Just after Christmas, my middle schooler went to visit family for a few days in North Carolina and I decided it was time to do the unthinkable, enter without knocking and give her bedroom a makeover. Actually, I swapped my preteen’s bedroom with her little sister’s to give her more space and a few needed updates. The caveat that almost drove a major wedge between us: I refused to paint the new room (it’s Benjamin Moore’s Elephant Pink). I tried to convince my preteen that with the right color scheme, those baby pink walls could be treated like a neutral. She told me I was crazy. Here’s the think about preteens: actions speak louder than words. Want to know the other thing? Bedrooms are a preteen’s sanctuary. So I set out to make her sacred space feel a little more like her—artistic, quirky, friend-centric, life-giving. Her requests? Twinkle lights. Plush pillows. Comfy seating. Expressions of individuality. Not too girly (she did NOT like the pink walls). And finally, she wanted her Stranger Things memorabilia incorporated. Don’t you dare throw it away, said that sweet, darling middle schooler of mine.
With a very small budget, I got straight to work looking around the house for things that would complement her room: a lamp that had been in our bedroom but never really matched our decor, Winnie’s nursery rocker, bookshelf, rug and blanket, a dresser that was Maddox’s great-grandfather’s but need a lot of TLC, a dying plant that my mother had perked up when they came to visit last month, an outdated canvas print that had once been in my work office and was waiting to go out with the trash, a bedspread we’d had for a few years but weren’t using anymore.
I picked up the rest at Target and World Market based on a color scheme that Maddox and I agreed upon: blush, spruce, and chartreuse. In total, I spent $191 on the room refresh: $56 on pillows, $60 on curtain panels, $40 on drawer knobs, and $35 on chalk paint and wax. Working 4 hours one day, and 8 hours the next, I swapped the two bedrooms, painted two pieces of furniture, and cleaned out closet clutter in both rooms. Just in time for my preteen to get home and settle in.
After being completely speechless for no less than 90 seconds, my girl flopped on the bed and called the room swap a complete success. Her Stranger Things posters now mingle with a Lindsay Letters Creatives Calendar, her stuffed animals are housed next to a small collection of young adult books, musical playbills accompany soccer trophies, and her own oil painting hovers over her rocking chair near a piece of marbled wrapping paper I framed. The best part of the bedroom makeover? My girl kept her door open this afternoon and her brother and sisters were all found hanging out together. Mission accomplished.