In part one, I gave you four tips for letting go and letting your pre-teen redecorate her own room. I'd guess that those tips are applicable to kids of all ages with just a little adjusting for age (and maybe taste).
When we took on the job of redecorating Brynn's room, we knew we didn't want to do a huge overhaul. We'd already done that when she turned 8 and I ripped out her carpet in favor of a wood floor. I also built her a bunch of furniture. This re-do was just meant to be a tweak. A little change in style to suit her more grown-up tastes.
Here are the details.
Paint. Brynn was set on white walls. Her trim was already white (including the wainscoting that goes about 1/3 of the way up her walls), the same white that we use for all of our house trim, The Right White by Restoration Hardware, color matched in Sherwin-Williams paint. The Right White is my favorite trim white and that wasn't negotiable. It's not too warm, not too cool, and keeping it the same in Brynn's room meant one fewer can of paint in the garage and easier touch ups when she (inevitably) scuffs the trim in her room.
In order to work with Brynn's trim, I thought her wall color white should probably be a tad warmer and darker than The Right White, but it really wasn't up to me. Remember, this was our opportunity to let Brynn choose her own design. So, I gave her several white paint swatches from Sherwin-Williams, all of which were acceptable to me. She looked at Extra White, Pure White, Snowbound, and Marshmallow. Marshmallow probably would have been my choice, the warmest and darkest of the four. She, on the other hand, wanted the whitest possible walls. Like, the color of printer paper. She wanted (and actually pointed to) the white that is the border between the paint colors on the color strip. Extra White was the whitest of the options she had, so that is what she chose. It's not a color that most of us would choose, especially not when combined with trim that is a hair darker and warmer. But she's not most of us, and it's not our room.
After Brynn and Scott primed and the paint started to go up on the walls, it was obvious to Scott and me that Extra White was both too cool and too bright. We wondered if Brynn would have second thoughts. Scott even said something like, "I guess I'll be back in here painting with her again tomorrow." She never said a word. I didn't ask her what she thought because I didn't want to make her doubt her decision. Once we got the room put back together, the white faded away, just like she wanted it to. The moral of the story is...don't fuss over paint colors in a kid's room. They're easily pleased.
- Sherwin-Williams Harmony zero-VOC wall primer
- Sherwin-Williams Harmony zero-VOC paint (eg-shel finish) in Extra White
- Cost: about $60
Desk. You may remember this reading loft/desk combo that I built for Brynn back when she was turning 8. It was awesome...awesome for an 8, 9, or 10 year old. But this summer Brynn was feeling like she'd outgrown the loft. She was starting middle school and expecting her homework load to increase. She wanted a real desk. So, I kept my eyes peeled for one we could re-do, and I found this one on VarageSale, one of my favorite sources for furniture to makeover. Here I am driving home with the new (old) desk.
If Brynn had a bigger budget (remember, she was originally budgeting only $155 for this re-do, which I told her I'd match, bringing us to a total budget of $310), she could have chosen any desk she wanted. But she didn't have a bigger budget, so it was up to me to find one that was in decent shape, sturdy enough to last her until she gets out of high school, and ready for a makeover. She really wanted something modern. And given a bigger budget, we could have dressed this old desk up with modern pulls. I think someday she might buy herself new pulls. But for now, the original pulls add a bit of eclectic elegance to what otherwise could have become a room so modern and contemporary, it felt cold. So...budgets. We love them.
Brynn gave herself a choice of three colors for her desk: yellow, navy, or coral. She chose navy. General Finishes Milk Paint, my go-to paint when I'm painting a piece of furniture and don't want a distressed finish, has a great navy called Coastal Blue. I left Brynn out of the labor for this part (one can only share SO much of the work when one is a control freak...plus, painting furniture is kind of my thing). My dad and I gave the desk a light sanding, I primed it with dark brown primer that I had on hand, sprayed it with half a quart of the Coastal Blue milk paint, finished the insides of the drawers in a coral color that I mixed up from leftover paints in the garage, and sealed the whole thing with PolyWhey wipe-on in satin.
I soaked the old brass drawer pulls in a vinegar and baking soda solution and then used Brasso to clean them. I think it's pretty caustic stuff, but every once in a while that's what it takes.
If the top of the desk looks a little off to you...that's because it is. I'm doing a little desk blotter experiment. I'll report back once I have some results.
- Second hand desk from Varage Sale
- Sherwin-Williams deep base primer tinted to Java (had on hand)
- General Finishes Milk Paint in Coastal Blue (half a quart)
- Coral paint (mixed from leftovers)
- PolyWhey Heirloom Wipe On (quarter of a bottle or less, had on hand)
- Brasso to clean original drawer pulls (had on hand)
- Cost: about $52
I've become a pretty serious devotee to the Threshold sheets in recent years. I first started buying them because they were organic cotton. Unfortunately the navy sheets weren't available in organic (I'm thinking that organic in a deep navy dye is pretty hard to achieve) so we ended up with the conventional version. The sheets are made in India which was encouraging -- India leads the world in organic cotton production (although it is falling) and is an established Better Cotton region. So even though these are conventional, I feel okay about supporting India's cotton industry. The quality of the sheets is fantastic and in this latest package there was a bonus...the head and foot of the fitted sheets are labeled! So you put them on the right way the first time! Genius.
