Alma Project: Playroom Transformed

May 1, 2012

Hi all, it’s time to share what we accomplished during our weekend at the Alma Project, and I’m so excited about this space!  We started with this room which is dedicated to the kids but was acting more like a storage space than a playroom, and in need of practical kid friendly solutions.  Over the course of three days, the team took this room from totally drab to completely fab!   We had to work with the existing navy carpet and ceiling, but every thing else was fair game so we started with a fresh coat of paint on the walls on Friday (painted baseboards too) and then installed all the elements from the design plan on Saturday and Sunday.

A month ago, Cristin and I got on the phone together to brainstorm ideas to reinvent this space.  It had to be a gender neutral playroom to serve kids ages 2 to 10, and we wanted to make it as inspiring as we could within our budget of $1,000.  We started with the giant wall map in shades of blue and green, then found a modern wavy stripe for the curtains, and I sourced everything else after that, with various online purchases and trips to IKEA, Target, etc.

All of the families who reside share a bedroom (mom plus kids in one room, up to four families in this home) so there was a real need for a community space for kids to be inspired to create and play.  The kids playroom sits right off the kitchen and is also a place for parents to relax and interact with their little ones.

Here’s a look at the room before we began:

alma kids room

And how it now looks after our three day makeover:

alma project kids playroom

Wow, right?   So fresh, so fun, so filled with color! Here’s the grand tour of the new kids playroom at our Alma Project. 


It measures approximately 16’ x 12’ and is packed with plenty of practical storage, a bench for sitting or playing, a leather sofa, and a feature wall with an inspiring map of the world!

playroom view cg


On the left side of the room we installed a giant map to encourage the children that the world is full of possibilities!   The blues and greens established the color palette for the entire space.  We donated our gently used leather sofa to the space. 

map wall playroom cg


On the other side of the sofa are extra floor cushions in a medallion print for lounging, dreaming, or playing.

floor cushions and map cg


A giant (as big as the world) thank you to FLOR for donating the carpet tiles under the sofa, they’re the perfect match!  I also have one more row that we can use to widen or replace the existing mini area rug.

map wall and flor tiles cg


One of my sponsors, Shades of Light, donated the new Moravian Star fixture which is reminiscent of a compass star.

shades of light fixture


On the bare wall next to the door to the laundry room and garage, I saw the need for a library and toy storage so we added three built-in Billy bookcases (similar to this project) to maximize the use of vertical space and painted the backs to provide a fun grassy green color to brighten the room.  The bookcases are anchored to the wall studs to prevent any instability or tipping.

billy bookcases and play table


The color along the back is Glidden’s ‘Green Lane’ which is more like “Kermit the Frog” green to me!  Our local church group donated dozens of books which doubled the size of the kids library.  Thank you Nina and Chris for the collection!   The play table was a Craigslist find that I repainted.

play table and hooks cg

The hook rails were another generous donation by Liberty Hardware, who not only donated these hook rails for storage (for dress up and purses and backpacks!) but also many more hooks for the entry too.

On the window wall, we added an IKEA Expedit shelf to act as both a bench and a great place for toy storage.  I imagine its flat surface will accommodate a train or car race too.

ikat pillow expedit bench cg


I sewed the rod pocket panels with 12 yards of this outdoor fabric and they bring whimsy, plus sun protection when necessary.  The window opens to a fenced side yard, so privacy is not an issue.

playroom window treatments cg


The ‘You Are My Sunshine’ art is from The Ink Society, and is framed in a grid to inspire – the Melissa & Doug easel was another donation.  It can be moved to make space for a future TV stand and television for the kids to watch movies.

easel art window panels cg


That’s the grand tour of the new playroom space, hope you like it as much as the kids!  I’ll do a follow up post answering any questions you might have, and showing you the ‘behind the scenes’ projects that went into the transformation from the wall map to the Billys to sewing the window treatments!

 Here’s the Source List and total cost of the makeover:

World Wall Map:  $99

Trim for map: donated by COTS

3 Billy bookcases, IKEA: $151 with tax

Teal lamp base and shade, Target, $43

Wall and trim paint: donated by Glidden (thank you Sarah!)

