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Beam me up, baby

Craft - inspired by Resene, from Little Treasures magazine

Step inside this tiny bedroom and you’re in the control room of a spaceship bound for the final frontier.

Robot clock
A funky robot clock tells earth time in Isaac's inter-galactic bedroom

A shared passion for science fiction inspired Manja and Dave Lane to create this remarkable bedroom for Isaac, now 16 months. The couple set their hearts on rockets and robots as soon as they knew they were having a baby, and winning the Resene Dream Room competition gave them the budget to go for it.

Manja is a student advisor at Canterbury University and Dave a librarian at the Engineering School there. One look at Isaac’s finished room reveals they are both seriously into science fiction.

At roughly three metres square, Isaac’s bedroom presented a few space challenges of a different sort. It had almost no storage, which was something else for the Lanes’ design to solve, while also looking great.

A priority for both parents was that the room would last as Isaac grows.

“For me, sustainability is of practical and ethical importance, not just a catch phrase for this age,” says Manja. “The play and storage spaces I designed can all adapt with him, and the decorations now at toddler level can be stripped off and the room can become a teenager’s room rather than a child’s themed room.”

A spaceship themed bedroom
The Lanes all enjoy spending time in Isaac’s special space

Not content with buying ready-made shelves, drawers and a wardrobe to provide storage, Manja came up with three unique units: a space suit locker, a control console and a robot (a tribute to the Tin Man character created by their friend, artist Tony Cribb) to house Isaac’s belongings, and each had to be custom built.

With $750 worth of Resene Paint Vouchers and $750 for other materials, they faced budget constraints that Dave’s dad Rodger Lane helped them to get around by taking on the job of building the cabinetry. He built each piece at his home then delivered them individually while Manja, Dave and Manja’s father Rob Pieters painted the room.

Check out the robot cabinet with an adjustable desk light built into one of its arms. Isaac – dressed as Yoda – prepares to initiate a launch sequence.

“At one stage we had 29 pieces of furniture in our double garage that we were in the process of painting and installing,” says Manja.

Everything about the room is imaginative and functional. Wherever they could, the Lanes recycled. (See the list of items they redeployed below.) The control panel behind the rectangular window above the command console is an example of how electronic waste can be reused.

Manja explains how they did it: “One of my friends is a physicist and she took apart my first computer, chopped up the mother boards, drilled holes in them and threaded Christmas lights through the holes. Then she cut a little panel in the middle to connect an electronic photo frame so it can play little movies and photos. That now flashes in different sequences and looks like a classic sci-fi retro computer. The photo frame is remote controlled and it can screen images and film sequences. One day I want to make a rocket animation for Isaac.”

A robot bedroom for kid's

A rocket decoration for your kid's room

The rocket quilt is a precious piece, handmade by Manja’s close friends.

All of the plugs and switches used to power this dazzling feature (and the room) have been overseen by an electrician to make sure they’re safe and toddler-proof – Isaac can’t reach any power points.

The rocket light fitting is another custom creation made from two light fittings, painted cardboard fins and a funnel. “When Isaac grows up we can take off all the decorations and just leave the pendant light.”

Robot bookend

As you might expect, there’s nothing random about the fluorescent stars painted on the ceiling. Dave projected the February 2012 night sky star chart onto the ceiling and painted according to the actual stars that were present at the time of Isaac’s birthday, and yes, the Southern Cross is there.

With a deadline of mid-February this year to finish their makeover and Isaac’s first birthday on 25 February, the Lanes decided to host a double celebration to thank the team of helpers and celebrate Isaac’s big day.

Rather than giving Isaac more toys and clothes for his birthday, Manja emailed friends and family a template and asked them to make a triangular piece of bunting out of whatever material they chose and write some words of advice for Isaac’s first rocket journey on the back.

“All sorts of advice for his first year of life came back. Everything from making the world his playground, to ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’”

The party was a blast. “The kids loved pushing the buttons, turning the knobs, rearranging magnets on the magnet wall, climbing up the ladder and scribbling on the blackboards on the toy box and also the desk,” says Manja. “Although it was hard work meeting the short deadline, all of us are getting great pleasure and joy out of the room, so we were really grateful to win.”

Re-used in the renovation

Resene colours used

Resene products used

Resene Enamacryl Metallic (metallic features), Resene Aquaclear (urethane), Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen (walls), Resene Lustacryl (trim and joinery), Resene SpaceCote Flat (ceilings) or Resene Ceiling Paint.

Tricks and Tips

Resene's Marvellous Metallics

Metallic paint effects can take a room design to the next level. the Lanes used Resene Yeehaa, a bright metallic blue as the accent colour to give Isaac’s robot and rocket room a real NASA look and feel.

If you decide to use a metallic paint, it’s suitable for use on most areas you would use normal paint, but there are several steps to the process and it pays to know that the effect is achieved by applying several coats and several different paints.

How to apply:

Start with a primer and then apply an undercoat of Resene Lumbersider as close in colour as possible to the metallic paint you plan to use. Once this is dry you can then apply the shade of Resene Enamacryl Metallic paint you’ve chosen. If you’re painting a large area, the best method for applying it is to spray it on. You can also use a synthetic fibre roller, speed brush or tynex filament brush, but only for small areas and textured surfaces. there is a metallic flake that gives the paint its shimmer and the orientation of the metallic flakes affects the final finish. If the flakes lie at opposing angles as they will if you use a brush, they will reflect light at different angles too which doesn’t look as sharp as when they are all facing the same way. If you are using a roller, cutting in requires care. take the roller as close as possible to the edge to reduce the change in appearance that can occur when the metallic flakes are applied by brush or roller. When painting interior walls, paint opposite walls first to avoid marking in the corners.

Once the second coat of Resene Enamacryl Metallic is dry, seal with a topcoat of Resene Aquaclear for interiors. this will improve its resistance to abrasion and makes it easier to keep clean and more hard wearing. It will also give an extra sheen.

Cleaning up spills

Few events cause more of a panic than spilled paint. Before you reach for the solvent or buckets of water, the best thing to do is to pick up as much of the spilled paint as you can. If the spill is onto carpet, the tool to reach for is, rather surprisingly, a spoon because they’re great at scooping up paint from a carpet. If the spill is onto concrete or another hard surface, two pieces of cardboard are the most efficient way to pick up spilled paint. Once you’ve picked up as much paint as possible you can start washing the area with solvent or water. Check on the tin for which to use.


Created by Vanessa Johnson. Photography by David Baird.

August/September 2012

Kid's Bedroom Decorating Ideas
View more decorating ideas for kids from Little Treasures magazine in the Resene kid's bedroom inspiration gallery.

More ideas


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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

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