Playroom: The Project Details

By Kate Riley May 3, 2012

Okay friends, time for the project breakdown on the playroom reveal earlier this week.  I’ll tackle the four projects from easiest to most challenging, here we go!

The Play Table:

After shopping around online and finding only plastic tables in my budget, I spied this ad on Craigslist the weekend before the install and literally jumped for joy.  It was a used Pottery Barn Kids chalkboard table with a storage center in the middle for crayons, art supplies, etc. and four solid wood chairs.  It was perfect!  I quickly emailed the owner and drove over to grab it mere moments after she replied to my email telling me it was still available.  $45 buckaroos was a total score! pb table craigslist ad

The chalkboard surface was worn and scratched but the rest of the table was in great condition, so I sanded the surface with the orbital to get it nice and smooth. Next I taped off the wood and primed the surface, and followed it up with two coats of teal paint to bring it back to life.

teal paint on table

Such a cute addition to the space with plenty of space for arts and crafts.

play table after cg


The Billy Bookcases:

billy bookcases and play table


All of you regulars know we installed Billy bookcases to look like built-ins in our own home last year, and we knew from that experience they were sturdy and easy to assemble, plus you can’t beat the price.  I picked up two 31” wide units and one 15” unit on a trip to IKEA, then Victoria painted the backs that fresh green while Matt assembled them.  Warren secured them together with screws to eliminate seams between then secured them to the wall studs to prevent tipping with several  ‘L’ brackets (one is seen below).  Matt built the frame with 1” x 2” strips of wood to attach the crown molding.

l bracket into stud

The crown was attached to the new frame above and gives it a more finished look.   You can see there’s a small gap underneath but that’s easily filled with paintable caulk.  Three cheers for caulk, the DIYers remedy for just about any imperfections, right?

attach crown

Plenty of storage for books and smaller toys!

ikea billy bookcases cg

The Rod Pocket Window Panels

Cristin and I discussed the durability factor of the fabric in the kids room and decided outdoor fabric was the way to go!  She found this wonderful modern wavy stripe fabric called ‘Poolside’ by Richloom and I had it shipped to my house.  We removed the rod from the family room space (woven shades will replace the old lacy curtain in there) and recycled it in the playroom, raising the rod up to the same height as the frame on the wall map on the opposite side.  I measured the length at 98” and then stitched up the panels at home.

playroom window panels cg

Since we were working with a large window and I wanted the panels to be functional not just decorative, and since the fabric is only 54” wide, I knew it was best to double the width.  Plus I think panels just look better when they’re fuller.  The full length of the final panel was to be 98” so the total measurement of the fabric, allowing for a 1” hem on the bottom and top and 4” extra for the pocket was 104”.

measure length of fabric

104 inches

To match up the pattern, I had to be careful with my cuts but thankfully I had purchased enough fabric (12 yards) to be able to get the pattern to match up horizontally.

matching up the pattern repeat

Tip: Always plan accordingly if you know you’re using double panels of fabric – check your pattern repeat and buy the necessary extra yardage!  The first step is hemming the vertical lengths together for each panel and making sure the pattern matches up.

hem vertical panels

match pattern

If you want your panels to be lined, now is the time to repeat the same step for fabric liner.  Once your two pieces are attached, hem the edges in this order:

1.  Hem the bottom first (attaching the liner to the inside of the fabric.  2.  Then hem the vertical lengths (again attaching the liner to the inside as you go).   I always roll the unfinished edge of the fabric under the stitch for a cleaner edge.  I didn’t use a liner on these panels since the window backs to a private fenced side yard,  but for any panels that are visible to the outside world, I think it’s always best to line them.

hem bottom and sidest

Sewing the top pocket is last, and also the best time to double check your measurement to make sure your length is perfect.  Depending on the size of the rod for the curtains, the curvature of the rod can add up to ½” to ¾” inches to the length when hung, so be sure to accommodate for that.

I was working with a ¾” thick rod and I like to make the pockets about 1 ½ to 2” bigger than the rod to ensure they panels can easily slide back and forth.

sewing pocket

And up they went on the rod, thankfully hemmed to the perfect length, just touching the carpet, but not above it nor puddling beneath.

how to sew rod pocket window panels

The Wall Map:

Oy, that map!  We started with not one but two types of wallpaper adhesive, one from the store another that came with the map and they were a total disaster.  When I say disaster, I do not exaggerate.  The map and paste on a textured wall were a horrible combination there was so much bubbling and rippling I almost tore my hair out in frustration when we tried to apply the first panel to the wall.

I’ve used this paste before with success but it didn’t work at all this time because the wall was so heavily textured so after a full hour of agonizing over the paste issue, we abandoned it completely.

wallpaper paste


And so we turned to Plan B.  The wall map comes in 8 large sections and it’s huge, measuring almost 9’ x 13’.  We had to trim inches off the top, bottom and sides to get it to fit the wall.  Good news though, the edges overlap about ½” inch which was just enough to use a different method – a heavy duty stapler and double sided tape.  Yep, it’s true!

heavy duty stapler


We were able to staple the perimeter of three sides of each panel, then used double sided table where they overlapped in the middle on the fourth side.  If anyone needs a diagram of which sides to staple and which sides to tape, I can add it to the post!

double sided tape on wall


Can you guess which place my girl was asking just how far she had to travel to get to?  That’s Laurie being so kind and giving her a geography lesson on the location of a certain magic kingdom.

location of disney world


Just like with wallpaper, make sure you remove your plates and carefully cut the paper to fit electrical sockets or light switches.


