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Family Living

These grandparents built a room with bunk beds just for their grandkids

“Our grandkids run up to the bunk room to play, read, sleep, and make believe,” the home owner says. “There’s nothing better.”

Marshall, Anabelle (top right), and Hazel (bottom bunk) hang out in their bunk room. “We’ve seen other people our age build homes that are more like museums,” says homeowner Lisa Clark Jenks. “We want our grandkids to feel comfortable being here.”ashley weeks cart

About a decade ago, empty nesters Lisa Clark Jenks and Steve Jenks downsized from their family home in Sherborn to a place in the city. But then the grandkids began to arrive, and the couple decided to build a weekend retreat in Williamstown where their extended family could gather. They hired Burr and McCallum Architects to design a modern farmhouse, starting with a barn-inspired garage with a kitchenette, topped by three bedrooms with en suite baths. The couple lived there while the main house was under construction, but now it’s grandkid central. “We wanted our daughter’s family to have space to live and make noise and be themselves,” says Lisa, an interior stylist.

The bunk room, especially, was designed with their grandchildren — Marshall, 7, Anabelle, 5, and Hazel, 3 — in mind. The shiplap walls nod to life in the country, but more importantly “stand up to abuse,” notes architect Andrus Burr. He and partner Ann McCallum also designed the built-in bunks with steel ladders and rails and a window seat that’s a favorite spot for snuggling.


Interior designer Andra Birkerts came up with the idea for the integrated book ledges that she likens to a mural you can change up. Lisa swaps out the books visit to visit, much to the children’s delight. During the holidays there are Chanukah and Christmas books; in spring they put out books about Passover and Easter. “Marshall is reading and Anabelle is sounding out words,” Lisa says. “They love to see what books are displayed in our little library.” Birkerts suggested the painted purple accents as an ode to Williams College, where Lisa and Steve met (the school’s mascot is a purple cow). “I always advocate for function mixed with unexpected colors and details,” the designer says.

The setup is perfection for all. “Our grandkids run up to the bunk room to play, read, sleep, and make believe,” Lisa says. “There’s nothing better.”



Architecture: Burr and McCallum Architects, burrandmccallum.com

Builder: Eric Zahn Builders, ericzahnbuilders.com

Interior design: Andra Birkerts Design, andrabdesign.com


Inside a Williamstown home designed to encourage lots of visits from the grandkids.ashley weeks cart
The kids love to discover which books their grandparents have put on display for them during each visit.ashley weeks cart

Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.