Anchors, framing, and crown for bookcases; $45

Storage Drawers & Baskets for bookshelves, Target: $45

Carpet tiles: donated by FLOR (thank you Patrick!)

Stripe pillows, Target, $29

End table: our donation

Monrovian Star fixture, donation by Shades of Light (thank you Walter!)

Storage Ottomans, Target $50

Leather Sofa, Jennifer Convertibles: our donation

Medallion floor cushions, Costco: $40

Framed wall art, The Ink Society, $42

Wall Frames, Target, $43

Expedit shelf under window, IKEA, $64 with tax

Fiber storage baskets, IKEA, $49 with tax

repainted Pottery Barn Play table, Craigslist: $45

Richloom Indoor/Outdoor Poolside fabric (window treatments), 12 yards, $108

Ikat pillow, Target, $22 with tax

Lime green pillows, IKEA, $10 with tax

Hook rails, donated by Liberty Hardware (thank you Amy!)

Easel: our donation

Total cost for playroom makeover = $885


Before: alma kids room


blue and green playroom cg


Many thanks to FLOR, Liberty Hardware, Shades of Light, and Glidden Paint for their generous product donations!!

We would also like to personally thank these wonderful and generous PayPal and mail donors:  Stephanie Norris, Susan Luken, Heather Lynch, Lynn Nazareth, Michelle Hayward, Patti Hubbard, Laurel Friedman, Jodi Santimauro, Brandi Adoff, Shiori Constance-Fiedler, Sarah Springer, Rachel Wimpee, Christina Webb, Jean Mieloch, Laura Bettis  Christina Isetta, Jacqueline Blomberg, Kristin Schmidt, Cathleen Barstow, Caitlyn Cameron, Tracie Stoll, Claudine Kruck, Mary Robertson, Mary Ann Bassett, Dayna Dubay, Patti Zipper, Rachel Seavey, Deborah Milner, Karen Duffy, Emily Essig, Terah Shelton, Melinda Wyckoff, Cindy Braniff, Linda Hyams, Helen Tuggle, Sherry Hutchens, Gregory Bender, Cassidy Beyer, Jonathan Dunford, Keri Andrews, Laura Groff, Elizabeth Hunt, Lakeitha Duncan, and Sharon Johnson.   THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

We could not have done this without you!

But you know what?  We have less than $500 left in our PayPal account, and we need to raise more!  There’s a sad living room which needs some real solutions and a backyard that’s mostly weeds and in desperate need of help!  The kitchen remodel is underway thanks to a generous donation by Home Depot to replace the cabinetry (wow, amazing!) but we need to buy a new oven/cooktop, a range hood, and countertops.  We welcome your donations!   For more details on what the Alma Project is all about, read this post.

Click on this button in the sidebar to help!

alma project

Thanks so much to all the volunteers who gave their time and helped pull this space together, we’re so proud of this playroom.  Read all the details on the DIY projects in this space right here!



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137 Responses to “Alma Project: Playroom Transformed”

  1. Connie says:

    Could you explain how you attached the map to the wall? It looks wonderful.

  2. Claudia S says:

    God bless you–what a wonderful way to use your talents. I’m sure the families will enjoy using the revamped space. It’s gorgeous!

  3. Karen says:

    Beautiful!! I have a question, though… How does one go about anchoring bookcases to a wall? Thanks!

  4. Michelle Hayward says:

    Wow! This must be the HAPPIEST room in the house! You did so good with the $$. Definitely a good karma room.

  5. Elaine says:

    So fun and fresh! Your description of the lighting fixture made me think that centering it on a painted compass on the ceiling would be a great addition!

  6. Allie says:

    The playroom is fabulous! What an amazing transformation! A reminder to all of us that we can make a difference….and you have!

  7. Tara says:

    Such a beautiful, bright space for the children. I would love it if you would do a tutorial on how you put the 3 bookcases together to look like one big bookcase and added the crown molding.

