One of my favorite rooms to this day is one I created for a client in Los Angeles. A couple was building a new home, high in the hills above the Pacific Ocean. One of their young sons loved baseball. When I first sat down with his mom, she had very definite ideas about what she wanted. She had great taste, and high expectations, which I love. She told me that her son wanted a dugout in his room, and was it possible for me to build it into the design. I remember responding that anything was possible, while I calmly restrained my excitement.
Now this was not a playroom, it was a bedroom and had to function as one. The plan was to design a dugout with the purpose of a changing area. It had to hold lots of little clothes, hats, several pairs of sneakers, and maybe a few uniforms and equipment. Function is always priority one. But it had to look cool. Most of all, it needed to create a fantasy every time he used it, a good enough fantasy that a young boy could pretend he was dressing for the big leagues. I created the sketch above for the client. As you can see, when I sketch, it is mostly for layout. Once I’m sourcing, new finds influence the result.
Just to be clear, unless you have carpentry skills, this is not a do it yourself project. You will need a carpenter to cut and install a lot of this design. But, there are elements here that are simpler than you might think to emulate. First being paint.
The striped painted boards running up the walls can be purchased anywhere.
They are simple pine. They replicate the structure of old wooden dugouts.
To distress them, we rolled paint on half of them clustered together, flat on the ground. Then once they were dry, we pulled out the electric sander and went to town.
For the locker, I searched through salvage yards until I found an old locker in good shape. I delivered it to a man who was a wiz with enamel on metal and brought him swatches of the colors I wanted. I LOVE this locker. I wish I had purchased more for my own mudroom. Looking at it again, I think that might be my next hunt.
The bench seat was installed with two doors that flip open on top with piano hinges for extra support and stability. If your kids are small, always look for safety hinges so the lids don’t fall closed when they let go. They are a bit more expensive, but worth it. Once it was installed, we again rolled on paint and pulled out the sander. Along with the finish, we softened the edges, making it distressed and very soft for little hands.
The cushions were made from additional sheets that matched the ones we ordered for his bed with some additional piping. I’m a fairly good seamstress, but the woman who made these for me rocked.
Finally, the crown jewel was the chain link gate hung from the ceiling. Its function is purely aesthetic, but this would never be as successful without it. One last note, when this is installed, make sure it is hung from studs because kids will swing from it whether you allow it or not.
A parent’s request, a child’s imagination, and a dugout in a bedroom. Success!
God, I love my job!
If any of you have created some fantastic illusions for your kid’s rooms, please tell me about it…and a picture would be great too.