A Teenager’s Bedroom


image    The inspiration bedroom – teenager Allie wanted a bedroom that looked similar to this.   Around four years ago,  I had designed this bedroom on a budget, using mostly Pottery Barn merchandise. 


Recently, I went to a client’s house and remembered that I had never taken pictures of her Allie’s, her teenaged daughter, bedroom.   I worked on her bedroom a few years ago – this is the third bedroom I have decorated for the teenager.   The first bedroom was when she was just out of the toddler stage, leaving behind her decorated nursery.    I designed a room around a Waverly Toile in reds and golds.  I KNOW you remember the toile ????   Everyone and his brother had it, or a version of it, from Waverly.    I mixed it with, yes of course, red and cream checked fabrics.  She had a pine headboard from Pier One and a mosquito netting over the bed.  It was really a cute bedroom at the time.  Even her doll beds were fitted with miniature toile spreads.  That toile bedroom was supposed to last her until she left for college.  Sure!    Actually that bedroom was one of my first jobs as a designer.   


  image The famous Waverly toile  in the red and gold colorway.   Ugh!


After Allie and her parents moved to a new house, she continued to use the toile bedroom decor for a while, until she discovered Bombay Kids, when they opened a new store in the Rice Village.   Allie insisted we redecorate her room ala Bombay Kids.    Do you remember that awful crap they sold, pardon my French??   No wonder they went out of business!    It was all purples and zebras and faux Indian Maharajah chic.   I even had a skirted table made to match with a crystal beaded trim.  Beautiful.   Her carpet was a scrolled dark purple.  It was all God-awful and thankfully she outgrew it quickly.



Bombay Kids – Faux Maharajah Chic


A few years earlier, I had decorated a bedroom on a budget for a mutual friend using mostly all Pottery Barn merchandise.   Allie asked if I would recreate the bedroom, in feeling, for her.    The two rooms do look similar, but there are several different important design elements.   In the PB bedroom,  the curtains in a large bay window  were the focal point, but I absolutely could NOT persuade Allie’s mother to agree to curtains in her bedroom - a decision that still bothers me to this day.    Conversely, while I could not get the PB bedroom owner to buy a two toned patterned carpet, Allie’s mother happily did, and  the carpet adds so much to the room.   Another main difference was the fabric, of course,  and the wall color.  We used a creamy gray in the PB bedroom, but Allie wanted a soft aqua on her walls.   What Allie wants….



Allie’s bedroom, Version IV, if you count her nursery.

I used a Laura Ashley fabric from Kravet and a velvet for the pillows and the bench’s slipcover.   The Laura Ashley fabric, a linen-cotton, is Briston Seaglass LA1301.324 and is very, very inexpensive.    We had a strict budget for this room and nothing in it was too extravagant or expensive.    For instance, the cute, white end tables came from Target – the Shabby Chic line.   We paid next to nothing for them.    The large wing chair, a hand me down from her parents, has been in her room for years and has been recovered at least three times now. 



imageAcross from the bed is a mirrored chest from Z Gallerie.   We bought it on sale, but it’s usually $999. 



We bought the bench from the Shabby Chic store in Austin and then made a slip cover for it out of the aqua velvet. 


image I luckily found six matching aqua lamp shades and two inexpensive lamps (but I can’t remember where they are from!)   Allie wanted sconces just like in the PB bedroom, and she also wanted the oval mirrors flanking the bed.  The sconces came from Indulge HERE.   Another item Allie insisted on was a crystal chandelier.  We bought this one online from one of those huge lighting stores and it was under $200.



The carpet is a trellis pattern in white and aqua – again, it was very, very reasonable.   While not as inexpensive as plain pile carpet, the custom look is worth the minimal extra cost.  




