So the secret is out: I have been building my kids a magical reading nook in their shared bedroom, and it is becoming everything I could have imagined! I am so very excited to be sharing this dream come true of mine with you all! My children at the age where they are starting to read, and I wanted to give them a space where their imaginations can run wild. Have you guessed what series it is based off of? That’s right, it’s inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia’s “The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe.”
Disclaimer: I was given products from Amy Howard to stain & paint this wardrobe. But I only reccomend products I love & think you will too.
This space started off as a day dream in the back of my mind about 3 years or so ago…. I built my daughter June this pink wardrobe for her bedroom in our last house. It was just intended to be a normal wardrobe that she could open up, put dress up clothes in, etc. I painted the back to look like Narnia. But we moved before she could even really use it, & it ended up stuck in storage for about a year.
When we purchased our new house one of the things I disliked the most was the long hallways in the upstairs bedrooms. They are because of the dormer windows on the roof. I love the character the windows bring to the outside of our house, but the long “hallways” make the bedrooms awkward… and honestly feel like a waste of space.
I didn’t take any before photos of this space (I always tell myself to make sure to take photos of every angle when we move into a new house… but I always miss one or two important ones!) However, I was able to grab a still frame from the video I took when we were looking at this house. So here is the dormer window hallway… in all it’s glory before I got my hands on it.
Then it hit me: this was the perfect space to put the wardrobe I made June! And even better, I could take it one step further, and make the painting in the back of the wardrobe a false door into a magical secret room!
The painting I did in the back of the wardrobe features a lantern & an ice castle. I pried it off the back and my husband put hinges on it to create the false back.
So now when you open the two front doors of the wardrobe, and push the lantern door back, you truly feel like you are entering a magical world. I was so excited to find that there was plenty of space for the wardrobe to stand in the dormer hallway. Eventually we are going to do a false wall to encase it… but this project has been all baby steps. So that will probably be the last thing we do to this space.
My next vision for this magical room was to do personal paintings featuring my children’s magical adventures. I decided to do them on canvases I made of primed plywood, instead of doing murals on the walls. That way if we ever move we can take them with us. I wanted them to feel like a mix of watercolors for the texture, and oil paint for the color. But the paint I went with was acrylic. So I had to play around with blending mediums to get the right consistency. I didn’t want to make this space too Narnia, so I decided each of my kids would have their own “theme” and setting, and I had the oldest two pick out what animals they wanted in their paintings. My daughter’s includes her and a unicorn. My middle son’s paintings have him ridding a polar bear, and the paintings for my youngest have him ridding a hippogriff. I let them be involved in this process, and they even helped paint the artwork.
Each child gets 2 paintings, and we are going to do 2 additional paintings featuring their puppy. So there will be 8 in all (4 on each wall)
I was super lucky to have my talented sister Jordan (who is also an artist, it runs in the family!) come and help me out with the paintings. You can find her & some of her incredible artwork @thewishingwoods on instagram.
Silas built these frames so that four paintings could be on one wall, and we are going to do the same for the wall across from this one.
I’ll have to post more about my painting process on the wardrobe. Like I mentioned earlier, this whole piece is not an antique. We built it. But I wanted an old world feel to it, so I used reclaimed wood, better with age stain & milk paint from Amy Howard to finish it. Looking back, if I had know this would end up in a shared room for my children, I probably wouldn’t have picked pink. But I LOVE it so much. It’s so bright and airy.
There is still SO much more detail work I want to do on the paintings… but no masterpieces happen over night! So I’m pretty sure that these paintings will be something I work on during my spare time.
The four paintings I have up on the wall may look like they are done, but they aren’t. But for the time being, I am focusing on working on the other four paintings that will go on the blank wall.
One fun detail I decided to add was a fake bookshelf. If there had been space around the whole window (instead of just above and below it) I was going to do a built in book case surround. But it was a tight space, and I realized that my kids aren’t at the age where they can be trusted alone with antique novels and such. They would all end up on the floor. So my solution was to create fake books.
I cut strips of wood into varying lengths and widths, painted them, and then attatched to two different stained pieces of plywood that were cut to fit the spaces above and below the windows. Eventually I want to add all sorts of fun titles to them.
So that’s about all the progress I have made in this space. I post tons of details & show the painting & project processes over in my Instagram stories (and they are all saved in my highlights as well!) You can see them all HERE.
And I will be sure to share the progress here on my blog as well. Ahhh! I’m just so excited about how awesome this is turning out.
I just want to give my kids a space that they can feel how much I love them. And honestly, I wish I could do this for every child. I know I would have loved it!