Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays — The G-kid’s room

Well, the g-kid’s room is mostly finished. I learned several things in the process of this creating this space, but mostly, I got to do a really girly room for the first time, ever. (I’d had two boys and in the early days, no way to do anything much for their room. This was my chance to have fun.)

We started out with this room in my son’s new house:



That’s from the door. And here’s from that right-hand corner:



Obviously, a blank canvas painted in typical “contractor beige.” There’s nothing wrong with the color… just sort of bland and for a little girl, not really fun.

That blue you see in the photo is my first attempt at painting the furniture. I had the, and it deserves all caps, INSANE, idea to use the Annie Sloan Chalk paint and get an aged look. The problem became obvious almost immediately. I was trying to replicate the look of a dresser I saw in one of her magazines, and the piece had an aged purple look. I bought all the paint they said I needed, in the colors used in the photo, and it came out blue. Very perfect-for-a-boy’s-room blue. It wasn’t bad, if it was just one piece, but then looking at it, I had the realization that there were several pieces of this furniture to go in one room. A desk, chair, hutch for the desk, dresser, headboard/footboard/trundle bed combo. Combined, they made three actual groupings, but still, a lot of that color was too much. I can only say, for my excuse, that I was in the middle of the rewrite and had clearly lost my mind.

The good news is, paint is easy enough to fix. When I went back to paint over it, the chalk paint had, indeed, hardened (cured) so well, that it didn’t scratch or anything when moving these pieces around. If I hadn’t seen that, then half-way through this next part, I’d have lost heart, because when I started painting over it in pure white, it looked like it would scratch up too easily to be in a kid’s room. (The chalk paint is a soft paint. You put on a clear coat of wax afterward, which is what hardens. Or the dark wax, which ages-and-hardens.) (The upside to chalk paint? I didn’t sand anything. I didn’t prep anything. I didn’t even think about prepping. I just slapped the paint on and it stuck, even to the super-slick hard plastic-y feeling surface of this furniture. Even over the wax from the first attempt. The only thing it had a problem with was cover something that had been saturated with mineral spirits. I had one piece I’d cleaned the sharpie marks off of with mineral spirits, but hadn’t apparently wiped it off well enough. It bubbled and flaked on me. It came off so easily, I just used a scraper and slid it off like butter. And only on that one spot did I have to do a light sanding, which solved the problem.)

The original finish (that’s the desk on the right above) was a shiny cream color that almost looked like plastic up close. I had seen it at a distance in the store (where it was on clearance), and it looked like it’d hold up to a kid. Unfortunately, Angie and one of her buddies had written on it and scratched it up while that kid stayed with them a while. I could get some of it off (mineral spirits works wonders, and Mr. Clean erasers are da bomb), but it didn’t really look good. Hence the desire to repaint.

First, however, I had to pick colors. It took me a while to find a bedspread that had purple in it (her favorite color), that would be appropriate for her now (at age 5 1/2, starting Kindergarten), but would be something that would grow with her until she’s maybe twelve or so and would want something more grown-up. I got lucky and found bedspreads on sale at Pottery Barn Kids, and had a free shipping coupon and another discount coupon that they let me apply (I don’t think they were supposed to), so it ended up affordable.

Here’s a photo of the walls-in-progress:

Angie's room wall color


That ceiling is actually a lighter shade of the purple. The green drop cloth’s reflection is screwing with the coloring here.

Then came the white coat of Annie Sloan onto the furniture. ELEVENTY BILLION COATS OF PAINT LATER, it looked great. I was so annoyed during the process, I didn’t even take photos. The painting was easy. It’s just that damned blue I’d painted on two of the pieces was so dark, I had to do three coats of the white to fully cover it. Three freaking coats. And then a coat of the clear wax. I grew to loathe the hutch with a white hot passion, because I could never quite get at a good angle to get both sides of the shelf. It was too heavy to lift up onto saw horses (and I already had the headboard and footboard on those). Suffice it to say that if I ever ever EVER paint furniture again, I’m going to do ONE FREAKING PIECE and stop. And that piece will be placed by manly men onto sawhorses. I would have gotten help during this process if I had realized how damned long it would take. (It took more than a week.)

