A Cottagecore IKEA Hack Made It Possible for Two Sisters to Share a 140-Square-Foot Room
As did the closet–turned–bed nook.
Published Jun 1, 2023 1:00 AM
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Most people who buy a mid-century house with a sloped roof and 1970s interiors would resign themselves to a Brady Bunch–esque existence. Not Johanna Leung. Since January 2022, the interior designer and mom of two has chronicled the hands-on updates she’s made to her family’s Montreal digs on Instagram. Today the home has what she calls a “maximalist, modern English cottage” vibe.
That includes the 140-square-foot space her daughters (“Irish twins, 10.5 months apart”) have shared since the youngest was 6 months old. Leung embarked on a grown-up reimagination of the bedroom for Olivia (now 5) and Amelia (6), and spent as much time increasing storage and function as she did adding whimsical, old-world touches. There are not one but two IKEA hacks, gorgeous hand-painted details, and a bed nook most adults would envy. Here’s how the designer DIYed the whole thing in four months.
Find Your Niche
After years of use, Leung knew the closet’s quirks all too well. “Deep, but not deep enough to be a walk-in,” she recalls, it was a waste of precious square footage. It did have one perk, though: It happened to be the same size of a twin mattress. Enter the sweetest bed nook—for Amelia—we’ve ever seen. The designer kept the existing structure of the closet but removed the drywall around the doors. She then constructed a built-in bed frame from 2-by-4s, leaving room for pull-out IKEA toy boxes beneath, upholstered in fabric. “At the end of the bed, we still had about 10 inches, so I built shelves for Amelia’s books,” Leung adds. The accordion-door recess above the original closet stayed, too, as a home for extra toys and stuffed animals.
There’s Always Room for an IKEA Hack
The addition of Amelia’s bed nook meant sacrificing hanging clothes storage—but only temporarily. Leung built a platform along the wall opposite her daughters’ beds and secured two IKEA Pax wardrobes to the base. Decorative molding and DIY doors with fabric-adorned cutouts make the budget buy feel entirely custom. Her creativity didn’t stop there; she fashioned curtain panels from Zara Home bedsheets (that glow in the dark!).
Set Up for Shared Room Success
By placing the beds in opposite corners of the 10-by-14-foot room, Leung managed to give Olivia and Amelia each some personal space, while the floor between them is a communal place to play. It stays relatively clutter-free thanks to that stretch of built-in wardrobes.
Pile on the Patterns
Large- and small-scale patterns mingle throughout the room, and Leung didn’t restrict herself to using the materials in traditional ways. A prime example: The “wallpaper” inside the bed nook is yet another bedsheet. (The designer simply applied liquid starch to the clean wall and hung the fabric.) The other walls feature real floral wallpaper by Sandberg but paired with a strip of azulejo tile you’d typically find on Portuguese exteriors. “It was definitely very, very challenging to mix anything with the azulejos!” Leung confesses. “But Olivia picked this wallpaper, and surprisingly, I thought it was a good match.”
Trick Out Builder-Grade Windows
To give the basic windows a more traditional look, Leung installed hinged shutters on the lower halves to block out the light. Above, she crafted cornices from plywood, 2-by-4s, and batting. Stapling peacock-print upholstery fabric to the structure was the finishing touch.
It’s the Little Things
Much of the room’s magic is rooted in layers of decorative details, like the Bloomsbury Group–inspired, hand-painted trim on Olivia’s antique bed—a Facebook Marketplace find—and the wall’s tile trim. But the accent that impressed the kids most was the black-and-white–striped awning with scalloped edges hanging over Amelia’s closet bed. “I wanted to make it feel French because my daughters love the movie Ratatouille,” says Leung. True to form, Mom knows best: “They say it’s like living in the movie!”