What inspired your project?
It was actually my two youngest children who came up with the idea. My husband and I have five children and a five month old granddaughter, and they were all at home with us through each of Melbourne's three lockdowns.
Because the youngest two boys share a bedroom, we decided to create an 'escape space' for them to take turns and retreat to when they needed some alone time; a quiet multi-purpose space where they could go and 'hide', read, watch television or or play PlayStation.
All of my children are huge Harry Potter fans, and with so many children receiving Harry Potter gifts over the years, we have collected a lot of Harry Potter merchandise, so creating a Harry Potter themed under-the-stairs-space just made sense to all of us.
Have you made many things before?
Yes, I have a lot of creative energy to burn so I enjoy writing, art and design. I first created a haunted house set-up for my children's school's annual fete a few years ago, where I made a large number of props from scratch. Ever since then I've also been designing and creating that attraction each year with some friends.
What kind of look were you after?
A cosy, quiet space that would ignite my children's imagination and enable them to take some time out for themselves.
Finding the time to complete the project was the biggest challenge. I was working full time and homeschooling my children throughout Melbourne's lockdowns, and my husband was working six days a week and unable to help with the kids. When Melbourne was ordered into a five day snap 'circuit breaker' in early February this year, I worked on it as much as I could and was able to finish it.
The other challenge was that I had safety concerns. As a school teacher and mum of five, including four boys, I know what kids are like. Even though my youngest is now ten, I still went to great lengths to make the space as safe as possible. I made sure the door couldn't be locked, I added extra air vents in the wall and glued thick foam padding under every step and sharp corner. I chose the thinnest shelves I could find and ensured they were all higher than head height. All the lights are also battery operated.
- Emptied cupboard (my vacuum still doesn't have a new home!).
- Painted the entire space black, excluding the back area which I painted white.
- Child-proofed the sharp corners and glued thick foam padding under each of the steps.
- Wallpapered the brick wallpaper.
- Screwed the shelves in, added the TV, stencilled the writing, decorated.
- Carpeted the space.
How much did you roughly spend on the project?
About $700, not including the decorations that were gifts.
Paint, matte black and white paint, $36.90 from Bunnings
Black thin photo shelves, from Bunnings
TV wall bracket, $39 from Bunnings
Miscellaneous items including timber/hooks/screws/nails/glue, smooth edge, command velcro, battery operated lights, black interlock foam squares, wall air vent, crystal look cupboard hooks, from Bunnings
Wall light batten, from Ikea
Pegboard, $56, from Ikea
Black foam for sharp edges and black cages, from Kmart
Stencils, mirror of Erised, Hogwarts cushions, from Ebay
Brick wallpaper, glow in the dark stickers, from Amazon
House velvet-look cushions, from Myer
Carpet, Harry Potter sleeping bag, from Marketplace
Platform 9 & 3/4 luggage tags, Big W
Owl lamp, $49.99, from Adairs
Golden snitch, Harry Potter wall lamp, from Toyworld
Overall, seeing how excited my kids were when I finally finished was the highlight. They have been bringing in their friends and our neighbours to show them, and it's the first place they go to when they come home from school. I even found my 26 year old in there watching Stan! They all love it and I'm really proud of what I've achieved with hardly any help, except my daughter's partner who put in the television and carpet for me, but otherwise I did everything else myself.