To say this post (and this room) has been a long time coming is an absurd understatement. We’ve lived in our house now for 2.5 years. I started the process of pulling this room together in August 2013. For a full year before that, Knox’s room was in this weird spot where he wasn’t yet ready to make the transition out of his crib but I knew he was close so I didn’t want to put too much effort into decorating it because I knew it would all be changing. So it was in this sad limbo state for over a year. Broken, old roller blinds, weird, broken sconce, too small rug (from his NC nursery) and just generally meh. For someone who designs kid’s room it was very, very, very undesigned. That’s probably why I can’t seem to find a single true “before” picture of the space. But regardless, there’s lots of progress shots so settle in…this is gonna be a long one!
In a perfect world, I would have sat down and done a true design board for this room like I do for clients. But in reality I worked on this room in spurts. I’d get really motivated and have a lull in client work and I’d make some decisions…then nothing would happen for months, etc, etc. I didn’t truly get started until I found these two pieces on our summer trip to the Cape 2 years ago.
The print is actually this greeting card from Rifle Paper. I loved the light blue color, the sentiment and of course the pretty gold oyster. Then I randomly found this vintage tablecloth with the most charming Nantucket whaling imagery. I instantly loved everything about it and decided it had to be turned into a pillow. With those two things, I embraced the idea of creating a room that had a maritime adventure vibe to it. Something that captured the historical essence of nautical New England and seafaring in general.
The room had a really bad, old, old, old flush mount. God that thing was ugly. I’ve always loved a Moravian pendant for a boy’s room and this is the best priced big one I’ve ever found. If you have a high ceiling and can get away with a 20″ Moravian, do it! That sucker makes a statement. But of course with the low cost comes some extra work. In this case, that would be the fact that it’s not wired as a hard wired light but rather a plug in. Converting from a plug end to a hard wise is super easy (You Tube it). Just pick up a canopy kit and you’re on your way. How ’bout that awesome modern electrical wiring huh? #opposite
The room desperately needed to be painted – less because I didn’t like the previous owner’s color (it was actually the only neutral color in the house when we moved in) – but more because the walls were in terrible shape and needed lots of patching (oh plaster…how I love loathe thee). I had already done Reed’s room in a light neutral and our master bedroom in a light gray (which is not dark charcoal…more on that in a future post) so I felt like this was the right time to experiment with an actual color. I decided on Benjamin Moore Barely Teal for the walls and Farrow & Ball Cabbage White for the ceiling.
I will be honest and tell you I about started hyperventilating when this paint went on the walls. It was cloudy and by the time I finished it was nighttime and with the overhead light it was just looking like the brightest teal ever. Like I was living on a planet named TEAL. Just so, so, so bright. And I know this is the point where clients call me and say “OH MY GOD, what did we do? This color is too light/bright/dark/etc, etc” and I always talk them off the ledge and say it will look perfect once everything else goes in the room but of course I don’t list to my own advice and freaked anyway. I spent the better part of that night looking at paint decks trying to figure out another color but when I woke up the next day and the natural light was shining into the room, it just looked really fun and happy. And I was tired…so I just went with it.
So then the room sat in this weird “not quite a nursery, not quite a big boy room” state for a while. Everything in here (minus the teepee) was from Knox’s nursery – the yellow dresser I painstakingly transformed, the vintage split pea soup chair turned houndstooth beauty, the dream string art piece I made, etc. I was just buying time and trying to make it work.
I picked up this side table and gave it a few sprays of red spray paint. I love this thing!
When we finally made the switch to the big bed, I kept it on the same wall as the crib to try and ease the transition. Ideally I would have loved to keep the bed here but it was just cutting off the room too much and the bay window angle on the one side and the closet on the other left me almost no room for a nightstand. I could make something work but not a proper nightstand.
One of my favorite things to do when I design a room is the bedding ensemble. I love to mix sheets, pull quilts out of a set and use them separately, throw in a fun blanket, etc. Man did I fail miserably at my first attempt in my own kid’s room though. I hated this bedding (the sheets were ok but with the quilt I hated it).
Switch!! Oh my God, so much better! Simpler sheets with a small scale print mixed up with different pillow cases (which are final sale right now so get ’em!), a solid blanket and a bold, but simpler quilt (which reverses…love it!) A fun euro sham (mine are a DIY but similar here) and accent pillow (also DIY, tutorial coming) and I was feeling much better about the whole bed.
I did keep the block print sheets because I thought the colors were fun and look how much better they looked once I put the new quilt on. The problem was the striped quilt, not the block sheets.
I also DIY’d a simple bed skirt. I just wanted white, simple box pleat with a gray stripe. You’d think I was looking for a unicorn. I could not find one for under $150. Not happening. I picked up this simple white skirt, some gray grosgrain ribbon some Stitch Witcheryand I was on my way.
At this point something really amazing but later sad happened. I was contacted by the lovely people at Young America, the children’s furniture division of Stanley Furniture, contacted me and asked if I’d consider using their furniture in Knox’s big boy room transformation. Um…high quality, custom, made in North Carolina furniture…yea, to say I jumped at the opportunity would be a mild understatement. They sent me paint chip samples and fabric swatches and I chose the Blake bed in linen, the Boardwalk double dresser in gray and the Boardwalk 2 drawer nightstand in a weathered wood finish.
Normally I’m not a fan of “sets” of furniture but I really loved the whole Boardwalk style and I think by mixing up the finishes on these 2 pieces, it keeps it from looking set like.
The really sad part of this story is that after Young America sent me this furniture they sent me a note saying that they would be ceasing production altogether. The increasingly competitive foreign furniture market was forcing them to shut down the Young America brand and the Robbinsville, NC factory where it was made for years. Retailers carrying the Young America brand are getting rid of all remaining pieces so while you can’t place any more custom orders, there are some insane deals to be had on existing stock. You could get lucky so if you’re looking for phenomenal quality made in America furniture, look for a retailer near you.
Without a doubt the hardest part of planning this room was figuring out a floor plan that worked. We don’t have a guest room so I wanted to try and get a full sized bed in here to double as a comfortable guest space when we needed it. But with a bay window, an awkwardly placed (aren’t they all?) radiator and a closet in the middle of a wall, it was challenging.
Once I decided to go with the full bed, I made the tough call and decided to put it on the bay window wall. Blocking windows is never my favorite thing to do but the room gets a ton of light, the side windows on the bay remain un-obscured and placing the bed there really let me maximize the rest of the room. Plus, I love how he’s sort of framed by all those windows when he’s in that big bed like the little prince he is.
Speaking of windows – I knew they needed something special. I love me a good bold stripe. To me, there is nothing more classic and I love how they’re slightly nautical without throwing anchors all over the place. Plus good window treatments are an investment. I wanted them to be bold but simple and something that could transition throughout the years. I settled on white and a pretty grayish blue (top left and top right) from Martha and Ash. Stay tuned for a great giveaway from them next week!
As soon as they were hung the entire room changed. I love how curtains can do that.
The last thing I did to the room was wallpaper this big wall. I just felt like it needed something.
Enter my favorite thing ever – this 13′ x 9′ world map. For under $75, there just isn’t more bang for your buck. I’m obsessed with it. Seriously. The curtains are great but the map makes the room I think.
Woah are you still with me??? That was way too long a post. Thanks for hanging in there! I’ll publish the finished room photos in a separate post so you don’t have to scroll for 10 minutes to get to them.
[update: here they are]