a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Jan, 2013

Fishbowl Reno post #53 – Sarah’s bedroom

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

second floor planA lot of people have been following our home renovation over this past year – advising, recommending, and helping us along the way – and I have appreciated every comment and email and pat on the back. I’ve had people stop me in the street, shout their words of encouragement from across the mall, and of course, lots of tweets and FB comments.

Writing about it here (and crowdsourcing it too) has been really fun. I can hardly believe we’re HERE.

So. Yes. I’m slowly coming to the end of what has officially become The Longest Series Ever here on the Fishbowl. As I wrote in a previous reno-related post, the remaining posts will be a summary of each room. Each post will contain as much information as I can possibly share. If I have regrets I will mention them, as well as things that make me particularly happy. I hope someone out there can learn from our mistakes and that I can make someone’s home renovation a little easier. If you have questions, ask! I can even snap an additional photo if you need a closer peek at something.

I’m starting with rooms that are more or less done. Almost every room needs a few more items (area rugs, bed sheets, shelves etc) but all of these purchases will have to wait until the Shopping Embargo is done.

The photos in these posts will always be “unstyled” and true to how our family lives, but I will endeavour to make sure there are no baskets of laundry in plain view and chewed up dog toys on the living room floor. I want to depict a real life version of each particular room, not a magazine-edited version. Know what I mean?

I’m beginning with Sarah’s bedroom (labelled bedroom #3 on the sketch above) because I’ve received a few questions about it recently. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately it’s tough to get good photos because the space is pretty compact, but I think you’ll get the picture.

This bedroom used to be two bedrooms. We tore a connecting wall out and turned it into one bedroom and part of the family bathroom. For the record, the finished dimensions of this room are 11′ x 10’2″ … not huge by any standard. but it does have a very big closet.

Sloped ceilings, although charming and cozy, are kind of impractical when it comes to storage (which we were seriously lacking) so we decided to use it to our advantage and build a giant wall-to-wall closet right into it.

Mega closet - doors closed, mess hidden

Mega closet - wide open

It’s not a normal closet height, as you can see. We couldn’t bring it too far forward because of the window and the small size of the room. I’m hoping Sarah won’t come to own too many full-length ball gowns in the near future.

The closet uses a simple system of four 36″ wide interior doors that were cut to fit (made by Classic Wood Mouldings). All four doors move on a rail, and attach at the top. For consistency’s sake we used the same single panel shaker-style doors that we used throughout the house, our office door being the only exception. I found the idea on Pinterest. Here’s the original pin. I didn’t want that much blackboard so we only painted one panel. I like the look of it, and if Sarah tires of having a blackboard we will just repaint it. Pictured above is a countdown to Christmas, but she also draws and writes reminders to herself.

We used black paint from Malenka Originals. They carry a range of GORGEOUS chalk paints in her Ottawa shop. I’m dying to paint something else now. :)

We asked for one of the other panels to contain a mirror, just for something different. I thought it would reflect more light (this bedroom is north-facing and is on the dark side) and I thought it would be a welcome addition for a girl’s room.

The closet is Sarah’s favourite thing about her room. (I just asked her, and she confirmed it.) It stores Every Possible Thing, and storage space was sorely needed because this one is a bit of a pack rat. The shelving inside is very plain. We could have gone crazy with closet fittings but there was no money in the budget for fancy California-closet style organization. What we have instead is a group of simple shelves and rods, and so far it’s working out wonderfully. The handles, by the way, were IMPOSSIBLE to find. I eventually tracked them down at Preston Hardware. I was very happy with the service and selection. Do yourself a huge favour, and go there first if you are looking for door hardware.

The other neat thing about Sarah’s room is that she has a secret nook that’s hard to spot if you don’t know it’s there. (It’s in the photo below.) They were going to build over it because it was an awkward space under the roofline, but we convinced them to keep it. It’s a cute hidey hole, a place to snuggle on cushy pillows with a book and a book light. When she’s older she can use it for storage.

On the opposite side of the wall (which is the commode) the upper portion of the space became a niche for towels and TP.

