The timing of life is just so funny. I FINALLY get around to making their shared room actually cute, and then BOOM the world says guess again. While we are living up in the mountains for the foreseeable future, the kid’s room is still underway – kinda. Julie and her boyfriend are now house-sitting (this was their situation prior) and in the name of keeping projects moving, Julie has continued the design process that was already planned (where possible). So here is a fun update post – and while I haven’t seen it in person myself, there are some new elements that I’m super excited to show you. Here is a little video of me talking “the journey” of this little room:
Now if you’ve been following along you’ll know that the theme of this room was supposed to be “GO TO SLEEP” with everything super calm and moody, not a lot of excitement or pattern. The accent color was “PLEASE SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT”. But then I did a 180 (because they finally started doing that at the ripe ages of 3 and 5) so I shifted, as it wasn’t really the need any longer. I decided to make it fun and weird and a real experience, a room where when you walked in you had a jolt of excitement. So now we have color, pattern and whimsy – but hopefully in a timeless way that can still grow with them.
The Before(s) – It’s Been a Real Journey…
Three years ago when we moved in, it looked like that – green on the bottom and what looks to be gray on top. I never liked it, it felt like school colors and dated. Obviously, that room wasn’t done in any way, and with the pressure of the Real Simple house shoot, I decided to put up beadboard on the bottom half instead, and paint the top a cute blue (which I do still like).
OMG, that’s when I had two babies in cribs. Below was the first reveal for the magazine and it was cute. I was battling what I felt was an 80’s kids bedroom vibe, and not in a cool postmodern way. I like everything in this room, but I just didn’t feel it was right.
What helped it feel modern is the blue lampshade (one of my all-time favorite lamps), the accordion sconce (still love) and the vintage side table (still love) but it still felt kinda dated to me. My mistake with doing a basic 2″ cheap beadboard and only doing 1/2 way up (more modern would have been wider – like a 3″ V-groove and going further up). The reason I didn’t do that in the first place was to save money on labor. The chair rail moulding dead-ended into the window and door frames and they had already spent so much time making those connections look seamless and good (and you can’t buy the original molding anymore). That sounds confusing but know that ripping it down and putting up higher molding and thicker molding would have looked messy where it met the door and window frames AND it would have been thicker than the baseboard so I would have had to replace the baseboard. So to try to make it work we installed the thinnest (and most basic) beadboard panels in between the base and the middle chair rail. It just ended up looking SO BORING.
There were a lot of cute elements that I wanted to keep, but when the kids moved in together I had an excuse to rethink it altogether.
The Kids Moved In Together
Beautiful. Trying to get two twin beds in here, in a way that let us still read to them at the same time (I don’t know why this was such a sticking point for us) was HARD. For a while it looked like that, above, which is a true representation of the “cobblers kids without shoes” syndrome. Obviously the other mattress usually had sheets on it – I’m not a monster. But this configuration didn’t last long because you see Birdie (who slept on the bed with bedding) is a classic “sleep thrasher” and would move horizontally in her sleep and somehow kick Charlie in the face, consistently. This did not help our “GO TO SLEEP and SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGTH” theme. No.
Down Goes The Beadboard
I realized that one of my biggest mistakes was not just embracing the beautiful ORIGINAL plaster walls and letting the architecture of the doors be a feature. Silly me. Way to over-design a space, former Emily.
So we took down the beadboard (where the green is up there) and since we had to paint anyway but I still didn’t know what direction I really wanted to go I just went to white to give it a blank slate (yes, this was a waste of time and money, but sometimes the process is just getting it back to nothing so you can really see clearly before choosing something else that would ALSO be a mistake).
Where To Go Next Stylewise??
Then I started to find my inspiration – the Eccentric English Grandma vibe, but for kids – Eccentric English Grandkid? Maybe, but it doesn’t have the same risky vibe. This image below was super exciting to me and the kids fell in love with the idea of doing this canopy.
I found the Zak and Fox fabric first and while nervous to commit said to myself, “Emily Henderson you will never get sick of a hand-embroidered blue and white broken stripe – JUST DO IT.” So I ordered the fabric and months went by before I had pulled together the rest of the room.
