Little Boy's Bedroom: Red, Blue and Action-Packed

Dylan, a fun-loving 6-year-old, gets a red and blue bedroom makeover packed with heirlooms from his dad's 1980s childhood.

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In spring 2011 Jason Moore and wife Christina purchased a 2,100-square-foot, traditional Florida-style ranch house that is three blocks from the ocean in Fort Lauderdale. Although the generously sized bedrooms were a main selling point to Jason and his young family, the rooms lacked in both character and architectural interest. "We fell in love with the house right away," says Jason. "Although certain areas needed full renovations, the bedrooms simply needed some sprucing up. Nothing needed to be demolished, just added on to."

Of the three 16x14-foot bedrooms in the house, the one designated for 6-year-old Dylan needed the most tending to. "Dylan is really active and he has a limitless imagination," says Jason. "He loves playing baseball and soccer as much as he loves playing with his Star Wars and Spider-Man action figures. It was important his bedroom encourage both of these things." To turn the lackluster space into a room befitting an active 6-year-old, Jason and Christina set a timeline of three weeks and a budget of $4,500.

Although Jason and Christina loved the room's parquet-style, wood-look ceramic tile floors, there wasn’t anything else about it to love. Determined to add architectural interest, personality and playful flair, the young mom and dad put together a to-do list that included:

  • Cladding the walls with white beadboarding
  • Adding crown molding
  • Installing an oversized drum pendant
  • Striping the ceiling with paint
  • Updating the reach-in closet
  • Installing custom window treatments to control the intense Florida sun
  • Creating separate areas for sleeping, playing and doing homework
  • Incorporating many of Jason's old childhood favorites into the design

Before beginning work on the space, the couple needed to agree on a color scheme. "I didn't want it to be crazy with really intense colors everywhere," says Jason. "Keeping it classic was important so Dylan could grow with the room." After trying several different combinations, both Jason and wife Christina agreed on an American-inspired palette of navy blue, ultra-white and fire-engine red.

For Christina the red took some serious convincing. "In college my roommate wanted to paint our hallway a shade of red and I flipped out, concerned that it would look like a pathway to hell," says Christina. "I warmed up to the idea of using red sparingly. Accents of red are great; four walls of red, not so much."

As far as how each color would be used, Jason and Christina decided to have the beadboarding and crown molding painted high-gloss ultra-white, to use the navy blue for the wall above the wainscoting, then to combine the two on the ceiling in the form of 14-inch stripes. To work fire-engine red into the room, they opted to have the interior walls of the closet painted a Benjamin Moore shade called Currant Red. They also introduced different shades of red through a desk, accessories and pillows, and through Roman shades on the windows.

First up on the to-do list was adding electric to Dylan's ceiling. Although the task seemed simple, Jason claims that dealing with electric is not something he wants to experience again anytime soon. "Our contractor, Marco, had to add junction boxes to our ceiling, which is made of plaster," Jason says. "The amount of debris and dust involved with cutting a 6-inch hole is mind-blowing. If you’re having electrical done on plaster walls, make sure it's done prior to moving anything into the house." Luckily for Jason, Dylan's furniture and belongings were still at the family's previous house while his new room was being worked on.

With the junction box installed, Jason next turned his focus to paint, starting with the ceiling stripes. "Painting a design on a ceiling involves much more math than one would think," Jason notes. "Between my wife and our painter, it probably took an hour just to decide how wide each stripe would be." In order to keep the lines perfectly straight on the rough plaster ceiling, painter's tape was used first, then a detail brush was used to fill in any bleeding from the tape. From start to finish, the striping of the ceiling took nine hours.

Jason's team of contractors next added architecture to the room by cutting 8x4 sheets of beadboard into 5x4 panels, then attaching them to the walls with a nail gun and liquid nails. In adding beadboard to the room, the contractors employed a technique that uses caulk to create professional results. By adding an even bead of caulk around the top and bottom edges, then using it to fill in any imperfections, they made the beadboard and drywall appear to be seamless.

In order to ensure a finished top, Jason had the team attach 1x4 MDF along the top, miter the corners and then paint the trim and the beadboard with white semigloss paint. "Semigloss is a must in a boy’s room, especially a 6-year-old who lives within walking distance to the beach," Jason explains. "Between soccer practice, sand, tar and wet bathing suits, it's likely the walls are going to take a beating."


Browse Pictures of this Boy's Bedroom Makeover

Although painting the beadboard white was quick and easy, the walls and closet interiors were a different story. "The navy blue seemed much darker when it went up on the walls than it did in small doses on the ceiling," Jason explains. "It took a lot more coats than I'd expected." By spending an extra $35 for a gray-tinted primer, Jason's painter was able to get the closet interior painted in three hours with only three coats: one of the primer and two of the Red Currant.

After a deep cleaning to remove dust and debris from the room, Jason's contractor hung the fabric drum pendant, then installed custom red-and-white gingham linen Roman shades on the two windows. "It's amazing what a huge impact light fixtures and window coverings have on sun-drenched Florida rooms," says Jason. "In the afternoon the room would get so hot that Dylan couldn't even play in there." Thanks to Roman shades lined with thermal liner, the room stays nice and cool, plus they block out blinding UV rays.

With all permanent design elements in place, Jason turned his attention to the space planning of the room, dedicating areas to homework, clothing storage and the bed. Jason chose a loft bed to allow the area above for slumber and the space below for playtime or lounging. "We kept the entire center of Dylan's room open so that he and his friends can sprawl out and play," says Jason. "But the rest of the room is all set up with specific functions in mind."

As far as decorating was concerned, both dad Jason and mom Christina wanted to ensure Dylan’s room was packed with his favorite things as well as heirlooms passed down through generations. From Jason's old Star Wars figures to his favorite 1980s graphic T-shirts, it was important the room be packed with colorful, personal touches, including softball trophies and signed MLB baseballs from Dylan’s maternal grandfather, John.

In order to work these things into the room, the fun-loving parents turned to tricks which included photographing Star Wars figures and framing the prints as art, having vintage T-shirts turned into bed pillows, and installing clever display shelving for Dylan's current favorite toys, which include bobble heads of Spider-Man, The Green Lantern and Batman. "Seeing a lifeless space become completely personalized for Dylan made all the dust and measuring worth it," says Jason.

Now that the project is complete, Dylan's room is quickly becoming a popular, high-traffic area for his school buddies, whether they're over for homework or after-school projects or having a sleepover. When asked if there was anything Jason would have done differently, the young father says, "Although I really like the brick-look tile floors, I wish I'd had a custom rug installed over the center of the room. Dylan and his buddies spend a lot of time on that floor and it can take a toll on their little knees." Whether spending time together reading, playing Star Wars or gearing up for soccer practice, one saying sums up the overall design of Dylan's bedroom: Like father, like son.

Next Up

Girls' Bedroom Mixes Playful with Practical

Carpenter David Cloak flips an unused attic space to surprise his two daughters with a fun, colorful bedroom and play area full of storage.


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