Carley's World

from Paint Décor
Bedroom décor is an art even in kids’ rooms. This room is enlivened with decorative painting that suits its nature-loving occupant perfectly.

Like many 4-year-olds, Carley Wybel loves all things outdoorsy. On most any sunny day, you’ll find her strolling through the family’s garden in little rubber boots, sniffing flowers and scrutinizing creeping ladybugs. She skips down to the creek that runs through her backyard to squish in the mud and search for bunnies — because of all the natural wonders in Carley’s world, for her, nothing beats a bunny.

“She’s just taking after me, because I love things like gardening and flowers,” Carley’s mom, Michelle Wybel, says. When the family purchased a new home earlier this year, Michelle decided to bring images of Carley’s favorite experiences from the outdoors into her bedroom. She contacted decorative painter Molly Spain, who had created artwork for Carley’s nursery, and asked her to design a room that would enthrall a preschooler yet be appreciated for years.

There was, however, a caveat: Spain couldn’t start from scratch. A particular creation she had painted in the nursery was so treasured that it needed to reappear in the new house. “Carley loved one white bunny so much,” Michelle recalls. “Every night at bedtime she would bend down and kiss it good night. We took a photo of it so Molly could duplicate it exactly in the new bedroom.”

Spain decided to retain various elements of the baby room but create a new theme to accommodate Carley’s evolving interests. She chose spring, the favorite season of many nature lovers. To celebrate this beautiful time of year, she selected a soft palette of creamy coral, buttery yellow, and fresh green. “Color has so much to do with the success of any project, and it was critical to this room in particular,” Spain says.

“I kept the color palette limited and a little lighter than usual to give the room a spring feel,” she says. Spain subtly imbued the space with quiet details such as cherry blossoms, an egg-filled bird’s nest, and young shoots of grass. To further sften the overall effect, she rubbed a light brown glaze over the paintings and walls. “The glaze serves to unify the colors and keep them from appearing too bright,” she explains.

Spain’s highly artistic style has evolved from her fine-arts education and nearly 15 years of decorative painting experience. Her work is fluid and free-spirited, the antithesis of cookie-cutter. In Carley’s room — as in nature — vines twist and climb, branches hang gracefully, and every flower blooms uniquely. Bright dragonflies dart about at a child’s eye level. Her quiet rabbits invoke Watership Down, not that “wascally wabbit.” Spain believes realism can help children’s rooms outlast the cartoon phase. “Painting that is more realistic will be much more likely to take a child into her preteens,” she says. For design inspiration, she often turns to children’s books that feature high-quality illustrations.

On moving day, Carley walked into her new bedroom to discover a cherry grove teeming with fluttering, crawling, and hopping critters. To no one’s surprise, she was jump-up-and-down thrilled. “She had just one request,” Michelle recalls, “more ladybugs and butterflies.” Spain returned and happily complied. After all, a budding naturalist can’t have too many bunnies or bugs.

Get the Look


  • Sherwin-Williams satin-finish latex paint: Lily #SW6693
  • Delta Ceramcoat acrylic crafts paints: Black #2506 (BLK), Burnt Umber #2025 (BU), Coral #2044 (CO), Village Green #2447 (VG), Sandstone #2402 (SS), Ivory #2036 (IV), Leaf Green #2067 (LFG), Lemon Grass #2568 (LG), Wedgwood Green #2070 (WG), Rain Grey #2543 (RG), Seminole Green #2009 (SG), White #2505 (WH)
  • Assorted artist’s brushes
  • Tracing paper
  • Graphite transfer paper

1. Prepare the walls, and base-coat with Lily.
2. Rough in the trees with thinned BU. Once you’re happy with the placement of the trunk and main branches, shade with BU and SS, then highlight with IV. Add twigs and leaves with varying mixtures of VG, SG, LG, WG, and LFG.
3. Decide where you want blossoms, and paint in stems with a light mixture of VG plus LG. Mix a light coral shade using CO plus WH and use to base-coat blossoms and buds. Highlight with WH. Shade the flowers with CO close to the stems. Join blossoms with stems using dabs of the light VG/LG mixture.
4. Paint insects, vines, and butterflies throughout the room as desired. You also may add a bit of grass and small flowers along the lower edge.
5. Trace rabbits using patterns and transfer them to the wall with graphite transfer paper, or freehand them from a favorite book.
6. Base-coat a white bunny with IV or a brown bunny with a light brown mix of BU plus SS. With a fine brush and varying mixtures of IV, BU, and RG for both bunnies, shade the bodies, noses, mouths, areas around the eyes, and lower edges of the bodies. Lighten mixtures as you move out of shaded areas.
7. Highlight the bunnies using lighter mixtures and ending with WH for extra-bright highlights (especially in ears and on chest) and whiskers. Use a mixture of BLK plus BU for eyes, and add a dot of WH to highlight.
8. Glaze the entire room with any light golden-brown glaze.

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