Finally, I had time to shop and design (I did this on Saturday mornings) and chose that green fabric from Maresca Textiles as the accent color. It was hard to not choose red. I REALLY want red in there but blue/red/white has obvious 4th of July connotations and while I love ‘Merica we don’t need that to be the theme (plus that is kinda ’80s in its own way – not patriotism, but the color scheme).
So I did what all internet famous designers do – I used bright green tape to adhere the fabric to the wall, making sure to tape out the shape of the oval headboards in FRONT of fabric (on the right). This is process, guys and if you think a drawing would give me a better idea, you are wrong. Tape is your friend and actually playing with what you have helps.
BEAUTIFUL. Time to shop, and I wanted a lot of vintage.
On one trip to a thrift store in Pasadena, I found both that rug and that quilt. Now, the rug is technically too small to be the only rug in the room but it was a GREAT deal (it was $150 for a 5’x7′) and the quilt was around the same. Of course, later I found the Pottery Barn tag on the quilt which I quickly ripped off, took a pill to erase that memory, and instead told myself the better story – that it’s a 100-year-old hand sewn primitive quilt that I unearthed at a thrift store like the treasure hunter I am. (This is not the first nor last time I’ll accidentally find something at the flea market/thrift store that I think is a 100-year-old french relic, but turns out it’s from Home Goods).
Next, I found this AMAZING mirror at MidcenturyLA (in the back of the warehouse, covered in dust) and that school desk in my neighborhood on Craigslist. I debated for almost a year what to do with that corner niche, it’s awkward and I really just wish it were a straight wall but the window doesn’t allow that (during renovation we should have done something different, but we didn’t). It seemed like such an opportunity to do something fun in that corner (a fort! a hanging chair! a climbing wall!), but ultimately Charlie said he really wanted a desk to do his homework and you don’t say no to that. My hanging chair would be cute, but I feared it wouldn’t really be used or it would be fought over (not enough space to make it a 2-seater). I kinda like how the desk comes out of the corner in a sculptural way and really engages the corner. I might decide to paint the base at a later date.
The Initial Design Plan
About a week before the world took a turn, we had our professional sewer, Michael Yale (is that how you say someone who sews? seems very wrong) come over and we measured exactly where this canopy would go so it would be sewn precisely. He took the fabric and got to work while Julie and I headed down to the fabric district and found like 19 different fringe options that I fell in love with for the front of the canopy. YOU GUYS I LOVE FRINGE SO MUCH. Ribbon, Trim, piping – I LOVE it.
I wanted something super playful but Julie didn’t want me to accidentally go “circus” and over design it (the usual “protect your boss from herself” role). So we found this blue fringe (not shown, see below) that I LOVE (playful but within a safe tone) and used mustard velvet piping along the side because mustard with blue is one of my absolute favorite color combos.
Meanwhile, we were leaving for the weekend (about a month ago) and I realized that the walls were too stark, too high contrast with all the bright primary colors. It was feeling more “bright poppy bloggy” and I wanted it to fee more warm old world. We needed to reduce the contrast between the white walls and the navy/red/green/yellow combo.
I had forgotten about one of my most favorite grays in the world (see this post for others) Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore. I used it 3-4 times in Secrets From a Stylist because it was a really lovely gray-blue, that was neither depressing nor “baby”. It’s GOOD you guys. I debated between that and Gray Owl, my other favorite for a while. We had our guys come in and paint (including the ceiling) over the weekend and when I came back we were all so happy – although the kids noted that it kinda looked like the original blue paint color, but what do they know – they are CHILDREN and clearly didn’t inherit all my perfect no-mistake design skills and taste.
What To Do With The Window Treatments??