The end result, though, turned out pretty nice:

Angie's room 1


There are several things I did above that I saw on Pinterest (aka, The Evil Enabler). One was the curtain rods hanging from the ceiling to make a sort of four-poster feel for the bed. This was important because for the next year, Angie will have to share that back wall (where the other curtains are in the center of this photo) with her little step-sibling (well, not quite step, but close enough). He’s one, and there are three wonderful boys from the woman my son is with now (terrific woman). There’s a spare room in the new house that needs to be closed in to form another bedroom, and eventually, the oldest boy will get that new room, and this baby and the middle boy will get the current boys’ room across the hall. For the mean time, though, there’s a baby bed, and the need for him to not be disturbed as much when he goes to sleep a little earlier than Angie. That’s where the curtain idea struck me as useful. I could create private-feeling spaces for both kids in one room, but Angie still got “her” room. The baby’s bed is now behind that curtain. Later on, when he graduates to the next bedroom, I’ll let Angie decide if she wants a little seating area there, or a play area (table/chairs) or a stage. Maybe a stage with a little seating area on it. (grin) (I know my ham of a granddaughter is probably going to pick the seating area with the ability to convert it to a stage.)

The curtains were kinda hard to hang. Thank God Carl agreed to go help me with that part. I couldn’t have managed it, and my son was overwhelmed with other obligations. Those curtain rods are hanging from the joists in the ceiling, so they cannot be pulled down easily by kids.

The little LED lights that are strung across the top do not touch the curtains. They’re very low wattage and not a fire hazard, and all of the cords hang down the back side of the curtain against the wall, and plug into one outlet. My son can easily reach that to unplug/plug as needed.

Angie's room 2


The photo above was taken with the big room light off, and the curtains closed. It seems a little brighter in the photo than in the room itself… but it’s very much a sort of dreamy, night-sky effect that Angie flipped over.

I painted the chair the wall shade of purple and a lighter shade, and the drawers of the desk the lighter shade. Then did the same lighter shade on the dresser:

Angie's room 3


(All of the walls were the same purple, best represented by the first photo with the furniture. The lighting really kinda screwed with it for the photos.) We (and by “we” I totally mean “Carl”) put on new hardware on all of the furniture, since several of the old handles had broken and several more were about to be. I liked the lighter shade on the drawers–it kept the room from being just a ring of white furniture around the room. Ultimately, I wanted to do a large photo above this piece, but I didn’t have any that suited the room. Next spring, I’m going to get some of various blooms and blow them up to large canvas sizes and stagger them here. That’ll give me some break from the purple and introduce other colors into the room. Eventually, she’ll probably end up with a TV in there on that dresser, since, as the only girl, she often wants to watch Tinkerbelle in a house full of Wreck-it-Ralph boys. (Though she does enjoy the latter, too.)

The Dr. Seuss decal was one of those “looked really easy, turned out to be a pain” things. I got it for a little over $8.00 from an Etsy shop, and it looked so easy to apply. However, in actuality, the lettering did not want to let go of the front film; the backing peeled off easily, and then you put it in place and the letters are supposed to stick and then the front film is supposed to peel off easily after you rub the letter. That was a complete LIE LIE LIE. And I could have easily hurt someone if the maker had been anywhere near me at the time of application. The letters wanted to tear, and stick to each other and the damned thing was a royal pain in the butt. I don’t know if this was because of something wrong with the product or, if in shipping, it got so hot that the act of shipping is what screwed it up. Plus, they sent me a different saying than the one I ordered. It was still a good one, but I’m really glad I didn’t try to apply this straight to the wall, as originally intended. For starters, the lettering is much smaller than I had wanted, and it would have been a nightmare on the wall. This way, I can take it down later. If I had it to do over again, I’d order a custom-made decal where the letters were much larger. I think handling them would have been easier, plus it would have given me the impact I was looking for when I looked at the photos online. All of those are much larger than what arrived.

The flowers were plastic stick on flowers, and were cheap at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I didn’t do nearly as good of a job attaching them as I had intended. I had definitely gone screaming past the fuck-it stage and was bordering on the let’s-just-set-fire-to-it-and-go-home stage by this point.

I picked up the pops of green from the green in the bedspread; got lucky on the find for the lamps and then the rug (washable).

For her birthday, I’m going to add a purple bean bag chair. We also ordered a pretty fan/light, which hasn’t yet come in. That’s in white, and I might go over there and paint the fan blades (which are leaf shaped) in the same green as these lamp shades. But it won’t be any time soon.

So there ya go… that’s what I’ve been up to.

Overall, I’m happy with the project, and I know I can add little things to it over the next year or so that will make it a more complete room. (She needs bookshelves down low where I can add in all of her books that I have over here.) I’d also like to create a type of art center for her (something better than her desk) where she can color or do school projects without risking the paint on the desk (which, God knows, I do not want to ever have to repaint). But for now, this is way better than before, and the absolute look of shock and wonder on her face when she walked in and saw it definitely made the effort worth it.

