Earlier this year I was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation asking if I’d be interested in helping them fulfill a wish for Angelo, a 3½-year-old boy who loves trains. No question – I was thrilled to be able to make his dream come true!
Angelo’s wish was to have a room dedicated to his train hobby. He came to love trains because during his many medical treatments, his dad would help him refocus his attention by playing with an ever-expanding train set. The set had grown so large, it overflowed the dining room table and had taken over the main floor of the house.
The home had finished attic space (accessible from the second floor of the house) that was being used strictly for storage; because of its sloped ceilings, it seemed incapable of being used for anything else, especially housing an elaborate train set. However, I found it to be perfect as a hobby room escape; it was an ideal place to create a world unto itself and make a great getaway for Angelo. The key was simply rethinking and reimagining the layout to fit the space.
I ran the train tracks around the perimeter of the room underneath the lowest part of the sloping ceiling, where there was enough space height-wise for the trains, tunnels and buildings but not enough room for a person to stand. I left the center open so Angelo and his dad can operate the trains from the inside, where they’re surrounded by their trains and can easily access any and all areas of the setup. The train bridge also serves as an entry to the center of the setup – it tilts open for easy walk-through access. The entire train table is supported by cubbies, which are used to store extra train cars, tracks, accessories and equipment.
We created themed operational vignettes along all three walls adjacent to the train set: a carnival scene, a winter/Christmas scene, and a farm landscape. On the wall behind each vignette is a custom-painted backdrop that continues the theme.
The family didn’t lose their valuable storage space; behind the cubbies, on two walls, there is hidden storage space that is easily accessible.
When Angelo saw his new train room, he exclaimed, “This is traintastic!” I loved his enthusiasm and his new word, so I went out and got large letters to put on the sloped ceiling that proclaims the room as “Angelo’s Traintastic Depot”, honoring this wonderful boy and his creativity.