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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By keeping the center of the room open, Dylan has ample space to sprawl out and play with his buddies, whether those are his schoolmates or his beagle, Gabi.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

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

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Jason Moore worked with a designer friend to turn son Dylan’s Fort Lauderdale Beach bedroom into a sleep, play and study space packed with heirlooms from Jason’s own 1980s childhood.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Jason Moore worked with a designer friend to turn son Dylan’s Fort Lauderdale Beach bedroom into a sleep, play and study space packed with heirlooms from Jason’s own 1980s childhood.

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.

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Once the junction box was installed and all dust was removed, Jason had his contractor install a fabric-covered pendant that adds diffused light to the space, making it more functional for Dylan at night.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Once the junction box was installed and all dust was removed, Jason had his contractor install a fabric-covered pendant that adds diffused light to the space, making it more functional for Dylan at night.

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."

Blue and Red Boy's Bedroom

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Before: Dark and Dismal

Prior to the makeover of this 6-year-old boy's bedroom, the space lacked architectural interest, color and proper lighting.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

After: Packed With Childhood Charm

Jason Moore worked with a designer to turn son Dylan's Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla., bedroom into a sleep, play and study space packed with heirlooms from Jason's own 1980s childhood.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Playful Color Scheme

Set on using a classic American color scheme, Jason and wife Christina opted for navy and white on Dylan's walls, and fire-engine red for the interiors of the closet.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Grab-and-Go Storage

Although the main space of Dylan's bedroom is dedicated to displaying his favorite toys and heirlooms from his dad and grandfather, the closet is fully organized. Bins hold items too big to fit into the dresser or too seldom used to remain out at all times.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Vertical Organization

In order to maximize Dylan's closet, Jason and Christina added organizers, including a hanging canvas shelf system, to house stuffed animals and sports gear.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Pendant Lighting

The messiest task involved with the design of Dylan's bedroom was adding electrical to the plaster ceiling. Once the junction box was installed and all dust was removed, Jason had his contractor install a fabric-covered pendant that adds diffused light to the space, making it more functional for Dylan at night.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Multipurpose Loft Bed

Focused on using every inch of space in Dylan's bedroom, dad Jason added a loft bed along the entry wall. The space above is used for sleeping while the area below is for studying, reading or lounging.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Star Wars Collection

Dylan is as much of a Star Wars fan today as Jason was in the early 1980s. To pay tribute to something they both love equally, a photographer took professional images of Jason's old Star Wars figures against a gray backdrop, printed them in black-and-white, placed them in red glossy frames and hung them as an installation.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Roaming Gnome

Tucked below Dylan's loft bed is a molded resin gnome occasional table. The table's surface space gives extra room for snacks, books and toys, while its molded-resin finish ensures that a wet paper towel is all that's needed to clean up spills.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Recycled T-Shirt

Instead of keeping his old 1980s graphic T-shirts of things like the Smurfs and the Muppets gathering dust in boxes or bins, they were made into throw pillows. Now Dylan is surrounded with many of the things his dad loved as a kid.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Home Is Where the Art Is

The biggest splurge in Dylan’s room is an original art piece by Aaron Foster, a Colorado-based artist who creates one-of-a-kind sculptures from recycled vintage license plates. By investing in something Jason and Christina love as much as Dylan does, they've ensured the artwork will be enjoyed now and for years to come. As the home's decor evolves over the years, the art can be moved to other areas of the house for the entire family to enjoy.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Lined in Style

When choosing proper storage pieces, Jason opted for an oversized nine-drawer dresser to house Dylan’s clothes as well as his most frequently used games and books. The yellow-and-white lining of the drawers adds an element of surprise to the interiors.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Red-and-White Hardware

Focused on saving money wherever possible in order to splurge on things like art, lighting and custom window coverings, Jason opted for a ready-made pine dresser he bought for $279 and assembled himself. To give the piece a more designer-grade look, he added glossy resin knobs to the drawer fronts that sport two of the room's accent colors, white and red.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Bobblehead Display

A friend of Jason's brought Dylan an entire collection of superhero bobbleheads during a recent visit. To keep them on display and within arm's reach, Jason had glossy white and red modern shelves installed.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Clever Floor Planning

When space planning Dylan's room, dad Jason and mom Christina placed the loft bed along the entry wall so they are able to peek in and turn off the lights at night once Dylan has fallen asleep.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Homework Station

As Dylan grows up he's likely to spend more time in his room on weekday afternoons doing homework. Determined to spend money wisely, Jason and Christina bucked the trend of buying a kid-sized desk and chair. Instead they chose a classic, modern molded plastic chair and a red-lacquered Parsons desk that Dylan will appreciate as much during his tween and teen years as he does now at age six.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Boyish Deer Head

For classic, masculine flair, Jason added a bit of taxidermy to Dylan's room, albeit an animal-friendly one. This buck head is made of reclaimed sticks and branches.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Transformer Flair

As the saying goes, "Everything old is new again." At a friend's request, Jason had a photograph taken of a 1980s Transformer figure he had as a kid, printed it, then framed it as a work of art to place near Dylan's homework area.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Gingham Window Treatments

Jason and Christina decided to splurge on custom window treatments since the harsh UV rays of the Florida sun drastically heat up Dylan's room in the afternoon. The windows are dressed up in a designer-caliber fashion by Roman shades fabricated with thermal lining, which also keep the room temperature-controlled throughout the day.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Personalized Puzzle

Seeking to personalize Dylan's room as much as possible, Jason and Christina had a piece of his school artwork turned into a puzzle by scanning it and uploading it to Puzzle You, where it was printed out as a fully functional jigsaw puzzle.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Spider-Man Art

With Spider-Man currently serving as Dylan's favorite superhero, Jason was quick to ensure the comic book icon's inclusion in the room's decor. A photograph of Dylan's toys in front of a white backdrop was professionally printed on glossy art paper. Jason opted for a ready-made, big-box-store frame to keep the overall price in check with the rest of the budget.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

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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