Project Hello Kitty was the given name to the operation of changing Lia’s room into Hello Kittyland. It was conceived and planned over the course of 2 months with the targeted 2 week window of May in which I did not have her for 2 straight weekends. It all began with a little imagination and several hours of researching what was and wasn’t available as far as Hello Kitty products and furniture. To my surprise, there wasn’t much considering it has a cult-like following and over a quarter billion Asian girls and women who wear Hello Kitty products daily.
Setting the budget was of course the hardest for me considering I wanted her room to look like it was done by a professional considering how much effort I wanted to put towards the room. Lia has never played much in her room and we felt it was due to lack of kid decor, although it to us was inviting and served it’s purpose, but it still lacked creative vision and that warm and fuzzy feeling it was certainly due. We set a budget of 300.00 and quickly found out that it was going to go fast considering the the paint required so we improvised by selling a few things via craigslist to supplement the budget accordingly.
When I first envisioned her room, I wanted more than the typical “pink” wall treatment, so I played with a couple of ideas until I decided on vertical pink and white stripes. Of course her room to begin with was a light shade of brown so the entire room needed exactly 2 coats of white paint. Now, for thse of you who have never attempted vertical stripes pay close attention “DON’T DO THEM!” Actually it wasn’t that bad, but did involve a great deal of planning, execution and most of all attention to detail, because the slightest mishap and you have one stripe thicker than the other. On paper it’s simple, just tape off and paint. What you don’t consider when taping off is the 2 inches of masking tape needs to be figured in every next stripe you paint. Sure, I know what you might be thinking… but trust me it took me, my father and Cassondra several times of assured measuring and retaping before the bristles hit the wall. A couple of times had we not remeasured would have cost us to have 2 pink or white stripes meeting together at the end of the room. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t a problem. With a little Autocad floor diagramming, I figured each stripe would need to be 13 7/8″ width to ensure a perfect match throughout the room, and it matched up perfectly.
The first week of Project Hello Kitty was designated to completing the painting, while week 2 would focus on the decorating of the room. As mentioned above, the painting was a little more involved than I had imagined but it was well worth it when we finished, although when the room was complete I felt her room had a Victoria Secrets box look to it, but I knew the artwork and decor would quickly diminish that look and would blend into the background perfectly.
We finished up week one with painting her closet and entry way door along with painting her fan blades pink to offset the white fan. Once week 2 began, I realized exactly just how much work needed to get done in just a short amount of time. I knew during my research that Hello Kitty didn’t make any type of furniture, so I knew I would have to get crafty by “making” our own. I also quickly found that I needed to roll up my graphic design sleeves and get really creative with her wall decor since there was literally nothing on the market for that as well. I began by talking to my father with what I had envisioned and getting him involved with making custom canvas frames for the completed artwork I had comped up. He went to Home Depot and bought all the wood necessary based on my artwork spacing and measurements. I chose to do multi-canvas artwork to give her room an avant garde appeal since I gravitate towards that in daily work.
I then began calling in favors to my sign company friend who printed each piece accordingly on banner material in which needed to be cut, stretched and stapled to my father’s custom canvas frames. This entire process was truly a great bonding experience with my father as we volleyed witty banter back and forth as we hurried to get the canvases done so we could focus on the furniture. With 2 days left before Project Hello Kitty was initiated, time began to be of the essence. I combed craigslist for furniture I could easily Hello Kittify, but had limited success until I found a 250.00 regularly priced Ikea kids bed for only 80.00 and that set the wheels in motion and set the tone for the rest of the mission. I quickly perused the Ikea site for matching furniture, but found only a few things that looked to “toddlerish” to be Hello Kitty furniture so I got creative with a few different cabinets and drawers as well as a table and chairs. The rest of the graphics were selected and printed as vinyl stickers for me to apply to each piece of furniture. This of course was “comped” in Photoshop to make sure I knew exactly how everything was going to look before anything was printed, purchased or applied.
Down to the last few hours before we picked up Lia and we got her furniture cleaned or assembled along with the graphics and it literally came down to the final 10 minutes before we completely finished. Project Hello Kitty was a huge success thanks to my father and my fiancé Cassondra, not to mention I was mentally and physically drained but knew the best was yet to come, the final reveal.
I had told Lia the day before that we had a surprise for her and she spent the next 2 hours trying to guess what it was. We of course gave her clues, but nothing could have prepared her imagination for what was yet to come. So with Friday finally upon us, she was at her mothers door waiting for me to pick her up with so much anticipation I could almost feel it from the street as I got out of the car. We quickly rushed home and made sure the camera was charged as ready to film as moments like these can;t be captured a second time. When Lia got to the top of the stairs she could see her bedroom door was closed, but something was very different… it was solid pink. She started getting excited and the only way I can describe what happened as she opened the door was when Willy Wonka from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened the door for Charlie and the other kids to reveal a chocolate candy land seemed to be the shock and awe excitement Lia displayed. She even had to ask if this was her room after saying hello Kitty over 10 times.
She raced to each part of the room to touch every object that was Hello Kittied out and opened every drawer, cabinet, and closet to make sure she didn’t miss a thing. I almost think her mind couldn’t comprehend what had happened to her room. There was so much to take in and with the smile on her face as she scoped the room, a sense of relief and jubilee surged through my body. It was worth every cent, hour and drop of sweat that went into it and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. What topped the reveal off superbly was while Lia was admiring her Hello Kitty bedsheets, she looked at us and asked when does she get to go to bed. Anyone with children know kids NEVER ask when it’s time for bed, and if they did they knew they should probably go see a doctor or check to see if they hit their head. In all seriousness, Project Hello Kitty was a complete success and not only did Lia want to go to bed, she feel asleep in a record time of 8 minutes. Of course she could have been extremely tired, but I’m sure a Hello Kittied room helped out a little.
On a side note, this was done to a rental house to which we do not even own which sounds silly… but it’s amazing to think of the silly things you will do for the one’s you love. I hope it was everything you wanted and more my precious Liana, I love you. Special thanks goes out to Cassondra, My Father, Kenneth, Gary and Terri for your help and support, without you, none of this would have been possible. Thanks for making it special for my little girl.