We’ve been in our house for five years, but up until last weekend only three of the four bedrooms were in operation – with the fourth being used as a store room and referred to as ‘the room from hell’ (not an over-exaggeration).
The room from hell was clad in textured wallpaper, which had been badly painted in a dirty magnolia shade. It had a broken radiator, unreachable dormer windows covered in grime inside and out and was piled high with boxes full of CDs and books, baby clothes, toys and paraphernalia which I had saved ‘just in case’ we had another and random things like the Christmas box, old school, college and uni work belonging to both myself and my husband, and underneath it all was a piece of carpet which we hoped to actually use in the room in the event that we ever saw the floor again. Not only that, but damp from dodgy chimneys on either side of the room was creeping in and making greasy-looking marks on the ceiling and walls. And everything was coated with a not-so-fine layer of dust. Lovely.
So it’s hard to believe that we’ve succeeded in clearing out this hellish cavern and converted it into a light, bright bedroom for our daughter. To be honest, it’s now the nicest room in the house. As I’ve been getting bigger and bigger with the baby I spent a lot of time planning how the room would look rather than doing any of the heavy stuff (my husband has been in proper dad mode and has done things like carry a chest of drawers upstairs by himself, with me flapping around anxiously worrying he’s going to squash himself).
I did some of the painting, a lot of the tradesman sorting (roofer, plasterer, carpet fitter etc) and quite a bit of sweeping and making drinks. And a whole lotta shopping online – the best bit!
It’s hard decorating a room for a girl of three when we knew she’s likely to be in the room until we move (the grand plan is to go somewhere else in about four years once I have a proper job again after completing my PhD). We didn’t want to paint it garishly or decorate in anything that she might quickly grow out of, but we needed her to absolutely love it now too. The idea was she would be so keen to move in there that she didn’t care that her old room would find itself occupied by another small person later down the line.
I was also keen not to spend a fortune (which would be easy to do) but to get good quality furniture and fittings which would last. We were lucky enough to inherit not just one, but two single beds. The first being a white wrought iron bed frame which I would personally have killed to sleep in at the age of three. The second bed was more practical, with huge storage drawers in its base – perfect to turn into a sofa for now and to use as a sleepover bed when she’s older.
I also decided to move her existing drawers up to her new room and bought some smaller second hand drawers for the bairn off eBay.
But we still needed a toy box (to avoid the current state of constant destruction of her existing bedroom), book shelves, a bedside table, curtains, bed linen and light fittings – not cheap. Luckily we were given a chest and shelves from a family friend and I scored two matching bedside tables for a bargain price of £20 off eBay – one for small fry and one for the baby’s room. I spent the most time looking for blackout curtains which were functional, fun and would hopefully have a lasting appeal – seriously, there are a lot of horrible curtains on the internet! I finally struck gold with John Lewis, with their Abbey Elephant blackout lined curtains for £60 and I splashed out on the matching duvet and pillow set – which at £25 for pure cotton was a much better price than alternatives at shops like M&S.
Ikea provided the lighting solutions – although my husband was cursing me for insisting on the blue cloud pendant light for £14 which was a bugger to install (but worth it, he begrudgingly agrees now!). Our daughter insisted on a bedside light too – she loves looking at books after going to bed (as well as doing random things like jigsaws in bed, strangely enough not altogether successfully and usually with dramatic pieces-going-missing consequences) and she chose a red LED light for £22 which is easy to use.
Then it was just a matter of hauling all of her books, toys and clothes upstairs to the top floor and sorting them out – which we did one lovely Saturday while small stuff was with my parents. We also needed to hang the prints Ben has made for every one of our daughter’s birthdays and a few other pictures.
Fuelled by bacon sandwiches and Celebrations chocs (a mat leave pressie for me) we put the room together. I don’t know who was more excited when we unveiled it later on – us or small fry!
The only problem now is the new Room From Hell – this baby had better hold off until I’ve managed to make this look less terrifying and more like a nursery!