There’s no way for a kid her age to grasp what it took to pull it off. But her racing downstairs and grabbing everyone to come and see… well, that pride that she has in her pretty new room is something I suspect she’ll carry forward. And every day she’s there, she’ll know her Mimi did that for her, so that’s good.

I remember my parents letting me pick out my favorite color for my new room the first time we moved to our new house. I was twelve, and my dad loathed yellow, but I picked out a pale yellow to go with a pretty floral bedspread, and as much as it pained him (and still does, I think, just the memory of that color), he painted it for me. Very. Begrudgingly, but still. Yellow. I loved that room.

How about you? What are your favorite colors? What kind of fantasy room would you like to have?

39 thoughts on “Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays — The G-kid’s room

  1. Wow! It looks fantastic! I love the curtains, but I would be the person dangling off the ladder trying to hang those rods alone. All these men in my house are never around when I need them…

    My fantasy rooms involve lots of space and rustic furniture, set in the middle of a prairie with mountains in the distance. Can I hire you to make that happen?

  2. Beautiful room, Toni. I’ve been thinking about fairly lights on the ceiling for some years now. It seems like an awful lot of effort though. I’m lazy so I haven’t tried it yet.

    I love my Yellow kitchen. It’s a dark room and the yellow helps brighten it. I also had a yellow room as a teen. Still love that color. So bright and cheery on the walls.

    I went through a blue phase in this house and now I’m sick of it. Little by little I’ll get rid of it.

  3. Maine Betty says:

    Wow, how fun and colorful.
    I sympathize with the multiple coats, I spent a fair amount of time painting the dark wood paneling on my 3-season porch a light yellow. Multiple prime coats, and 2 yellow. Then I realized the ceiling looked just nasty, so I did a couple of coats on that. But, it looks great! This last couple of weeks I’ve been painting interior (brown wood)doors and trim with the proper low-gloss paint. And finding more places it should go. Plan ahead? I’ve heard of the concept …

    This room is wonderful!

  4. I did that (blue phase). I’m not sure if it was just because of what was popular at the time, or what, but everything was blue. Now, I have almost none. (I like pops of blue with earth colors, for my own place.)

    I keep thinking I’m going to get tired of the earth colors, but I’ve had them now for almost 15 years (in two separate places), so I guess this is my comfort zone.

  5. Thank you, Barbara. I need more variety in there, still, and hope to do that with some photos of wildflowers for her… eventually. I think it’s almost too monochromatic right now.

  6. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    This is amazing. That is one lucky little girl to have you in her life.

    About the twinkle lights- I put these in my daughter’s room when she was little. If you plug the cord into one of those- not sure what the name is, but it is an extension cord with a switch that is a button you tap with your foot- she can turn it on and off by herself. They sell them at every drugstore for 7 or 8 bucks around Christmas for the tree.

  7. denise says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Should be in SOUTHERN LIVING! Luckiest G-kid!

    One year, for my birthday–I must admit I just told this exact story on another author’s blog–my parents gave my bedroom a redo. Pink. Dad built shelves to go above the bed lengthwise. Mom put up a border–looked more like a 3″ striped ribbon around the top. I received an antique drop-front desk Grandpa had salvaged from a house demolition; a new bedspread that was a faux, large square patchwork (in gingham pastels, primarily pink), with a ruffled, two tier drop on the sides; plus Grandma made me a quilt (she called it “Dutch Girl”, but most know it as “Sunbonnet Sue”) with many mismatched colors–but I loved it, still have it.

  8. That room is beautiful! And I bet it’s going to be even better with the fan. Well done. You’re an awesome grandma. (And grandpa is pretty cool, too.)

    As a kid, I didn’t have a bedroom from age 8-16, and then when I got one again, there was no option to paint or make it my own. Not until I bought my own place in 2010. I painted the bedrooms before we moved in, and did a HORRIBLE job. LOL! But kiddo picked her own color, and has since added clear dangling Christmas lights around the top of the walls. Thankfully, she’s also covered my paint job almost entire with pics and posters of her favorite bands.

    I’m about to start painting the blue I put in the living room. I liked it at the time, but now it needs to go. Doesn’t help that the guy I hired to paint the living room did a worse job than I did upstairs. Anyway, what finish do you recommend? I don’t know the difference between semi-gloss and eggshell or any of the others.

  9. Kelly S says:

    Love the room! Purple and green are my favorite colors.

