TJ’s Surfin’ Big Boy Bedroom

How did you decide what theme or style you wanted for the room?

A year after we got married, my husband and I spent a week in Maui and we fell in love with the island. About five months later, I found out I was pregnant and I knew right away I wanted to do some sort of Hawaiian/vintage surf theme for our little boy’s nursery. I wanted to go with navy blue with cherry furniture, plus bright blues, yellows, greens and other colors that I felt would grow with him into his school-aged years. When looking for inspiration, none of the pre-packaged nursery sets sold in the big box stores interested me.  TJ’s Surfin’ Big Boy Bedroom

I purchased a few different fabrics, furniture was being put together and I had a few ideas for DIY projects I was planning. My sister painted the room a pale, creamy yellow for me, too.

The only photo I have of his unfinished nursery.

I will admit that I procrastinated quite a bit. It was a warm, uncomfortable summer in southern California and our little house had no air conditioning. I was planning to make his crib bedding from scratch and finish the room once I started my maternity leave at 38 weeks.

When he was born at 37 weeks, all of that was put on hold. By the time we had breastfeeding down and a good routine going, my maternity leave ended and I was back at work. I couldn’t find the time to make a lot of the DIY items I wanted to. I continued to look for more ideas for his room, and I occasionally got a couple of little things done, but I never got a chance to really finish the room.

When he was four months old, I officially gave up on making crib bedding for him and ordered some custom items from The Baby Guy using the fabrics I had already purchased. I adored what he made for me and it was much nicer than anything I would have been able to DIY.

When TJ was a year and a half, we moved. I was a little sad that I never really got his nursery completed, but I figured that moving gave me a fresh start to make an awesome big boy room for him. We transitioned him to a twin bed shortly after moving, so it allowed me to work on some fun ways to use the space in his small bedroom.

How did you bring it all together? Inspiration boards, Pinterest, all in your head?

Since I was “designing” TJ’s nursery before we had Pinterest, I made an inspiration board using the furniture I registered for and some of the fabrics I was planning to use to make his bedding:

After we moved, I had a lot of random places for inspiration; Pinterest, Etsy and Pottery Barn Kids were just a few. More than once, the Pottery Barn Kids catalog had a surf-style kids bedroom and nursery that I loved, but most of the elements were way more than I could afford. I kept them in my head for inspiration though. Here is my Pinterest board for his room.

What are the colors in the bedroom?

Navy blue, bright blues, bright greens and white. Since we are renting our current house, I didn’t want to bother with repainting the walls, so I left them the latte color that was there.

Where did you find the key elements and fun details?

All over! The cube shelf and the curtains are from Target. His not-so-great dresser is Storkcraft from Amazon. The surfboard hooks are from Amazon too. All of the picture frames and the palm tree sheets on his bed are from Kohl’s. The bean bag chair came from WalMart. The big green leaf over his bed is from Ikea.

The beach photos on canvas were taken by my cousin during a trip we all took to Kauai when TJ was 18 months old and I divided the photo into the triptych. The smaller beach photos are from southern California photographer, Daniel Sofer. He posts a Picture of the Day on his site, usually from the beach towns west of Los Angeles and I adore his gorgeous photos. He happened to post a photo of the sunset on the day TJ was born, so I bought that photo in 5×7 along with a few of my favorites.

Another print that I love is from IndigoNight. It shows what the moon and stars looked like over southern California the night TJ was born. It’s such a simple and beautiful keepsake. I love looking at it and often wish I had ordered it in a larger size.

TJ’s duvet cover, fabric and painted wall art, and the ribbon memo board are all DIY. You can see how I made the memo board here, I just made a long rectangle instead of a fun shape.

What are some of the storage solutions you utilize?

In his closet, he doesn’t have many clothes that need to be hung on hangers, so we have two of those hanging shelves in his closet. They hold random blankets, shoes, a lot of clothes that don’t fit TJ just yet, and they held cloth diapers when he was still in diapers. They have been a great way to store items that would otherwise be taking up space in boxes.

His three-drawer dresser holds the clothes he wears every day. We don’t use the cabinet much anymore and the dresser isn’t very good quality, so I have been searching Craigslist for a new dresser that I can refinish… maybe something taller. We shall see.

The cube shelf has been perfect for holding his books and toys. And I love the rain gutter shelves to display his current favorite books.

Were you on a budget?

Oh yes! Decorating our home sits very low on the priority list for my husband and me, so I have kept anything decor-related on the very inexpensive side of things. Since the house we are living in is rented, I just left the walls the latte color that was already there.

Doing as many DIY projects as possible has saved me a lot of money. I guess since I have been “working” on this room since before TJ was born, it has given me the opportunity to really spend time looking for inexpensive decor items and research DIY projects.

There are still a few things I would love to add to his room that I can’t quite justify yet financially. I would love to add a wall mural or a giant wave decal. Maybe they will have to wait until we move again and are in a more permanent house.

What do you love most about the room?

Two things:

First, I am quite proud of the duvet cover I made for his big boy bed. When he moved out of his crib, I took his crib bumper and cut off most of the fabrics. Then I used the pieces to make the chevron quilt section of his duvet. He went with me to the fabric store to help me pick out some more tropical prints to use on his duvet, too. The rest of the duvet is made with the surfboard fabric that is used in other places in his room (curtains, memo board). Because I really took my time working on it, it took me over a year to finish. I love how it turned out.

Second, on TJ’s dresser is a wooden, painted bear. It was made by my maternal grandfather years ago when he was big into woodworking. He made one of those bears for all of his grandkids, great-grandkids and a few of the grandkids of his closest friends. He died almost 15 years ago and when my dad was cleaning out his garage, he found one last bear that he hadn’t given away. No one knew about the last bear but my dad and grandmother. She gave it to me at my baby shower and a few tears were shed remembering my beloved grandpa. As of right now, TJ doesn’t know where this bear came from, but I plan to teach to him about how awesome his great-grandpa was one day.

Did your little one give any input on the room?

When we were talking to TJ about transitioning to his big boy bed, just after he turned two, I took him to Kohl’s to let him pick out the sheets. I would have been happy with any solid color, thinking he would have gone with blue or green, but then we saw the palm tree print and he loved it. Ever since that trip we took to Kauai when he was 18 months old, he has loved banana trees. And at the time, anything that looked like a palm tree was called a ‘nana tree’ to him. He was quite proud to get to pick out the sheets for his big boy bed.

He also painted the letter ‘T’ that sits on his shelf. He was very proud of that project.

I’m planning to make a cover for his new bean bag chair and thinking I’ll have him help out too.

Any tips for mamas on how to make their dream room a reality?

Once you get an idea in your head, get started as soon as you can. If you can’t finish it for whatever reason, it’s not the end of the world. You are not denying your child anything by not giving them a picture-perfect, blog-worthy nursery.

Would I have loved to have a beautiful nursery to take photos of? Sure. But TJ barely slept in his nursery for his first year and he never really played in there much. His big boy room has been used so much more now that he’s older and actually sleeping in his own bed and I adore that it has really become “his” room.

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