understand your dilemma re tidiness and toys. We have the same issue! Xx

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  9. You have done an amazing job Gillian - your little ones are very lucky. I have two younger sisters and we all shared a room as we lived in a two bedroom house. It worked great when we were small but when we became three hormonal teenagers it was a trial. My mum used to say that first up was best dressed as lots of clothes sharing (stealing) went on. I remember I was always having my tights taken!

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  10. No advice I am afraid, but, I can say that it is lovely how you have made sure that they each still have some space to themselves and that Bella has personalised her own little area with her favourite things. I hope that they love being together for a while longer so that you can enjoy your craft room, sorry, I mean study, study, it is for working right!!! xx

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  11. I think this is great, everyone has got their wish as regards space including you! I've no advice to add but just love your clean scandi-style with pops of brilliant colour. I always look round my own place once you've done one of your house posts and sigh despairingly.

    It is great that Bella has the low bunk as she can read for that bit longer without disturbing Angus and they have maximised floor space. I reckon as you have a third room anyway that if the time comes in this house for separate rooms then you still have the option available.

    Can't wait to see the craft room, sorry study pics!

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  12. At one point in my life I had four children sharing a single room. It was a large room (a converted family room), but it was always a disaster of toys:) Also, getting people to sleep was a battle. Now my daughter has her own small room, and my four boys are two to a room. They are still hard to get to calm down at bedtime, even though they are teenagers, a source of tension for my husband who was the only boy in his family and always had his own room. I do think it is comforting to children to have someone else to share a room with. And too much privacy is overrated;)

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  13. You have launched into a new adventure for sure, Gillian! The room is really lovely as you have arranged it. Our children shared rooms, 2 girls in one room, 2 boys in the other. Sharing happily often had challenges...and we tried to face each challenge with God's grace. Blessings to you and yours :)

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  15. I remember sharing a room with my younger sister, and choice, after much campaigning too! We put a line down the middle of the room with masking tape! xo

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  16. The room looks lovely. I used to share with my brother when we were young. Lots of shared stories when the lights were out. Magical times! xx

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  17. I think people are a little obsessed with children having there own rooms. My two (boy and girl) shared very happily until my daughter was about 9/10. I think Bella and Angus will have loads of fun sharing, there only little for a very short time, enjoy! Sarah

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  18. How lovely that Angus and Bella wanted to share, that is very heartwarming, I had two BIG brothers so never shared but I would have loved it, I love how you've made their room so cosy, and Hey..... a craft room ... wink. wink!
    love Jooles x x x

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  19. That is rather lovely - it makes me clucky actually. I'm curious to see a close up of some of Angus's toys...the pirate ship?? Lovely wooden ones from the sounds?

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  20. I think it looks amazing and it's so nice that they wanted to share...... and bonus.... a craft room, "ahem" office I mean for the grownups!! Sarah xo

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  21. What happy memories that brought back for me . My eldest two wanted to share when they were about 4 and 6 and loved it. I used to love hearing them whisper to each other. Different genders but the same wishes and dreams. Thank you. I love the way the space has been created for Bella. Not your usual up ,down arrangement of the bunks.

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  22. Hey Gillian,

    I think that it's lovely that Bella and Angus want to share a room. I have often wished that mine would have. I shared a room with my sister when I was young and we had a great time together. Mum divided the room in a similar fashion, except we had single beds either side of the chimney breast. I do like that Bella's bunk is positioned in a L shape. Very clever use of space, and gives her a cosy corner too.

    When I was expecting Olly we had a huge dilemma. Sam and Alfie do not get on. At all. So there was no way I was going to inflict them sharing on myself. New baby and constantly squabbling siblings? No way hose! So we created a little room for Olly by taking a chunck of Alf's room and the space on the landing. It has worked well, but we now face another dilemma as Olly is getting older and needing more space of his own. I guess families and the houses we live in are constantly evolving.
    Eh what a ramble! Oh I'd just like to say how lovely it is to have connected on Facebook. I'm afriad you now see me in all my ridiculous glory ;) xx

    Leanne xx

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  23. What a lovely room you've created, I love how the bunk beds are positioned and how each of them has their own cosy space. My littlest boy is shoe-horned into a tiny room. It's okay now, but when he's older it will be hard on him. My biggest two love sharing at the moment. The eldest has been offered his own room, but doesn't want it. I'm sure he will eventually. I've just put up a new bed for the littlest boy with drawers and a cupboard underneath. It makes the bed quite high, but he likes it, and as you say, storage and space are everything. And I wanted access to everything to be easier than with plastic boxes under the bed. Is there any possibility of creating a loft room at your house? We've done that, and it's a lovely space, although it does mean you have to find somewhere to store anything that might be lurking in the loft.

