Explorer Big Boy Room: client before & after

Hi friends!  Thank you for all the sweet comments on the baby girl nursery I shared yesterday.  If you missed that post, you'll want to read it first.  (Just click here.)

Today I'm sharing the big boy room to the Saddle Ridge Project.  My wonderful clients had just recently moved into their home, and hadn't changed a thing except move their furniture into the room from their condo in Chicago.  They asked me to create an "explorer big boy room" for their darling son "L.", who is just too cute for words.  He may only be three, but he was excited every time I brought a new piece into his room.  So adorable.

Similar to his sister's nursery, L.'s room was a beige box with standard builder lighting.  It had to go.  I immediately suggested moving his tall dresser into his walk-in closet, and thankfully it was a perfect fit!  That freed up tons of play space on the floor.  I also suggested flat ledge shelves taking up the whole wall where the tiny bookshelf was.  Number one, because it's difficult for the kiddos to even see what books they have.  Number two, because it's hard to keep it looking tidy.  My clients are very organized, so long term, I knew the ledge shelving would be a better fit. Plus, it makes for great impact as far as art. We had to keep the bed and the long dresser.  Everything else could be moved.

{All the awesome "after" photos were taken by Tracy Anne Photography.  She makes me look good.  I love her.  You would love her too.}

Big change, right? 

Never underestimate the power of a great light.  I'm so glad we swapped out the old light for this schoolhouse striped piece.

When a client asks for a specific theme, like "explorer", I prefer to bring that out in the art, accessories, and overall vibe. Nothing too cheesy or theme-y.  I'm never sure the exact direction that a room will go until I'm inspired.  When I found this boat painting at BlueDoor Antiques, I knew this was it.  The colors were fun but sophisticated.  What little boy wouldn't want to go exploring on a big ship?  

I brought each of these colors into the bedding: mustard trim on the euro shams, burnt red comforter, and the teal wool camping blanket.  A camping blanket says explorer to me.  He could take this wool blanket to college if he wanted to, or the family could easily use it in another space later.

I especially loved that the blanket was made in Michigan by the Lake Superior Woolen Company.  I like to keep it local as much as possible. :-)

We kept his dresser, but he needed a mirror, and it had to be awesome like his sister's.

I searched high and low for a faux bois mirror that wouldn't break the budget and this was it.  It's huge, heavy, and totally boy.  Love it.  Wish it was in my house. (I'm a mom of boys, you know.) Thankfully my clients were just as thrilled with it as I was.  

I fully expect little L. to explore the world some day, so I added vintage globes of different colors and sizes from City Antiques.  

Another close-up of the mirror.  Just because I love it so, and because Tracy takes great pictures.

We also included explorer accessories on his bookshelves.  

Vintage leather binoculars, again from City Antiques.  If you look closely you can see the leather is worn where the fingers rub.  It's all about history and character and uniqueness.  Even when my client is three.

Plus, this antique thermometer from a produce store that was just too cool to pass up.

Sometimes, when I see the room through the camera lens, I can see the space differently.  It's crazy how that works.  That being said, if my clients wanted to add a little more to this room, I'd recommend a plaid, light blue, flat rug for under the front portion of the bed, this arrow fabric for custom roman shades over the windows, and one stump stool nightstand.

I'm really pleased with how this room turned out and I hope you like it.  
Most importantly, I know my clients are happy and that's what matters most!  This is a room little L. can grow into and change as his interests evolve.

Thanks so much for reading!  I appreciate you visiting my site and your continued support. xo
Huge thanks to my Saddle Ridge clients for allowing Tracy and me into your home.  It's such a treat!  

Whether you're near or far, I would love to work with you to create a home you love.  Email me at abbyminteriors@gmail.com for more information on my local & e-design services.


  1. Looks fantastic Abby! Especially love all the thoughtful styling details!

    XX jana

  2. The book ledges are my favorite, and the little styling pieces - great job!! :)

  3. You are the best at pattern mixing & this room is just another example. I hope your client goes for your other suggested items for the room. A room is never really done.

  4. love this, abby! the bedding makes it for me!

  5. Awesome,a s usual. And I love the added suggestions for the future. Those would be gorgeous layers!

  6. The bedding adds such a great kick. And that light is one of my favorites!

  7. Really a cute room! I love the theme and that wool blanket is awesome. Love the color!

  8. Awesome room! I really love the ship picture and all the little touches :)

  9. Looks great Abby, and I especially love the wall of book ledges- that is so cool. Fun space! I'd love to paint a 'trail of explorations' on the wall as an accent...Love the idea of stumps and layering a run and some arrows! xo Nancy

  10. Love this!! So perfect for a curious/exploring little one!

  11. Really a beautiful set of stripes which have make this bedroom design wonderful i think i have to move for it now....

  12. Loving the schoolhouse light, so cute!

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Abby Manchesky Interiors is a boutique design firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. Combining the new traditional, vintage and a dash of the unexpected is her ideal. Contact Abby Manchesky Interiors for more information on available interior design services for clients near and far. abbyminteriors@gmail.com | 616.719.9400


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