With the start of the new year we decided to tackle our first home-improvement project – to convert our little girl’s room from a toddler space into something she could grow into for the next ten years. We had a few key goals. One, create a workspace for her to do crafts and homework. Two, pick a color palette that would be pretty yet flexible as her tastes change. And three, retain a touch of fun and whimsy. Here is the final room and we are all pretty pleased with it! It’s calm, yet fun. There’s a place for everything, and it doesn’t feel crowded. Here’s what you need to know.
The desk and shelves are from the Container Store. We went with Elfa shelves because they hold so much, yet are aren’t a heavy piece of furniture that would weigh the room down.
The curtains are from Target. We love the little tassel details. Hot fuchsia really pops off the grey-blue walls.
The room is almost too small to be arranged any other way. The space next to the bed is tiny, yet we needed something to put books and a clock on. Chad made a small little shelf which is just perfect. (And Isadora and I have loved reading The Secret Garden, btw.)
We debated by a new, colorful chair — say from Room and Board or Land of Nod — and may still do that someday. We found this one at a local online swap meet. It was $20 and says NYC Board of Education on the bottom. We painted just the top for a “dipped” look.
Isadora’s dresser is one which used to be mine. It’s a mid-century Russel Wright and quite hefty. We love the way it looks juxtaposed against the stenciled wall. Above, squirrel portraits we bought from a store in Columbus, OH when she was born, a Willy Wonka illustration we found off eBay, and a vintage globe I’ve had for ever.
Little darlings, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter — and our kid’s birthday landed smack in the dead middle of it. We’ve been trying to hang on to the aloha-vibe we picked up in Maui last November, but it ain’t easy when we’re iced-in. To help us all warm up a bit, we decided that this year (number 6!) Isadora would have a hula-themed birthday. I found a local hula teacher who specialized in lessons for children, and booked her as the main event. Around the house we mixed vintage Hawaiian decor with some tchotchke’s from new, inexpensive things from Oriental Trading Co. Below are photos of some highlights!
A vintage tiki bowl mingles with some paper centerpieces from Oriental Trading Co.
On the mantle, more vintage tikis doubling as vases, along with a straw skirt — meant for a table but it worked better here for us.
Our safe for kiddies tropical punch included pineapple, orange, cranberry, and white grape juices with guava nectar and sparkling apple cider. Served with paper umbrellas, of course.
A rainbow of fruit featuring a mini-marshmallow cloud in the middle. Guess which got eaten first?
The piece de resistance: A hula girl cake! This one might need a separate post on its own, but lets say that we started with Wilton Doll Cake mold and a lot a of green food dye.
The finished piece of beauty.
As we wrote about the last week, our decorating brains have been hurting trying to make decisions that would last a decade in our girl Isadora’s room. We’ve been transforming it from toddler cute to something that she will (hopefully) love even as a teen, step-by-step. After choosing a paint color — Benjamin Moore’s lovely Beacon Gray — we decided to spruce up two of her walls with a pattern.
We called in a ton of gorgeous samples from wallpaper sites and were amazed at the variety. From the colorful to the clever, the choices seem endless. We kept being drawn to the simplest of patterns with classic vibes, and soon realized that what we wanted was a very basic repeat that was the same tone and color as the walls. We started exploring the idea of stencils — which at first had us cringing with thoughts of 80′s style flowers everywhere. After looking around we were pleasantly surprised to find that stencils have come a long a way! They are some very lovely patterns available, and after watching a few YouTube videos, Chad became confident that he could pull this off in Isadora’s room.
We went with Julia Allover from Cutting Edge Stencils. One kit is $53 and comes with one large repeat plus a top stencil for hard to reach spots near the ceiling. The nice thing about the “wallpaper” look is that you don’t have to worry about being perfect. It’s nice to show some slight variation in the pattern rather than perfectly straight lines.
To create this look, we simply bought a small can of the next darker shade in the Beacon Gray spectrum – November Skies. In addition to the paint, you will need painter’s masking tape, paper towels, a foam roller, a tray and a (possibly) level. (A level is more important is you are using a more precise pattern than ours.
The video below is what we used to guide us. The secret is to keep your brush nearly dry. After you load it with paint, dry it off on paper towels before touching the wall. Also, after filling in the stencil, wait for it to be nearly dry before removing to move. That way you minimize smears on the stencil itself. Make sure the previous painted section is dry before overlapping it with the plastic stencils.
One word of caution: Corners are super tricky. Chad used a stencil brush for those spots. Save the smallest spots — like over a door — for the very end, in case you need to cut the stencil down to fit.
The whole project took about five hours and cost less than $200 in total. We’ve never wallpapered anything before — but something tells us this was much less expensive and complicated.
Got any questions? Leave a comment and we’ll do our best to get back to you!
As I wrote about last week, we have been tackling our first big home project of the year: Updating Isadora’s bedroom from toddler cutesy to little girl pretty. Good-bye primary colors and rounded corners. Hello big girl bed and decor that even a teen would love. Picking a wall color that will do what we need — make her small room feel large while giving us a background that will work with whatever her whims are — is not easy. We momentarily debated a purple or pink hue but zeroed on a blue grey color called Beacon Gray by Benjamin Moore. It is just right the amount of blue and will contrast nicely with any color we decide to pop against it – purple, orange, yellow — and of course hot pink!
Coming next: Wallpaper vs stencils?
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the first home project of 2014 we are tackling is updating our girl’s room. She about to turn six years old and we want her to have furniture that she can grow into. That means it’s time to say good-bye to the Ikea platform bed and wall unit. They have served us well, but we’re tired of the cartoon-like rounded corners and colors, and all the junk that its many doors and drawers holds. We’ve already decided on the bed — streamlined Oeuf Sparrow bed which seems to be the only thing that will work in her small space. But now there are a few other choices to make.
1. Wall color? In her old room, we had two bright lime yellow walls, which were fun and made the Crayola like colors of everything else pop. Now we’re thinking of doing a neutral greyish-blue — perhaps this shade from Benjamin Moore. Our thinking is that it will match with a bright accent color – like fuschia, purple, yellow or orange — and that having a the whole room one color will make it feel bigger.
2. Wallpaper or stencil? I love the small rooms look when they have one wall papered in a delicate, small repeat. We’ve been getting in a ton of samples from sites like FermLiving and Graham & Brown but haven’t found one we love yet. We’ve heard that wallpaper doesn’t take wear and tear well, and we know it’s a pain to take down. Perhaps a stencil will be better? There are some on Etsy that would do the trick.
3. Matching desk and bureau? After her bed, the second most important thing Isadora needs is a good desk. I love the feel of open ones, but know that we’d be smart to get one with some storage. This one from Land of Nod is winning so far… but then the second question is: Should we get a dresser to match? The one we have now is a vintage Russel Wright from the 1960s. I love it, but the drawers are heavy and hard to open for a little person. Perhaps a white dresser would be more elegant?
4. Built in bookshelves? And the final major decision we need to make to for Isadora’s room is to figure out what to do with her books. The Billy bookcase we are currently using at the foot of the bed is about to fall apart, and ideally we’d have it elsewhere in the room. The problem is our house is old and floor slants quite a bit. Perhaps an Elfa system would be best? Though I really dig these bright ones from Room & Board.
After we make those choices, we can move onto the more for fun and less-forever stuff — like bedding, curtains and rug. Oh my! It makes my poor little Libran brain hurt with so many options to weigh.
Got any advice? Lets start with the wallpaper question. Help!