As many of you know, we moved to a new house in May. The house originally had two eating areas: a large but casual space off the kitchen and a formal dining room. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to convert the formal dining room into a playroom. It’s a great size and there is a large cased opening into the living room so it’s easy to keep an eye on what’s going on in there. It was the first room we decided to put some time and energy into updating since it gets used every single day and all the changes we wanted to make were cosmetic and pretty straightforward and budget-friendly. Today I’m going to share a bit about what we did to update the space for use in our daily lives.
Here’s what the space looked like when we first moved in:
It didn’t exactly scream “fun room for kids to hang out” huh? I was itching to brighten the room up with paint, but it unfortunately wasn’t as easy as grabbing a brush. The previous homeowners had painted the walls with a textured paint (we think they may have mixed sand in with the paint to create a texture because it was very uneven on the walls). This made the walls look dingy even after they had been cleaned. Before we could paint, we needed to remove the texture. There were a few ways to go about this but we ended up just taking an oscillating sander and buffing the wall smooth.
This process was very time-consuming and created a lot of dust. We had a bag attached to the sander to catch dust, windows open and box fans going to encourage the dust to go outside, and we blocked off the room as best we could but dust still ended up traveling into adjacent rooms. The process of sanding took a few days because we did it in short spurts to avoid inhaling lots of dust (we did wear masks to help) and to give our arms a break, as this was a workout for them! We also had to spend quite a bit of time on each section to get things as smooth as we wanted. It felt like forever but when we finally finished the walls looked so much better!
We washed down the walls to remove lingering dust, patched little dings and holes and then it was time to paint! Because the previous paint was so dark we first went over the walls with a layer of primer and then two coats of Benjamin Moore paint in Greyhound. We only painted three walls because my plan for the remaining wall was to use a fun accent wallpaper. We did put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling because it also looked a little dingy, and this made the room feel much brighter.
For the wallpaper, I wanted something fun, a little whimsical, yet not too crazy bold. I bought three rolls of Magnolia Home wallpaper in Pick-Up Sticks in blue. It was the perfect choice, although hanging was a bit of a challenge. The wallpaper is prepasted and (theoretically) easy enough to hang – you just spray it with water, let the water absorb for a few minutes, and then press it to the wall. It doesn’t dry immediately so you have a chance to slide it around a bit and make sure it’s lined up the way you want. The problem for us was, even after all that sanding, our wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth. This created some wrinkling and made things stressful and incredibly frustrating for Justin and I. There were also a few places where we couldn’t get the seams to line up perfectly because it would have made the pattern crooked and created really noticeable wrinkling so we had small gaps. Our solution to this was to fill in the seam gaps with a white paint marker after the wall was dry, which did help to mask the gap. It’s not a flawless wall, but thankfully the pattern is subtle enough that it’s hardly noticeable at all, especially now with furniture and art on it.
The final thing we did was remove the old light fixture. We had replaced the flush mount that was in our master bedroom with a ceiling fan, so I just updated the flush mount with some black spray paint and we moved it down to the playroom. I would have loved a new light but we were trying to keep the room budget-friendly so for now this was a good solution.
The room was finally finished and it was time to move in furniture! Justin made a bookcase for toy storage loosely following these plans from Bless’er House. We bought inexpensive ready-to-assemble bookcases from a local company which he screwed together and used thin lattice board on the side fronts to create the look of a custom piece. I painted the shelves in Sherwin Williams Oceanus (the previous owners fixed up cars and they had a perfect paint room already set up in the garage) and Justin topped the whole thing off with a long plank of stained oak. He finished by nailing thin strips around the plank to give it the look of a chunky butcher block-style top which I LOVE.
I adore how the piece turned out, but there were many snags along the way. The shelves didn’t hold paint well and required many coats (and will need subsequent touch-ups). One shelf was slightly bigger than the other three (even though they were the same style from the same company) which created measurement nightmares. The top plank was initially cut a few centimeters too short so it required Justin to cut notches in the trim pieces he used on the side to make it look flush. There were just a lot of little logistical things and the project had more headaches than we anticipated. We’d probably never do it again, but I’m glad we did it this once because it works perfectly in the space!
We got a super inexpensive futon from Aldi (anyone else love Aldi??) and finished off the room with a few plants, a colorful gallery wall using frames and mirrors I already had, and an oversized alphabet print from a local company. And with that, the room is done!
I’m absolutely thrilled with it!
I love that the room has gone from dingy to bright and airy. LJ plays in it everyday and I can testify that while it’s cute (in my opinion ha!) and decorated, it’s also very kid-friendly and functional in our daily lives. It was the perfect first room to tackle in making this house into our home and I’m so happy with how it turned out!
I can’t wait to continue to transform rooms throughout the house!