With the canopy I knew that drapery would be too much vertical hanging fabric in this room, and yet I didn’t want another color or even fabric, so I realized that the way to go would be woven (and backed) blackout shades. “A shade goes up and down not right to left”, a direct quote from this vintage video in 2014. We are working with Decorview this year on window treatments so they came over and we chose this really simple and warm tone natural material that tied in nicely with the wicker headboards and the other wood tones in the room. We chose two wide roman shades with cream blackout lining, outside mount. But then our plan is to hand sew in magnets on the inside of the shades and then glue magnets to the wall to reduce as much light leak as possible (our window frames are too shallow to do inside mount). That sounds crazy I know but just wait – it’s going to work and I’m going to win President of the United States (or Nobel Peace Prize?) for finally figuring out how to get rid of “light leak” with outside mount roman shades. It’s a very specific platform to run on, but one that many moms can relate to.
The Bed Plan
Let’s talk headboards – These cute vintage rounded wicker ones were perfect for our weird bed situation and we found them on Chairish for $400 (if you search in person you can find less expensive, but it still felt affordable and we needed to check that box and now ‘in-person’ feels well… ). Here’s why we chose them: currently (for likely another year at least) the kids will share a bed (two twin beds pushed together) which equals a king bed. This is mostly so we can read/snuggle together as a family for the “3 minutes and only 3 minutes” of laying with them. Spoiler – it’s rarely just 3 minutes because they basically hold me hostage till they fall asleep and by then I’m asleep). It’s HIGHLY cozy, but we know it won’t last forever. So we needed headboards that could look good pushed together – which was hard. It couldn’t be full-size bed frames because the frame would add too much space between the mattresses. I loved the double oval shape and the warmth of the wicker. So right now we have them on their IKEA frames but it’s pretty low so we’ll likely get a taller base like this one that can go from a king to two twins. Then guys – GET THIS – A RUFFLED BED SKIRT. OH, THE HORROR.
I might even make some sort of hanging headboard pillow – I’ve seen these headboards actually upholstered inside the oval frame, which I’m interested in, but it isn’t necessary.
The Pretty Magical Canopy
The Canopy. Oh I’m SO EXCITED about this. Again, I wanted to lean into the ‘Eccentric English Grandma/Grandkid” style but in a really playful way for the kid’s room. So we really went for it. The broken stripe from Zak and Fox in a fabric that I would NEVER get sick of, LOVE, then combined it with the green Maresca Textiles fabric on the front (it’s olive and darker in person – looks light sage here).
Two weeks ago Julie and her boyfriend Sean installed it. We used two brass curtain rods (96″-120″ long and a 1.25″ diameter) – one was placed on the ceiling and the other is right below the curve of the wall lined up with the top of the door frame. And you bet we trimmed it out with that playful blue fringe.
Please note the mustard velvet piping along the side – and NO this is not steamed out yet, don’t worry. OMG. I haven’t seen it in person but I LOVE IT. If you guys need a great seamstress, like Michael Yale, in the Los Angeles area. He does costumes for The Late Late Show with James Corden like this one with Harry Styles and projects similar to ours but not upholstery. We absolutely loved working with him and he is beyond creative.
Before we move on, look at this fun canopy install video. Thanks again to Julie and Sean!
Where We Are Now… And What Is Left??
Okay. Here’s where we are now (thanks Julie and Sean for shooting this!). Now let’s talk about what is working and what isn’t.
Rugs: I love the layered rugs, but not sure these are it. The blue rug is a 9′ x 12′ and too big (you can’t open the door and close the door – BORING). So the options are to A. Shave the bottom of the door so it shuts or B. Get a smaller rug.
Look, you can see in that shot how the door doesn’t clear the rug. But the thing is, to clear the door a rug would have to be like 3′ from the headboard wall, which would shift it very strangely in the room. So I’m not totally sure what we’ll do. To be fair the 9′ x 12′ is too big and is basically wall to wall, so we need small anyway… stay tuned.