For the box spring, we bought the navy and white scribbled-polka dot/ikat-ish sheets, also from Target. I remember once upon a time seeing a box spring cover that just went around the edges of the box spring? And then I remember almost passing out when I saw the price. A fitted bottom sheet seems to work just as well, plus then you've got the top sheet and a pillow case to play with in the room. Best of all, the quality really isn't all that important because the fitted sheet only gets washed every now and then, to get the dust off. It's a fun way to bring in another color or pattern. So that's what we did.
- Navy sheets by Threshold
- Navy and white sheets by Xhilaration
- Yellow and white chevron duvet by PBTeen
- Coral pillow cases grabbed during a random trip to Marshall's (it's a treasure trove, that place)
- Cost: about $125
This is another project where I took over all the labor. Like the desk, this was something I couldn't really bear to see screwed up. She can move furniture, she can paint walls, and with enough time she could sew a lovely set of curtains. But she's in school all day and I'm here and I knew I could whip them out pretty quickly and a lot less painfully. The white curtains were in the as-is bin at Ikea. I used the same kind here in our living room when my mother-in-law and I created 9ft tall bold striped curtains (which I still love). The panels were only $10 each which is a steal for that much heavy fabric. Brynn's closet has a curtain track system that I special ordered from our local fabric shop and installed back in 2006, I think. It has held up really well. The only problem is that there's no fudge room for your curtain length. I love to just make my curtains whatever length they end up being and then hang the rod in the right spot. You can't do that when you're working with a curtain track, but the clean look is great and it seems to be super durable.
The navy and white curtains around the window are lined with leftover white curtain fabric from our living room curtains, just to give them some extra weight and help them look finished. I like all of my windows to show the same color (white) when you look at them from the outside of the house so I always line my curtains with white, even these ones that you can barely see from outside.
For the curtain rod over the window, I used a 6' wooden rod from Lowe's (probably meant to be a closet rod), a pair of Martha Stewart finials from Home Depot, and some handrail hardware I had hanging around. I painted the rod and finials navy, waxed it to make sure the fabric on the curtains would slide easily, and then hung it with the handrail hardware.
- White as-is Merete curtains from Ikea
- Navy and white flat sheet
- Navy ribbon
- Handrail hardware (had on hand)
- 6' closet rod
- Martha Stewart Finials
- Cost: about $45
The artwork above Brynn's bed is four watercolors she did a few days before we moved back from Mexico when Brynn was seven years old. She sat in the backyard there, looked around at the trees and flowers growing around her, and painted those pieces. While they are really special to me, they make her feel too young, so they will go. I told her I'd surprise her with some replacement art made by me. Yikes. I think I'll also paint the frame coral.
The ballet photo in the corner of her room is one I took during her second year of ballet. It's been in her room for a long time and I'm thrilled that she still loves it as much as I do.
The only piece of artwork I bought was the inspirational canvas. I passed by it at Hobby Lobby and couldn't NOT grab it. I knew she'd love it. It was a fun surprise element to add to her room.
For the message board above Brynn's desk, I used her old cork board, wrapped it in batting that I already had, and then finished it off in the coral and white fabric with yellow ribbons and some sparkly upholstery tacks.
Both of Brynn's lamps and her schoolhouse fixture were already in the room and working well. She was happy with them as they were, so we left those. In truth, the schoolhouse fixture was non-negotiable, but I think she already knew that so she didn't even ask to replace it. Plus...the good old budget would have said no anyway.
One accessory that totally floored Brynn was her new iHome. It was in our kitchen for a few years before Scott installed speakers in our main living area. Since then, it's just been sitting in a closet, along with a first generation iPod Touch. We're not interested in letting Brynn have unlimited internet access or a phone of her own, but the old iPod Touch is great for iTunes, email, weather forecasts, an alarm clock, Pandora, and iTunes. And that's about all she can do with it. Scott disabled or removed everything else. Because while eleven-year-olds may be trustworthy when it comes to design decisions, we know better than to trust her with a super-connected device of her own.
Besides her new desk, all of the furniture in her room was there before the re-do. I did take it all out (cube bookcase, bedside table, and bed) to repaint. I gave them all a light sanding, a coat of clear shellac wherever knots were bleeding through, and a fresh coat of paint with my sprayer. Are your kids super destructive to their furniture? Mine are! Brynn's furniture was in desperate need of a new coat of paint.
For Brynn's furniture and all of the basic white furniture in our house, as well as some of our built-ins, I use the (discontinued) Martha Stewart Glass of Milk white color matched in Sherwin-Williams ProClassic semi-gloss. The color is very similar to General Finishes Milk Paint Antique White. It's a great creamy white, not too yellow, not to dark. I always have a gallon on hand, so I didn't have to buy any paint for those touch-ups.
Since the only accessories we purchased were the small canvas word art plus fabric and ribbon for the message board, our cost in this category was only about $25.
All together, that brings our total cost to $307. Under budget by three dollars!
I'm proud of Brynn for making some great design decisions in her room and for sticking to her budget. When she looks through PBTeen, she kind of salivates a bit. To get the look she saw in a catalog like that without buying everything from the catalog took both maturity and vision. It was so fun to watch her wrestle with her ideas and then work with her as she made decisions.
Now...any guesses as to how soon we'll have to go through this process again? I'm crossing my fingers that we can make it to college. Wishful thinking, I'm sure.