It's finally time! I'm finally ready to show you the big reveal of our hard work in the big boys' bedroom.
First, please forgive me for the whining I did a few weeks ago. This is how home improvement works in our home right now: My husband is in graduate school, which means money is tight and he is busy all school year long. Summer comes and he has a tiny bit more time on his hands, so I make huge lists of projects for him to tackle and he does his best to comply, since he feels sorry for me. Last year we did my sewing room. This year it didn't look like we would be able to do anything, as we take a big hit in income in the summertime and we didn't know whether he'd be able to make up the difference with summer research or not. We had set aside a big chunk from our tax return for our living for the summer, but then - hurrah! - funding came through and we had that little chunk of change to ourselves, ready to use for an improvement project. I guess it's hard for me to remember, with my goldfish memory, that we do actually get things done, since the projects are so spread out. So please accept my humblest apologies.
Second, go check out this old post to familiarize yourself with what it looked like before we tackled it two weeks ago. It really hadn't changed in three years, with the exception of replacing the cribs with a bunk bed and moving the chest of drawers and bookshelf around. In fact, I never put anything on the walls. I'm a little ashamed of that, but please keep in mind that I was rearing three very young children and also operating on an extremely tight budget. There were always other things that were more important than decorating their room, and within a couple years it became apparent that they had really outgrown the "choqua" theme with the toile curtains and accents. So if they had outgrown it, why bother putting up art that complemented it? You know what I mean?
(I should note here that my husband toiled and labored to paint that room, including putting in such a beautifully straight stripe of brown. He gets all the points for Gryffindor. He was pretty irritated when, a few months ago, I started talking up the idea of painting it again, considering I had never really gone anywhere with the great paint job he'd worked so hard on. Believe me, I sympathize.)
I have long wanted to transform it into a neutral, "big boy" space that would organically grow with them as they aged. Raechel had convinced me that gray was the new neutral, and so I went with a light, almost-blue gray from Olympic called "Cold Steel." (Note: We love Olympic paint, and we always opt for their premium, no-VOC paint, usually in satin. Just in case you care.)
We also pulled the trigger and decided to paint all of the upstairs trim and doors white, starting with this room. I am usually a big believer in leaving trim alone, as in the case of our beautiful woodwork downstairs (one of our window guys said it had redwood in it!), but the upstairs wood is crappy and cheap. It's clear that the builders put their money into the wood downstairs and skimped upstairs. Shoot, all of the (many) built-in closets upstairs feature plywood doors, just to give you an idea of the quality we're dealing with. Besides, our upstairs tends to be cramped and dark, and we figured fresh white paint outlining everything would help lighten up the atmosphere. This proved an excellent decision, right up there with marrying one another and getting rid of television.
Okay, I've rambled enough. Let's get some pictures going!
Here's their door, freshly painted white, with fun magnetic board to break up the monotony of the door:
I spray painted the doorknob and hardware oil-rubbed bronze, something I plan on doing with all the hardware upstairs. It really updates everything, since they were previously mottled, yucky brass.
When you open the door and walk in, this is the view:
We'll get to Captain Ahab in a moment. First let me tell you a sad story. Two weeks ago, when the boys were in Michigan visiting their grandparents and we were feverishly using every spare moment to work on this room, I was running to stores all over town (and beyond) for supplies and accessories. I knew that I needed to run up north to Chicago to visit Ikea, so one morning my sister and I, plus our six children, took the plunge and visited the Bolingbrook Ikea. (There are two in Chicago. Try and contain your jealousy.)
Unbeknownst to us, the Bolingbrook Ikea was, at that moment, undergoing major renovations, and while they were still open, their merchandise was drastically reduced in scope so as to squeeze everything into a smaller space than normal. Meaning two of the big, necessary items on my list, roller shades and a light fixture, weren't there. Or at the other Ikea. Except the pendant I wanted was all over the freaking store, lighting the cafes, lighting the model kitchens, lighting everything but MY BEDROOM. I was so frustrated that at one point I stood in the lighting section, tired, hungry children falling to pieces around me while my patient sister handed out graham crackers, and willed myself not to cry in frustration in the middle of Ikea. I needed both shades and a certain type of pendant (this one) and Ikea had what I needed at the price I needed. Except they didn't have it. Helpful. It's hard to find roller shades that fit my small windows, plus shades are ex-pen-sive. I couldn't beat Ikea's price. What to do but throw a fit?