    My fantasy room has a set of French doors with white curtains that open onto a patio with a sparkling blue pool, cleaned and maintained by someone else, and just beyond that a white sandy beach with turquoise waters. Of course the sun is shining and the temperature is around 80 and I look good in a bikini. πŸ˜‰ Ah, fantasy…

  10. toni says:

    Personally, I like semi-gloss. Some people don’t like the sheen of a semi-gloss, but it tends to lose that sheen within a month or two and what remains is a good, hard finish that can be wiped down and cleaned with most cleaners, like windex, when needed. Plus it’s much less prone to getting scratched up or showing marks if furniture rubs up against it. Satin would be my next choice if the walls were in bad shape and can’t be fixed before painting. Eggshell’s ok, but I don’t like it much, and I kinda loathe flat.

  11. This is gorgeous. I love how you did the lighter shade of purple for the drawers on the dresser. She’s one lucky little girl, and you’re right she’ll always say my Mimi did this for me.

    My house is full of dark wood furniture, some antiques from the larger house. I keep the walls light, mostly white and yellow, but keep playing with bringing in some earth tones. If I can stop writing and travelling enough maybe I’ll try the painting myself. It has been a few years, but heck I’m not that old that I can’t weild a roller brush. : )

  12. Wow. Beautiful, Toni. Angie is so lucky to have you for a “Fairy Grandmother.”

    Love that you’re getting her a bean bag chair, too. I gave one to my son because I had had one as a child that I loved–until my cat took it over–then it became “hers” although she was willing to share now & then:)

    Also, like the purple. I remember my friend having her room done once in a shade of pink that did not turn out as planned. In the main room it wasn’t too off, but when we went into her walk-in closet, we took one look at each other and said, “Yoghourt. It’s like walking into a tub of fruity yoghourt. And not in a good way.”

    The colour may not have impressed us, but as young teens at the time, the experience did leave us with a fun memory:)

  13. This is a gorgeous bedroom and I’m sure a fantasy come true for your g-kid. When I was a kid, one of my girlfriends had a purple bedroom with a purple gingham canopy bedset and I was so envious. My room was pink, all over — even the trim, and had floofy, ruffly pink canopy set and curtains. I loathed it. Oh yeah, and pink shag carpet. I wanted blue. Or green.

    When I bought my second house, it needed a huge remodel and some reconstruction. I loved it! When I was painting the living room, kitchen/dining area, and one of the bedrooms, my mom wanted to help. I’d learned a lot about painting from books and from the bathroom, so I showed mom what to do. We had a blast, painting every evening after I came home from work. Greens with pale yellow ceilings in the living room, kitchen, and dining areas. Turquoise and white in the bath. Orange with pale blue ceiling and closet interior in the bedroom. Sure, my mom got a lot of paint … on me. But it was fun and turned out beautifully. I look forward to having another house (although in the Seattle area, it could be a while) and painting and all that again.

    And to refute my parents’ position: NOT all girls love pink. So there.

  14. toni says:

    There is construction on the street below my window. They’re finally fixing a street so bad that even my 4wd truck had issues–but they’ve knocked out my Internet. Posting from my phone.

    Thank you for all the kind words.

    Skye, I’m tight there with you on the pink. I have to say that I was relieved when the g-kid claimed purple as her favorite without any coaching by moi. I’d have painted it pink if she liked it, but I’d have been grumpy about it.

  15. It’s wonderful! My first house, I painted my office in similar colors, except I spongepainted a darker bluey-purple over the slightly lighter purple walls. It was a good idea at the time and looked pretty great, but given how quickly I flipped that house while divorcing my ex, my takeaway was that the room looked like a giant bruise. Not a great association after the fact.

    Maybe once she gets the space where the crib is now, paint stripes on the wall behind the theoretical stage? That would set the area apart even more, and also theoretically, wouldn’t be that hard to do with painter’s tape.

  16. Sooo lovely – I’d have been in complete heaven as a little girl in that room. You can be sure, she will treasure the memories always.

    Favourite room – my pink bedroom in Brussels. Unlikely to happen again, but you never know..

  17. glee says:

    First and foremost, what a lovely space you’ve made for your granddaughter. How she will enjoy it. and I do sympathize tremendously about the stencil — i did one one letter at a time for my wedding invitation a bazillion years ago and it did look okay but … good thing it was a hippy,dippy wedding.

