Understanding and Nurturing a Little Boy’s Style

(Okay, while we’re talking Big Boy Room, let’s be honest: he’s four. Definitely not a baby, and certainly not Big…yet. He keeps growing, so odds are he’ll be walking a Big Boy swagger by the time he hits the Kindergarten classroom later this year.)

That our son does not totally identify with some cartoon character and try to shape his daily life to mirror that of some work of fiction, I am very grateful for.

When trying to think of a theme to work from on a style for his Big Boy room, I reflected on what he has enjoyed so far in his life:

  • Trains
  • Building bridges
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Cooking
  • Being outside

And, of course, the color purple.

Okay, then!

I am not one of those persons who likes to decorate a room to a total theme that makes the occupant believe they’re not really in a bedroom but in a giant spaceship, or camping near the Grand Canyon, or sailing the wide open seas. Maybe it was some subliminal trauma from seeing commercials for the “FantaSuites” hotel concept. Anyone remember those?

No?

Probably for the best.

There were three realities that would ground any sort of design idea:

  • The house we live in was built in the 19th century.
  • Most of the furniture that is in our house was made in the 20th century.
  • The occupant of this particular room lives in the 21st century.

Three centuries. One room. One outdoorsy/studious/sometimes shy/train-loving/bridge-building client. And purple. This could be a hot mess, or kind of neat. The paint colors we had settled on. And the carpet wasn’t changing. We also knew a few things that would come into this room from the “baby room” that could help inform the look:

The bed and the quilt (Layne Madras from Rlph Lauren).
The bed and the quilt (Layne Madras from Ralph Lauren).
Dresser, chair, and desk.
Dresser, chair, and desk.
The washstand, too.
The washstand, too.

Our “client” decided that he would like to take his bedroom furniture with him. That’s no biggie – swapping furniture between the rooms would be easy enough to do. I knew there wouldn’t be any need to make any furniture purchases for the new room. The antique age of the majority of the pieces connects to the house nicely, too.

Then, it hit me: he’s always loved the outdoors. from the time he was a newborn. The mission became one of finding some timeless-yet-young interpretations of outdoor living that did not involve shopping at Pottery Barn Kids. (Apologies to anyone offended by that remark. Nothing against the store – and they can inspire some neat ideas – but much of what they make is already out there. and cheaper, too.) I knew there would be other ways to do this that would not only be enjoyed by the occupant but also stand the test of the next 10 years or so. That includes:

Use a stencil to bring "trees" into part of the room. Credit: OMG Stencils
Use a stencil to bring “trees” into part of the room. Credit: OMG Stencils

This stencil is not traditional. But it communicates a little outdoorsy-ness and brings an element of youth into the room to offset some of the antique furniture.

A cardboard trophy mount; his first trophy is still many, many years away. Credit: Cardboard Safari
A cardboard trophy mount; his first real trophy is still many, many years away. Credit: Cardboard Safari

Thinking of preppy boys’ rooms, some trophies on a mantle might be found. And, if he follows the family hunting tradition, he may be adding his own trophy to his room years from now. But something cardboard in nature that he can help assemble is a friendly midpoint in this part of his life’s story.

Hudson's Bay Trading Blankets. Not the real ones, but make something inspired by this classic. Credit: Pendleton
Hudson’s Bay Trading Blankets. Not the real ones, but make something inspired by this classic. Credit: Pendleton

Now, this isn’t implying that we hope our child will grow up to trade goods with a sovereign nation. But the Hudson’s Bay trading blanket is one of those instantly identifiable symbols of exploration, innovation, and not, we hope, hoodwinking others. Besides, look at those colors! What kid wouldn’t love those colors?

Things were coming together. Time to slap some color on the walls and get this done.

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