April 28, 2016
This is my fifth and final post in my Montreal apartment tour series.
Our apartment has three bedrooms, one for us, one for Laurent and one for the girls. The bedrooms are a great size, which comes in handy when space is shared, like Laurent's room also being Damien's "office".
We'll start with our room.
I'm a bit shy to share photos of our bedroom on the blog, not because I feel our bedroom deserves any special privacy. If you came to visit I'd take you on the tour and show you our room, even if the bed wasn't made. We're not reserved about that kind of thing. (Although, because you can see our bedroom from the dining room I usually have the bed made.)
I'm shy on the blog because our room is very simple. There is nothing "master" bedroom about it. It doesn't look all that "grown-up". There is no matching bedroom furniture set and I don't imagine there ever will be one. Bedroom furniture is just not that important to us.
I am particular about no mattresses on the floor, so having a raised bed is important to me. And I want a comfortable mattress, but I want it to be simple.
Our bed frame and mattress are from IKEA and we're really happy with them.
As I mentioned on my Instagram recently, most of our home is decorated or accented in bold, bright colors; red and yellow being two of my favorite accent colours.
paintings from homeschool co-op art class
Laurent, left, Renee, right
But a different theme entirely has evolved in my bedroom over the years. I've purchased most of our bedroom linens second hand and it seems the nicest I could find, at the time of shopping, were pale yellow, pink, soft blues etc.
This is a decidedly different feel from the bold colors through the rest of the house. Somehow it all works.
Small Space Living Hack: Apple Crate Furniture
Years ago, when we lived in Maine, our CSA farmer's husband was selling apple/produce crates. We bought five, we should have bought ten.
These rectangular boxes are probably the most versatile furniture we've owned. We've used them to create shelving and side/end tables in the myriad of homes we've lived in over the last five years.
I've written on the blog about how we used these in previous homes for our at-home library. That post includes more photos and a sketch with dimensions if you're interested in building one (or five).
Currently, the apple crates are used as bedside tables in our room and Laurent's room and extra "large book" shelving in the dining/living room.
we have a low bed so this orientation is the perfect bedside table height.
Our bedroom is my retreat space when the family is watching a movie or playing a video game I don't care for, or when the music isn't my taste. I do a lot of writing in here also. Lots of mismatched pillows make for a comfy back rest. I'm sitting on the bed right now actually as I write this post.
Laurent's room is the most multi-purpose bedroom in the house. In part because Laurent is a really easy going person, and as the only "singleton" bedroom he has some space to share.
Small Space Living Hack: Roll-up Mattresses
Laurent's comfortable mattress (it's heftier than our own) is our twin guest bed. Laurent happily sleeps on the floor of the living room or the girls' room when we have guests. We bought a roll-up foam mattress at Costco for this very purpose. It fits under his bed.
This mattress gets used a lot in our house. Our kids, thirteen year old Brienne mostly, still come to us in the night when they are sick or having troubles sleeping. When this happens the opposite sex parent leaves, so that's usually Damien, to sleep on the living room floor.
The eight weeks of sickness in our home this past winter necessitated some creative sleeping solutions. The girls mattresses came down from their loft beds onto the floor because climbing up and down is no fun when you're sick. Kids were in our bed some nights, Damien was on the living floor. I spent a night in Laurent's bed when he needed to be in ours. It was a sleeping circus. This works for us largely because Damien can sleep anywhere and with very minimal mattress.
Laurent's room has a twin bed, desk for art and computer use, and a small dresser (filled 1/3 with art supplies, the kid has the most minimalist wardrobe I know). His room also has Damien's standing desk.
Damien is self-employed and works from home. Practically speaking, Damien works out of the home also because he goes to a cafe nearly every day to work for part of the time. When he's at home he uses this motorized height adjustable IKEA desk. Sometimes he stands, sometimes he sits. Sometimes he works at the dining room table.
As a rule, there is a lot of movement and fluidity in where people work in the house. Desk spaces are the personal "desk" storage areas, but everyone moves around the house a lot (with their computers, tablets, books and papers).
Damien uses a Roost stand (we actually helped Kickstart this product), a wireless keyboard and mouse for a more ergonomically-friendly work set-up.
This is really important since he spends a lot of time working on the computer. You may recall we used to have a treadmill desk. We don't anymore.
Laurent's desk is used mostly as a studio space and it usually looks more like this than the clear desk you see in most of his bedroom photos.
The girls bedroom is the largest bedroom, with the largest closet (so necessary for two teenage girls). I guess you could say we're blessed that our girls get along really well, though we had something to do with cultivating the respect, kindness, and accommodation that we expect each member of our family to extend towards each other.
