before & after: bedroom makeover for three kids

This might be the first kid’s room I’ve seen that I would actually love to live in myself. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Meg Spaeth would design a room that is equally suited to kids and adults. As the creator of Elsie Marley, a line of kids’ clothing, toys and accessories, Meg is an expert at blending modern designs and sophisticated color palettes with just the right touch of whimsy. Three kids sharing one room sounds like a recipe for massive clutter, but with Meg’s addition of under-bed storage, a custom cloud loft bed and plenty of bright, fresh white with pops of color, this room manages to pull of a minimalist Scandinavian vibe. I love the wall art, the vintage accessories and the fun mix of textiles. I’ll definitely be taking some design cues from this room for my own living space. Awesome job, Meg! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: From start to finish, the redo took 9 months, but had the children been shipped off to grandma’s house, it would have taken a week at most.

Cost: $250

Basic Steps: Mostly I wanted the room to look big, even though it’s small and looks sparse, while still full of my kids’ stuff. To make this happen, I painted the room white — ceiling and all (I have yet to do the trim, but it’s on my list). My brother built a loft bed, and then I cut out clouds to act as a guard rail for the bed. After the clouds were painted the same white as the walls, they all but disappeared into the background. For the dresser, I took all the drawers outside (in the summer) and spray painted them different colors. Then applied a top coat of shellac to each.

The little office was made by my brother when he built the bed. All the supplies came from scrap wood from our basement or were leftover from the loft bed. The wall of art supplies was a super easy project. I went to a local sheet metal shop and asked if they could cut a piece of metal to size. They made the edges all nice, drilled some holes for easy hanging, took all of 15 minutes and charged me 20 bucks. Then I glued super strong magnets to the back of tin cans and filled them up with all of our art supplies. I wanted a really big piece of art for the room, but also wanted it to have some meaning for my kids. So I painted a map of our neighborhood on an old quilting cutting mat. I used an overhead projector to project an accurate map on the wall, traced it, painted it and then outlined everything again to make it a bit crisper. There are still some things I would like to add to the map, but I think it will be a work in progress for a long time to come.

Figuring out how to fit three kids in a room is a challenge. After you know where they will be sleeping, the rest of the project is designing storage: hidden storage, attractive storage, storage that does double duty (our ottoman is also a toy box). Kids have a lot of stuff. Because of our small house, there is a natural limit on how many toys our kids can have. I say edit what you can and find pretty boxes to put the rest in. Good luck! — Meg

  1. K says:

    I do absolutely adore the crib bedding though :) it is perfection

  2. Lisa says:

    I love it – I love that your kids all share a room. My son and daughter share because they want to. Truth of the matter is kids sleep in their rooms and play all over the house! Houses are meant to be lived in and if I were a child I would feel pretty darn special knowing my Uncle helped in making my room so special! This is what working and living as a family means.
    Painting the inside of the drawers is not only fun when they are opened but also a great learning tool; as in your pants are in the blue drawer! The trim isn’t done – oh welcome to the world of parenthood. I bet these kids have more time with their parents who are spending the time with them instead of worrying about the tiny details in life!

  3. Jasmine says:

    You have to remember that this room isn’t supposed to be picture perfect. It is a kids room. I love the fact that there is three kids in one room but i can imagine the mess so I love the helpful storage areas all around. I love the cloud bed (the window makes me nervous but I am one of those moms that always thinks the worst) You did an awesome job with making the most of your space. To those who don’t get this room or don’t like how is seems thrown together there is 3 people in this room with very different things that are important to them. sometimes things just don’t mesh well. I think the map would be really cute with landmarks added to it, like their school and other favorite places in the neighborhood. You did awesome with the money, the time, and the space you had.

  4. cmm says:

    I don’t get all of the commenters saying that they don’t get this room. It’s lovely and REAL. I was raised in an apartment in a large city, and my family as well as many of my friends’ families made do with small and/or improvised spaces. This room reminds me of the best of those spaces.

    I really love the map, BTW. It’s nice to look at, gives the room a sweet sense of place, and, I imagine, serves the functional purpose of teaching the kids how to read a map!

  5. Molly says:

    Team Meg! Great job!

    And what’s the deal with all the negative comments? This isn’t Apartment Therapy!! ;)

  6. Soma says:

    3 kids, 1 teeny room?!? Impressed at that alone!

    The cloud bed is heavenly :)

    I adore the pompom garland as well as the animal heads and the tree {the tape finishes it perfectly}

    The neighborhood map is such a fun idea, adding on to that as the family matures will be great! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  7. Amanda says:

    I think it’s fabulous. I love things that are an eclectic mish-mosh of people and what they like. You did a neat job and I think it’s great. I especially love the beds. Each is unique and special. I especially love the white iron bed under the cloud loft.
    And I actually kinda like the chipped base boards. They are a complement to the crisp clean white walls.

  8. April says:

    I am in LOVE with the cloud bed! What an adorable and fun idea that is chic too! I also love the repurposed coffee can organizers for the craft supplies. Bravo!

  9. Sarah Moses says:

    Can this room get any cuter!? So brilliant! I love the look of your crib and now I have thoughts to get a similar bumper for my little man. Hm. Hm. Hm. Thanks for sharing your lovely room!

