Reveal Time! The Bunk Room

I think I tried every wives tale out there on how to conceive a girl when trying to conceive my fourth child. Well, let’s just say there’s a reason why they’re called “wives tales” and not “scientifically proven methods.” By this point, I have become all to familiar with the turtle image on the sonogram screen. So before the sonographer could say anything, I said, “yup, another boy!” And then choked back tears and gave up on dreams of tea parties and handmade prom dresses. I think I was disappointed for a half second, but because I have three amazing little boys – made 100% of snips, snails and puppy dog tails – I knew the fun I was about to have all over again.

After the unpleasant reality settled in that in about 10 years time 80% of my monthly income would be spent on groceries to feed 4 teenage boys, I also realized that I now needed space for 4 little boys. Currently, the big boys, 8 and 6, share a room and the 2 year old has the nursery. I’m unwilling to give up my guest room, you’re welcome, Mom and Dad. BUT I have plenty of experience with shared sleeping quarters – thank you, Marine Corps. Bunk beds it is, but built in bunk beds…x2. I immediately began drawing up plans.

I wanted the design to be youthful, yet classic. Something that could grow with the boys. While scrolling through the image results of my “bunkroom” Google search, I saw a few steam engine sleeping cars…hummm, I like this! A lot of the sleeping cars had art deco elements; clean, long, lines, symmetry and metallic finishes. I had already put together a loose “outer space theme” for their previous room design and figured I could incorporate that along with the art deco train feel. When was that radio broadcast about the alien invasion of earth? Art Deco period, right? See, it all works. I put together this mood board that really kick started my motivation for the project.

There was not enough room to do twin beds foot to foot and I wasn’t crazy about an L-shaped bunk bed. I also knew that as a military family, we only had three years in this house and my toddler wouldn’t need a big boy bed for sometime. Therefore, I could get away with a twin bed and toddler bed foot to foot. I could market the bunk room as “built in bunk beds with a reading nook” for future buyers. I did check with my realtor first and if she was on board, then I figured I had the green light.

We cleared out the room, sold off the loft beds that I had made for them the year prior – ugh – ripped up the blonde engineered hardwood floors that didn’t match the terrible laminate floors in the hallway at all – nice attempt by the previous owners, but completely missed the mark – and then laid new, wide plank engineered, aged oak hardwoods that will continue through out the house. First time laying hardwoods on a concrete slab and I have yet to decide which is easier – nailing on a wood sub-floor or gluing on a slab. My aging knees say neither. Either way, the end result is always something to be proud of.

I framed out the beds first. These had to be strong – could survive a California earthquake strong – for my 4 crazy boys. 4″x4″ posts and 2″x4″s and secured to the studs. Solid.

Once the framing was done, I could correctly position where I wanted their reading lights to go. Low wattage light-bulbs inside the perfect sconce would make their “quarters” feel so cozy and would hopefully encourage independent reading!

Then came the facing and the finishing. I used MDF for a smooth painted finish, but then had to make the textured walls on the inside of the bunks smooth. Once those were plastered over with two coats and smooth over, I caulked, and caulked and caulked…and then caulked some more. All the nail holes and joints. Took FOOORRRREEEVVVEEERRRR.

“Rainy Season” by Behr was my color of choice. A calming grayish, blue that is young and spirited, but sophisticated and current. It also pairs perfectly with the antique brass/gold accents, natural fibers and navy blue trims I chose for the rest of the room elements. I didn’t want to whole room blue, just the beds to make them stand out as a solid piece of furniture. As I was trimming out the beds, I thought it would be nice to continue the color around the room. “White Veil” by Behr, a creamy off white, covers the other walls and Spanish Sand by Behr warms up the ceiling.

The railings are my proudest moment. They look like brass pipes, right? Like $700 worth of brass pipes, right? Would you believe that they’re PVC!? Better believe it! You’ll have to check out my stories on Instagram to see how easy it was, but basically, PVC sanded down to smooth the edges and remove any brand markings. Primed and painted and tada!!! I used heavy duty closet rod flanges to mount them

LIGHTING

I rewired and painted this awesome Art Deco cast iron flush mount I found on eBay.

I picked up the lamps at Target years ago, but I think they still sell them. I found some navy blue shades on Amazon to better coordinate with the dark accents around the room.

The sconces were from The Home Depot and even though I had set up the wiring to be controlled on a switch – so this mama didn’t have to crawl into the top bunk at 10:52pm to turn off a light – I still wanted the boys to be able to turn them on/off on their own. So I modified the sconces with a pull switch. Did you see my Instagram post about it?

TEXTILES

Khaki linen duvet covers and navy cotton quilts, easy enough, right? the magic comes in with these awesome glow in the dark star sheets from Pottery Barn. Yes, they really glow in the dark! The boys love them! I made the throw pillows for some fun character –who doesn’t love a tassel!?

The abstract rug we have had for years, but I customized it to fit on top of the 5’x7’-ish jute rug. My OCD really struggled with the sizing here, so I made more work for myself to have it centered. #momentofzen

ART AND FURNITURE

Did you notice the starry skies above the beds? “Stars” by Cole & Sons was the perfect paper to pull everything together. I trimmed it out with tiny molded trim that I had spray painted gold. It’s those details that truly make the room.

I had the celestial chart (from Ballard Home) framed along with the boys’ zodiacs (2 were born in the same sign). I found the zodiac art online and requested custom sizes from the artist. Never be afraid to reach out to artists! More often than not, they’re all to willing to make what you need! Just disregard the fact that the latest baby’s due date had changed AFTER I already had this framed, ugh!

The space photographs had the perfect colors – let alone matched the theme. As you probably already know, Etsy has the most amazing artists. I had the Sputnik and spaceship steel cutouts made from an Etsy artist years ago. I love their placement with the light up moon.

I needed a large dresser for all of those cute shirts and character themed pajamas. I searched Craigslist for what seemed like months and finally found one that was perfect! It had the late 60s/early 70s high sheen finish with a golden stain and those feet that make it look super heavy. Fabulous Furniture Flip time!!! I sanded it all down, replaced the feet and finished with a white, wax paste. Regrettably, I wish I would have left some of the golden finish, the bare wood looks a little too beachy for what I was going for. The new hardware seems to redeem my vision a little – either way, I’m not refinishing this thing twice.

The IKEA hack toy storage came out better than I expected. Two KALLAX cube storage units covered with canvas and trimmed out with faux leather and steam trunk hardware – so cool! The natural fiber baskets add some texture and tie in the jute rug and the small chair. The Rule of Thirds strikes again!

So there ya have it! Our bunk room. By the time I finished writing this post the boys had already put the room back k in its natural state, ie. total disaster zone. I’ll treasure these photos and their cleanliness.

Cheers!

-A.A.

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