Sebastian's room makeover has been in the works since January but I finally put the finishing touches on it last week and he is one happy kid! We ended up with a slightly Star Wars themed room but I made sure the main elements that we purchased were items that will last him through any specific phase he's in and still feel cool in his teenage years. Also, I can't believe we're even close enough to the teenage years to start thinking about that!
There were four main challenges that presented themselves with this space that I kept in mind while choosing pieces for his new room. The first was making sure it was designed so that he still felt like it was an accurate reflection of his interests while also feeling like it was put together with a plan. The second was introducing pattern without going with full-on preppy stripes or woodsy plaids. The third was to use darker colors without making this already dark room feel like a cave. The fourth was finding a way to work within the limitations of a rental home. As with all of our home projects, we were working on a bit of a shoestring budget so I had to stay flexible with my design, resourceful in finding new pieces, and patient in how quickly it all came together.
Here is a before and after of this corner of his room. It's a downstairs, L-shaped room on the dark side of the house. It has lovely high ceilings, an attached bathroom (you can see the door in the before image), and a large walk-in closet that used to be part of the porch (not shown). It was shared in the rental listing as a fourth bedroom that could also be used as another family room since it was so big. When we first moved in we used it as our master bedroom and had Smith's crib in here as well. Then we did some musical room switching and Sebastian ended up downstairs.
His original bed frame that went with the mid-century headboard lost some parts during our last move and then life got really busy really fast so we just kept his mattress and box springs on the floor with the headboard kind of propped up against the wall. With so much extra space, we would stash extra chairs or random big toys in here when company was coming over and then they'd just stay in here. We even had Christmas decoration boxes stashed in a corner for at least two months! We taped up his huge dinosaur drawing mural in one corner but there wasn't much else in this room that was done to either of our tastes. Thankfully he was patient as we came up with a plan and the time to execute it!
Here you can see the door that leads to the downstairs bathroom. It creates an L-shaped room that can be a little awkward for furniture placement but we finally came up with something that works.
This is the wall where his headboard used to rest against. It also dips down lower than the rest of the room. Old house problems! By finding a new place for his bed that would make better use of the unique shape of the room, I was able to carve out stations for lounging, homework, storage, and a gallery wall.
This space is now a little nook where we hung shelving from IKEA and created a little homework station. He now has a place to display some of his stuff without Smith getting into it! I went with white broadcloth and sewed my own curtains for these odd-sized windows. This one looks out into the backyard and offers great morning light on sunny days. By using pattern and color in other elements, I felt good about keeping the curtains white in order to avoid darkening the room any further with colored curtain panels.
There aren't quite as many easy patterns to incorporate in a pre-teen boy's room as there are for little men or girls at any age. You can fall back on stripes and plaids but then that can feel preppy, nautical, or woodsy pretty quickly. Nothing wrong with those if that's what you're into but I wanted something a little different. I searched for a rug for weeks knowing I'd probably inspire the rest of the room and finally found this Safavieh Handmade Cambridge rug on Overstock. The pattern was perfect and I knew the rug would last forever since it was wool. It was on a great sale so I jumped!
I then got the idea to do a similar repeat pattern on the walls with the Walls Need Love Easy Stripe. I had been overthinking what kind of wall design I wanted to add based on how easy it would be to recreate, how cost-effective it would be, and whether or not it would feel special enough to share. I thought about doing diagonal stripes across the whole wall and even entertained a repeating hashtag pattern (still love this one but I imagine it would be a LOT more work) before realizing this kind of repeating arrow pattern not only felt cool enough for a pre-teen room, it went well with whatever Star Wars vibe this room was starting to develop.
Having a pattern on the floor as well as the wall felt like a great balance to having a lot of solid colors in the bedding, curtains, chair, and other furniture items. I didn't want to go overboard but I do think patterns can make a space feel more layered. I'd like to eventually add in more pattern with a handmade quilt at the end of his bed and as many throw pillows as he'll let me get away with!
Designing without Losing Personal Touches
I utilized storage pieces I loved that added to the design of the room in order to stash away some of the special toys and keepsakes that had made things feel cluttered. The thrifted set of lockers now hold all of the Star Wars magazine posters that Sebastian had taped to his walls. He was really attached to them so we decorated the inside of the lockers like they do in all the jr. high sitcoms. I then let him pick out these two Star Wars posters from Etsy that felt a little more artistic and fit frame sizes we already had. Here are a few more of our favorites: Here, here, here, here, here.
We rolled up the mural of dinosaur drawings and will hang it up in the huge closet in this room (not photographed yet) and then made a designated gallery wall for new artwork he and a friend had made of themselves as Star Wars characters. I used more of the red Walls Need Love Easy Stripe vinyl tape to hang everything on the wall to add another bit of red and to add some consistency to the different drawings and paintings.
This shelf unit from IKEA was in our bedroom for awhile but felt out of place so I brought it to Sebastian's room and placed it over his vintage school desk to create a homework station that can also keep some of his favorite toys out of his brother's reach. The large acrylic letter S is vintage and has made an appearance in almost every room design we've done over the few years and the Washington license plate is from our brief but exciting time living in Seattle. Sebastian was born there but is religiously opposed to supporting the Seahawks since the Broncos are his team. It's one of those keepsakes I put out more for my own amusement than his.
When styling this space I made sure I didn't overfill it with everything he owns so it wouldn't feel too heavy. I also staggered items according to height and bulk to make it aesthetically pleasing. It was easy to find repetition in the colors red, blue, and black since almost everything he owns falls into that color story. Thanks Marvel comics.
Also, I'm not opposed to putting holes in the walls as long as they are secure and won't create larger holes down the road. Life is too short to have bare walls when you know you'll be in a rental for more than a year in my opinion! Learn how to patch them and enjoy the difference shelving and artwork make!
I did purchase a lounge chair at a wholesale furniture shop that I stopped by on a whim that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen for anywhere else in the house. It's not a piece of furniture that will outlast his teen years but it's comfortable and stain-resistant and a great spot for reading upside down or sideways with his legs hanging over the arms. He also has a neighborhood friend that hangs out over here after school and I wanted to provide another place to sit other than the bed or the floor.
I also attached one of his X-Wing Starfighter toys to a string to make that corner a little more fun. It's made from foam and I think has a few missing pieces so he was fine with me suspending it in mid-air.
This boy finally has a finished space to enjoy after such a long wait and I'm so thankful that I was able to work with Walls Need Love to make it special. Check out the tutorial for how I worked my repeating arrow magic here. If you're a renter and in need of something affordable and fun for your walls, I can't sing their praises enough.
Now that Ruby and Sebastian's rooms have had some attention, I'm thinking it may be time to start working on our own! Keep your eyes peeled for a wish list post in the next few weeks. Thanks for coming back again and again to see what we're up to over here. Your presence is appreciated!