Do It Yourself Kids Theme Bedrooms: Animal Safari Furniture, Crafts And Decorating

Give your kid a bedroom like no other on the block by using simple materials for a great safari look.

So your little "˜big game hunter' wants a bedroom that looks like Tarzan's vacation home? No problem - you can create a really great-looking safari-style room that won't break your budget.

Put the furniture in the garage, get out the rollers and paint trays and put down a protective covering for the floor. Take down any curtains, but leave the hardware for the new window treatment. Now paint the room a pale or medium gray, to create mysterious shadows. Let this dry according to the directions on the paint can. Next you'll need paint in several more colors: a half-gallon of dark green, a quart of brown, a quart of white and a quart of pale green, paint mixing cups, masking tape, paintbrushes of various widths, some poster board for stencils and scissors or a craft knife to cut them out, poster paint and small brushes. Draw freehand leaf shapes on the poster board and cut them out.

First, starting at the baseboard, paint crooked and forked vertical lines on the walls with the brown paint to represent tree trunks. Mix a little white paint and some of the brown paint in a mixing cup, making a dark tan. Paint more lines while varying the brush width, to add more tree trunks and the illusion of thick underbrush. Let the tree trunks and twigs dry.

Now use masking tape to tape the stencils to the walls and start painting leaves. Vary the sizes and colors, and gradually fill in your tree and underbrush shapes. Let these dry thoroughly, and then you can add free-hand parrots, toucans and other bright birds with the poster paint. You could also add a monkey's mischievous face peeking around some of the leaves if you want. Or paint big golden eyes among the leaves, to represent jaguar or tiger eyes. If you have posters of animals, cut the animals out and glue them to the walls before you finish adding leaves. If the special paint job for the walls is going to take too much time, try your nearest wallpaper store for some really great-looking jungle prints that will be just as effective.

At a department store, look in the gardening section and get four six-foot bamboo poles, some sturdy gardening twine and a package of mosquito netting (or detour through the department store's yard goods section and purchase ten yards of white tulle or nylon net). The store should also have a small, plain jute rug to go beside the bed, and inexpensive bamboo roll-up shades for the windows, which can be hung using the same hardware as the curtains.

In order to stick to your budget, you'll want to use the same furniture. If it's in good shape, then just clean it and put it back in the bedroom. If you decide to paint, then paint all the pieces to match. You can get really creative with this paint job - think tan with black dots for a jaguar effect on the furniture, yellow with brown squares to resemble a giraffe, orange with black stripes for a tiger or black and white stripes for a zebra.

Remember you can update the bed with a coordinating animal-print bedspread, or make a coverlet for the bed from six yards of an animal or tropical forest print. (Divide the sewing material into two three-yard lengths and seam them together on a long side. Hem all around. This will create a coverlet, seamed down the middle and with enough material to pull over the pillows at the head of the bed.) Another great idea, especially for a boy's room, would be to get seven yards of strong tan denim and some heavy matching thread. Seam six yards of it as suggested above, and then use the other yard for making multiple pockets. Sew these onto the sides of the coverlet for extra storage of "˜safari supplies' and toys during the daytime. Add lots of extra "˜seaming' with lines of heavy thread so the coverlet looks like a safari jacket, and you've got a really special bed covering.

Next add the bamboo poles and mosquito netting to the bed. Lash the poles to the bed's legs with the gardening twine. (If the bed frame won't be re-used again, you can use carpenter's or super strength glue and simply glue the bamboo to the frame. But do use the twine for extra support while the glue dries.) Once the four poles are secured, one per corner, drape the mosquito or other netting across the tops of the bamboo poles (use some of the twine to tie it to the poles so it doesn't slip off) and let it enclose the bed, just like in the movies. If the bed won't be moved, you might use four L-brackets for securing the bamboo poles: fasten the L-brackets to the ceiling, and then slip the bamboo poles over the other end of each bracket. You'll have to cut the mosquito netting into panels and then staple it to the poles and ceiling instead of just draping it.

Have some "˜crafty' fun with the accessories in the room. Add animal-print ribbon to an existing mirror frame. Bring tired pillows back to life by covering them with a "˜jungle print' of exotic leaves and flowers. Cover lamp bases by using your hot-glue gun to attach silk flowers and lush greenery. Put the small jute rug beside the bed. Sling a canteen or a pair of binoculars over one of the bedposts, or hang from a wall peg. Cover a director's chair with fake fur or the same jungle print you used for the pillows. If you can find a used refrigerator carton, or some other large cardboard box, draw and cut out a giraffe or baby elephant to paint and then stand in the corner. Let your imagination run as wild as the animals found during a safari, and you'll have as much fun re-doing the room as the lucky kid who's going to live there.

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