Allie needed something to put all her invitations and pictures on, so I made her a bulletin board.   There was a large blank space between the bathroom and bedroom doors – and I had it made to fit that space.  It is 5’ tall!     If you look closely, you can see that it is tufted with buttons made out of the velvet fabric.  I added a small pleated ruffle to dress it up and soften the edges.   At first while it was still empty, the bulletin board looked odd – a huge blank piece of fabric hanging on the wall.  But,  Allie filled it up very fast.   It has really helped keep her room neat and clean looking.  Once she leaves for college,  her mother can either take it down or hang a few prints on it, framed or not. 



Here is the link for the Target Shabby Chic nightstands – HERE.    And here is the link for the  Z Gallerie mirrored chest – HERE.    I’m sorry to say, but I absolutely have no idea what the paint color is!  I”m sure it’s a Pratt and Lambert, but otherwise, I just can’t remember!!!



image And finally, the sheets came from Pottery Barn, from the Pearl Embroidered line.  HERE.   Houstonian upholsterer Hien Lam made the headboard from a sketch.  HERE.





image Bookshelves for a large bedroom.


We’ve discussed this issue many time before – what to do about those oversized bedrooms - huge, echoing, cavernous spaces that leave you cold?  Alllie’s parents bedroom had that problem.  Even with a large bed, an armoire, and two chairs and ottoman in a sitting area, the room still felt empty.  What to do?   My clients are voracious readers – in fact the entire family is.  They have a million books, seriously, maybe even 2 million.   Once they moved into their new house, all the built in bookshelves in the family room were quickly filled up.   Next we added more shelves in the downstairs study.   On the large second floor landing, we built a large floor to ceiling bookcase.    Still, there were numerous leftover books needing to be shelved. The solution to the book problem and the empty bedroom problem was to add a floor to ceiling, wall to wall bookcase.  I designed these shelves along the wall where  the bathroom door is.    And yes, the door is not centered on the wall – but there was nothing I could do about that – and in the end, it looks fine just the way it is.     We finished this project over five years ago, and to do it again today, I would make the shelves thicker and fixed for a more up to date look.    Once the shelves were built, the atmosphere in the room changed dramatically.  It became a very cozy space – warm and friendly – despite its large size.     This is a solution I would offer to anyone looking to fill up an oversized bedroom.   Even if you don’t have a lot of books – you can always go to Half Priced Books and buy their Box of Books,  filled with new hardbacks for just $25 – a steal of a deal.   




Other things I did to cozy up the room was to add the two toned, trellis patterned carpet – in place of the cream Berber that was previously there.  The client’s furniture was all pine – so, we restained most of the pieces dark brown which also helped ground the room.   I added curtains and bamboo shades to the windows to further soften and warm up the room.   The client used  her own existing bedding in gold, while I brought in blue in the checked curtain fabric.    The now stained dark armoire was short for these extra tall ceilings, but rather than buying a new one, I layered a collection of drawings on top of it to fill in the blank space.    Looking at the room today, it’s hard to remember how it used to look before the bookshelves were added! 



Elisabeth’s Dorm Room

Last month my baby left for college – moving from Texas to Boca Raton, Florida, to major in Photography at Lynn University.  You have to know Elisabeth to appreciate it – she being in Boca Raton and all, majoring in Photography.   Not exactly the same as toughing it out through pre-med at some freezing, northern Ivy League school.   No, she’s out catamaraning in the Atlantic with new friends.   Ben and I just pray she is actually attending a class or two here and there.  Of course her leaving the nest for a dorm  got me all excited – thoughts of decorating her dorm room took up endless hours of daydreaming.  Reality is a bitch.   Elisabeth really didn’t want too much of my help with decorating, although she said she did to be nice.   In the end, she decorated her own room and I tried to keep my mouth shut.  It was hard. 
Dorm room designing is big business today.  Late summer, all the large discount stores like Target and K-Mart have special sections for dorm room decorating.  There is even an interactive web site to design your own dorm room with actual 3d plans from your college.  HERE.    Stores like Pottery Barn Teen, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters cater to dorm dwellers.   It’s all so different now than it used to be.  When I went to college in 1972, I took my sister’s 3 year old pink bedspreads  (one for me and one for my roommate – hi Helaine!) and one print for the wall.    This summer, we sent a car load of Elisabeth’s things down to Boca, plus numerous boxes via Fed Ex.   I tried to put a sunburst mirror from Ballard Designs in the car, but Elisabeth had a screaming fit and refused to let me send it.  I tried, I really tried. 
Boca Raton, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.   This is the view outside from our hotel room.  

