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Creating a "Big Boy" Room: Insights from a Children’s Designer

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Beginning of a Child's Room Journey

Three years ago today I shared our eldest son's "big boy room". We were getting ready to welcome our second baby and had to transition J out of the nursery. I wish I had a true before picture of this space but can't seem to find it however, I'll try to paint the image for you ... bright LIME green walls that were blinding and nauseating all at the same time. When we moved into the house the first thing we did was paint it and then we used the space as a temporary playroom. We were exhausted, working full time and trying to finish the project evenings and weekends. These were my exact words:

"One very special little boy has been patiently waiting for his big boy room to be finished. Every morning and every night for the past couple of months he runs inside to check on the progress. Well buddy, today is the day! It's finally ready! A few minor details left but we can't possibly make him wait any longer. There is no specific theme as J is interested in many things so his new space is a reflection of this. Thank you @be_nutritious (my husband) for always making my vision come to life. You worked so hard on every project I threw your way and it is absolutely perfect. You are amazing!!!"

A Pleasant Surprise!

Little did I know that my design would be shared on multiple blogs and websites as "boys bedroom inspiration"! I absolutely loved designing this space and this was the beginning of the spark - a love for children's interiors. I often get asked to share sources from this space so here they are ... just click any of the highlighted words for links!

The Captivating Woodwork

My husband and father-in-law measured, cut, and assembled every massive piece of that real 100-year-old barn wood! I carefully chose each piece of wood by selecting certain colours, textures, and characteristics that each one had. We sourced these pieces from Deadstok Reclaimed.

Accessorizing the Space

I ordered the letters for his name from Indigo but they are discontinued. I found some options on amazon that would also look great!

The bedside table, duvet cover set (seems to be discontinued but here are some other options from ikea and amazon), throw blanket, and large black frames were all from Ikea.

The two hockey pillows were from Bouclair.

The baskets in front of the bed were from Michaels Canada. I don't see the exact ones from Michaels but I have some cute options from amazon here. The blocks inside of the baskets are made out of cardboard by Melissa and Doug Toys and are only $40 here!

I wanted a cushioned fabric bed frame because ... kids and jumping on the bed are inevitable. I custom-made this one with Linen Chest however I love these options from Structube.

The carpet was purchased from Target when they existed in Canada *sigh as I desperately miss them* but I've listed a couple of very similar options here.

Nurturing the Home

The guitar was my husband's wedding gift from me :) J loved it ever since he was an infant so it just had to go in his room! The bedside light, print, and basket were all from HomeSense Canada. I listed some similar products on amazon for you.

Now for the other side of the room! Most of the decor and accessories were from HomeSense Canada or Michaels Canada. I won't go into the knitty gritty with all the details but will stick to the main pieces. This dresser was an investment but 100% worth every penny. It is Canadian made and solid wood ... this is a piece that will last forever. I bought it from Direct Interiors (love their stuff). The tent is by KidKraft and I ordered it from Costco Canada. I have listed some other awesome teepee options here. The light fixture was also from Costco Canada and was a total random find. They only had it in stock for a couple of months and then it was no where to be found. I listed some industrial/rustic light options here for you.

Planning the Shelves

And for the shelves .... I have always been obsessed with these Restoration Hardware ones so I drew sketch ... showed it to my husband ... then said "make it happen" hahaha. He took the challenge on and I couldn't have been happier with the final result. To replicate this idea, your design and layout would be totally up to you but here are a few key steps to how he got it done:

1. Purchased galvanized piping (you can also purchase black iron pipes) 2. Cleaned the pipes with "liquid TSP" or "mineral spirits" (this is a smelly process so I suggest to do it in an open garage or outdoors) 2. Spray painted the pipes with matte black spray paint (always spray paint outdoors) 3. Cut and sized 3/4" thick pieces of pine wood (ours our 7 feet long x 11 inches wide) 4. Stained the wood with "Varathane Wood Stain" in Espresso 5. Coated the shelves with clear satin Polyurethane

We based the length of our shelves on the dresser underneath them. Mark off where you would like the shelves to go. If you find a stud, great! If not, you will require anchors to support the weight of the shelves.

Looking Ahead

Thankful to my friend Mary Cecala Photography who was able to snap some awesome pictures of the details.

Being home during the current pandemic has me truly appreciating our space and all of the work/design that we have put into it. When we first purchased this house, it was a complete rut. We knew it was worn down and was going to need a lot of TLC.

This May will officially be seven years since we moved in and we have slowly turned it from a house into our home. We have made design and renovation choices to better suit our family and the needs we've had as we lived here... especially after having kids.

I'm Pinterest-obsessed and am constantly searching for inspiration. I cannot wait to share more spaces that we have completed with all of you!

With love,



Also, full disclosure that I receive a small commission from any purchases made through my Amazon Storefront. I have put many hours into setting it up and truly hope that you find it helpful! None of the links are sponsored. All opinions and product suggestions are 100% authentically mine... just doing and sharing what I love with love.

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I'm Vanessa

I’ve helped hundreds of families all over North America by designing playrooms, craft rooms, bedrooms and nurseries that blow their kid’s minds and spark a new sense of wonder!

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