The idea of painting Miss Nerd’s built-in wardrobe to make it look like a Frozen-inspired cupboard had been lurking in my head for a while. So when Dulux approached me earlier this year to see if I’d be keen to work with them to create some social media content to help showcase their Dulux Colour Forecast 2022, I was keen. I always love working with Dulux and had worked with them on some other paint makeovers before, but this one was a bit of a risky DIY idea that could have gone wrong pretty easily, so I was happy they had faith in me! And I was really happy (and relieved!) with how it turned out.
Agreeing to do sponsored content always comes with pressure to meet expectations and deadlines. But the flipside is that there is always something REALLY nice about having a good reason to make guilt-free time for something fun and creative (“it’s work!”) and I had truly missed painting for painting’s sake.
I’ve also missed blogging. If you would have caught me at the end of 2022’s summer holidays, you would have found me rejoicing at the thought of Miss Nerd starting kindy. Two days from 9 to 3pm each week, three days every other week. And I would keep her in daycare for one day a week. SO MUCH KID-FREE TIME, I thought. I would be able to take on so much freelance writing work. And I would get SO much done and have so much time to blog. Well. So I thought.
My friends with older, school-age children, warned me when they saw how excited I was at the prospect of ramping my own things back up.
“The school day goes by so quickly,” they warned. “Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, it’s just a different stage. It’s not just going to be easier overnight.”
Please, I thought, what can be more frustrating than threenager tantrums?
“And their school schedules are busy,” cautioned my friends. “Lots of events, excursions, assemblies, things to remember, and things to go to. Birthday parties every weekend – for two kids now. And you can’t just drop them at kindy and school any time and pick them up any time you want, of course.”
But, I thought, I’ll have two kids at the same school, and I’ll be paying less in daycare fees! This will be wonderful!
And it was – but, as I definitely learned, my friends with older children were right. We may have two kids in the same school now but I feel like in 2022 I had LESS time, more non-blog related freelance writing work, and something has had to give a bit, and it has, unfortunately, been blogging. So many times I have found myself thinking longingly about how much I love just blogging or writing for fun. It’s the ‘pleasurable’ thing I put off to do when I’ve done everything else; cooked dinner, gotten the kids down; cleaned up the house, tied up life admin ends, etc. And when on earth do you ever finish all the other things you should do? 2023, my resolution is to make time for ‘just blogging’ more. (This blog itself, by the way, isn’t sponsored (the post for Instagram was) but I loved this project so much and I really wanted to share it with you here!)
Anyway. Miss Nerd had been saying she wanted her bedroom to “look like Anna and Elsa’s” for a while. This, to me, did not mean buying my daughter vast quantities of garish snowflake-splattered official merchandise. Although I’m sure she would have liked me to.
A princess bed with a canopy would have been cool, but her bedroom is small, and the ceilings aren’t high – we don’t have the awesome space and height of Faye’s ‘princess room’ from Chris Loves Julia (which is a wonderful Frozen-inspired bedroom makeover, worth checking it out if you have not seen it).
Then one night, as my eyes were glazing over from reading a Frozen storybook for the 482nd time I thought, What if I could make over her built-in wardrobe? I could paint it to look like the rosemalig doors in Frozen.
Immediately, the happy nerd in me went down an Pinterest rabbithole researching Norwegian rosemaling (also spelled rosemalig). Have you ever noticed how in the Frozen movies and books, so many of the walls, doors and pieces of furniture etc feature beautiful painted symmetrical patterns?
Wait, what? You haven’t noticed? You mean you don’t live with a small tyrant who is obsessed with Frozen to the point where hearing the lyrics, “Where the north wind….” sets your teeth on edge? You say you haven’t committed every dang book and movie to heart? Catching a glimpse of Olaf’s overbite doesn’t make your eyes turn into slits?
Do you tell me the franchise hasn’t permeated your existence so much that you’ve spent long drives having heated arguments with your significant other about all things Frozen? (Does Olaf represent the inner, repressed child? Was Elsa toxic? Was the parents’ parenting lacking, by separating the sisters? Discuss. And does Elsa actually die in Frozen 2?)
Anyway, I digress. If Frozen was set in Norway in the 1840s, it would make sense that lots of the interiors in the movie feature delicate hand-painted flowers and motifs. Rosemalig, or ‘rose painting’, is a type of Scandinavian folk painting that is believed to have begun around 1750 in rural Norway.
Rosemaling was a way to bring colour and prettiness into Scandinavian homes and churches – and also a common hobby too.
You can totally get why it was so popular 250 years ago. Long winters, spells of freezing cold, dark nights, no wifi – what a perfect pasttime.
Rosemalers would paint walls, ceilings, shutters, doors and large pieces of furniture, as well as smaller wooden items like chairs, trunks, stools, jugs and bowls – honestly I probably would have rosemalinged my toothbrush, I would have been that bored.
Rosemaling grew in popularity until apparently, it began to fall out of fashion in the late 1800s. (Would that deter me from trying to bring it back to a 1970s house in modern-day suburban Perth? It would not).
