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HOME LIFE; Rumble in the jungle.

MUM Louise Hamill admits her kids can be little monkeys at times. So when we offered to create a jungle- themed playroom for Claire, 10, and seven-year-old Chris, their mum was wild about the idea.

Frantic Louise decided that her children needed a special room where they could run riot after they got a PlayStation games console for Christmas.

She explained: "Claire and Chris both knew they had to share the new toy, but no-one could agree where it should go.

"If we'd set it up in the living room, my partner Willie and I would never get any peace and quiet to watch television. And, although there was more space in Chris' bedroom, since Claire never lets her brother play in her room, he announced that she couldn't play in his.

"We decided the only solution was to turn the spare bedroom into a playroom."

Louise enjoys decorating, but she didn't have much cash to transform the room. All her spare money has been spent on decorating the main rooms of the house since moving in a year ago.

With her supply of cash and creative ideas exhausted, Louise wrote off to homelife to see if we could help.

And when designer Laura Gill heard that the family were keen to experiment with wild and wonderful colour schemes, she couldn't wait to get started.

Although the room is pretty small, Laura decided that plain pastel walls would be too tame for Claire and Chris.

So she suggested giving the kids their own animal kingdom, with one wall painted in zebra stripes, and the rest of the room decorated like a tropical green rain forest.

Laura said: "Creating a zebra print effect is a lot easier than it looks. And, since the pattern is random, you don't have to be too exact with your lines or your measurements."

First of all, Laura painted the wall with a white base coat and then, using coloured chalk, she marked out the diagonal stripes, making sure that they were narrow at the top and bottom, getting broader in the middle.

If you don't trust your freehand drawing, try looking for some zebra- print wrapping paper and use that as a guide.

Laura said: "You don't want the design to be too symmetrical, so vary the starting position of each stripe, and don't have them all the same distance apart."

Once Laura was happy with her chalk marks, she called in Louise and Willie to paint in the outlines in black emulsion, using a small artist's brush, before filling in with a bigger brush.

Laura added: "Because you're painting black paint on top of white, you will probably need two coats, which makes it quite time consuming. But the end result is really striking, so it's worth a little effort."

Even Louise and Willie, who were nearly cross-eyed by the time they'd painted the wall-sized zebra crossing, agreed that the results were pretty dazzling.

Louise said: "I really enjoy decorating, I find it very relaxing. Although I'd never have been brave enough to experiment with zebra stripes on my own, with Laura's chalk marks to guide us I wasn't worried. It was fiddly, but fun."

With the other three walls painted a lush green, Laura was ready to hack her way through the jungle to the next project - creating some storage units.

AN old fitted wardrobe in the room was past its best and, since replacing it would burst the budget, Laura decided to give it a facelift.

The wardrobe doors, made of a plastic material, looked out of place with the new decor, so Laura had a few ideas to make them a little more wild- looking.

She said: "Replacing the old doors with fabric curtains is a cheap and chic cover- up, particularly if you use sheeting material which I found on sale at Remnant Kings for only pounds 2.98 a metre.

"Then, to add that tropical touch, I designed an African-style pelmet to go along the top, made out of MDF and spray painted dark brown to look like mahogany.

"To crown the African Queen look, I was going to add a mesh backing to the pelmet, until I found out that even a piece of radiator grill would burn too big a hole in the budget.

"So, instead, I bought a remnant of lace, cut it to shape, spray painted it gold, and glued it on to the back of the pelmet board.

"The metallic paint not only looks realistic, it also stiffens the lace so that it hangs properly. Then, using angle brackets to screw the pelmet on to the ceiling, with a length of curtain track behind it, and the old tatty wardrobe now looked like a very elegant tent.

"You could use the same treatment to make a canopied bed, with yards of voile or mosquito netting for a real jungle feel.

WITH a scrap of lace left over from the pelmet, Laura came up with another great idea to dress up the childrens' new den

She took a cheap chipboard table and made it look like carved wood.

All you have to do is spray on a dark base paint and, when dry, lay out a piece of lace on top of the table, spraying over the top with a contrast colour.

When the lace is carefully lifted off, the pattern will be left behind. Laura used gold paint on top of mahogany brown, but this technique also gives a wonderful oriental effect if you spray a red lacquer paint on black furniture.

Having made do and mended all the existing furniture, it was time for Laura to hit the shops in search of a sofa bed.

And, although she couldn't find anything in a suitable animal print, the bargain-buy futon was quickly dressed up with a black throw, a few fun- fur cushions, topped off with a fake-fur leopardskin draped along the back.

The window was also given the jungle treatment, with a simple bamboo blind from B&Q, an old pole draped with some fabric scraps and a couple of new finials glued on to the ends.

Then finally, an old lamp base was given a new look and painted the same green as the walls, while a plain white shade was given the zebra treatment with a felt tip pen.

So did Claire and Chris think their new playroom was a fitting place for their new PlayStation?

Claire said: "It's just magic," as she dragged all her old animal soft toys out of the cupboard to let them loose in the jungle.

"I can't wait to move all my things in - I really love it."

Mum Louise agreed. She said: "It's absolutely gorgeous. Laura came up with so many clever ideas. The pelmet and the painted table look great - I could never have thought up anything like that myself.

"The finished effect is just amazing. I know I would have loved something like this when I was young - and the kids are delighted.

"If they're happy, I'm happy."


Paint pounds 35.00

Fur fabric & sheeting material from Remnant Kings pounds 16.15

Futon from Durham Pine, Stirling pounds 150.00

Curtain track pounds 5.69

Finials by Kestrel pounds 9.99

Bamboo blind from B&Q pounds 12.99

Accessories, including lampshade & plants pounds 20.00

TOTAL SPEND: pounds 249.82
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ensor, Nan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 9, 1999
Previous Article:STYLE FILE.
Next Article:The gentlemen are blondes; Critic's Choice.

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