Drôle House Blog

Postcard 12

{Postcard 12}: "How can I get the most out of a large closet?" - Submitted by Divyang

{Postcard 12}: "How can I get the most out of a large closet?" - Submitted by Divyang

Divyang and Kushbu's toddler son has an underused closet in his room, and they want it to put it to better use. They wonder if there are any hidden opportunities in this tall, squarish enclosed space. 

Divyang's design challenge includes:

  • a 35"Wx40"Dx100"H enclosed closet with no organized shelving currently
  • the need to store LOTS of beloved toddler books, clothes and diaper boxes
  • an adaptive layout that their son could grow into without having to rebuild it completely 

The suggested closet layout has three parts that turns it into a mini-library and play space. The first part is a 18" deep shelving unit with two levels, one for books within reach for a toddler, the higher level for folded clothes and diapers. The second is a narrower 8" shelving unit with integrated ladder affixed to the wall and ceiling. The third is a netted crow's nest that makes use of the upper 30" of head space, which also includes a new opening (netted for safety) above the existing closet door. 

A strip of LED lighting can be installed beneath the lowest bookshelf to brighten the pillow-covered toddler sized reading nook on the floor. That bookshelf is within reach, but the upper clothes +diaper one above is just beyond toddler grasp. Similarly, the first rung on the ladder is off the floor by two feet, which means only kids aged 3 and up will be able to hoist themselves up there to reach the crow's nest. The upper crow's nest/hideout then is suitable for kids aged 3-8.

As their toddler grows into a tween, the modification to the layout would be to:

  • remove the ladder and 8" shelf unit
  • lower the 18" unit to dresser height and add drawers
  • cap the upper opening with a panel in the same style of the existing door
  • convert netted crow's nest into traditional upper shelf for long term storage

The hanging rod stays at the same 5'6" height in both versions. Just a few screws to remove, holes to patch and voilà!

Could your closet be this fun?


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Postcard 11

{Postcard 11}: "Where should we put the kids?" - Submitted by Cindy.

postcard 11

{Postcard 11}: "Where should we put the kids?" - Submitted by Cindy.

Cindy and her family live in a three storey, four-and-a-half bedroom home. Yes, layout challenges do happen when there's ample space! When there is no clear function to any given room it's easy for a family to sprrrrrread. Few closets and limited storage otherwise means that there are clothes here, toys there, office a little bit everywhere. Looking at the whole house can help visualize whom to put where and for how long. 

Cindy's design challenge includes:

  • a home with multiple rooms but limited storage
  • the need for a separate and private home office for her business within the house
  • the need for a permanent guest room
  • adaptive room layouts for her boys to grow into

The suggested layout pictured above involves first grouping then moving the boys' spaces to the third floor. The front room can fit two single beds and can include a fun narrow little nook perfect for small-person storage, lounging (think pillows!) or a library. Children can easily be grouped together to share a room for years, especially when it's just for sleeping. They can stay together until teenage-hood and beyond if they also have a separate area that can evolve from playroom into a study. The den on the third floor suits this perfectly. It's open, bright, can fit storage, seating and desks with an open floor space for playing. Using the den for play means it's easier to keep an ear on them from another floor when they playing.

On the second floor, moving the closet of the master bedroom to the windowless partition wall side frees up the room enough to include a bonus window seat. Arranging the bed on an interior wall is also more comfortable in the extreme cold or hot months of the year. 

Creating a devoted (lockable door--gasp!) office on the second floor is the next step. Though it's a small room, it can accommodate two people at the wall-to-wall desk, has shelving above and even an corner for a lounge or reading chair. The permanent guest bedroom stays on the second floor at the back of the house, buffered for sound by the office space.

What whole-house layout would work for your family? 


Name *

Postcard 7

{How to separate sitting space from play space for kids?} - Submitted by James

{How to separate sitting space from play space for kids?} - Submitted by James

James' backyard, like most backyards, has two personalities. The grown-up needs for entertaining, hanging out and gardening can conflict with kids' independent play and the inevitable scattering of toys. James wants to enjoy his backyard, have more privacy from neighbours but still maintain a kids' play zone. 

This outdoor design challenge includes:

  • a zig-zag shaped backyard with lots of concrete
  • three active boys who love sports and need some hard surfaces to play
  • the need to maintain the access through the backyard to the basement apartment for tenant
  • allowing intimate dining and kids play to happen side by side

The first suggestion would be to take up all necessary concrete and replace with grass or vegetation to help define the visual separation of the adult zone (green zone) and kids zone (hard surfaces for playing sports). Using the garage as an anchor point, you can build a moveable partition wall that first slides out on a track and includes a rotating half (with multi-directional wheel at the base) that can be folded in both directions to create "rooms". Each side of the wall can be clad with different materials and have multiple functions. 

Configurations for the room can include enclosed dining, a room and screen for outdoor movies (adult side) as well as playing/climbing wall, drawing or writing surfaces, and a cabana/fort (kids side). The cladding materials can be subtle and interchangeable, or quite sturdy to endure boisterous play.  When the partition wall is tucked back into it's 'closed' position, the kids can have the run of the place.  

What functions would you add to an moveable outdoor room?



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Postcard 2

{Postcard 2} "How can I make my kitchen entrance more functional?" - Submitted by Melanie

Melanie' challenge includes a secondary entrance and kitchen eating area with:

  • large garbage and recycling bins to store
  • limited coat and shoe storage
  • limited seating and circulation for the eating area

Back entrances in urban homes were not designed to be heavily used 60-100 years ago. Many families today come walking in from the garage and enter the home through the kitchen, drop their stuff and keep on going. Stuff accumulates especially when coat and shoe storage is non existent. Kitchens also need to account for larger compost, garbage and recycling bins easily accessed so there are many needs to fill in a very small space. 

Melanie's original sketch shows a small area by the door that could house both an new upper coat closet facing the doors as well as garbage bins in the lower portion accessed from the kitchen side. A new built in L shaped bench with storage beneath could make that space more functional for dining, homework, as an art area etc.



Postcard 1


{Postcard 1}: "How do we fit two twin beds into this space?" - submitted by Conan

Conan's challenge includes a room with:

  • ample furniture, books and toys to store
  • a sloped ceiling that may affect tall shelves and/or headroom
  • radiator and window placement

When rearranging and adding to a room, it's likely that at least one thing will need to be taken away. Figure out what that large piece is (or several small objects are) that need to go. Measure your room including the height in several places and decide if the solution shown can work (twin beds are typically 99cmx190cm). Conan's original sketch shows a small reading corner by the window. New twin beds for each child can mean new reading zones and personal space, but there are also opportunities to include bonus reading "nests" that allow for more sensory enclosure, shown in detail sketches 1 and 2. Discreet, inexpensive shelves can be attached to the wall and/or door to provide special spots for current and favourite books.

Happy rearranging!