We added some door trim to frame the map and cover the unfinished edges.  Matt cut the edges at a 45 degree angle on our compound miter saw then caulked them while Kim gave them a fresh coat of white paint.

trim around map


The final result was a smooth and seamless map on the wall trimmed out as a giant art installation to inspire all the kiddos.

blue and green wall map cg


Next month is the kitchen makeover, we’re hoping to get in done by the end of June, but you know how kitchen remodels go, rarely done in your scheduled timeframe!  :)  Thank you so much to the new group of donors, we are so so grateful for the financial support for the Alma Project!

If you missed the room reveal and grand tour, click here!

All the best,

kate signature image



  1. love the bookcases! you only painted the crown, right? what white do you use? Thanks!

  2. Fun and happy space. I’ve envisioned a storage bench like the one you have under the window – can you tell me it’s origin. Looks IKEA but I don’t see anything like it – thought about using a Billy Bookcase but don’t know if it would be strong enough for seating.

    • Hi Claudia, that bench is made with an Expedit shelf from IKEA !

  3. So it is possible to do a map on a textured wall?! I have super textured walls and just thought it would never work. Will you post your diagram of taping/stapling? Do you think the map will hold up to wear and tear? I am nervous about finger prints, scratches, etc. appearing on the surface from my kids. With the taping and stapling were there any ripples?

  4. Wow! I love love love that table and chairs set! What a deal!
    I have never seen that set before @ PBK- I wonder how old it is? We live in a mid-century modern house and I had the toughest time finding a set that wasn’t plastic that would work in our house- ended up buying a cool Community Playthings set off CL, but for more than $45 and we only have 2 chairs. Now I am going to start looking for that set on my CL!

  5. LOL! You “almost tore your hair out in frustration” over the glue! If I do recall, only a very calm and problem solving Kate was present! So funny! I need to learn a trick or two from you in managing frustration. I usually just growl. You, my dear, got it figured out in an hour! You’re a pro at running the show, that’s for sure :) And guess what? Loft lease is SIGNED! Sa-weet! ~b

  6. So awesome! Love love the map. Wish I had a place for it in our house. And good luck with the kitchen – I’m sure you’ll knock it out. We once had one week to put in new bamboo floors on the entire main floor plus ripped out and replaced the entire kitchen and managed to get *most* of it done, ahem! :-) It’s our rental that my brother rents so luckily he was very understanding, but we probably got 90% of it done!

  7. What an incredible room!!! This is so inspiring to me right now since I’m working on my own kiddos’ playroom and you have given me lots of great ideas. Yours turned out absolutely amazing and the map is fantastic! :-)

  8. I love the billy bookcases. We have a set and I’ve been contemplating painting the backing. Is that what you’ve done here? The green looks so fun!

  9. What a great find! Lucky you! I feel the same thrill when I find a deal like that. Congrats!

  10. You are not only super talented but you always make me feel like maybe I could pick up a paint brush and do it too. Your work is just amazing and for such a great cause. And your blog has got to be the most resourceful site let alone blog on the internet. I guess I have no excuses any more. Thanks for being an inspiration both as a designer and as a person.

  11. Thanks for the info about the Expedit bookcase – just one more question. Did you attach to the wall, use the casters or some other way to raise it off the floor?

  12. Love that wall map…I used it in my sons room several years ago. We did not have the same adhesive issues…thank goodness…still looks great and adds so much color and interest.
    The entire room looks great…another fabulous job! Cant wait to see the kitchen!

  13. Hi, I found your blog one week ago and I love it…amazing job!!! Sorry if it is a silly question (english is not my first language) but, how do you cover the holes in the Billy bookcase?? and what is a DIYers remedy??
    cheers from Spain!

    • Hi Alexandra, the holes are there to adjust the shelves, we didn’t cover them up, they stay visible.

  14. The map was my fave … so funny how we can’t tell the excruciating time/ways that a design installation took unless u reveal … thanks for your authenticity! I ALSO do LOOOVE the bookcase’s moulding. I still keep eyeing my Ikea bookcase … though it eyes me back and fear kicks it that I may ruin it haha. Hmmm, I have to get tougher w ‘Billy’ : )

  15. I love the map idea in a kids playroom. I remember reading about it when you did that in your own home. Framing it out just makes it look so finished. And the maps seem to come in varied colors too. Watching wverything being done at the Alma house is so inspiring. Thanks for posting about it.

  16. I m so addicted to ur blog just love to read all ur transformations SO AMAZING !

  17. The entire playroom is gorgeous and so pulled together! I love every bit of it. I also was surprised you could use the map on textured walls! We have textured walls in our house, but I would love that map in my son’s room. Could you post your diagram for stapling and taping? Thanks so much!!

  18. I love this room! Especially the color scheme going on. I especially want to copy the idea of painting the back wall of the bookcase – I just have a couple questions: 1) Can you share with us the name of the green paint you used? and 2) How many coats of paint did you put, and did you prime it?

  19. Ok question — I am currently in the process of finally finishing up my photography studio and love the look of the built in bookcase but what paint do you use to coat over the bookcase? Did you use latex? I have always heard it would not cover but that may just be a myth.

    • Hi Misty, we did not paint the interior of the bookcase, just the back and yep, just latex paint formula.

  20. Hi Kate! Can you include diagram of where you stapled and where you taped it? How did you attach to the wall then? hanging this baby right now in one of my boys rooms. let’s just say we just ordered a second map because we ripped one of the 8 pieces of the first one:(. I think it got weighed down by paste. need help

    • I stapled around the outside edges Melissa and also underneath where the panels overlapped, then used double sided tape to secure the top overlapping sections. It worked great!

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)