Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Girls' Room 2.0

Remember way back when we moved into this house and we only had two kids? It was so easy then. Mommy and Daddy in this room, you go in this room, you go in this room. There, done. Then Lia arrived. No biggie, Jude moves in with Jack and we keep the "nursery." And then bam, Baby #4! Not so simple anymore. We kept Joci in our room for a long time. And then when it was time for her to get her own space, Julia moved in with her big brothers. It wasn't as bad as I thought. There was enough space there for her with the bunkbeds. The biggest challenge was getting everyone to sleep at night.

But the boys missed their space--a place to relax for "quiet time." Or a room to play Legos without trashing their parents' house. And a little peace and quiet when it was time for bed. So when the big kids were away at Grandy Camp we decided it was time for the girls' to start sharing a room. There was only one problem--space.

Julia's "bedspread" -- a $2 curtain panel from Goodwill.
The nursery is a decent-sized bedroom, but not big enough for two separate beds. And since Jocelyn is still in a crib for a while, that made things even more difficult. It was one of those peaceful mornings while the older ones were away and I was only responsible for one kid that I started brainstorming and digging around Pinterest for some inspiration. Surely we're not the only ones in this sort of situation??

And then I found it. There wasn't much explanation to go by, but it seemed pretty straightforward. After a little more research and measuring, we decided to purchase an IKEA bunkbed and crib (yes, that would be our third crib. I'm tossing around a few ideas for repurposing the other two since they're both recalled/dropside cribs.)

She really does like her room. She just doesn't like when mommy can't hold her.
 Since the crib is much shorter than the bottom bunk, we had some space to play around with at the end of Joci's bed. I liked the idea of a chest for toy and dress-up storage. And Jon and I just happened to find an amazing antique steamer trunk, that had been painted turquoise, at a local consignment store. We bought it before the room was finished and when we went to move it in, realized it was about an inch too big. While it fit perfectly in the space, there wasn't enough extra room to actually open the lid. Bummer. I love the trunk, though, so we're holding on to it in hopes it will fit in the girls' future bedroom (wherever that may be!)

A few days later I was out in the garage and came across one of Jon's Coast Guard Academy trunks. The cadets used to use them to house all their personal belongings that they stored in the barracks' attic, and currently it was holding all Jon's old football paraphernalia.  Originally, we were going to just paint it white to blend in with the furniture, but I think hubby was a little sad about covering up the Coast Guard emblem. So I designed a satin and tulle slipcover to fit it. It works, but the truth is, it's too annoying to put on and take off all the time. So we basically only use it when I take pictures or if guests are coming over.

Earlier this fall, with the original dresser.
And then there's the play kitchen. Let me tell you about the play kitchen! The kids have had a plastic one for a few years now and LOVED it. And since it was such a hot item I wanted to find something a little bigger--something that fit my growing kids and the IKEA pots and pans and play food we had. After a little research I had my heart set on a KidKraft wooden kitchen. I kept coming across blogs featuring this particular item repainted and looking all adorable. I wanted that too! Turns out, this kind of kitchen is everywhere, if you know where to look. There were 10 on Craigslist alone. But apparently everyone is looking for the same thing.

There were a few for free or cheap, if we were willing to make a drive. There was one nearby for $50, but I ended up as second on a waiting list. And then there was one just a few minutes away for $75. I tried to talk the seller down, but they wouldn't budge. So I agreed to come out and look at it anyway.

We had just had a big storm and there were branches down every where. I followed the GPS and it led me up a long, branch-scattered lane and ended at a McMansion. A McMansion with stuff everywhere--in the yard, in the driveway, in the garage. And then a man answered the door and I realized that while I had assumed I'd been emailing a woman about a play kitchen all this time, it had really been a man. So he directed me inside a house that, like the yard, was full of stuff. Clearly kids had lived here, but there was no sign of anyone that afternoon. And then he led me down the steps to the basement, which was basically a second house and which was also full of stuff. And right about this time the warning bells are going off and all those scary Craigslist stories are running through my head.

So it turned out the kitchen wasn't really in the greatest condition. And then I pointed out that it was missing a door. And he assured me it was not. And then I pointed out that there were hinges where a door should have been. And he had to concede. And so when I suggested a lower price and he still wouldn't hear it (something about a bunch of other people interested as well), I decided it was time to go. (Sidetone: the same kitchen was still on Craigslist for weeks after I looked it. So much for all those other interested buyers.)

I practically ran up the stairs, hoping I could remember my way out. Just as I reached the front door and went to turn the knob, Craigslist man ask me if I work out. Apparently, since I was wearing sneakers, and a tank top, and hat, he explained, I came across as some kind of athlete. I replied, as quickly as possible, that I don't have time to work out because I'm too busy chasing around 4 kids. And then made a mad dash for the car, dodging balls and bikes the whole way down the front path.

I couldn't pull out of that driveway fast enough. And then I decided to let the play kitchen (and my Craigslist shopping) take a rest for a while. So it was a few weeks later, while nursing the baby on a Saturday morning, that I came across a yard sale ad mentioning a play kitchen, but no other details. I decided to give it a shot. Yard sales are much safer than Craigslist ads. And I needed an excuse to get out of the house and take a break from the kids.

"I made soup-a-you!"
So I laid the baby down for a nap, hopped in the minivan, headed off down the road, and pulled in to find this beauty sitting amongst a myriad of other yard sale paraphernalia... and another woman looking it over. I pretended to be interested in a few other things until she walked away, and then I jumped all over this kitchen. The woman running the yard sale was only asking $30 for it, and it was in near perfect condition. A quick Google search assured me I was saving $150. So I handed over the money before anyone else could attempt to outbid me and enlisted two gentlemen to help me load it in the car.

And that's the story of the kitchen. I ended up not doing anything with it, since it was in pretty great condition to begin with. Plus I've yet to come across any blogs featuring a cute, made-over version. Instead, I turned my attention to the dresser--the yellow dresser.

I've been wanting to paint a piece of a furniture for a few years now, ever since I saw a yellow piano on Pinterest. But I just haven't had the courage. And then I read "The Nesting Place" and remembered an old dresser we had sitting down in our crawl space. My parents' neighbor had it out at the neighborhood yard sale this spring. When it didn't sell, he offered to drop the price to $20, which seemed like a little less of a risky investment. And so it ended up sitting in our storage for a few months until I could figure out what to do with it.

So I decided I wanted to try out chalk paint. I didn't realize what sorry shape this dresser was in until I was ready to start painting. Not only did it look bad, but it smelled bad too. And it soaked up the paint like a sponge. Eight coats later I was out of my first and second batches of paint. I had painted it white to match the rest of the furniture in the girls' room, but it just seemed to fall flat. So I left the dresser sit in the laundry for a week, and then another week, and then a few more. Just waiting for some inspiration.

Eventually it came in the form of some yellow paint. Jon helped me pick it out, which was good because he helped me tone down the brightness a bit. And then he ended up painting the whole thing one night when I was too exhausted to get off the couch. And personally, I think it turned out perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect. Paint can't exactly work miracles. But just beautiful. And it suits the room perfectly. 

And with that, I think we can call this room complete. That should be enough kids' room makeovers for a while now. And with a yellow dresser under my belt, who knows what's next! I'm thinking perhaps a cobalt blue buffet is in order ...

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