  8. WOW! The playroom looks amazing! Love the bright green & blue colour palette, and the huge map is awesome. Congratulations to you and everyone involved for giving the kids a beautiful and inspiring space to just be kids :-)

  9. Sheila says:

    Wow, those kids are going to love that room. You all did such a great job. I love the huge map. Well, actually I love everything about the room. It’s so great that you are a part of something so special.

  10. Andrea says:

    would love to know technique for putting map on wall and also source for the kids chairs?


  11. Roeshel says:

    Kate, you’ve created a happy, cheerful place to have fun, be creative and to relax. It’s gorgeous! The hard work you and the volunteers put reflects your generosity and giving nature. Beautiful room, beautiful people. :)

  12. Robin O says:

    I love that map. Do you remember if it had cities on it? The website that sells it doesn’t give that detail. Sorry – I know this is a pretty random question!

  13. Kate, this whole room is like a ray of sunshine! Just beautiful! I love the colors you chose…what a wonderful place for the children to play and enjoy! :)

  14. Susie says:

    Kate, you did an amazing job for an amazing cause. You’re awesome!

  15. Susie says:

    Kate, you did an amazing job for an amazing cause. You’re awesome!

  16. Marita says:

    I have loved your blog for some time now and am always inspired by what you do. This room looks incredible, but I do have one question. What did you do with the bigger toys that you see in the before picture? Like the little stroller, shopping cart, etc that won’t fit on shelves. This is what I really struggle with in our kids spaces – they tend to remain on the floor, which drives me nutty!

  17. So fun and such a steal!


  18. Kristen says:

    Woah! Totally worth $885! That’s amazing. Thanks for sharing. :)

  19. Renee S. says:

    Wow. You really stretched those dollars. I know the kids and their moms are going to love this room. What a blessing you and your team are.

  20. Beautiful! I feel happy just looking at this. Very inspirational. You did a great job.

  21. The room was beautiful. Love the colours, its fun and fresh. The best part for me is the total cost of the project, you guys did an amazing job in stretching the budget without sacrificing the design and function of the room… Awesome.

  22. Jen says:

    I seriously had to scroll back and forth multiple times because I was so in awe of the difference. You are amazing Kate, and I love so very much what you are facilitating. I only wish I could be there to help out.


  23. Oh, I missed this yesterday!!!! I LOVE the room…the colors are soothing, but still fun for the kids. The map is just plain awesome. :)

  24. Amy says:

    Wow!! Simply stunning work!
    I am completely in love with this room, and the map is just incredible!!!
    What a great room for a great cause!
    Mad props to everyone who helped in this room!

  25. Kay says:

    I want that map….and those curtains!! SO CUTE!!!

  26. Wow! You guys did an awesome job. It is most certainly a happy room for those kids. Such a mood lifter. :)

  27. Jenny says:

    Wow, wow, wow! You amaze me all the time – truly talented and generous. I want to be like you when I grow up ;)

  28. Pamela says:

    Love this!

  29. Carmel says:

    Oh my wow – I lOVE the colors in this room! It’s perfectly gender neutral and so bright and happy. I love a kids space that has big design elements. The wall map and curtains are fabulous! So great to see companies donating things to help out too!

  30. QueenB says:

    I love everything you do! What is the wall color?

  31. CentsationalGirl says:

    The wall color is ‘Sand White’ by Glidden!

  32. Kate says:

    That is fabulous, I love the colors! I would love for you to share this (and any other house projects) at my “May House Par-tay” at!

  33. jodi says:

    I too would like to know what you did with the larger toys (stroller, grocery cart, etc) as these take up so much space in our play room too! Awesome transformation!

  34. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jodi (and others) some of those toys that were there before were broken or damaged, but others did actually make it back into the room.

  35. Jocie@OPC says:

    Thanks so much for linking up for our Before and After series!!! I love the color green you used – its one of my favs!

  36. Carol says:

    Every child deserves to play and learn in a beautiful and inspiring space like this. This is amazing.

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