Raising my seven year old daughter Millisent and three year old son Gabriele alone, space is at a premium in our modest two bedroomed terraced home. Foolishly, or selfishly, I invited my son into my bed from his cot when I suddenly found myself heartbroken and alone just after his first birthday and he’s been happily snuggled up next to me at night for the past two years. He was my comfort blanket when I needed reassurance in finding my feet again and picking up the pieces, and I needed him just as much as he needed me. Just before the separation we were talking about moving to a three bedroomed home so that the children could have their own rooms, but due to unplanned events it’s now just the children and I in my home two years on, and unfortunately my single-person purse doesn’t quite have the thread count required to stretch to affording a larger property. So my daughters pink fairy room is now due to become a unisex bedroom for them both, for which they’ve requested a jungle theme in light of their love of animals and nature. Somebody pass me a paintbrush please.
When I was a child I remember begging my mum to buy me a ladder and screw it to the wall or ceiling in my room. I’ve never had a bunkbed but I always had this vision of climbing up a ladder to perch at the top of the ceiling and keep a lookout over the room, surveying the garden from my window or pretending to be Jack from Jack And The Beanstalk climbing up into the clouds. Needless to say, my mother didn’t get me a ladder and I never got to climb into the sky. For me as a child, life was based on imagination, playing games and drawing pictures within a blank and bland room, but thankfully art and interiors have come such a long way since then and people are far more creative with their homes. Having studied for a diploma in interior design when I was pregnant with my daughter I have a passion for balance, bold colours and textures and just love a good makeover!
Considering my daughter is soon to turn eight I didn’t want the bedroom to feel too childish for her, and likewise with my son being just three it had to be exciting and inviting enough for him to want to sleep in his special new bed, hopefully prying him away from mine. Knowing that the children are obsessed with jungle animals, art and the outdoors I decided to base the colour scheme primarily on white as a neutral, yellow to accent and various shades of green for soft furnishings and accessories. With their many books and toys I didn’t want the room to feel heavy and cluttered but light and fresh, and the built in storage that they already have is perfect for their needs, it just needed a little facelift to follow the new jungle theme as the room is ergonomically efficient as is.
I didn’t want my daughter to feel that her own personal space was being taken away, as her room has always been her pink princess haven where she plays and reads. So it was essential for me to keep the space as unisex as possible and not alienate either of their tastes. I began by painting all woodwork in a white gloss, including the doors, skirting board, bunk bed frame and wardrobe to create a uniformed and peaceful structure to the room whilst providing the illusion of space, as the furniture is far less imposing when it’s the same colour as the walls. Gloss is also brilliant for wiping down and keeping clean where little fingers are concerned and it instantly refreshes a room as sunlight gradually turns white paint a dull yellow over time and needs to be repainted every several years at the very least. I left the toy box as the only natural wood in the room to form a focal point on the outside window wall, much like having a mantlepiece in the lounge, the knots in the pine give a rustic earthy feel like a jungle crate packed with supplies, or rather toys in this case.
Next I changed the pink feature alcove to a rich and vibrant yellow matt emulsion which I’ve echo’d in the new classic Quartz wall clock, retro ring light, picture frame and artificial flowers dotted above the doors, shelves and mirror. Using a strong yellow colour in controlled areas provides a punch of colour without dominating the limited space or making it appear cluttered. I’ve used white voile to mimic a camping bug net by securing it to the four corners of the bed posts, and also as a dressing to frame the television which helps to draw the eye upwards and compliment the mid length curtains, bringing a vertical perspective to an otherwise low level horizontal room. I changed the curtains to a satin olive green which reflect light subtly from their surface and provide a smooth and luxurious texture. I have hung the curtains with hand tied chunky rope instead of hooks to further emphasise the natural palette of the room, followed by a sage foliage patterned material for the curtains along the desk.
I’ve chosen to use varying shades of green throughout the room to prevent it from feeling too primary, as although green is a secondary colour and the complimentary shades I’ve chosen are tertiary, if it were only one shade of green like the single shade of yellow the room would feel more contrived and in competition rather than natural and organic, as in nature there are thousands of variations and species of grass, greenery, trees and plants that all grow together in a rainbow of colours. A fluffy lime textured rug in front of the toy box sits square beneath the feature light, reinforcing the focal point of the room and giving depth and balance to the brown cord carpet symbolic of soil and grass.
Twisting artificial ivy around the bunk bed ladder and along the edge of each shelf further helps to pull together the outdoors-indoors feel of the room and it costs just a few pence for just as many metres of leaves. Removing the posters and charts from the wardrobe doors and donating unwanted books and toys to the charity shop has allowed for a more streamlined and uncluttered fresh feel to the room. I finished the space by switching the children’s bedding to matching pale fitted sheets in a sage colour, with a new white wooden single bed and mattress for my son and a dinosaur duvet, with a tiger duvet for my daughter.
When we first moved into our home five and a half years ago my daughter helped me to paint the wall behind her bed, which at the time was a small cot bed with a bookshelf next to it that looked lost beneath the vast magnolia walls. She loved to draw trees much like lollipops and it’s something that makes us both still smile to see it. Being as she now has a fascination for art and design I asked her to turn her childhood trees into a jungle by adding her favourite animals. I feel that having taken her posters off of the walls to declutter and cleanse the space, she still needed to feel that her room was a haven that she has contributed to and personalised. I gave her a pack of felt pens and asked her to draw whatever she wanted, and in years to come if she no longer likes it we can simply roller over it with paint. She drew a beautiful collection of butterflies, monkeys, an elephant, snake, toucan and giraffe and was ecstatic to be able to create her own art which is wonderful to look at.
The children love their new bedroom and sleep very happily like cheeky little monkeys in the jungle! As the children get older I can easily change the accessories to grow with them. So what do you think of their new room? And have you already done, or are you planning to do something similar for your children?