This Couple Gave Their Son Free Rein to Redesign His Bedroom
His only requests: dark walls and planets.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 5:23 PM
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Dale Saylor and Joe Williamson were in no rush to redesign their son’s bedroom in North Chatham, New York. The enchanting decor, inspired by a Paris children’s store, was a labor of love the couple poured themselves into while waiting to be chosen by a birth mother. They had painted it in the softest blue, Farrow & Ball Pavilion Blue; peppered it with gold and chartreuse polka dots; and hung flag garlands from the ceiling. “We were very attached to it,” says Williamson. “It was a symbol of our journey to becoming parents.”
But when Henry, now 7, started petitioning for a “big kid room” last Christmas—arguing that his current space looked too “baby”—they knew it was time to let go. So Saylor and Williamson, who own the design-build firm Hollymount, gave their son free rein to redecorate as a birthday present. His request: an outer space theme complete with dark walls and planets. All that was left to do was to pull it all together—in the middle of a lockdown.
The Hand-Painted Mural
“While the overall idea was completely Henry’s, we wanted to come up with a scheme that wouldn’t look entirely out of place with the rest of our house,” explains Williamson. A mural was a natural choice, but it needed to look right. So the couple pored over imagery from Soviet cosmonaut propaganda and works by French artist Nathalie Lété for inspiration.
As a base, they picked a navy shade from Ressource called Cosmique, applying it to the walls, trim, and ceiling. “The wonderful thing about this color is that it is so nuanced and it changes throughout the day and with different light conditions,” says Williamson.
After building out the paint palette with extraterrestrial blues and tans (Ressource’s Mid-Medici Bleu, Liù, San Miguel, Innocence, and Grège, to be exact), the couple stenciled on planets with a wax pencil, then painted them freehand. On the lower half of the walls, they added a lunar mountain range inspired by sci-fi illustrations to ground all that sky.
The Bed for an Awkward Layout
The couple originally dreamed of installing bunk beds or a loft for Henry, but the cramped floor plan and low ceiling ruled those ideas out. “The room is long and narrow and can very easily feel like a bowling alley,” Williamson explains. With the bed against the back window, a regular frame would have felt randomly plunked there; a wall-to-wall structure with a hidden trundle was the way to go. Working with Hollymount’s in-house carpenter, they designed the piece with a table at the foot and a niche for Henry’s favorite books—currently the Magic Tree House Merlin Missions series—for easy reach come story time.
The Rocket Shelves
The couple had seen bookcases styled to look like rockets, which fit the concept perfectly (and would make space for Henry’s growing book collection), but they were hesitant to bring in more bulky elements to the already tight space. Instead, they painted the rockets and mounted slim, open-sided shelves on top. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned designing for our son, it’s that storage is imperative,” says Williamson. “Little people have so much stuff!”
The Repurposed Cupboard
In the opposite corner, a wardrobe salvaged from the nursery acts as storage for clothing and extra blankets. Saylor and Williamson had it built before Henry was born to match an antique piece they had spotted in Paris years earlier and finished it with vintage hardware found at the Clignancourt flea market. For the new room, they applied removable wallpaper in a constellation pattern to the door inserts. “We wanted to pull it into the theme without permanently altering it,” explains Williamson.
Last but not least: A moon rug and rocket ship pendant light found on Etsy, a yellow vintage Eames rocker, and a Philippe Starck Miss Sissi lamp they dug out of storage rounded out the room. Their birthday gift proved to be a winner. “You can always tell when Henry’s really excited about something,” says Williamson. “Our usually animated, never-stops-talking child gets very quiet and very still.”
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