    Many months ago (April?) I posted a bit about the full-scale kitchen remodel I was starting. I just wanted to say it is done and I am delighted both that it’s done (boy do I get the let’s-just-set-fire-to-it-and-go-home wish, even though I wasn’t actually doing the work myself) and with the result. I did a little web-taste so you all can see it. Of course, I have many before, during, after shots that I took and I will get some that a pro took because the contractor wants to enter it in contests, the architect is thrilled and … perhaps Phoenix House and Garden magazine is interested. Life, the most amazing things happen while you are expecting something else.
    So remember, mid-Century modern single-level home. Needed more light, more cabinets, better integration into how we live, and I LOVE IT. And it’s a handicapped accessible space.
    Navigation bar across the top.

  18. Kelly S says:

    If you paint the stripe in the exact same color purple but with high gloss paint it comes out appearing to be a different color but not wildly so. I did that in my dining room under the chair rail.

  19. Kelly, we’re of like mind! I was thinking the same thing – a subtle stipe with high gloss… make a sort of “border” in that corner, a sort of feel of columns.

  20. I meant to bring one of those with me, and forgot. My son’s supposed to get one in there. (Odds are, I’ll bring one next time I go.)

  21. LOL. Well, I have painted so much, I should give classes. I typically don’t tape any of the borders (all the ceilings and cutting in around those doors I did without tape). I always tape baseboards though, because no matter what you do, gravity is going to work against you and you’re going to drip. (On ceilings, etc., the paintbrush is aimed up, so it’s easier to get clean lines.)

    If, however, you don’t want to eyeball it (and most don’t), keep in mind one trick that will likely save you a lot of aggravation. Put the tape on the wall and then paint over it the color that’s already underneath the tape. Let that dry. Then you can paint the color you want on the wall. Say, for example, you have a white baseboard and you’re going to paint a rust colored wall. Put the tape on the baseboard and then run a coat of white paint over the edge where it meets the wall. If there’s any leakage, it’ll be white (matching the baseboard). When it’s dry, paint the rust. Then, when *that’s* dry, run an exacto-knife along the edge of the wall (use a straight-edged item to keep that cutting straight). You’re just breaking the seal of the dried paint so that when you pull the tape off the wall, it doesn’t pull paint up with it.

    You’ll get super crisp, clean edges like that. It’s a little bit more prep work, but it beats the hell out of having to re-do a bunch of it later.

  22. MJ says:

    Toni, that bedroom is magical. What a lot of work–you must have been chalk painting in your dreams. This explains the placard you posted last time (“That bitch on Pinterest made it look so easy”).

    I painted the final kitchen cabinet yesterday (Maine Betty, like you I painted light yellow over dark–in my case, rust red). Just the woodwork left. And two windows, for which I’m considering hiring someone. They’re old, peeling in parts I can’t reach (possibly with lead paint), and one is painted shut at the top. Then I have to figure out how to make the damn cabinet doors hang straight.

    Painting: one long exercise in delayed gratification.

  23. German Chocolate Betty says:

    LOL…my sister hates pink. With a passion. She’s got two girls who, as little ones, were totally into princesses and girly-girl stuff. And PINK. Had to have pink rooms. And the shared bath (connecting the rooms) had to be pink too. Nothing else would do.

    So, my sister gritted her teeth and painted pink. Grumbling all the way.

    Bath and one room (littlest’s) are still pink, but older girl has moved onto purple as well…

  24. Micki says:

    That is wonderful! I really like the purple twilight feeling — especially when the LED stars come out!!

    I’m very bad at visualizing, but I do know what I like. I would love to have a room that mimics a gypsy wagon. Possibly in blue, red and gold velvets, but I’m very attracted to lighter pastels right now — I don’t know why. I never was a pastel girl. But I’ve mentioned Eclectic Gipsyland here before, and she works with the yummiest hot pinks, teal, golds and greens.

    This is kind of close to what I’m looking at:

    Oh, but this is lovely, too:

  25. Tara says:

    OMG! I have a three year old daughter and she would go bonkers over that room! You have given me so many ideas for when she moves into her own room. Right now she shares with her two older brothers (1/2 the room is blue, the other 1/2 is purple)I just recently refinished my childhood canopy bed for her, the canopy part is broken so the idea of hanging curtain rods from the ceiling is great. Now I just have to remember it πŸ™‚

  26. You’re like a paint master! I bought a high quality brush to cut in with, because that’s where I’ve gone wrong before. Thanks for the other tips!

    We painted the radio station where I used to work once, and had old license plates that we held against the ceiling and painted along. It kept the paint from getting anywhere it didn’t need to be, was strong but thin, and worked like a dream.

  27. LOL.. Tara, that’s how I became a Pinterest addict. πŸ˜‰ It was so easy to find pics and pin them to a board so I wouldn’t forget the things I’d seen a year ago. Come on over to the dark side and join….

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