ONE. ROOM. DONE. The kids’ camping/safari/pirate/astronaut—in short ADVENTURE—room in the mountain house is done and today is the REVEAL. In case those photos don’t portray it properly, we love it. But unlike most love stories, it was born out of challenges. Frankly, it was the most challenging room in the house. When Target said “We are launching a new Pillowfort collection, wanna do a makeover?” I thought to myself, this might be the ONLY way that I ever get this room done, and then when the very cute and fun product was aligned with what I wanted, I pitched this room back which gave me a deadline. You see, doing a kids room is usually FUN, but due to the challenges of this room (a wall of plumbing that needed to be accessible, awkwardly placed windows due to a roofline and the need for low twin beds, read more here) this room was full of design conundrums that were just more annoying than fun to think about. But thanks to my very talented and hardworking team, we DID IT.
Yesterday you got the back story, with the before shots and process, and today you’ll get the reveal with an extra post later in the day (UPDATE: read all the details here) that breaks down the DIYs. What DIYs you ask? Oh just this simple (but not so simple to make) canvas, wood and leather tent and rolling shades.
Here’s how it went down: the goals of this room, stylistically, were to make it feel playful, interactive for the kids, yet still Scandinavian and not too busy. I wanted to stimulate their imagination but not their 8 pm energy level.
It’s so much easier to design a kids room with a theme, so that’s where we started. Julie, Emily Bowser and I sat in my studio and brainstormed how to use these awkward conundrums to our design advantage. Yes, it’s a mountain house but that felt too generic so we honed in on what our kids like to do up here…and that’s to create imaginary adventures all day and night. That means part camping, safari, pirate ship, bug hunting, space exploration, and general “get the bad guy” missions. And since they like to sleep basically on the floor near each other, we decided to make that look purposeful by putting them in a tent, like they are camping.
I shared our weird family secret yesterday, but in case you missed it, here it is again: What you might not know is that Charlie actually likes to sleep on a couch cushion (i.e. not an actual bed) in between the beds, thus us wanting the lowest beds possible.
What I’m about to say next is something you’ll relate to if you are a parent of young kids, but if you don’t have kids you will think we are crazy. Ahem.
When your kids are sleeping well, you get obsessed with their exact situation and you will, under no circumstances change it. You will give even the tiniest element unnecessary praise and value, crediting IT as “the” reason your kids are sleeping 11 hours straight (and thus you). This could include the make and model of their pajamas, the location in the room of the white noise machine, the thread count of their sheets, the opacity of window treatments, and, yes, the location and style of beds. Over Christmas break, they shared this room which at the time had two twin mattresses on the floor and guess what? Their nightmares were over, they slept all night and Charlie loved that he could be right next to Birdie, on his couch cushion, encased by the two beds. THEY ARE NOW FOREVER BETHROTHED TO THIS SLEEPING ARRANGEMENT.
So that’s the “why” behind the two low twin beds versus a bunk bed or two normal-height twin beds. We tried bunk beds for six nights of hell and after them each waking up four times a night (separately), Brian disassembled it and practically burned it (kidding, they were donated). So this is our solution.
Of course, Charlie STILL asked for the cushion back so unfortunately, we are back to the sofa-cushion-twin-bed-sandwich which begs the question—WHY CAN’T OUR KIDS JUST SHARE A BED??? It would make reading so much more comfortable. More on that later, but as for the LA house, I’m leaning towards one big bed for all of us. I fall asleep with them every night anyway. Okay, on to the design.
I’m OBSESSED with that tent. It’s what we call “quiet impact.” It’s made of just canvas with leather and wood detailing. We came up with the idea and my team figured out how to execute because they are “quiet impact” geniuses.
I love how simple it is and yet makes a huge statement. Of course, I was tempted to do a pattern or a color, and yes I was worried that the white wouldn’t pop but I reminded myself about the overall style of the house—neutral and simple, with a heavy dose of quirk and a less is more mantra. Thus, we landed here and I’m so glad we used restraint.
The Headboard Wall.
Take a peek at yesterday’s post if you don’t know about the plumbing that has to be housed behind the bed (and yet still be accessible). As our solution, we took the same canvas and upholstered a wooden box that slides over a frame (and can be pulled out if needed).
It stretches almost the whole wall and looks pretty intentional without garnering much attention at all. The single long headboard also helps our “simple yet impactful” mission for this house.
