We went from this…
…to a little inspiration board…
…a little room modeling…
…and then this.
Most of you have been following this along for awhile, so I’ll give you the short version. We decided earlier in the year to take the changes we were planning on making to E’s room underground – keep them a secret – and try to pull off a big birthday surprise. Judging by her face when she walked in the other night? Complete and total success. But not without a ton of work (and a lot of family participation) beforehand.
The ball really started rolling when I was sorting through the mail and saw this bed on the cover of a catalog. A red bed. I was hooked. We were realizing that E was outgrowing her twin bed faster than we first thought she might. She still fit, of course, but it wasn’t fitting us very well. We’re most definitely a pile-in-the-bed-and-read-some-books kind of family, and it was getting pretty ridiculous to see the three biggest people in the house trying to wedge bodies onto that skinny, skinny bed. I never thought of E’s room as particularly spacious, and I always wanted to maximize the amount of room for play. The thought of a big bed seemed strange to me, until I started to think of what a bed really does in a room – particularly an older kid’s room. It’s not an obstruction to play – it’s often times the center of play, or a place to lounge and read a book or drape yourself across in some state of dramatic teenage angst. It’s just elevated horizontal space, but space nonetheless.
The other thing I noticed is how very small the little table and chairs were, and how much space they really took up. Last year it was kind of annoying to sit around that tiny table and work on homework – E really needed a desk to call her own. One with drawers to fill with her endless trinkets and drawings she’s making, and one that would tuck neatly into a room with very few vertical walls.
That got me thinking about how to modify the ledge along the front wall to accommodate a new built-in desk. And I knew just the person to make that desk happen.
Many, many late nights were spent in the making of this desk, and many, many nights were spent in the cleaning out of the room. We still managed to get it all done under the guise of back-to-school cleaning. Nothing gets an almost nine-year-old less interested in what is going on in their room than a good cleaning session inside it. She had no clue.
In the meantime, her birthday was fast approaching and some family members had asked what was on her wish list this year. E had really only expressed an interest in a desk (which we had covered), but I suggested maybe they might want to add a little something to the new room. The idea took off and all of a sudden it was no longer just a mood board. Now it was really happening, and I had pieces and parts of the room stashed in hiding places all over the house. It was time to really think about how we were going to pull this surprise off and how to let her know that it was a collaborative gift. I got the idea to do gift tags, and I decorated the fronts with names and sent them off to other states for handwritten notes on the back.
The gift tags came back with the most wonderful notes on the back that I cried when I read them.
Planning how to pull off the real switcheroo was no small feat. M decided he needed to take a whole day off to do it, and he needed me to come home for a (long) lunch to help him carry things up – from the basement, around the backyard and up a billion steps.
It was about 102 that day and humid as all get out. I was absolutely soaked when we were done – and he had done the mattresses by himself. I went back to work just after taking this photo. Things were coming along, and I was really starting to get excited.
I picked up F and headed home after work. M picked up E and ran a few errands. I hurried up the stairs and started putting things together – bed made, books on shelves, lamps out, pictures ready for hanging.
M arrived home later, and we let the girls have a special treat – cartoons! We left them sitting on the couch and ran upstairs to hang the last few items.
The trickiest item to hang was the very heavy framed map on the slanted front wall. I planned ahead and did a little research on how best to do this, and then found that my local art / frame store had the security hardware in stock and they gave me a little demo on how to do it. (It’s essentially two cleats at the top, and then something like a T-shaped screw at the bottom that you slide the frame onto and then use a thin tool to slide under the frame and turn the T shape 90 degrees to lock the thing in place. It’s not going anywhere.
By now it was getting pretty long past dinner time, and I decided to take the girls across the street to the deli to pick up sandwiches. I left M vacuuming up the last of the picture hanging dust, and we returned a few minutes later. I asked E to set the table and then headed up the stairs with the little one. Once we were all assembled I came to the top of the stairs to call her up. Turns out she was already on her way up – and she nearly outed us right there. I ran back into the room and shut the door. We picked up camera and video camera and got ready to yell “surprise!” She walked in and looked something like this:
The shock didn’t wear off for awhile. After a few moments she noticed all the tags around the room and started reading them. The one on the bed was for that quilt – the quilt that this very room seems built around.
A quilt from my grandmother. How could she have known how perfect this quilt would be for this room, for this girl? I’m sure she knew.
I love the way the original colors and pieces that made this such a sweet nursery have transitioned so well into a bigger kids room. We reused a lot. There were a lot of special things.
We kept artwork that we loved and added to it. I love how her room celebrates those things that she’s really into right now – but it’s still subtle and beautiful. Wizards and maps, books and gnomes, art and fabric and cozy spots galore.
The desk turned out so well, and has three deep drawers with full extension slides so she can pull them open and find all the things hidden in the back.
There’s even some space underneath for oversized paper storage on the ledge. A channel runs along the back to funnel cords.
It’s gone from this…
She sat at her desk and declared it was a room for a fourth grader through a twelfth grader. Exactly what we were going for.
Sources for the above items:
Bed, Gnome Nightlight, Desk Organizer, Table Lamp – Land of Nod
Mattress: Mattress Firm
Sheets, Pillowcases: Garnet Hill
London Map Paper Cut print: Famille Summerbelle
Custom Framing: ArtMart
Chair: Craigslist find
Harry Potter Concept Sketch: Warner Bros. Studio – London
Desk Chair Pillow Fabric: Alewives – Maine
Rug, Beanbag Chair, Owl Pillow, White Bed Throw, Red Gingham Quilt in Window Seat: Pottery Barn Kids
Circus Posters: Circus Flora
Sock Monkey: City Sprouts
Blue and White Window Seat Pillow: HomeGoods
Polka Dot Piggy Bank: Target
Colorful Photo Albums: Kolo
Mobile: High Museum, Atlanta
Red Bedside Lamp and Wardrobe Hardware: IKEA
Silver Dresser Lamp: Artemide
Cable Lights: Tech Lighting
Ceiling Fan: Modern Fan Company
Wall Mural, Piggy Bank on Mantel and Painted Tiles: Mom
Built-in Wardrobes: FG Lancia and Mom and Dad
Blinds: Home Depot
Car Nightlight: Restoration Hardware