  10. samantha says:

    Almost makes me wish I had kids! I think I will try out that drawer idea even without the offspring.


  11. kimberly says:

    unbelievable how controversial this project has become – it’s rare to see a children’s room done with such thoughtfulness and purpose. there’s so much here for children to enjoy and to truly grow with. no child wants a stringent, immaculate, untouchable room. how boring! personally, i find this room to be super charming, perfectly curated and is probably my favorite children’s room ever.

  12. meg says:

    It is a little odd, Kimberly,but than again not everyone has to like it. We do and that’s what matters!

    I wanted to pop in an answer a few questions:

    -The animal heads are actually masks the kids use for dress up. I got them at our local art store, but I’m pretty sure you can get similar ones on amazon. The masks are made of some sort of foam and are indestructible!

    -I made the bumper with fabric from Ikea.

    -The map on the wall is a map of our neighborhood. The kids love it and it helps them learn their way around.

    -We made the closet into a little art studio and that’s where the tin can storage is and also the ladder to the cloud bed. You can see the art studio here:

    -Yes, I could have styled the room up a bit more. And yes I am thoroughly embarrassed that the whole internet has now seen our chippy baseboards. But it was a rare morning where the room was clean, the light was good and the kids were gone, so I had to take pictures!

  13. Amie says:

    I think that this is just lovely! I would have treasured this room as a kid, and very much like it now. So the baseboards aren’t perfect – they are just going to get chipped by toys crashing into them anyway! This strikes me as a fun, creative, and practical room. I may be stealing the drawer idea…Awesome!

  14. malisams says:

    i love it, and i’d have loved to have had a room like this when i was a kid. offbeat and livable, not all “put together” and museum-like. it’s lovely.

  15. Oh Meg – these photos are going to make me cry! I LOVE and adore this post. I am a mother of 3 kids ages 8, 6, & 4. And guess what? They all share 1 of our 2 small bedrooms.

    I love the loft bed with the clouds, the art space (go to her blog for loads more photos!), and the colors used.

    Eeeeep! Is it horrible that I want to go start painting my kids’ room right now at 10:22 p.m.?! :) My kids’ room is in desperate need of a makeover, and this post has inspired me to get started. Thank you Design Sponge for posting this!

  16. sabine says:

    Thank god for showing a small room for three kids makeover!! We live in a 2 Bedroom flat with two children and get a lot of bad vibes because our kids will soon have to share a room – which is the biggest of the flat by the way – and why we don’t move. Well frankly in this economy and the place we live (expensive city) we simply can’t afford a spacious 4 bedroom flat or house. End of story. Get over it people – not everybody is living in mansions.

  17. Annie says:

    I love this room! So inspiring. My daughter has a tiny closet-size bedroom. So i’m always looking for space saving ideas and I love sparse white spaces. I love the feel of this room. And with three kids worth of stuff in there too?! Very impressive. Lovely job, thank you for the post.

  18. Eileen 2 says:

    Live simply that others may simply live.

    Love the room, concept of sharing, fiscal caution, & overall adorable attitude/creativity projected. Glad that every space on D.S. Isn’t totally polished.

  19. Wanda says:

    We did the same thing our baby boy was born. We put the girls bunk bed and he crib and all sorts of fun ikea-like storage for toys and stuff and now that they have been together for 6 months in one room I can say that they play better and the girls are very considerate(as much as 4 and 2 yr olds can b) I applaude this project. I also really love the clouds!!!

  20. Ness says:

    Well all I can say is Bravo!! I think it’s kinda funky! I too have 3 kids and are busy preparing to put 2 of the elder kids in 1 room(yes they have their own rooms)! I know people think we may be mad but all they want for Christmas is a bunkbed and to share a room!?? I think youv’e done a fab job in what precious little free time you have and I bet those kids will have some really fond memories!!

  21. Genevieve says:

    I think the room is adorable and I know from experience that spending hours getting a room perfect for some pictures is wasted time with three children. My only concern is the baby crib next to the radiator. Don’t they get very hot? Curious fingers could get burned couldn’t they?

    I think this room shows just how much fun and love are in this family.

  22. Kim says:

    Can I just say that when I saw the chippy baseboards I SMILED because HELLO as a mom with 3 and one on the way WHO has TIME to worry about baseboards!? Kudos, Meg for taking all of the negative comments in stride. I admire your creativity and I may “steal” some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Tamsie says:

    I don’t have kids of my own yet but I just wanted to say that I would be so lucky to be your kids. I think this entire room just oozes with the innovation and creativity of Madison (which I assume that is where you are from with the map of Monona and Mendota lakes) that has obviously inspired you. I get all my furniture from St. Vinny’s Dig and Save and Craigslist.

  24. Lori says:

    There are many innovative ideas used here to make this small space more functional. I’m sorry to say I was surprised that some ‘after’ parts didn’t seem much different than the before shots. I definitely prefer realistic lived-in spaces, but have to admit that the designer in me (who has resurrected some very needy spaces with almost no money) was surprised that this room was selected. BUT, here’s to works in progress! Design comes in stages. And yay for a mom who cares enough to redo her kids’ room for function and fun ;)

  25. David Smith says:

    I’am really excited after seeing such an exciting bedroom collection for children,specially the area where there is pens,pencils and other stationery items are remarkably great.Really a breath taking post for me.


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