What's your favorite room? We asked readers, and here are the latest spaces they've shared, including a room for dreaming, a room for learning and a dining room inspired by a castle.
Favorite room: A personalized “learning room” where a suburban preteen can dig into schoolwork and pursue her hobbies.
Created by: Abigail Opstad, 12, with an assist from her mom, Gayle Cartier, Apple Valley.
How they created it: Abigail designed the room herself. “I had no plan. I was doing it as I went along,” she said. She painted the large wall opposite the door with chalkboard paint so she could decorate it with her own drawings and favorite quotes. Then, using a nail gun, she built wall display boxes made of old barn wood from the farm where her mom grew up. “My grandpa in Williston, S.D., has a wood shop. It’s traditional to make something when we’re there, and I got the idea of doing open boxes,” Abigail said. A weathered wooden board, mounted on the wall, holds Mason jars filled with pencils, pens and markers, a DIY project Abigail spotted on Pinterest.
After arranging the furniture, including a black sofa she inherited from her older brother, Abigail thought her room felt too crowded, so she turned to her mom for help. Gayle, who has a background in interior design, removed a few pieces, then reconfigured the room based on feng shui principles. A crystal chandelier from Ikea adds a sparkly finishing touch.
The payoff: “I definitely use it more,” said Abigail of her new room. “And I’m definitely more productive.” She does schoolwork in her learning room about five to six hours daily, but enjoys the space so much that she spends a lot of her leisure time there, too, such as designing cosplay outfits on a mannequin. “She loves hanging out here,” said Gayle. “I have to pry her out.” □
Favorite room: A “dream room” where a fun-loving grandma and her grandchildren come together for sleepovers, crafts and inspiration.
Created by: Joan Breen Blanchard, Roseville.
The back story: In 2000, Joan, an interior designer (joanbreen.com) and her husband, Charlie, moved from a tiny house to a larger one, where they had the luxury of an “extra room” on the main floor. Some might have dubbed it a den, but Joan, who is known to her family and friends as Moonbeam, christened it the “Dream Room.” She envisioned it as a place to pursue and share her passion for self-growth and positive energy.
How she created it: After consulting with a feng shui expert to improve the energy flow in the 1950s-built home, Joan painted her Dream Room deep cobalt blue. “Indigo is the color of inspiration,” she noted. One night she felt sick and went into the room to lie down. Looking up at the plain white ceiling, she resolved to “do something” with the blank canvas it presented. Inspired by a card she had recently received, she hired a decorative painter to create a huge gold medallion on her ceiling, as well as whimsical and inspirational words and motifs on walls and woodwork. She added a metallic golden chest with many small drawers, one for her each of her five grandchildren, now ages 7 through 23. Whenever they came for a visit, “I put little goodies in their drawers,” she said.
The payoff: The Dream Room has become a popular and joyful gathering spot for friends and family members. It’s where she keeps her grandchildren’s dream journals and hosts “full-moon sleepovers” that include art projects, scavenger hunts with flashlights in the backyard, and telling stories in the Dream Room until everyone falls asleep. Joan keeps many treasured tokens in her special room, including a scrap of paper towel, enscribed with marker by her 7-year-old granddaughter, that reads: “I think the drim room is speshol becas wen I slep it just give’s me happy dreams.” The room’s impact has exceeded even Joan’s original vision. “I would never have dreamed that creating a space like this would capture the imagination and enthusiasm of children that would sustain through adulthood,” she said. “It’s like that baseball movie: ‘If you build it, they will come.’ ”
Favorite room: A castle-inspired dining room.
Created by: Dave and Mecca Page, Hastings, with help from artist Jennifer Kranz.
The back story: Dave was single when he bought the 1969 home, then spent the next 13 years rebuilding it to his liking. He added a movie theater, a “Fitzgerald library” (he’s a retired English professor and F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar) and began the process of transforming the dining room into a castle courtyard. Why? “I’m a castle person,” he said. “Castles are cool! Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to own a castle.” Several years ago, he gained a collaborator: Mecca Manz, artist and owner of BreakAway Arts Center, who is now his wife. “I had to wait for the perfect woman,” Dave said.
How they did it: Dave had already built the bones of his courtyard, including a second-story interior window (inspired by one he’d seen in Venice) and stair railings and shelving made from wood on his property. He was at work on the finishing touches: castle-like crown molding and dragon gargoyles, made of styrofoam coated with acrylic with heavy sand — “like a stucco patch” — and was starting to paint the dining room gray, with dreams of a sky mural on the ceiling. Mecca thought she could lend a hand. “I said, ‘I see what you’re going after.’ I have a girlfriend who is a fabulous artist and can make it look like stone,’ ” she said.
Mecca consulted with Jennifer Kranz, who told her it would be the hardest job she’d ever undertaken. She was right. For nine months, Mecca worked on scaffolding, painting the sky mural on the ceiling and base-coating the walls. Then Jennifer applied a stippled paint treatment in five colors of soft greens and golds to mimic ancient stonework. “If you look at limestone, you’ll see these colors,” Jennifer said. “It unifies the whole color palette of their house.” She also lightened and brightened the hues on Mecca’s ceiling mural, to create more realistic clouds and shadows.
The payoff: The Pages’ palatial dining room has become a distinctive setting for hosting fundraisers and themed costumed dinner parties. “It’s a special thing. It’s fun,” Dave said. The ersatz “limestone” has fooled even discriminating guests. “One guy who was an engineer asked ‘Who laid the block?’ ” Dave recalled. “I said ‘It’s faux.’ He said, ‘Who laid the faux block?’ People don’t believe me that it’s painted.”