When designer Carrie Naumann heard about 6-year-old Steven's trouble keeping in touch with his father, a Lieutenant Colonel deployed in Iraq, she knew she wanted to help. "I wanted to give the family something that he would love and that was special just for him -- his own retreat, where he could be inspired to create his artwork and write a letter or postcard to his dad," says Naumann. Take a look at the outdoorsy makeover of little Steven's room.
Before: Cream walls with a stenciled border, too-short valances, and small-scale furniture made Steven's 10-x-10-foot room feel tinier than it is. Not only had he outgrown the nursery decor, but a lack of storage and display space led to cluttered piles of books and toys, plus artwork taped to the walls.
After: Naumann cleared the decks then used Steven's fishing hobby to inspire the color scheme and playful decorating ideas. A quilt striped in aqua, indigo, and lime plays off the striped and dotted fabrics used on the handmade Roman shades, pillows, and runners on the chest and nightstand. The clever fishing bobber pulls on the shades inspired the lively red accents. "Painting the walls a tranquil, watery blue sets off the white woodwork and hardwood floors while visually expanding the space," Naumann says.
Before: A plain door didn't serve any type of decorative or functional purpose. In a small room like this, unused space is wasted space.
After: "I wanted Steven to have a special place to honor his dad," Naumann says of the "Dad board" that hangs on the back of his door. "Having writing materials accessible and at his level makes it easier for him to keep in touch." The interactive bulletin board features maps of Iowa and Iraq, a calendar for counting down Dad's return, and family photos, plus postcards, fishing lures, military patches and medals, and a favorite feather from Dad. Carrie framed the corkboard with stock molding, then screwed on two wire CD baskets; one holds stationery and stamps, the other a "good job jar" for recording good deeds on slips of paper that can later be shared with Dad on the phone or in letters.
Before: More underused space in the corner looked cluttered and did nothing to help Steven organize. He needed a place for clothes, toys, and books to live when not in use.
After: "I didn't want the room to be cutesy; I wanted it to grow with Steven over the years," Naumann says. The stained wood bed, nightstand, and chest are timeless and masculine. "The warm cherry finish and substantial scale of the pieces anchor the three open walls, making the room feel larger," she says. Floor-to-ceiling creative storage maximizes the small space. Naumann had the birch-tree coat stand made from a fallen branch. Discount-store display shelves showcase special toys and baseballs. A red metal ice bucket kennels stuffed animals. And the runners on top of the chest and nightstand protect the top and include side pockets for stashing treasures.
Fish netting stitched to a pillow is an inexpensive and clever way to carry out the subtle fishing theme.
Naumann whipped up fishy pillows using copyright-free images from www.doverpublications.com. She printed the fish onto Epson iron-on transfer paper (available at electronics stores), cut out the shapes, and ironed them onto white fabric. Then she cut out the transfers, pinned them to a premade pillow, and ironed them on using fabric adhesive.
A room is more than just furniture -- it's about making your life easier, such as Steven's Good Job Jar. "The good job jar helps Steven remember what he did in the past week -- everything from school awards and art projects to chores he helped with and nature discoveries," Steven's mom says. Later, Steven pulls these out to share with Dad on the phone or in letters.
Retro-style red camp lanterns make fun, budget-wise lamps. Rechargeable batteries power the fluorescent bulbs. Steven's favorite feature is the nightlight on the side.
Thank you to these sponsors: Broyhill Furniture, Epson, Patina, Land of Nod, Schylling Toys, Coleman, Container Store, Paper Source, Oliebollen, Fred Flare, JCPenney, Reprodepot, Art.com, Dover, Moolka Toys