Fantasies of a dorm room – these pictures fueled my dreams of what I wanted Elisabeth’s dorm room to look like.  She had other ideas.   Here, Max Sinsteden, featured in New York Magazine, totally changed his dorm room into a Ralph Lauren advertisement.   Max worked part time for Charlotte Moss which explains where he is coming from.   Something tells me we’ll be seeing much more of his work in the future.  Looking down – Max brought oriental runners to cover the floor and he skirted a chest in plaid fabric.  His bed has bolsters in paisley and doubles as a sofa/day bed. 

image Max was lucky and was able to paint his dorm room.  I’m sure he’ll have to paint over it when he moves, but so what?  It’s totally worth it.   Elisabeth’s would have shot me if I painted her dorm room.   I love this gallery wall.   

image Max even brought all his design books – I spy An Affair With A House by Bunny Williams and another book on Elsie de Wolfe.  

Max skirted a table in plaid fabric and set up his own bar.   An array of liquor like this would get Elisabeth kicked out of school!   Max even added curtains with a trim, no less. 

image This dorm room is famous for being Edgar Allen Poe’s at the University of Virginia.   Great wood floors and beautiful antique furniture.   So unlike the dorm rooms of today. 

This dorm room at Harvard’s Westmorly Court was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s.   At the time, the dorm was brand new and boasted central heat, electricity, and modern “hygienic” bathrooms.   FDR’s suite was over 600 sq. ft. with four rooms and 14’ ceilings.   There was a working fireplace too.   His mother Sara decorated his room in the Victorian style.  

 image 1880s Princeton dorm room had beautiful wood furniture and cute curtains, along with wallpaper.
Dorm rooms were not always as boring as they are today.   This dorm room from the turn of the century actually resembles Max’s above.   I love how dressed up they were just sitting around studying.  

image Another cozy dorm room, along with a quilt and lots of pictures on the wall.  

 image I love this dorm room – notice the fishing net that holds all the pictures in it.   This room has wallpaper and trimmed out pillows.

image Those hair-dos!  Notice all the bentwood chairs.

image This pretty dorm room has matching fabric on the chairs and table and valances.  Love the lamp. 

From the 50’s – cute wallpaper and bedspreads.   They must be wearing uniforms!    Dorm rooms with character like bay windows and paneled doors are a thing of the past except at older colleges. 

image Here is an historic photograph of James Meredith studying in his dorm room, while an FBI agent talks on the telephone.  In 1962, after then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy brokered the deal, Meredith was the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi.   Neatly dressed in a tie, his dorm room is dismal and quite depressing. 

 Fake Dorm Rooms:
image This summer, My Home Ideas HERE decorated a dorm room.   I sent Elisabeth all these pictures – I had visions in my head of us making those burlap headboards together.   She thought this was really cute, but she had her own ideas for her dorm room.

The burlap wrapped “headboards” are the cutest. 

This bed had a different shaped headboard.  Love the mix and matched bedding.

image I thought this was another really cute dorm room.

This picture had me really going.  It is so “Elisabeth” who has a purse fetish.    I guess you have to buy purses to match the sheets???

 image They must have liked the purse idea too! 

image If only.   Love the cow hide rug and the quilted stools.  

