If there’s been one thing sure and consistent for our family this summer, it has been change! Uprooting both boys from a community and house they loved, moving them across country, and getting them settled in time to welcome a new baby brother AND start a new school year is A LOT. For all of us. As such, one of my biggest priorities has been getting the boys’ bedrooms setup as much as possible so they feel settled and comfortable enough to handle everything coming at them. Henry’s bedroom just got a makeover last year and he wanted to keep the Star Wars theme, so I didn’t do much prior planning there. But I very much wanted to update and refresh Sam’s room so that it would grow with him during our three years here. While I was absolutely ready to shed the “nursery” feel of his old room, I didn’t want to drop the superhero theme we ALL love so much. So in the weeks before we moved, I worked to come up with a super hero toddler bedroom design plan we could start executing right away. It uses a lot of what we already owned yet has an older, updated feel that just works so darn well! I am so excited to share this plan with you today; and then in the coming weeks/months you’ll get to see how this room ultimately comes together!
Sam’s Superhero Nursery is, without a doubt, one of my favorite rooms of all time. It was such a joy to pull together all the patterns, colors, textiles and cutesy elements. And during our full three years in California, I never tired of or wanted to change this space once. And considering I almost always want to change something in a room, that really says a lot!
That said, some of you may recall when I first finished the room, even I was a bit surprised at how “nursery” it felt. Although all the elements worked beautifully together, the light blue paired with the grey stars had a very “baby boy” feel. I certainly loved it for our brand new baby boy, but I knew it wasn’t a design that would grow with him into his toddler and preschool years. I didn’t worry about it too much though, knowing we’d move right around the time his room would warrant a refresh!
I wanted to keep certain elements of the room the same so that it would feel familiar to Sam. However, I also wanted to give the room an older look that would easily work for a 3-5 year old. To do this on a budget, I chose to pair many of the existing accessories with some new statement pieces that would dramatically change the look and feel of the room. Let me show you what I mean!
The biggest thing that contributed to the “nursery” feel of Sam’s old room was absolutely the light blue ceiling with the grey/white star wallpaper. So I knew that by simply swapping out these two really dominant elements, the entire room would transform. It took me about 0.2 seconds to land on the Arrowhead wallpaper because I’ve been waiting to use it on something for forever! (And after watching it like a hawk across various sites, I was able to score enough for a feature wall on sale!) I chose to pair it with Denim paint from Sherwin Williams – the same color we used in our old master bedroom and that is part of our whole-home color scheme!
The other main element that needed updating was the furniture…more out of necessity than design. With all the nursery furniture heading to the baby’s room, Sam needed a bed, dresser and nightstand. I was so smitten with the navy and black combo of our old playroom and it felt like such a natural transition for the super hero theme, so I immediately began considering black furniture options that worked with the geometric wallpaper and deeper paint.
Years ago, and I mean YEARS ago, I snagged an ooooold Jenny Lind full bed frame at an antique mall for $10. The Jenny Lind design (with the spindles) is one I have loved for a long time, and we’ve lugged this frame around the country, move after move, waiting for a chance to finally use it. In considering a bedroom set for Sam, updating and using the antique frame was an obvious solution. After lots of research and weighing various options, I chose to pair the vintage bed with some simple yet sturdy IKEA dressers. All told, this was the most budget-friendly route to a complete “bedroom set” that worked from both a design and function perspective.
So after committing (at least on paper) money to new walls, new dressers, and a new mattress for our old bed frame, I really wanted to rely on items I already had on hand to pull the rest of the room together. By sticking to a pretty consistent palette for much of our house, I thankfully had lots and lots of choices. Using storage options and artwork from his original nursery, the curtains from our old master, and some plain white bedding and shelving we’ve had in storage for years, I had just the right pieces to bring the whole room together!
Putting It All Together
Even though I had a very good vision in my head using all these various elements, I always like to put together computer renderings of each wall in a room so I can anticipate if something isn’t going to come together quite right. If you’ve never done anything like this before, it’s a really valuable exercise and I show exactly how to do it here.
I only wanted to invest $100 in the peel-and-stick wallpaper, so a feature wall behind the bed was the obvious use for the wallpaper (rather than the entire room, as before). Paired with the glossy black bed, nightstand and crisp white bedding (that I’m going to update just like the curtains), the focal point of the room comes together in quite the whimsical display!
I really wanted to use the navy paint on the walls; but Sam’s room is teeny tiny. As such, I decided to paint only half of the wall with the deep color. This not only mimics the design in the nursery right across the hall, but also keeps the room light and bright! The fun and whimsical art on the walls also helps the room from feeling too mature.
Floor space is at a serious premium in this room, so adding a bookcase for storage was out of the question. Floating shelves combined with decorative storage will balance out the final wall in the room.
Walking into our new house with this design plan hashed out really allowed me to hit the ground running. Not only was I able to watch for and take advantage of sales on the wallpaper and sheets; but in a very systematic fashion, we were able to paint and wallpaper the walls, get the art and shelves up, and makeover the bed. And honestly…it has all come together even better than I expected! After the baby is born, I plan to finish adding the tassel trim to the bedding and make some pillowcases using up his old crib sheets, and then this room is pretty much done!!!
Star Sheets | White Bedding with Blue Tassels (I’m DIYing) | Red Star Lumbar Pillow (I am DIYing from Sam’s crib sheet, but this fabric is a good alternative) | Navy Tassel Curtains | Denim by Sherwin Williams | Arrowhead Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper | Marshmallow by Sherwin Williams | White & Gold Floating Shelves (I am DIYing) | Super Hero Wall Art (the shop I used has closed, but this set is similar) | Super Hero Alphabet Art | Gold Mirror | Super Hero Beanie Babies | Navy Touch Lamp | Blue Bookends | Black DRONA Bins | Wire Baskets | Grey Crates
It’s amazing to me how some rooms click together almost instantly (like this one!) and how other spaces require tons of trial-and-error to get it right. Now that I’ve shared the direction we’re going in in this room, I can’t wait to start revealing all the progress we’ve made, including how we updated our antique Jenny Lind bed to not only look but also function for modern day! That and more will be coming down the pike in the weeks/months ahead!