Shared Room Tour: Bella and Lily Share Sisterly Love

Names: Bella and Lily
Ages: 4 ½ and 1 ½ years old
Location: Leeds, UK

Do you know Manda? You'll feel like you do as she's put so much of herself into the room she made for her daughters Bella and Lily. Not only has she somehow made a very pink room very pleasing, she truly believes in handmade - making it, buying it and, lucky for her, receiving it from many talented friends - and has filled her daughters' room with lovely handcrafted goodness. We're especially pleased to show you this bedroom because it's a shared room and Manda has some excellent thoughts and advice about this as well as some hopeful news to maybe allay another parent's fears about siblings disrupting each other's sleep.

Inspiration:
I spent a lot of time looking through my Paumes books, Flickr and of course Ohdeedoh for inspiration for the girls' bedroom. I had quite a long time to think about what we all wanted, but because it was always going to be a lot more girly than I would naturally choose, it was a little harder than normal to plan.

Favorite Element:
I love the fact that Bella and Lily are surrounded by so much handmade beauty. I was incredibly lucky to have a virtual baby shower arranged for me when I was expecting Lily and was fortunate enough to be able to fill the room with handmade gifts from many, many wonderfully talented friends. The girls are lucky enough to already understand that their toys, books, clothes and pieces of art work actually come from somewhere - from a specific person who has put time and love into every inch of it. Rather than asking where we bought something, they ask who made it and I’m very proud of that.

Biggest Challenge:
Fitting as many different zones into the room as possible whilst keeping it spacious enough to actually play in. As well as sticking to an extremely tight budget and overcoming my strong urge to make it a light, bright, minimal space!

What Friends Say:
It depends on the friend! Most of my friends love what we’ve done with the room, but I’m not sure they all get why we haven’t just bought the same as everyone else!

Proudest DIY:
Hanging the Cath Kidston wallpaper, it was a bit of a nightmare because the walls are horrendous and not straight.

Biggest Indulgence:
The Cath Kidston wallpaper. Although we only papered one wall, it’s the biggest wall in the room, so we wanted to make sure that it had lots of impact. I also wanted (needed) to detract from so much pink, which is not my favourite colour!

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Best advice:
Think ahead. Especially when children are sharing a room. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time and effort on decorating, only to have to redo it a year later because you no longer have a baby and a child, but two children that want to do all the same things. Every decision that we made was based on Lily wanting to do everything that Bella was doing, even if she can’t at the moment. So we made sure that the drawing table has room for two and that all the play areas are based on both of them etc.

Dream source:
I would love to be able to buy more from Cath Kidston. I wouldn’t particularly want a lot of CK around the rest of the house but it’s perfect for a girly bedroom with personality.

Resources:
For the main pieces of furniture we went to Ikea. Their pieces are perfect for creating a child's room, especially when their affordability means that you don’t have to be too precious about it all. It’s also great for altering to suit your personal style. We covered two super cheap long coffee tables with Cath Kidston oilcloth, then added casters so that they could be used as play tables. The wardrobe was left over from when the room was my studio. They are plain Ikea carcasses that have had mdf doors painted with magnetic blackboard paint attached to them.

Did your daughters have any input into what their room would look like?
Bella had only one requirement. That it be PINK. Her original bedroom had been a lovely light shade of pink and yet she constantly asked why she didn’t have a pink bedroom, so we knew that this time around we would have to use a very definite shade of pink! I really wanted to paint it white with the cream colourway of the Cath Kidston wall paper, but it had to be pink! Bella is also crazy about drawing so we knew that having somewhere that allowed her immediate access to all her supplies was really important. Lily was too young to express any opinion when we were decorating the room, but has made up for it since!

You have a lot of artwork in their room - do you choose things that you think work together or just choose what you love?
A bit of both. I wanted the art work to grow with them and tried to choose pieces that would hold their interest as they grew up. I also tried to choose art work that meant something to all of us. AshleyG’s work is a huge favorite in this house and I had been collecting specific prints for the girl’s room for a long time. Some of the other prints were bought specifically for Lily’s nursery (one end of our bedroom) but that I knew would move in to their shared room when the time came. I love Jen Corace’s work and snapped up the paper doll print as soon as I saw it.

They’ve also been lucky enough to have work specifically created for them. The alphabet print is an original by author/illustrator Louise Pfanner and includes references to both the girls names. The When I Grow Up print is by another favourite, UK illustrator Askey and includes a phrase that comes out of Bella’s mouth on a daily basis! All four of us are hugely drawn to graphics and both the girls lean towards quite sophisticated imagery, so I tried to choose art work that was child-like and innocent without actually being childish. And yes, I bought all of it because I loved it too and the collection most definitely hasn’t stopped.

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Did you have any concerns about your girls sharing a room or do you have any specific advice for other parents putting a room together for two or more siblings?
I have two older brothers and was the only child in the house that grew up with her own room, so to begin with I was quite apprehensive about the girls sharing and almost felt that I had let them down by not being able to give them a room of their own. However, it was obvious as soon as I had Lily that both the girls would benefit from sharing and that quickly overcame any qualms I had.

We did worry that they might wake each other up, but they both seem to actually sleep better when they’re in the room together and we have sat on the end of Bella’s bed with a crying Lily in the middle of the night, without Bella stirring at all! Both girls like nothing better than playing together and have formed a truly special bond since sharing their bedroom. I can honestly say that even if we had the space now, we would still put them in the same room. I do think that recognising that they have different needs and trying to work out ways for harmonious living is the most important thing. We tried to make it so that Lily could reach everything she needed without help, so that Bella wouldn’t always feel like her sister's keeper, but that Bella could easily keep her special toys out of reach from grabbing hands if necessary. We also planned everything based on the fact that in less than a years time we’ll be swopping Lily’s cot for a bed.
Of course, at the moment the girls are too young to have any major issues with how the room is decorated , the real challenge is going to be when they get older!

You can see from the Tour photos that Manda has a keen eye for fabric, color and pattern and how to combine, mix and marry them. We love seeing what she and her girls are up to as well as all the wonderful things she's making at her blog. She's recently been working on a vintage collection to add to her goods at TreeFall Design shop (examples below). Crafted from sweet vintage fabrics, she's making bibs, bunnies, rattles and cushions.

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Thank you Manda, Bella and Lily!

(Images: Manda McGrory/Treefall Design)

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As Apartment Therapy's Family Editor, Carrie covers design and modern homelife with children. A lapsed librarian, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids and is in contention to break the record for most hours spent at the playground.