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Help me surprise DS7! (Long)

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My youngest is going to be spending a weekend at his grandparents in two weeks. My oldest son and I have cooked up a plan to re-do his bedroom while he is away. DS7 is a maker, and our school room is over run with bits of wire, battery packs, cardboard tubes, and other ingredients for his inventions. We're doing this to restore some sanity to us just as much as a gift for DS! But we need some inspiration!


His room is still very much a little kid's room and he is no longer interested in half the stuff in there. He's already requested I help him pack away a bunch of toys he has outgrown. Here's what I have to work with:


Space: The room measures 12-by-16 feet. There is a door or window on three of the four walls. Our walls curve into the ceiling, so floor to ceiling storage doesn't work, but we can put in 6-foot tall shelves with no issues.


He needs all new furniture. His bed, a hand-me-down, is too small for him and falling apart. We're thinking of getting him a gently used loft bed to free up floor space. His shelves and drawers are all under 3-feet tall and made for toddlers. We have a good thrift store nearby where I should be able to find furniture.


I do want to move out the bulk of the toys he no longer plays with. He mainly only plays with sets, like Legos, Knex, Snap Circuits and train or road building sets. He hasn't touched an action figure in years. I'm not going to get rid of them, just box them up in the basement in case he decides he wants them back later.


What we need to fit in this space: Room for clothes. He has a closet and a dresser, but I'm wondering if we could somehow move all the clothes to the closet?


An "invention" space. I figure we can put this in under the loft, since it will have a desk. How would you store a large amount of small electrical pieces, craft supplies and various bits of what the rest of us see as trash but that he sees as valuable supplies? I want some sort of neat storage he can quickly sort through, or he tends to dump out whole bins in search of one thing.


Book shelves for his books and boxes of sets is a much. Also some sort of storage for the loose toys he still plays with. Not sure how to organize those so he can access them easily and still have easy cleanup.


How do you do a bedside table on a loft bed? He needs a place to keep his bedtime books, clipboard and reading lamp. We also need something to hold a small netbook and alarm clock. He sometimes likes to wake in the middle of the night to watch launches on NASA TV.


Finally, we are in complete disagreement over the walls. DS12 wants to paint them black with glow stars on the ceiling and a solar system mural on one wall (painted by DH, an artist), and star charts hanging on the remaining walls. I think the room is too small to paint all black and it will seem dim and tinier. Maybe a mural on one wall, and the rest painted a lighter color? With the curved ceiling it's a bit of a pain to paint the walls differently than the ceiling, but we could probably figure it out.


The budget is $150, not counting a new bed. I plan to thrift or DIY as much as possible. Oh, and we only have 2 1/2 days to do it before DS is back home. This is just the type of surprise he loves, and something he has been hinting at!


What would you do for a space-loving, science-hungry, creative and inventive kid to make his room go from preschool to big kid?



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What a fun idea, and your little boy sounds like a fun little guy!


I'm not too much help, but what we did for our bunks with no nightstands is put up a rain gutter shelf for each one to hold some books and small necessities and Attached this lamp http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80149926/#/50142993 to the wall above the gutter.

We also just shoved the dresser right into the closet to free up floor space in the room, it works out really well since my kids didn't need all that closet floor space.


Hope that makes sense, my teething baby is crawling all over me and I can't even think straight right now.

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For organizing bits and pieces of important ;) things, we use the plastic rolling drawer carts. Small zip top bags are used for further sorting. For example, one drawer has only building supplies with brads in a bag, small craft sticks in another, large drilled sticks in a third, dowel pieces in a fourth, etc. One drawer holds all the different adhesives------craft glue, CA glue (superglue), electrical tape, duct tape, hot glue gun with glue sticks in a bag. One drawer has electrical supplies-----small motors, wire sorted by type, and so on.


For toys like Legos we use clear plastic storage boxes that fit her Ikea Billy bookcases. She has two bookcases, one for books and one for storage. That second is mostly Lego but she has a box for sewing supplies and one for yarn, a few for American Girl doll items she can't bear to put away.


I bought all the plastic storage items at Target.


Dd12 is a builder and tinker-er just like her older brother :)

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could you do the ceiling a deep blue, sort of a just after sunset color, and then put the stars there? one of my friends did constellations as the night sky would have been on the day her ds was born.....


then one wall could have a mural of the solar system, again with a dark blue background, and the other three could be a light blue?


costco has some great shelving with canvas totes that pull out... online they are expensive, but in the store i think the eight cubbie one was ~150. maybe i've misremembered the price....


right now target has their bookcases at "buy one, get one half off"





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I would definitely not paint the room black. At some point he would get sick of it and the time and money required to get rid of black paint is tremendous.


