This Year’s Stupid Idea

I really need to learn to think through these ideas I have before committing to them. Last year I had this built-in bookcase idea that I was going to knock together in a few weekends. The year before I was taking a picture every single day. Something equally nutty the year before that I”m sure. And now this year… well, you’ll see.

We’ve been slowly trying to fix up the house a bit at a time over the last year or so (remember the bookcase?) and when talking to my wife about what to do with my son’s room I blurted out something about a Super Mario Bros theme. I didn’t really think about it, except that it would be cool. There was a post on reddit awhile back showing someone who had done just that, and it looked pretty awesome. When the time came to actually paint his room, my wife reminded me of the Super Mario Bros idea and then I actually had to think about it. I seemed to recall ThinkGeek had some decals, so maybe I could use those, or maybe paint it. But first I’d need to figure out exactly scene I wanted to portray.

I really wanted to map World 1-1 of the original game onto the walls. Originally I thought I would take a small section and paint that on the walls from floor to ceiling. Turns out that wouldn’t work so well because most of the interesting bits are on the bottom where they would be concealed by the bed, desk, dresser, etc. Then I struck upon the idea of painting a border along the bottom so I could scale the scene down and fit more of it on the walls. I worked it out so each pixel would work out to 1/4″ square and my scene would be 232 (58″) pixels tall by about 2060 pixels wide (515″). Since the vast majority of it was sky, it surely wouldn’t be that much work, right?

Super Mario Bros. Room
Super Mario Bros. Room

So we got to work and quickly had our three background color painted: black on the bottom, an orangeish stripe along the middle that would be the ground, and the blue sky above. The next day we’d pencil in a grid and start painting pixels. I assumed that because reddit guy had penciled a grid across and entire wall that I would have an easier time since I didn’t have to fill the whole wall, just the bits I needed. Well that guy was working with a much simpler design and 1 inch pixels. It didn’t take long before I began to reconsider those decals.

Each $50 pack of ThinkGeek decals look to have about 8 of the ground blocks in them. If I figured right, I need about 170 blocks. Or about $1,100 worth of decals. Even then I probably wouldn’t be able to recreate my World 1-1 scene exactly. But what if I made my own decals? Maybe I could print my patterns on some clear labels and stick those on the walls? Even if the labels had been clear, the ink would have smeared unless I applied some sort of clear coat, so that idea was out. My next idea was to create masking templates using those same labels and go back to the painting idea.

It certainly wasn’t going to be very fast, but the template idea worked pretty well. There were several of set backs, and several areas had to be painted freehand, but after about 3 weeks of work, we finally finished the room. It has a ton of mistakes (that I won’t bother to point out), but all in all I think it turned out really well. Now if I can just avoid blurting out any more ridiculous ideas.