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  24. I like the clever way you've created space for each of them and made the whole room so lovely. And the other great thing is you've now got a craft room/ office (I'm very sure that space will be lovely too!)Hooray!
    Marion x

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  25. My eldest is in our box room which is the size of a double bed. We have built a bed in there which is raised up enough to have storage for all his toys and clothes. He was offered the bigger room to share with his sibling, when we didn't know what sex she was, but he wanted to stay in the small room. We have built in furniture in my daughters room too now so it would be very impractical for them to share!

    I shared a room with both my brothers until I was ten, I loved it. We didn't have much money when I was growing up so our decor was wallpaper with huge pink flowers on it which had been put up by the previous owners. They didn't redecorate the room until after I had moved out! It had become the spare room and was low priority.

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  26. No advice whatsoever but what a beautiful room. And I agree about the tidying, the 'keeping on top of it all'. I am reluctant to get rid of some of their things, as their toys hold sentimental value, but they don't play with quite a bit now :-(

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  27. i remember as a child having bunk beds with my twin...we loved it, but not as tidy as your littl'n's we had stuff everywhere!! hehe, my twin was a book worm and i loved my dollys so we had a shelf of books for my twin and dolls houses for my dollys. we used to pretend it was a magic bus ~ happy memories & it made it easier for mum to read bed time stories to us. love the room and style, kazzy

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  28. Our house is of the same kind I think, except that we have a side extension, where Annie "resides" now. Sam is in the tiny third room that will be your office. It is a perfect teenage den with a loftbed and futon underneath. No space for mess! James and Alistair share a room and love it. They used to share a bed in their foster home and are very close, neither of them can sleep without the other one. Sam and Annie used to share a room with bunk beds and loved it, too. It is wonderful to be sharing I think and it is a great preparation for life because they learn to accept each other's ways and make room for each other although it is not always easy. You have decorated Bella and Angus room beautifully and I feel a twinge of guilt when I think about James and Alistairs room, which really needs some loving attention. Angus has the same cowboy bed sheets as my two little boys! Cx

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  29. The room looks fantastic! What a beautiful wooden set of bunk beds - loving the care bear stickers - I had a of Care Bear stuffed animals! My brother and I shared a room with bunk beds. My grandparents bought them for us when I was in kindergarten (I remember the day) and we shared until I was 8, when I moved upstairs in the attic, which was a fantastic big room with sloping ceilings. I was the oldest though, so I slept on top. But Bella's little den underneath is adorable - I am sure she is thrilled! Your kids are lucky!

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  30. What a lovely room your children have, you have created a great space for them which they can share. I think it's perfect!

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  31. Never mind Bella, I love that cosy corner - it shall be mine..... Actually, that's what I 'miss' about having my own bedroom, now I'm all growed up, married and sharing a bedroom - you just don't get to make cosy bedroom corners anymore :(

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  32. I love it when I find bloggers who's lives run parallel to mine at a particular time - we're just working out how to make one room fit for my 5-year old boy to share with his 3-year old sister. They're longing for bunks!

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  33. What a gorgeous room, love the l-shaped bunks - it's almost like Bella has got her own 'room' down there! My boys (4 & 2) are DESPERATE to get bunk beds and share a room, but think the youngest is still a bit too wee. Definitely next year if they're still keen - would love to get that third bedroom back!! Looking forward to seeing the new office/craft room pics :-)

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  34. I love the way you have setup the room, and create special space for both of them. I like very much the "L" setup of the bunk beds... We have only one child, so we don't have to think about sharing space, but his bedroom is quite tiny and it will become a problem very soon: I can't have a desk, neither a wardrobe to store his clothes. So we are working on renovating a bedroom and make it into an "office" for him...

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  35. i love it! you did a beautiful job. i love how stylish and yet real it feels. i have so many kid's bedrooms pinned that i know were done by a stylist and no child actually lives in. this room is lovely and real. my two are also hoping to share a room, well gianna, who is almost 4, really wants bunk beds and to share a room and of course the one year old is totally clueless. it will be at least a year, probably two before they share. gianna would love bella's nook with the fairy lights and doll cradle. thank you for sharing this!

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  36. Sounds like youve thought of everything!
    The bedroom looks gorgeous and so glad to hear the children are happy sharing together. I only have one child so never had to think about that but thank you so much for sharing the storage ideas. Fab bedroom x

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  37. Hi, I love your blog. I don't know if you can find it online, hopefully you can, but coincidentally in today's New York Times, right on the front page of the "Home" section, is an article about this! It's called ' My Brother's Bunkmate' if you are trying to locate it. What you did, in my humble opinion, looks just as beautiful...they should have contacted you for the article!! :)

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  38. This is wonderful, what a perfect transformation! Good that you set out the tidiness rules - when my eldest got her loft bed/desk beneath ensemble, I saw loads of floor space - she saw loads of space to store more piles of kid junk! :-) Chrissie x

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  39. Love the room! My girls are all grown up (well.. almost.. one is grownup as she will be 26 next month and the other is finishing her undergrad degree next Christmas). This adorable, cozy room reminds me of both of my girls and makes me miss having little ones!

