Project Spotlight: Superhero City

by Gina Stogran on June 11, 2020
Superhero City Finished bedroom with accent lighting, Spider-Man wall sticker shooting hand knotted spiderweb, and race car bed with Spider-Man bedding

What is a thirty-something creative to do when she has no kids of her own for whom to decorate awesome bedrooms? Queue my nephew, Baby D. That’s what he used to call himself, so we’ll stick with it even though he’s not a baby anymore (please excuse the tears).

First, a little about Baby D. He is a spunky 4-year old who loves fast cars and Spiderman. Last fall, he moved into a new home in Pennsylvania where my family is from and still lives, excruciatingly far away from my house in Florida. Luckily, he gets to see Uncle Gina (that’s what he calls me) when he comes down to visit “the Mouse” or when my husband and I trudge up north for Christmas.

Recent years have been emotionally tough for our family. When the Christmas season rolled around last year, we just weren’t feeling very jolly. We all needed a little holiday cheer and I needed a distraction. Ideas started flowing! In no time at all, the plan was sketched out in my notebook and it was perfect! I mentioned to my sister that Baby D. should have an awesome bedroom to get him excited about the move and I had a pretty fantastic idea. “Just no holes in the walls, and he’s keeping his bed” she texted. And with that the Superhero City construction began, with no budget and not enough time. Just like a

Sketch of Superhero City bedroom design in notebook

Ok, so no holes. A city skyline is easy if you can use plywood. I could have it all cut, sanded, and primed in one day. The entire project would have been completed in one weekend. I totally understood where my sister was coming from. But, seriously, NO holes?

Foam it was. This method would allow the install to be done using only removable velcro strips, so no holes. Unfortunately, the construction took like 100x’s longer and was a bit more complicated. But hey, Baby D. is only 4 once.

Unfinished white foam buildings ready for coating

Cutting foam is pretty simple. A hot knife and steady hand will do the trick. Making the foam durable enough for the boy of all boys, now that’s a different story. If I would have had more time, a bigger budget, and a spray booth, an industrial spray-on coating would have been my first choice. Luckily, I’m resourceful and maybe a little crazy. I wrapped each piece with decoupaged tissue paper to seal the foam and added some good ‘ole body filler to create the hard outer surface. I bagged them up, threw them in the truck, and we were off on our annual Christmas road trip to Pennsylvania.

Selfie of Gina wearing a respirator while applying Bondo coating to foam building

Now for the fun part! I decided on a simple primary color palette to go with the wall color and give the overall feel of the comic book art. My parents and I painted the buildings, finally finishing the night before the install. We were all excited about revealing this bedroom makeover to my nephew. He was going to LOVE it!

Foam buildings painted with primary colors outlined in black waiting for the paint to dry

The day of the reveal, my husband was weaving a spider web, velcro strips were scattered about, and the city skyline was up. The final touches, like vinyl stick-on characters and LED accent lights, set the mood and brought the design together. It was exactly like I pictured it. All the stress was worth it. Baby D. squealed with joy when he saw his new space. His action figures were immediately plopped upon the ledges where they stood watch as he happily jumped around the room. He might have even shot a web or two of his own, who could be sure with all the flailing about. Oh, how I love that kid!

Superhero City finished buildings installed with LED light strip underneath glowing blue with Baby D smiling and shooting his spider webs

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