The kids LOVE the treasure island print of the Pillowfort sheets as they are in a huge Peter Pan phase that is not waning. We decided to add in the green via the bedspreads to, well, not just have it be blue and white. The leather trunk (which we brought up from the LA house…it used to be in my living room) certainly warms it up, plus it speaks to the camping vibe as well as tying in with the leather detailing on the tent.
The cloud bookshelves are so cute (and house the books so the kids can see them) and the sconces are in the place that we originally had the junction boxes when we thought we were doing built-ins, so we had to find some that could articulate over to the new bed placement so it made visual sense (we found these at Schoolhouse…they’re awesome).
The trees are from Target’s holiday line because why would you not bring faux pine trees into your kids’ camping theme mountain cabin room? We might not keep them in there, but they were just so cute and really hit the theme home (and kinda did what a normal plant would do visually without us actually having to care for one).
We used that antique English pine dresser I bought a few years ago for their clothes storage and finally dug that blue pottery lamp out of storage (so glad I never got rid of those, plus they are from Charlie’s first nursery which will ALWAYS make me nostalgic). And of course no room is complete until you add in some leather bear bookends. (Thank you to the reader who found them online, we had a hard time searching!)
Onto the other side of the room…
The Rock Climbing Wall.
Remember that awkward window placement due to the roof line? Well, we figured out that we needed to fill that vertical space in a way that didn’t intrude on the wall, thus a climbing wall. The kids (and the adults) love this new out-of-the-box feature.
We went for the natural wood which worked so well with the stair banisters. For anyone wondering why it’s on a box and not just the wall, well…if we were to just install the wooden climbing holds straight into the drywall, they would most likely have just ripped out upon first climb. So Sara’s incredibly handy brother Shade built this custom climbing wall (thank you, Shade) which attaches to the studs in the wall. He then created a pegboard-like grid which let us easily set our preferred climbing route for Charlie and Birdie. If you are interested in creating your own climbing wall, here is a link to a great video tutorial (though we did link to the footholds in the Get the Look below).
The carpet in this room, with its 2-inch, 7-pound density memory foam underneath, is honestly one of our favorite things in the whole house. Sourced through Stark, it’s a high-quality tonal navy stripe and frankly, it’s so perfect. As my first foray into wall-to-wall, I wanted it to feel so much more special than the ubiquitous builder grade (which can be fine, too!), but is dark to hide dirt and mud, and refined enough to fit into our Scandi vibe but at the same time squishy and bouncy. Plus, it’s so soft though nothing in the world is softer than those two floor pillows. They are alarmingly squishy and I want 10 of them for obstacle courses and to play human frogger in there. I’d win.
Welcome to the prettiest white oak windows you’ll never get sick of looking at. That’s right— there’s no casing (or baseboards) because we wanted the windows and the doors to be the star of the show, architecturally speaking. These are casements we got through Marvin that have child locks because well, children.
Now, while we love most everything in here, there are some regrets, including…
The Double Nook.
You might remember that we originally wanted to do a pull-out closet for that bottom floor nook under the stairs. Well, we didn’t. YET. Our contractor was like “I don’t think your well-thought-out idea that you spent weeks rendering is possible” and while we do, I also respect an expert when they are sending the clear message that maybe they aren’t the one for the job. So we plan on doing this later and have since gotten some good references. We are also debating how much we care. I mean, the kids love a double nook, I just think it’s visually messy but they are PSYCHED.
What I WISH I had done before the shoot is have Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber (who did the amazing door here and throughout the house) build doors for that nook so it wasn’t nook in front of nook. IT’S JUST SO BUSY.
We do a lot of treasure maps over here with X MARKS THE SPOT being a sentence that is screamed often. So when we ran out of ideas of what to do in this SECOND nook while styling and shooting, we put in a bunch of vintage park maps, black and white photos of bears in the wild, hiking trails, a stump, and walkie talkies and created a moment, but ultimately I wish it just visually didn’t exist.
Let this be a lesson to you: never “double nook” yourself. It’ll just turn into a stressful moment of what to fill/style it with.
Those cubbies, however, are very cute.
The toy gods answered this year when Pillowfort launched the affordable cubby/bookcase combo. These are $60 each and they check so many boxes (PUN!). Kids need to see their toys in order to play with them, and yet bin after bin equals a lot of mess. These are perfect and we actually just bought them for our LA house playroom that I am finally designing.