Pottery Barn Teen is filled with great ideas for dorm rooms – except the furniture in dorms is never, ever this cute.

image Oh, yeah, sure!   Make your dorm room look like a boutique.   I can just see all the neatly folded clothes out on display. 

image More fantasy.   Would you have to buy a wardrobe to match your decor?   Please.   T-shirts and jeans don’t look cute on hangers.

I Suwannee had a “design a dorm room” contest on her blog HERE.   Lots of blogs made up inspiration boards of cute ideas for dorms.   I only hope their daughter’s let them decorate their dorm room.

Real Life Dorm Rooms:

imageHGTV’s Rate My Space has over 600 dorm rooms featured.  Most are of girl dorm rooms.  And most girl dorm rooms are black and hot pink with either damask or zebra designs, or both.  They also have either an Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe poster in them.  Another big trend is to cover white walls with sheets, construction paper, or posters.    Most of the Rate My Space rooms are beyond awful, but a few are cute.

image The typical pink and black – with both damask and zebra, along with the popular chandelier motif.

 image Another popular color scheme is turquoise with either black or brown.   Lots of damask prints and lots of faux chandelier chic. 

image I thought this was cute – monogrammed poster board paper headboards.

 image Look at the shade – a KWID inspired fabric!   I thought this was cute for a real life dorm room.  Great rug and futon.

Mom helped out with this room.    You can always tell the ones where Mom had a big hand in the decorating.  No way a daughter would have a bolster pillow made up touting her “big sis” sorority status. 

Shabby Chic Dorm Room:   This girl taped wallpaper on her walls.   I can only imagine Elisabeth letting me do that to her room!  

sd image
Most depressing:  OMG.  Arsenic and Old Lace.   It’s just all so dreary and dusty looking.   Notice the feather pen on the skirted table. 

 image This one is really cute – a Tiffany gift box inspired bedroom.  Clean and simple.   Cute student too.   

Elisabeth’s Dorm Room:

image Here’s what we started out with – a cross between a classroom and a hospital room.    Her room is huge with two giant walk in closets and its own bathroom and vanity area.  This is her half of the room.   I tried to get Elisabeth’s roommate to “match” but they bought their own bedding.  At least there is no carpet – just lovely gray linoleum.   Lots of beautiful furniture comes with the room.   

The window area.  What I would GIVE to add curtains and rip those blinds down, but Lizzy would disown me!  

Elisabeth bought the brown and white damask bedding herself, online, from Pine Cone Hill.   She had it monogrammed in pink and added the pink peony sheets from Pine  Cone Hill.     I bought the two lamps from Target with matching brown shades.  

imageElisabeth bought the “Chanel” lamp at More Than You Can Imagine” HERE in Houston.   She also bought online those cute vinyl baskets in brown with pink monograms.   I found the small Dash and Albert rug at Olivine HERE.  I wanted to buy her a large Dash and Albert rug, but she insisted on a white Flokati rug, with matching pillows.   

Here’s her white rug.   She made the two photo collages for her wall.

We bought her cute desk chair in white from PB Teen.   We are still looking for a little futon or sofa to go against the windows. 

I bought her white towels with brown monograms from Pottery  Barn.   Yes, her initials are SEW.   Sarah Elisabeth Webb.  And no, I didn’t think of that before.

Thanks Dad, who happily pays for it all. 

Her College:   Pictures for my family

Here’s a few pictures from her college, Lynn University.   It’s a small, private college with only around 2,500 students, many of whom are international students.   The campus is over 100 acres, so it’s very spread out.  I took these pictures with my new I-Phone.  They came out just as good as my Nikon!

There are numerous lakes throughout the campus.  See the ducks?   The campus is right across the street from the much larger Florida Atlantic University. 

image The school was started in the 60s, so the buildings are mostly contemporary in style. 

image This is a cute coffee shop on campus.

This is right outside Lizzy’s dorm.  That’s her under the huge Banyan tree.  

Hmm.   The latest in fashion – wear a plastic shopping bag on your head.  Elisabeth and her room mate take a break from hours of studying.