Maybe a light blue at the bottom gradually getting darker toward the ceiling? Or just a nice blue with glow in the dark stars and a mural.

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My boys have their dressers in their closets - works great!


Younger ds has bunkbeds and they came with a storage bin that hangs off one end - awesome!!!!


My older ds wanted his room to be black. We compromised with one black wall and the others are a steely grey - looks very good. Looks even better with brightly coloured accessories.


Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of fun. I'm sure your ds will be thrilled.

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I guess I have an opposing view--Sorry! Take this with a grain of salt, please.


My boys are kind of picky. I would be VERY hesitant to make such large changes a "surprise". I think several of mine would freak out.


I guess my suggestion is to include him in the plan, and even that he would enjoy being part of the transformation. Please do not throw away his toys, while he is gone. (Packing away, though, is apparently what he's fine with.) He sounds like he has several deep-rooted habits that you should try to protect.


I guess I've had MANY experiences where a "surprise" became an unpleasant situation for the surprised person.

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What a great space to work with! I agree that making the whole room black would be too much. One wall would probably be fine. You could just put up some molding trim to formally break up the space between wall and ceiling.


If I were doing this, I would not put the invention space under the loft. There, with the desk, I would put his books and maybe a bean bag or some other soft space to crash and read. If possible, I would put the bed/loft on one of the walls with a door or window. I would take the uninterrupted wall to dedicate to his invention space. I would put a big workbench and stool right in the middle, with a giant pegboard and bulletin board combo above. I would flank that with two big shelves to store maker doo-dads and what-nots. I would buy cheap bins at Wal-Mart for these things, label them all, and put them on the shelves, leaving some empty space for the future. I would put all clothes in the closet and use another wall for his other toys that you decide to keep.


For his bedside table needs, you can get a book rail (my kids have the Rivka rails from IKEA, which were especially perfect when my boys were bunked). A book light can clip onto the bed or the book rail. My boys' bunk bed headboard is wide enough for them to put their water and alarm clock. A netbook could just rest on the book rail as well, or be stored at the end of the bed.

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Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!


I like both the gray paint and the idea of starting light and making it darker blue toward the ceiling, I think that would look wonderful with out weird curved ceiling/wall thing we have going on!


A small wall-mounted shelf is also a good idea. I'll have to figure that our once we get the bed so I can see the best way to attach it. Maybe one that folds up when not in use?


The work space under the loft comes from his own drawings. It seems he wants to curtain it in so he can have a private "lab." I've seen lofts with no built in desk, which would allow us to incorporate more of a work bench and wall peg boards. I'm wondering if we could attach large cork boards to either end of the loft bed frame, so only the front of the bottom area is open? Hmmm.....that would give him three usable walls under the loft.


Beth, thank you for your concern! With my older son, I would never do this without his input, but my younger loves surprises like this and has requested a surprise room makeover on several occasions the past couple of years. In many ways he has been contributing to the plans, because we are using his countless drawing of his dream "science lab" as a basis for some of the inspiration. He also knows I am doing my annual toy clean out while he is away. I do this every fall in preparation for Christmas. The old toys go into the basement until spring garage saling. During the wait time they get back items they specifically ask for, but most end up on their garage sale table (they keep the cash from their items). Except for DH, none of us really get attached to stuff so it's never been a big deal for the boys and they usually look forward to it because it means extra cash in time for summer!

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Have you seen this site: http://www.designmom.com/2010/11/hanging-beds/


The hanging bed is awesome. I want to do one for my ds. It gives the ultimate in flexibility with the rest of the room.


All of my kids have their dressers in their closets. It frees up so much floor space. My ds, who only has shirts and pants on hangers doesn't need as much space so he also has a set of metal shelves in his closet.

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When my sister redid her son's room. She put in a tool bench that she found on clearance at sears and bought my nephew one of those multi drawer tool box to put his bits of wires and stuff for his creations. The walls were painted a light bluish grey. My nephew likes to build stuff and create and my sister figured the tool bench and tool box would be something he could use forever just changing the stuff in it as he grew. Plus buying him tools for it gave all of us ideas for Christmas and birthdays.

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