Q: We have two young girls, a year and a half apart in age, who must share a small bedroom -- 11 by 12 feet. Besides storage space, they need separate desks. Unfortunately, they won't even consider bunk beds. How can the furniture best be arranged to give our girls room to play and to work?.
A: It's said that some styles never change -- children's dress-up clothes, for example and the furnishings for kids' rooms. Well, then, here's a photo of a room for two little girls that goes back about 20 years.
The look of the furniture is certainly of that vintage. Still, this is a style that could appropriately be used today, too.
All the pieces are custom-built and surfaced in plastic laminate of two colors: blue and white. Shades of violet were added to the overall color scheme. The generously proportioned storage chest was placed in the center of the longest uninterrupted wall, with a mirror running across the top of the chest. This horizontal fixture helps unite the shelves, which continue around the room.
Twin beds were designed to flank the chest. Each of the bed units includes storage compartments at the base and a cantilevered desk top, with drawer, at the foot. Those writing surfaces are attached to the side walls and reinforced with steel brackets at the footboards. Lamps have been clamped to the desk tops.
This is obviously a precision-made design, with every element carefully measured, planned and executed. I'm sure that this kind of space allocation would solve your problems.
I can appreciate that you may not wish to take this customized -- and expensive -- route. But something similar might suit your purposes equally well, especially since it would involve movable and store-bought furniture.
Simple box spring and mattress units for the bedding could be dressed in either tailored studio bedcovers with bolster and pillows or in a more fanciful dust ruffle and coverlet. A 4- or 5-foot chest of drawers, purchased at your local furniture store, could easily be placed between the beds. There should also be plenty of room for a small desk to fit at the foot of each bed.
The main thing is to allow enough open space around their desks and chests. Remember, your girls are probably going to be sharing the room for at least a couple of more years, and they'll be bigger than they are now.
Any small room, regardless of its purpose, should be designed with its function foremost in mind. It needs to be kept simple. The less fussy and decorative the furniture, the lighter and neater the room will look.
This doesn't mean the space has to be plain or sterile. It can certainly be enlivened with pictures and with collections displayed on the shelves. If designed in a way that's responsive to the girls' needs, the room will almost automatically take on its own aesthetic quality.