The desk is a curb-side rescue I wrote about awhile back. (Maybe THAT will be the next thing we paint!) What’s missing here is a shelf or two, and a magnet board. The desk chair is from Ikea.


I would like to point out that the wall colour was ENTIRELY Sarah’s idea. I tried to convince her to choose ONE wall to paint as an accent wall (that way there’s less to repaint if she wants a new look) but she wouldn’t budge. The colour is growing on me though. I find it to be a very happy shade of ocean blue, and an interesting and unique choice for a creative girl.

Other things worthy of note:

  • We chose hardwood floors over carpets for all of the bedrooms (everywhere, actually) because of allergies.
  • Sarah’s ceiling fan (shown here) is a cheapie from Home Depot. It’s pretty, but I wish we’d spent more on it because it hums, which is annoying. Go to Northern Fan if you’re looking for something good in Ottawa. That’s where we bought the one in our family room and we are VERY happy with it.
  • At some point soon we are going to have to replace her windows. The condensation that builds up on them every day is not great and running the aforementioned fan does not really help.
  • I’m really happy with the cellular blinds we chose, thanks to the advice of Nicole Duguay from Solace Interiors. I LOVE cellulars, and these are cordless to boot. They’re simple cut-to-fits from Home Depot. They let it just the right amount of light. (They are not total black out blinds.) They were less than $100 each.

That’s it! I uploaded a few other larger format pics to the reno Flickr set for those who wanted a closer look at the closet system.

13 Responses to "Fishbowl Reno post #53 – Sarah’s bedroom"

1 | wendy

January 6th, 2013 at 4:44 pm


I love it!

Love the closet especially the chalkboard paint :-)

My daughter painted a wall in her kitchen, its so fun!

2 | coffeewithjulie

January 6th, 2013 at 5:43 pm


Like Wendy, I LOVE the room in its entirety, but the closets are seriously amazing!

3 | Ginny

January 6th, 2013 at 8:09 pm


Thank you for this! We will definitely be using the closet idea in some of the rooms in our house.

4 | Yael

January 7th, 2013 at 7:14 am


i LOVE the colour of the walls! and that one of the closet doors is a chalkboard. looks wonderful!

5 | Susan

January 7th, 2013 at 9:47 am


Yes. I love the closet also. Will save that idea for my house someday maybe.

6 | andrea

January 7th, 2013 at 10:01 am


Thanks guys. I feel self-conscious posting these pics because the rooms are still under-decorated overall but I feel like I couldn’t postpone it much longer!

7 | Stephanie

January 7th, 2013 at 11:30 am


Jealous of the closet doors!! We replaced ALL our closet doors when we reno’d and our house. Our closets are floor-to-ceiling, so we had to do custom sizing since that isn’t standard anymore. I couldn’t believe how crazy expensive closet doors were. We were only able to splurge on out entry hall closets, the rest are plain and boring *sigh*

8 | Stephanie

January 7th, 2013 at 11:31 am


That was so full of typos. Sorry!

9 | binki

January 7th, 2013 at 11:46 am


Very nice. Looking forward to hearing about the other rooms. We’re starting a reno in the spring. Down to details now, so I’ll definitely be re-using your tips/suggestions.

10 | Laurel

January 8th, 2013 at 7:51 pm


Hey Andrea
Love all the reno posts! Just went thru your flickr pics too!
WHERE did you get your lush front door??? LOVE~

11 | Amy

January 10th, 2013 at 11:51 am


Definitely recommend getting vinyl windows, especially if you have lots of condensation. Builder vinyl windows aren’t too expensive if you can get stock sizes, but if you need custom then any windows get pricey. If you know anyone who knows how to swap them out, get them to show you, because it’s not difficult if the frame is already sized correctly. Plus if you’re only changing out one or two at a time, friends usually don’t mind helping.

12 | Katrina (Malenka Originals)

January 12th, 2013 at 2:26 pm


Glad the Chalk Paint wall worked out! Looks awesome!

13 | Fishbowl Reno post #54: The Mudroom is finished! Well, almost. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

February 20th, 2013 at 1:07 pm


[…] previous post in this series was about Sarah’s bedroom, which features The Uber Closet and a cute cubby hole. This instalment is about the mudroom. If […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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