I swooned over so many folk art pictures on Pinterest. I did notice that while traditional rosemalig seems more about intricate swirls and detailed flourishes, the furniture and doors depicted in the Frozen movies had more of a stylised look with a more pared-back, simple, stencilled feel.
I thought I’d try to aim for something that looks kind of in-between…. and then kind of make it up as I went along.
The first thing I did with this project was attach the crown moulding. I bought it from Bunnings, it’s pine and about $13 a length.
It’s the same trim I used in the past to add to the kids bedroom walls. I like it but I’m pretty sure it’s the cheapest moulding/trim they have and it’s still not cheap-cheap. Why does this stuff cost so much? Why don’t they sell pre-made ‘moulding squares’ you can just stick onto a door or window? Why am I so bad at making the cuts at the correct angle?
I shall blame the summer heat and my ineptitude to handle temperatures above 26 degrees for the fact that I made so many wrong cuts and then actually glued the moulding on the wrong way because I couldn’t be stuffed cutting it all again. (I’m bred more for icy Norwegian climes than Australian summers). I had suspected I’d done it wrong but it was confirmed by one of my followers, who is a pro carpenter to be fair, but at that point I thought it looked good anyway so…. carry on! Even he agreed no one else would likely know the difference….. well. Let’s stick with that.
After that was the blue coat – Dulux Harmonious as the base, in half-strength Aquanamel. Miss Nerd wanted blue, and I felt like this blue was a nice gentle homage to Frozen without being that traditional in-your-face-Frozen-teal that in large doses makes my eyes start bleeding.
There is something really satisfying about painting moulding. Even if you’ve glued it on the wrong way around.
The rest of the paints I used were sample pot sizes of Dulux Celery Green, Sandpaper, Pinkham, Plunder and Vivid White – all colours from the Dulux Colour Forecast 2022 ‘Wonder’ palette.
Miss Nerd’s bedroom walls I had already painted when she was a baby, in Dulux Diva Rouge, which was very close to Pinkham, one of the pinks in the Wonder palette, so I knew the colours would all go together well.
I chose a pattern for the big flowers off Pinterest…. printed it off, cut it out, attached it to the door and traced around it…. then tried to replicate it symmetrically on the other door.
Well. Don’t do what I did. Don’t be cheap like me; go buy a stencil.
Rosemaling is a lot about symmetry and repetition. So if you are feeling inspired to attempt to do something where you need a repeat of a pattern – I would highly, highly recommend making the effort to secure yourself a stencil. There are heaps of great options on Amazon. This stencil would be perfect and is super affordable. This flower stencil would actually have been perfect for the centre of my doors. And this folk art stencil would be ideal for the top of a piece of a furniture with a curved detail on the top. Or if you are in Perth, I love the craft/painting shop Mon Petit Palais Designs in North Perth. Kate and co are awesome and so helpful and they have such a beautiful range.
Did I take the time to get a stencil? No. When I did this, it was hot as anything, kids were at home in school holidays, and the idea of releasing my busy three year old into a delicate craft store of breakables did not appeal.
So, I thought I could trace out a rough shape and flower I printed off from Pinterest and stuck to the door with blue tac. And honestly trying to make both doors symmetrical took me so bloody long I probably should have just made the effort to bundle the kids in the car and drive to Mon Petit in the first place. Anyway, I digress. No one died and somehow it all worked.
My favourite bits to paint were the little flowers on the edges which were actually so easy. Even if you think you can’t paint – you can paint tendrils of really simple flowers and leaves like these. I swear.
1. Paint four or five petals first.
2. Add a blob in a different colour to the middle.
3. If you like, add a second, similar colour to the side or middle of each blob.
4. Add a tiny touch of white to the side or middle of each flower centre and a tiny dash of white on one side of each petal.
5. Paint tiny leaves around each. Tada!
I can assure you that even if your individual flowers aren’t perfect, the overall effect will be cute.
Honestly while getting the big flowers roughly the same was hard, painting the little flowers around the edge was so calming… at least until the screams of my precious children broke it.
Like all projects around kids, I had to work in fits (and often around fits) so it took me longer than I was expecting – about a week, doing a bit each day.
Luckily, Miss Nerd loves the finished result. Which is cool because right at the beginning she walked in and grandly announced that one of my laboriously painted big flowers was “ugly. I hate it”.
Ah, the blunt discourse and easy viciousness of a threenager. Turned out she didn’t like the lilac colour I first picked. However, I carefully repainted it for the little madam – it is her room, after all – and fortunately won her approval.
Now she loves her “Elsa cupboard” and loves to show it off to guests…. luckily for me. Did you know that in the olden Norwegian days, folk artists for paint for food and board in wealthy homes, so any lack of care on my end could have seen me turfed onto the streets.
So now we have a little bit of Frozen in Miss Nerd’s room and we all like it…. at least until Miss Nerd becomes a teenager and decides she wants to paint her whole room black or something. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe she will let it go.