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  • Writer's pictureWendy Elizabeth

Decorating with Children

I had to write this title. As I did all I could think of were putting hooks all over the wall and attaching my children to them. Of course I never would, but it’s a funny visual.

It is time to decorate my daughter’s room again. She is 10. Gone are the days of looking at the Disney color charts, and picking out the pinkiest pink in the entire universe. This time she, asked what her budget would be, when could I start and how many friends could she invite over to help. Her budget is $35, excluding paint and of course her friends can help. However, I know who will be doing most of the work. The color she picked is called vintage purple, just the name makes me happy. It conjures up visions of daisies, worn out leather and great guitar rifts played in an open field. But I digress, this is after all her room, not mine. I never tire of decorating; as soon as she asked for my help, I found myself sketching layouts and writing down ideas. Decorating and design are an inexplicable joy for me, I will never push for a client or ask to redo someones home, but if you ask for my advice I can guarantee you that my head has already started the planning process.

Before I forget, yes, I will post before and afters of her room as soon as it is done. For most people having a baby is all about the cute clothes and the squidgy, little faces, for me it was also another opportunity to decorate. My inspiration for her room was a wonderful set of curtains that were bright, lime green with abstract yellow blobs on them. I painted two walls yellow and the opposing ones green. The ceiling was painted sky blue with white clouds. Of course we had glow in the dark stars, how could you not? I also found glow in the dark paint at the craft store (which really does work and lasts forever). The accessories and crib were all red, yellow, blue and green. It was an easy palette to decorate with. As she grew up, and started to walk, she loved the colorfulness of it. Add to the room a few hundred toys and it became a kaleidoscope of messy color. Ever the lazy mother I drew pictures of her clothes and taped them to the outside of the drawers. I was determined that from an early age she could learn to find her clothes and put them away. Little did I know that just because she knew what to do, didn’t mean she would actually do it. Apparently I was lazy and naive. But when she was little my theory worked really well. As she figured out the pictures (eg. a t-shirt, pants, dress, underwear) I added the words so that she could learn through recognition. It became a game for her and an artistic outlet for me. I continued the theme and drew things on the walls around the house, writing the name next to them so that she could learn what they were. A word of caution, if you ever do this, do not use a permanent marker, years later I still have the words “Chair” peering through the paint in the living room. I have used every product available and still the words continue to bleed through. I wrote it seven years ago…. When she was five she had to have a pink room. I, foolishly, let her pick the color. It was a bright, fuchsia pink that became quite dark when I began to paint the wall. It looked horrible. I immediately went out and got a new, softer pink, trying to convince my daughter that it was the same color, that it had just faded when it came out of the can. I still feel bad that I lied to her about it. We (I) decided that the pink room needed fairies. My friend and I found wall stickers of fairies. I painted a tree and the fairies danced around the tree. I painted her lampshades to match and glued the fairies on them (it’s ok to do this, it dims the light a bit but it is not hazardous in any way). Her Aunt gave her a lovely canopy for her bed that had flowers around the top, it matched the fairy theme and became a little hideaway for her and her friends to sit in. I found 5 large pink circles of carpet that became lily-pads for them to hop on as they made their way around the room. She still has them and her friends still play with them like giant pieces of hopscotch. About 2 years later we hit the Pop Star phase. Hannah Montana ruled our universe for approximately 5 months. Everything had to be Hannah. We took down most of the fairies, hung up a Hannah poster and tried to make the room look a little more grown up. I gave my daughter a budget of $25 and we went to Target. She bought a pink and orange beaded curtain for her door, a pink lava lamp, a pink and purple laundry hamper and some other accessories. She was so excited to be able to buy her own things and working within a budget made her feel very grown-up. It was a good lesson for us both. I would really recommend doing this with young children. As abruptly as it started, the Hannah phase finished. In came the Jonas Brothers and a need for a more sophisticated room. She and her friends were starting to hang out in her room more and she was, I think, a little self-conscious that it was so cluttered and some of the items were a little young. I have always let her keep her room the way she wanted. Now and again I make her clean it up, but as long as her bed is made and there aren’t any actual living fungi anywhere I give her carte blanche to do with it whatever she wants. So now here we are, ready to paint again. It is going to be purple (vintage, of course, which makes me smile – it’s kind of a murky, faded purple) less cluttered and a more mature version of a girls room. I broke the bad news to her, it had to be cleaned before we could paint…….She was shocked and told me “But you’re a house designer, can’t you do it all for me?”. So, I asked “Would you like me to clean your room, organize it, paint and redecorate it while you’re at school, sweetie?”. “Yes please” she said…………

Well, after I had stopped laughing, she really did have to tidy her room. Fortunately for her I can’t resist a decorating job, and I have been dying to redecorate her room for a while now. The only instructions I have is to not look under the bed or in her desk, that’s where her private things are. As bad as I can be, I promise that I won’t look. She is at the stage where I am not sure I want to read everything that is going on in her head, some things are better left unsaid. The fact that she told me where not to look made me giggle. I decided to treat her like a client. I asked her what her requirements were (hamster, hermit crabs, lava lamp, books and cd player by bed) and what she did and didn’t like about the room (not enough space, too much clutter, too babyish, loved the windows and the light, still liked her flower canopy and beaded door). We discussed some options and decided that the bed and sofa would stay where they were, but everything else I could move if I wanted to. After sketching up a plan I told her I would try to start this week. Darling that she is, she even offered to pay me a fee…

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