But yet ANOTHER REGRET:
We measured the seat based on the interior and had these custom cushions made (covered in a stain-resistant Crypton fabric) with those measurements in mind. But then when we put it in, we realized that we weren’t capitalizing on the real estate and the cushion could have extended out another six inches or so. We might redo it. 🙂
Meanwhile, we are just MISERABLE hanging out inside that nook.
Caution: You are now entering “quick mom moment” territory, so if you don’t care for the kid mush, skip ahead a few paragraphs, but if you do, keep on reading, because if you’re a parent, you’ll understand.
A phenomenon that no parent will ever fully come to terms with is that we think our children are the most special kids in the world. What’s even weirder is that you all think that you love your kids as much as I love mine. And intellectually I know you do, and yet THERE. IS. NO. WAY.
My friends and I have discussed this endlessly. It’s like being in the first phase of falling in love with your first love, for the rest of your life. This has nothing to do with the makeover or design, but as I look at photos of my babies, I’m sitting at a coffee shop writing this post on a Monday night instead of putting them to bed and while I’m not sad I’m missing out on what is surely a Monday night battle, I miss them fiercely.
So what do they think of their room?
THEY LOVE IT.
Shocker. I mean, of course, they do. Free cool room. Free toys. Free climbing wall.
Now that they are older, we are talking to them even more frequently about my job and how I get to decorate our house and take photos for a living. My fear of spoiling them has not decreased, (I think it best that it never does) but my conversation with them about my job has developed. I’ve been gone more working on the new book so I brought out my old book (of which Charlie makes two cameos) and they were like “MAMA, YOU WROTE A BOOK???” They wanted me to read it to them…for like four sentences. But they still held this tangible object that holds some sort of respect and power. They don’t understand the internet or blogs yet, nor do I want them to, but they LOVE books. I think we are going to watch Secrets from a Stylist soon. 🙂 I think they are ready.
Anyway, one room down. Many to go. Check out the Pillowfort collection at your local Target and Target.com for all the other pieces that we didn’t use (because they are VERY cute).
I have no idea how we got two photos together where everyone looks sane. But thanks to my great team, we did.
Speaking of team, Julie and Emily B. troubleshooted these DIYs (come back in a few hours for more details) and sewed the shades which were a feat. Thank you ladies for all your overtime on this project and attention to detail.
My kids woke up the next day and after playing downstairs for a while, Charlie said “Elliot! We forgot about our new room!!” and they raced upstairs and played for an hour and a half straight, WITHOUT US. In the spirit of this adventuresome room, Mission accomplished. 🙂
To read EVEN MORE about this room (plus all my tips for creating a room your kids—and you—will love, head to Rachael Ray Every Day, who showed off this space, too.
Oh, and don’t forget to come back later today (after 11 am PDT) for details on the DIYs. See you then.
***UPDATE: The DIY post is now up, so head here if you want all the details of how to make a whimsical tent and roller shades yourself.
1. Green Shams | 2. Treasure Island Sheet Set | 3. Green Comforter | 4. Faux Fur Sherling Rug | 5. Cloud Shelf | 6. Bear Head | 7. Sconce | 8. Portable Lantern | 9. Bed Frame | 10. Wall to Wall Carpet | 11. Wood Building Blocks | 12. Low Profile Bookcase | 13. Bunny Throw Pillow | 14. Pug Mini Plush Throw Pillow | 15. Captain Throw Pillow | 16. Elephant Plush Toy (similar) | 17. Alligator Knit Throw Pillow | 18. Maple Growth Chart | 19. Seek Adventure Framed Art | 20. Aged Brass Light Switch | 21. Unicorn Throw Pillow | 22. Cat Throw Pillow | 23. Faux Fur Floor Pillow | 24. Catch & Count Fishing Game | 25. Starry Globe Nightlight | 26. Stacking Open Toy Storage Bin | 27. Firm Foam Blocks | 28. Fabric Storage Bin | 29. Accent Stump | 30. Compass | 31. Faux Fur Rug | 32. Walkie Talkies | 33. Handheld Magnifying Glass | 34. Nook Sconce | 35. Interior Door Knob | 36. Reclaimed Wood Door | 37. Climbing Wall Holds | 38. White Bunting | 39. Windows | 40. Octopus Throw Pillow | 41. Stonewashed Blue Throw Pillow | 42. Woven Stripe Throw Pillow | 43. Heart Pillow | 44. Blue Throw Blanket | 45. 2-Tier White Book Shelf
*Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD
**This post is in partnership with Target but all words, designs and selections are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands we love that support the blog.