I stewed about this for a day, telling my tale of woe to anyone who would listen (they were remarkably patient about my first-world problems), then picked myself up by my bootstraps and developed a Plan B, since we needed a light and window coverings before the boys got back home. I found a suitable replacement pendant at Lowe's, and I started researching homemade roller shades. The window coverings are really why it's taken me so long to put up this reveal. The roller shades I made were too thick for the rollers themselves (I needed blackout material lining them, not only for light purposes but also because I want the curtains to be white from the outside of the house), so I started looking into making Roman shades. I stumbled on this tutorial and never looked back. So please. Look at that above picture again, note the shades and pendant, and say a small cheer for me.
Okay! So. Captain Ahab. Did you notice him? How could you not?
I found him at a consignment store. I painted his frame. He adds whimsy, and, miraculously, my children do not fear him. We made up a story about how he is a stern but benign sea captain. Beneath his crusty exterior lays a heart of gold. Then my husband reminded me of the true Captain Ahab's obsessed, cruel nature, and I decided to never let my children read Moby Dick. The End.
Now for the lockers. When you first walk in and look to your right, this is what you see:
I found these by accident at a Habitat ReStore and knew instantly that I needed them. It took some effort to convince my husband, especially since we weren't, you know, looking for lockers, plus we were sketchy on the wall height of our strange, sloping walls. We managed to make it work, even though the lockers are two inches taller than where our walls slope. My husband built a brace for them out of wood that make them come out of the wall a couple inches, enabling them to both fit neatly and be stabilized into the wall. We used them to replace their ill-used closets (more on that in a minute), and they are awesome. They are flush against the right wall because the rightmost locker is open on that side.
Oh, and my husband has confirmed that no one can actually get locked inside a locker. Just in case you were wondering. I hadn't even thought of that possibility. I must not be a small boy.
On to the alcove, which is to the right of the lockers. Our house is a Cape Cod, and so we have to contend with the weird spaces in the bedrooms created by the dormers. I still liked the blackboard paint we had put in three years ago, so I left that and made better use of the space with these curtain wires used as art display. We also painted the bookshelf a bright royal blue.
Here's a better view of the art wall:
Oh, and the opposite wall of the alcove is still just blackboard paint. Budding artists need a canvas.
Now the closets. Our upstairs is small, but the builders were smart and built several small, funny built-in closets to maximize storage. We like these closets, but their space was wasted since they just featured a hanging bar and nothing else. So the hanging clothes now go in the lockers, and my husband built shelving in the closets for folded clothing and toys. We also took off the doors for a more open feel. Here is the clothing closet:
Directly across from this closet is the nook where their bed is. You can see the other closet just behind and to the left; this is where we store toys, once again on basic shelves built by The Professor.
We painted the bunkbed the same bright blue as the bookshelf, and that plus Star Wars sheets (their minds = BLOWN) really personalizes their sleeping space. As a final personal touch I added stainless steel shelves and wall lighting for each boy, since they don't have nightstands and everyone needs a private, personal place of his own for things like Transformers, Star Wars figurines, and patron saint icons.
And that, my dears, is their "new" space! I plan on finding prints for the walls in time (I PROMISE it will happen this time) to add some fun punches of color to the fairly neutral space. The Professor needs to add trim to the front of the clost shelves for a more finished look and finish off the bracing behind the lockers. But for the most part, this room is done.
Or is it?
Because I have something exciting to share with you: We are buying enough reclaimed wood flooring (MAPLE, ZOMG) to finish out the upstairs with hardwood flooring. EEEK!!! As long as we've lived here we've known we would want to do this eventually, what with our kids' allergies intensified by carpeting and the general crappy quality of the carpeting itself. Well, we are finally able to make it work, and very soon we hope to start by installing it into the boys' room. This will be a huge, dirty, cranky job, and I make no promises about the timeframe. But I couldn't resist sharing this nugget of information with you.
I hope you liked this little tour! If you ever meet my husband on the street, please clap him on the back and tell him "Good job!" because he worked his bottom off to make this possible in such a short amount of time. And then come to my house and clean it for me, because it still hasn't recovered from the week of neglect it endured while we were focusing our energies upstairs.
Please, I'll love you forever.