I love the red vintage rug, but fear that the quilt is too much with it. Obviously I could lose the red rug and just have a big grounding blue rug but I just love having that quirky red vintage rug in there. Ideally, it would be 8′ x 10′ so I might just skip the red rug altogether and then layer the red zebra rug (see mood board) near the right side of the bed to make the gap that will incur smaller. Gosh, that sounds complicated. Maybe I’ll do a whole overhead rug option post to show you what I’m talking about, with the constrictions. And yes, we talked about doing wall to wall carpet in here which I’m STILL interested in, then layering on top a pretty rug – but for that, we’d still have to shave the door a bit (people do this all the time, it sounds extreme but it’s not).
Window Treatments: Fun fact, the french rods that I love so much have a drawback – you can’t just replace the curtains easily because the rods return into the wall, there’s no bracket just a bend in the rod that connects to the wall. So our painters hung back up the curtains backwards – that’s right and since we are switching them out for shades anyway, we didn’t change them back. Those blackout shades are super affordable and good – such a cute little subtle pattern, go here if you like them. So just as a reminder those white curtains will be horizontal warm woven roman shades.
Art & Lighting: Don’t forget that above the bed we are hanging the silhouettes (or thus is the plan) from the interior curtain rod like the inspiration photo. And then I have the intention of doing an articulating or accordion sconce from the left wall and maybe putting a cute vintage clip light on the right headboard.
The Bookcase: The only storage we really need in this room is for books but finding the right bookcase was a challenge. I have a wood dresser in there, and while I don’t hate mixing woods, it is hard to do it right. I looked for something vintage or antique forever, to paint but getting it to be functional for kids’ books (tall shelves) was hard. So when I found this piece from Crate and Kids, in a moody English green I said, YES. We need green in this room to break up the red/white and blue and it engaged the corner perfectly and added so much storage. It’s more of an investment piece but I know it will transition well even into a living or family room eventually if need be.
The Mirror: Now, I hung that mirror which I TRULY LOVE, but I do fear that the red mirror and the green bookcase are competing over there. It visually feels like a lot and they both deserve a moment. Like my eye is torn which to look at first. I DON’T KNOW. Remember that the backwards white curtain will be a pretty simple woven roman shade, so that will calm that down a bit. I’m obsessed with that mirror and it has to go somewhere, but maybe behind the door next to the dresser? Dunno.
The Dresser: Speaking of the dresser, I went back to this one from Rejuvenation mostly because I like it more than the vintage Heywood Wakefield dresser. Also, that vintage one had too many drawers that made life annoying. This one is smaller in size but is actually more spacious. I have considered putting the one from our master bedroom in here instead, but it would make both clearances of the doors pretty tight – but color and style would be PERFECT and it has more storage. But then I’d have to replace that one, and meanwhile I’d have two EXTRA dressers, which just feels like dresser hoarding (although I could sell it online or give to Pen and Napkin for any of their projects).
I’m not sure what I’m going to put up there above the dresser. Part of me wants to lean the red mirror vertically with safety straps and then add a couple other pieces of art and a maybe some fabric animal heads? Make it a weird eclectic gallery wall including some of those vintage paint by numbers? Or just hang the mirror behind the door? I’ve thought about hanging it horizontally above the dresser but it’s as long as the dresser… so it might look SUPER DUMB (that’s the technical term).
The Bed: Like I said above, I like the idea of raising it a bit because those frames are too low and add a bed skirt. While I love that “handsewn-antique-definitely-NOT-Pottery Barn” quilt, it’s A LOT with the canopy fabrics and the rug so I think it has got to go. Cutest picnic blanket ever. I think I can bring in a red round velvet pillow or lumbar or a red articulating lamp to call it on the red and then keep the mirror somewhere else. I’m not sure what bedding I’ll do here. Oh, we are also switching out the ceiling light fixture to be something smaller and more modern – something that goes away more and lets the canopy be the real star.
So that’s where we are. It’s headed in such a good direction. I actually think this room will be more successful once the twin beds are separated. We designed the canopy to be wide enough to make this work with that small antique chest in the middle. I need to lock down the rug situation, lighting, bedding, art/accessories and install the roman shades. Would LOVE to know your thoughts – what are you loving, what isn’t working (besides what I’ve already outlined). Any and all questions are welcome and usually an outside perspective really helps these things. GO!