When we first came to view this house, I loved the extra “family area” on the second floor, as I thought that it would be perfect for my dream home library. We have A LOT of books, and I really wanted a place where we could sit and read comfortably as a family.
We also wanted a place with more rooms, as we envisioned that the kids would want a room each eventually, so we liked that this house has six rooms. The second and third levels have three rooms each, so as I mentioned in Home with the Tans: Part 2, the third level has all our bedrooms for now, and the second floor is where we work, play and read.
The kids really like having stairs in the house, and the boys especially like climbing up the staircase railing instead. They also play lots of “army fighting”, and pretend to shoot at each other while running up and down the stairs. I don’t know where they get all their energy from!
Francis originally proposed the most amazing home library in the common area, complete with a reading nook, but it was out of our budget, so he redesigned it, and kept only the bookshelves. The plan was for the shelves to double up as display shelves, so that we could display our family photos and knick-knacks, but I kept telling him that we have a lot of books, and would probably fill up all or most of the shelves with books.
I took AGES to unpack and organise this home library, as I wanted to sort the books out properly, instead of just shoving them into the shelves. It also didn’t help that the kids kept messing up the piles of books that I sorted, because they wanted to read.
I wanted to arrange the books alphabetically by the authors’ last names, just like in libraries, and consulted a friend who works as a school librarian, to see if it was a good idea. She told me that kids often don’t know how to look for books, and don’t know about authors, and encouraged me to do it, so I did! The only difference is that I put the board books right at the bottom, and arranged them alphabetically by the authors’ last names, and I did the same thing with the paperback books on a slightly higher shelf.
I also have a separate shelf for local authors, and put N’s books on higher shelves, so that the twins don’t pull out his books. The Chinese books are on the left side of the library, and they’re arranged by height, though I group the books by the same author together. Books that are too tall for the shelves are laid flat and stacked, so that the kids can still see the spines of the books.
When N was studying in an international school in Jakarta, his school library taught the students to use acrylic shelf markers, so that they could put the books back properly after browsing. My friend told me that she uses plastic rulers, so I got three long rulers from Popular, and put the kids’ name stickers on them.
I then taught the kids how to use their shelf markers: if they want to take a book out, they have to put their shelf marker in the spot that the book occupied on the shelf. Each child can only take one book at a time. If they don’t want to read that book anymore, they have to put it back where their shelf marker was, before they can take a new book. N is pretty good at putting the books back properly, but the twins tend to push all the books in when they’re trying to put their books back, so I have to tidy up a little every now and then.
To make the library more comfortable, we ordered a really soft Tatami mat directly from the Momomi website, added two beanbags (one was an old one which we got in Jakarta, and the other is this really soft and comfy beanbag from Muji) and some super cute cushions from Hooga. The kids can often be found reading in this home library, so I’m really glad that we have this cosy space for us to all sit and read quietly together.
C’s study room faces our living room’s ceiling, and originally, it was a really dark room. Francis suggested that we hacked two of the walls to create windows, which would let the light in naturally from the living room and also to brighten up the staircase area. We can now see the home library when we are seated at our desks, and the kids like peeping in from the window at the staircase (and banging on it to get C’s attention).
C ordered our adjustable standing desks from ErgoEdge, after we went down to the showroom to check them out. He liked the Eco Bamboo finish and curved edge, and the space in our study room allows two desks to fit side-by-side. We still haven’t gotten our chairs yet, and are making do with our old ones for now.
The kids have their own study room, where the large whiteboard is. Originally, I wanted the entire wall to be a whiteboard, so Francis helped us to find a few different suppliers, but they were all really expensive. In the end, I found this supplier on Shopee and ordered the 120x180cm whiteboard from them. I considered painting the wall with blackboard paint too, but I want to be able to use magnets on it, so I think this whiteboard is our best option.
The kids love drawing on it, and sometimes fight over who has used up more space on the whiteboard, which is rather silly, considering how large the whiteboard is! N uses it to “teach” the twins his made-up “attack strategies” and it’s quite amusing seeing them all so serious and making plans together.
I’ve gotten quite a few DMs about the twins’ desks and chairs, and although they don’t seem to be available at Isetan anymore, I found the same Yamatoya Nosta Desk and Chair Set on Shopee! N’s study table in this room used to be my makeshift desk in our rental place, and I think I got it from EzBuy ages ago. I found the same study table on Shopee too, and the reviews look good. N is using the same Yamatoya highchair as the twins use at the dining table, but it has been adjusted to suit him.
Their learning materials are mainly packed and organised in the IKEA cabinets, while their art and craft materials are on the IKEA trolley next to N’s desk. We also brought the teak cupboard back from Jakarta, and plan to repaint it so that it will match the colour scheme in this room.
We’ve put the same blinds in the kids’ study room and play room, but they’re usually in “day curtain mode” to let in as much light as possible, but without the heat.
The kids’ playroom was a huge mess initially, but I managed to sort everything out into transparent containers. I’ve labelled the boxes, and thankfully, the kids try to put their toys back in the correct boxes most of the time. I thought that the kids would like to sit in the Hooga teepee to play, but they use it mainly when they’re playing hide-and-seek.
I tried to keep the middle of the playroom as empty as possible, so that the kids can play there. They used to really enjoy working on their jigsaw puzzles, so I thought they could play with their puzzles in the playroom, but they’ve been bringing the puzzles down to the living room instead.
We still have to organise and decorate the kids’ study room and play room, and will either put up their artwork or use some decals on the walls as they look really bare at the moment. We deliberately didn’t want to have any built-in furniture in these two rooms, as one of these rooms will ultimately become Meimei’s room, when she’s much older and doesn’t want to share the room with her brothers anymore.
That’s all for our mini “house tour” at the moment! The house isn’t perfect yet, but we are taking our time to settle in and to see how we can decorate it. I’m glad that the kids really seem to enjoy having the extra space, and I know we are really blessed to be able to call this place home at last.