Keep Truckin’: Gus and his colorful John Lennon and Jerry Garcia-inspired toddler bedroom

Guest post by Julie Letowski

In early September our son, Gus, turned two whopping years old and moved into a brand new bedroom. This is by far the best room Gus has ever lived in. It is totally and completely set up for him. Puzzles, blocks, books, dress up clothes, stuffed friends… they’re all so easy to reach! It’s amazing what a good set of built-ins can do for a toddler!

Neither my husband nor I are much for designing a space so, as with the rest of our house, Gus’s room is a definite hodge podge of things. We’re also pretty cheap so if we can make it ourselves we generally do. Over Gus’s crib is a John Lennon lyric that we made from cardboard, glue, and glitter. The quote is positioned as strategically as possible to cover the holes left behind by light-up pink flowers that were once drilled into the wall. In the absence of anything with drawers in his room we put a few storage bins under his crib to store his diapers, jammies, and socks/undies.

Our rental situation is a little unusual because we’re living in someone’s house while they’re away. We don’t feel great about painting or adding new holes to the walls so all around Gus’s room you’ll find things are hung in odd places. Up above the window is a paper doll that my great great aunt made for my grandmother when she was pregnant with my aunt. My husband is a huge Dead Head so hung a little too high over the cabinet where we keep Gus’s clothes is a watercolor of Jerry he painted. Throughout the rest of the room are posters we picked up from shows we attended while I was pregnant with Gus.

The side of the room opposite all the built-ins is my favorite part of his room. In one corner there is a bed big enough for the whole family (dogs included!) to lounge during stories and songs before bed. In the other corner he has storage and a space to be creative in.

In Gus’s book nook he has a little shelf to keep books and his special things not meant for playing: his picture of his Opa and the pottery we painted on the due date he didn’t show up on! We really wanted to bring some light into his little reading space so we strung up some lights we had laying around from our wedding.

Next to his reading corner is technically what should be his closet but I’m not one for hanging up toddler clothing and the second I saw the back half of the closet I knew it would much better serve us as an art space. We ripped up old shopping bags for paper and collected all the art supplies he can play with unsupervised. And while the paint stays downstairs the painted art generally makes its way up onto the wall in the back of his closet. We also taped up some of our favorite quotes from the songs we sing to him at night before bed. For a bench we took a crate my husband snagged at work and added some supports and legs. We also hung up some more string lights to give him some light to create by.

Honestly we were a little nervous about the set up. Not only were our rooms connected by an open doorway but once inside Gus’s room there was another door that led directly to the guesthouse we share a wall with. After making sure no one was going to get in from the other side we started covering and blocking the door off. We nailed an old, weathered flag from who knows where over the top, put a chair on one side, and a heavy mirror on the other. You can still see the door a little but our main goal was to rig up an alarm system in case someone somehow was able to get through the door. Basically, the chair and the mirror aren’t moving without making a lot of noise first. After the guesthouse door was handled, we had to deal with the doorless doorway. Using an expandable spring loaded curtain rod and some curtains from our last home we created a little barrier between us all.

Out of all the rooms in our house this one was by far the hardest to pull together because when we moved in it was girl central. We’ve never been uptight about presenting Gus clearly as a boy or marking his room or his things as BOY! but this space was even too much for us. I devoted a good hour to taking down purple butterfly curtains and giant pink and purple flower, fairy, and butterfly stickers. Knowing we weren’t going to paint over the pink walls we aimed to just add as much color as possible so the pink walls just looked like another color in an insanely colorful room. And you know what? I think it actually worked!

Comments on Keep Truckin’: Gus and his colorful John Lennon and Jerry Garcia-inspired toddler bedroom

  1. This room looks amazing – it’s so bright and stimulating, and toddler centric. You’ve done a really good job, and I love the creative solutions you brought to the space. I really want to come hang out here! I especially love the story nook!

  2. Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous! I am super impressed by all the thought you put into having the room be functional, and yet cute! Your son is lucky to have such thoughtful parents. I love the touches you’ve included with the art corner in the closet, and the cool holiday lights up in the reading nook. I wish my room was this cool! Well done. Also, I was amused by the carpet for playing with toy cars-I didn’t know they still had those! My younger brother had one when he was about the same age as Gus, and he is 14 now. Very interesting.

    • I had one of those car mats when I was the same age as Gus, and I’m 24! They’ve been around forever and I don’t think that they’ll be going anywhere. We bought one for our daughter a couple of months before she was born, hopefully she takes after her mumma and puts it to good use building lego buildings around the streets and driving her cars around it!

      • Wow, no kidding! And here I thought it was just a 90’s thing : ) I’m glad to hear they are so popular, and I’m sure your daughter will get years of use out of it. They are great! Functional and cute-what’s not to like?

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