Pleasant Hill mom turns kids’ bedroom into Harry Potter magic

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When the COVID pandemic lockdown sent others scurrying to bake sourdough bread or plant victory gardens, Heidi Morales turned all her pent-up energy into alchemy, transforming her children’s bedroom into Harry Potter gold.

Morales, who lives in Pleasant Hill with her husband, son and daughter, had no real experience in carpentry, interior decorating or serious crafting, but when her then-5-year-old daughter asked for a Harry Potter bedroom, she pivoted from perfecting her cake decorating skills to something far grander.

“All my daughter wanted for her birthday was a Harry Potter bedroom,” Morales says, “and my son was so excited about it, too. So I decided to try.”

Morales’ daughter, Lily, who was named after her grandmother, not Harry’s mum, spent her first year in kindergarten attending Zoom classes. Her teacher, Lily soon discovered, was a big Potter fan, and Lily imagined attending her virtual school from a real Hogwarts’ locale.

Matthew Morales, 8, plays inside the Hogwarts-inspired bedroom his mother, Heidi, created. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Morales was a fan during her teen and college years, but it was her children’s love of the films — Lily and her brother, 8-year-old Matthew, often wear their Hogwarts robes around the house and break into wizarding duels, sometimes over the dinner table — that delighted her. Being able to share that connection with her children was special.

While some parents might have gotten some Harry Potter bedding, a few posters and toys and called it a day, Morales went all in. She enlisted two of her best friends, Destiny Andersen and Grace Gatpandan, to help. The duo had limited experience — as in none — in woodworking, but using the magic of YouTube, they learned to build some spectacular things, including a bookshelf that disguises a closet door.

As Lily and Matthew share the room, bunk beds seemed the obvious choice. Her sister-in-law conjured up a hand-me-down set, which Morales painted black, and added illuminated Golden Snitches and winged keys that she found at Pottery Barn to add some light to the dark, castle room. Morales transfigured the bunk beds’ drawers into luggage and trunks by covering them in suitcase-themed fabric and adding faux leather buckles and suitcase handles.

Heidi Morales and her son Matthew, 8, and daughter Lily, 6, strike a pose inside the Harry Potter-inspired bedroom. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

The walls were covered with brick wallpaper and the ceiling with a night sky. Morales wanted to add a series of small windows to give the room that castlelike feel, but her husband, William, who didn’t really know half of what was going on in this remodel, had drawn the line at actual demolition.

Instead, Morales purchased inexpensive picture frames, painted them and added photos of Hogwarts’ landscapes — the Quidditch field, the courtyard and Hogwarts Express — behind plexiglass.

The broomstick curtain rod was almost her undoing, Morales says. She purchased a wooden clothes rod and stained it brown. Then she painstakingly — and painfully — cut and wired artificial twigs into a plastic foam base to form the brushy broom. Shaping each twig and wiring it into place took three weeks.

“My hands were all cut up,” Morales says, “and I almost gave up a few times, but I managed to finish it.”

Her attention to detail would impress even fastidious Hermione Granger. Small, filled “potion” bottles are labeled “Unicorn Blood” and “Floo Powder.” Remote controlled, battery-operated candles are strung from the ceiling to mimic the Great Hall’s floating candles.

Perhaps her most magical addition was made possible by Walgreens, of all places. The chain store offers lenticular printing, which gives images a 3-D appearance that seems to change as you move around the room. The finished photos have Lily, wearing a Gryffindor House robe, apparently levitating a feather with her wand, while Matthew, representing Slytherin (his choice, Morales says), holds a magical remembrall that suddenly glows red. Morales made the remembrall, the magical device that alerts the holder if he’s forgotten something, using a clear ball ornament and some red tulle.

A “sorting hat,” magical books and an owl are among the fun details in the Hogwarts-inspired bedroom. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Not everything was homemade. Morales was able to find bits and bobs at Pottery Barn and on Etsy and eBay, and she took advantage her children’s passion for Legos’ Harry Potter-themed sets. She also borrowed from offshoots of the origin story, adding in some “Fantastic Beasts” characters, including Lily’s favorite, Pickett, a bowtruckle often spotted in Newt Scamander’s pocket. Morales carved plastic foam into a small tree to serve as Pickett’s home.

The transformation took about four months, with Morales working in the evenings after the kids had gone to sleep — in their parents’ bedroom. Morales had locked Lily and Matthew out of their own room for the duration of the remodel, partly to protect them from the construction and partly to keep things a surprise, despite the kids’ (unsuccessful) attempts to sneak peeks.

When it came time for the reveal, Morales pinned a poster on the door of the Fat Lady, the portrait that guards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, and asked the children for the password. They, of course, knew it and burst into their room.

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