    Love the tidiness and the brightness, the white/colors. Just looks wonderful and welcoming!

    I saw your post on my blog. Thanks for visiting! I'll be visiting often. Your blog is wonderful!

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  40. I'd just add that your use of colour just makes this room work so well, it's instantly cheerful even on an overcast day - and we've had a lot of those recently so well done, it's just lovely! x

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  41. Hello, this is a great post! Their bedroom is gorgeous - great job! We are currently in a 2 bed house, and before Baby O arrived I imagined that by now (he's 10 months old) the two boys would be sharing a bedroom. However, I did not take into account that the baby is not nearly as good a sleeper as his older brother was at the same age (he was sleeping through from just a couple of months old.) x

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  42. We had a similar house when the four children were younger, and for a while (it took us well over two years to sell) we had three - a boy and two girls - in the same huge room. And honestly it worked fine, the only exception being when one woke really early and then woke the others, which thankfully didn't happen often.

    You have made their room into one that I'm sure they'll remember fondly in years to come :)

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  43. Its just perfect, there's something very special about bunk beds isn't there ?
    Lots of happy times will be had,
    Kate x

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  44. That's so cute that they want to share! We've only just separated our boy/girl twins at 4. And only because we've just moved into a bigger house and asked if they wanted their own rooms. The first night they lasted 5 minutes before bunking in together, but have been ok since. They still spend every moment together during the day though, usually playing with the dolls house together :)

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  45. Their room is so lovely, bright and colourful. I think there is a definite something about sleeping in bunk beds. Bella's cosy corner is great.

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  46. Fabulous room, love using bunks like that, never thought of it. So long as they have their own area in a room I think sharing is so lovely. Special memories for life......and you get a craft room yippee!

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  47. It is a perfect arrangement, those little ones each have their own space yet they can be together and you get a CRAFT ROOM!!!!!! Okay, I will keep it quiet but you put your mark on it right away.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  48. Your rooms look wonderful, the photos look like they are from a magazine...

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  49. Such a lovely room...the colors, the lighting, the decorations...I love it all! I'm sure your little ones must be so happy with it.

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  50. The room is gorgeous, you've managed to fit so much in and it still looks spacious. I bet they love it and it sounds like it's working well.
    My two boys once shared a room and bunk beds; I thought it was a brilliant idea as I grew up wanting a sibling and a bunk bed! (I'm an only child) however it was a disaster for us as the boys had completely different body clocks and have had since they were babies, one wants to go to bed and rise early and the other tossed and turned for hours and then sleeps late the next morning! We quickly moved them back into separate rooms!

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  51. You've done a fabulous job with bringing them together and yes bunk beds seem to be on the constant request here too. Love the fact that you have yours from your childhood. In fact I'm currently waiting for a shipment from SA with my childhood bed. The idea of a craft room is very appealing and super exciting. Enjoy getting it all ready. Xxx

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  52. The room looks great, and very tidy! I have just come across your blog, and thought I would comment as my two children (girl age 2, boy nearly 5) share a room and received bunk beds for Christmas. While I was really excited about the amount of space they would save, I've actually found that compared to a cot and toddler bad, I don't seem to have gained much floor space at all, the bunk beds are huge! Plus the other problem is making the bed, while I want them to look neat and tidy, I really don't have time every morning to climb onto the top bunk to re-arrange the covers. never mind! I have also found decorating with different sex siblings hard work, as everything I come across is either pink or blue! with this in mind I have kept all the pink things to one side of the room, and blue to the other, and it kinda works. I love that your room has a more gender neutral tone with bright colours. Despite my moaning about the bunk beds I do love that they share a room, especially in the morning when the two year old shouts for her brother , who then comes down from the top bunk and snuggles her in her bed. Priceless! They also like it when I hang a blanket from the top bunk, making the bottom bunk into a den! xx

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  53. It looks beautiful! I only have the one child so can't speak from experience in that regard but I did share a room with my sister until I was about 14 (not willingly, sadly, we didn't get on as well as Angus and Bella!)

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  54. You have done a wonderful job with this room. I think it's so sweet that Angus and Bella are sharing a room together. The bunk beds are a really great idea. And how great for you to have a craft room!

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  55. I just found your blog via Weald blog. Totally loving it. I found this a really interesting read as we are considering moving our children in together in the future. (our daughter is only 11 weeks old so not just yet!). I love the space but I agree, storage is EVERYTHING.

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  56. My 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter share (by choice) and they really enjoy it. We also have the bunkbeds that once belonged to my Sister and I, at the moment they are separate but it will free up lots of space when one can go on top! I'm not sure how long they will carry on wanting to share but its lovely that they do :) I have also gone for white walls and furniture with pops of colours from accessories and handmade decorations which can easily be changed around. Its nice to know yours are still sharing at 7 - gives us a while to plan what to do next!! xx

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