Celine and Brienne are very different people and I'm sure they get on each other's nerves but they have always shared a room; years of experience has taught them how to keep the peace. All of that to say, having two teenaged girls share a room has not been a problem for our family.
For almost all of their growing years our kids have not had their own desk. We had shared work spaces - craft tables, computer desks, in common living areas. When they were young there wasn't a need for individual desk space, then we had those years on the peninsula moving around from house to house and we made due with what was available. Before moving to Montreal we knew we wanted personal desk space for each member of the family.
To accommodate a desk for each girl in their room Damien converted their beds to loft beds. Damien built the girls' beds four years ago when we lived at the ski chalet and had access to our friend's wood working tools.
Last summer, he borrowed another friend's workshop and tools to raise the beds and build desks. The girls stained and finished the desks themselves.
The challenge with the girls room has been to tie together the girls' unique styles and decorating preferences. (Sci-fi meets My Little Pony.) The girls each choose their own bedding at IKEA and we settled on turquoise blue/green to be the unifying color.
One of the ideas I have in mind to bring it all together is to hang string lights with colored balls along the ceiling. There is a boutique lighting store on St. Denis in Montreal that lets you create your own mix of colors. These lights are adorable and I think could bring the room together quite nicely.
This is a good palette inspiration that suits both the girls' tastes. (Color palettes are so much fun!)
The girls' room is almost never this tidy. I had to plan the timing of this photo very carefully. It's their room, I try to give them the freedom to make their choices about this space but since our home is quite small and we rarely close bedroom doors I do request regular tidy sessions. (I know my Dad is going to want to comment now on the chaotic state of my bedroom as a teenage girl. He often reminds me of this with some incredulity since I am a fastidious housekeeper now.)
We still need to buy/build/roadside-rescue some nice shelving (with closing doors preferably) for the girls' room for all their "special personal effects" and creative supplies - fabric, papers, journaling materials, etc. Currently, all of that is in bins but assessing and accessing their contents is difficult. As a rule, I want creative supplies very easy to get to and very easy to clean up.
The apartment didn't come with window treatments so I purchased all our curtains at IKEA. They were too long, covering the hot water heaters below all the windows, so I hemmed them and kept the extra fabric to make covers for throw pillows. One of these days I plan to get around to that project.
We have four closets in the house. One in each room and a small hallway closet we use for off-season jackets and footwear.
Bedroom closets store each person's backpack(s), sleeping bag (kept in large loose bags), and outdoor bin. These are the bins where we store personal hiking, skiing, backpacking effects that aren't in immediate use. For example, ski helmets, winter mitts, headlamps, etc.
Laurent's closet stores homeschool portfolios, memory stuff, irregularly used craft and homeschool supplies (the microscope for example), and luggage. I store guest linens and the extra double/queen sized blankets in our closet.
The girls' closet is the largest in the house and it stores clothes and extra twin blankets. We keep all our camping and ski gear, vacuum cleaner (I'd like to get a more compact model that could fit in a closet), tools, large empty boxes, and a lot of miscellanea in the garage.
Our tour of the apartment is now done. It's been fun to share it with you. Your comments and emails (I know, commenting does not work for many of you, a blog upgrade is in the works to fix this) have been complimentary and interesting, as you've shared your own housing stories with me.
Doing this tour of our apartment has brought several ideas to the surface: how people make housing choices, the benefits of city living, small space living ideas hacks, making things work with what you have (and furniture you might find in the trash), and the importance for me of creating a welcoming home.
I had another related thought to add to this list as I was putting together this final post.
I like to complete things. I don't want to live in a house that we are always remodeling or remaking or finishing. I know this is fun for some people and for other people it's just the reality of their housing situation.
While we were living in Maine, living in a house we owned (and still own as landlords), we decided that going forward in life we didn't want to live in a fixer-upper or a house that required a lot of DIY effort. A short season of making or remodeling is ok, but years of renos and building is not something we're interested in.
I'm not a super-duper home decorator. My DIY energy and skills for decorating projects is minimal. I'm not into painting and repainting rooms or doing a lot of thrift shopping, estate sales, or garage sales to furnish space. Damien is very skilled actually at building furniture and finishing work but his time right now is devoted to building and investing in other projects and interests.
I enjoy small creative projects, e.g.: sewing throw pillows. And I love organizing space for efficiency, this is a superpower of mine. Apartment living has allowed me to excel in these areas. I don't feel overwhelmed with unending home projects.
This apartment, with its clearly defined spaces and clean lines, feels tidy and put together, with the amount of effort we're willing to give.
I think that's one of the reasons I'm so happy here. It's not just that we live in a great location, but our living space fits our values and even our personalities.
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