For years we dreamed about the day the girls would get their own bedrooms. For nearly eight years they’d been shoehorned into bunk beds in a tiny front bedroom, and I began to worry that we’d never be able to give them their own space.
They have such different styles (Big Sis is no frills while Big Sis is ALL about the frills) and I really wanted their rooms to be a sanctuary that reflected them and their personalities.
I was also thinking ahead to Big Sis starting secondary school and the fact she needed somewhere to concentrate on her homework, so realising we’d finally be able to do this for them was one of the most exciting aspects of our recent renovation.
Our home is a 1970’s semi-detached on an awkward steeply sloping site, so we had to be very clever with our design. The final plans were for a double side extension built over our old driveway, with a single extension stretching out the back to fit our new open-plan kitchen-diner). We employed the services of architect/interior designer, Anj Johnson to help us squeeze every square inch out of the modest plot of land we were working with.
And she literally did THE MOST incredible job – taking my vague thoughts and transcribing them into solid concepts, as well as coming up with ideas we’d never have even considered on our own – and I credit her completely with how stylish the finished design looks.
One of our trickiest challenges was squeezing a reasonably-sized extra room upstairs, but she came back with a plan to move our bathroom into the extended top storey and open up the old site to create a new bedroom for Big Sis. In doing so we also added some extra space to Lil Sis’s room, transforming it from a bijoux box room, to a spacious double.
But, I’ll be honest, it was hard to envisage our family bathroom being a place where Big Sis would soon be sleeping, especially as there was a loo still plumbed into the middle of the room until the toilet in the new bathroom was up and running. Here’s a peek at how the renovation progressed…
As soon as the old suite was ripped out, the room really began to transform – the walls were plastered, the new window fitted and the ceiling lights installed, and you could start to see the room it was going to be.
After much to-ing and fro-ing between design concepts Big Sis finally dismissed jungle and underwater, and went for an outer space theme (which I was thrilled about, as that was my favourite pick).
We set the scene by painting the walls a deep French navy blue.
It was actually a big step outside my comfort zone to go for such a dark colour – all those fancy design shows tell you that small rooms need light colours to open them up – but I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out and stay ‘safe’ as I know I’d have regretted not being more daring. In fact, if I could do it again, I think I’d even paint the ceiling the same colour, to give it an unending ‘lost deep in space’ feel, and dot it with hundreds of glow-in-the-dark stars.
Next, it was time to sort out a bed for Big Sis. The space constraints meant we had to be creative, so we opted for a high sleeper single bed with a built-in wardrobe, drawers and desk underneath.
Lil Sis has a habit of getting in her sister’s face when she’s trying to do her homework, so it was important to me that Big Sis have a dedicated space where she keep all her stationery and her Acer Swift laptop, and concentrate on her school projects.
I picked up this brand new Ikea chair on Ebay for £7.99 (bargain!) and I got the clip-on desk lamp from John Lewis about four years ago (search clip-on desk lamp on Amazon and you can find similar for about £15).
But the room needed something more to establish its celestial identity, so I got in touch with wall decor specialists PIXERS and asked, very nicely, if they could help me bring the room to life with one of their self-adhesive wall murals. And they said yes! They had so many amazing pictures to choose from, but eventually I found the perfect one, showing planet earth from outer space. How gorgeous is this?
I had it custom made to the dimensions we needed, and on the morning of Big Sis’s 10th birthday (convenient timing!) OH carefully applied it to her bedroom wall. It was slightly tricky at first, but once he figured out how to line it all up and avoid air bubbles (pull the backing paper away inch by inch, smoothing and pressing the mural downwards as you go) it took less than half an hour to complete.
And the difference literally made me gasp – the mural completely transformed the room from bog-standard, to out of this world (pun totally intended). I actually couldn’t love it any more – it’s exactly what I pictured in my head – and Big Sis’s face when she saw the transformation was priceless.
Then, as if by fate (or maybe an extra-terrestrial influence?!) I was given the chance to review something from AMAZING children’s interiors website, REROOM. When I saw they had this glow-in-the-dark Moon clock, it was just too perfect (Pssssst! Keep an eye on my social media over the next few days as I’ll be giving you a chance to win one of these lovely clocks for yourself).
I still have a few finishing touches to sort out – I’ve ordered this constellation duvet and pillow set from Next (seriously, how cool is this? And is it weird that I’m a bit jealous?!).
Lastly, I’m keeping my eye out for one more piece of artwork to add a teensy bit more outer space oomph: I’m not entirely sure what exactly I’m looking for yet, but I’ll know it when I see it.
However… if I can’t find anything better, I might regift her this lovely Lune art print I was sent last year from Desenio as I’m planning to give my own bedroom a facelift soon too (keep looking out for that!).
So… what do you think of our venture into outer space – mission accomplished or mission aborted?
• read about the last time we carried out building work in my 2010 post ‘Why Kids, Renovations and Christmas Don’t Mix‘.