Wednesday, June 25, 2008

E's sweet sixteen bedroom make-over

This post is much longer than my usual post length. Sorry this post isn't all rosy and pink... but it is about decorating!!

For E's 16th birthday I wanted her to have a more grown up bedroom, so we decided to do a room make-over. I asked her- if she could have any theme for the decorating what would she choose. She said Chinese.
She is drawn to the Chinese knick knacks and decorating. My only explanation is that she watched the movie Mulan as a child hundreds of times. It's a far stretch I know, I don't know what else to attribute it to!
The big thing for this project was to spend next to NOTHING to accomplish the end result.
I thought- I can do this. I believe in redoing things, using as much stuff as you can that you already own, and just alter it to work and fit the new purpose. We put our thinking caps on and off we went to transform her little girl room filled with horses and horse themed things into a Chinese room with still some horse things worked in.

E. has been a horse lover her whole life. You can read about E. and how she has volunteered at a horse rescue for a while now by clicking on the underlined words. The rescue is a very large farm with sometimes up to as many as 40 or more sick or abused horses that have been rescued, seized or surrendered. E. seems to have a bond with these horses in need. She is great with them and I am very proud of her.

As many of you already know by reading my other posts about her --my daughter has Asperger's, OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder) along with anxiety and sensory defensiveness (which seem to all play as some kind of team in her brain).
One of her many OCD symptoms is hoarding. She feels comfort by having "stuff" to the point of ciaos surrounding her. She gathers random things to be with her at all times. It used to be that way in every setting: at home, at school... even to go on a bike ride to the end of the street. She had to have 1 or 2 backpacks, a purse and maybe a plastic grocery sack filled to capacity with "stuff" with her always.
It has improved somewhat since her newest medicine and involvement in the study of her brain being done as part of our MANY trips to Washington, DC.

We actually sorted through every drawer, box, trunk, shoe box, shelf, under the bed, bag, purse, backpack, books, magazines, toys, etc...
We put everything into categories and then looked at only 3 things at a time to make a decision (her decision not mine) 1. to keep in the room, 2.pack away or 3. get rid of either at the Goodwill or trash.

We kept going with only three items at a time and then we would break for a cool drink or outside break about every hour. By only having 3 things in front of her at any time it made the whole job seem less hopeless. There were times when I would ask her if she needed a break and she would say, "No, let's finish this stuff first." I was so proud of her.
I was very careful to not let the whole process get to the point for her of going over the edge with her stress level which triggers all kinds of mental ugliness for her.

We worked from about 8 in the morning till about midnight each day for 3 whole days. The actual doing part was very hard for her to deal with. I was so very proud of her determination and courage to do this project through to completion.

I feel such a feeling of satisfaction in thinning out her "stuff" that get in the way of her thoughts and controls her mind. I feel sad for her that she cannot have the same freedom inside. She already feels like she needs to fill it back up. Her Dad's prediction only gives her a few days before it is back to HER normal.

I struck a deal with her... She has FOREVER wanted some of that live bamboo that grows all curly in a fancy pot. I told her if she can keep it reasonably clean and organized until school starts in about a month I will buy her some for her Chinese room. She agreed. We'll see. She will need help and constant coaching and encouragement~ ~ baby steps are a big deal at our house.

(E's room awaiting it's make over. These walls were still painted as when the room was used as a nursery years ago. It was way overdue to be repainted! )

Above: Now you can see what 2 of E's walls look like after simply putting up some rolls from the party store called "Scene Setters". It took one roll to cover 2 walls top to bottom. No more blue sponge paint...and the best part is- it was easy, quick, cheap and temporary. If it needs to come down- no prob- just pull it down and back to original plastered wall underneath!! I painted the sky and cloud ceiling for nursery days and it will stay the same.
Also in the picture above you see the top bunk of the metal bunk bed frame without the mattress added. The bunk bed was a hand me down from a friend. We painted it black, as it was red when we "inherited" it.
The bottom of her bunk bed is a futon and opens to a double size bed. The top bunk is twin size.

Above: N. helping to assemble the bunk bed frame. You can see I didn't even waste paint on areas that would be covered by the mattress. (Save that paint for other projects in the room!)

The hardest work was moving furniture out in the driveway to paint and moving it back in and lifting heavy boxes of packed up stuff . The neighbors asked why I had a bed set up in the driveway. I said we were moving the kids outside for the summer!!

Above: you see one of the shelves before we finished painting them; they got 2 more coats of paint and look great now. I pulled them from the neighbor's trash. (We have unlimited pick up twice a year in our town and it is like shopping... driving around to see what people are getting rid of!
They were solid in structure but quite UGLY in their found paint status.

Some people even come out to help you load and haul their stuff away. Some people say "thanks for giving it a good home" and other just don't see the potential in their own cast offs and look at you like you are just plain NUTS!!!)

Above: you see the newly painted shelves stacked one on top of the other.

Tadaaah! The shelves with her stuff she decided to keep in her room- some videos (She has lots of movies- received as gifts or hand me downs from friends and some bought at a thrift store for 49 cents each!), books and games.

(E's horrible dyed black hair. Sorry. I hate it. A phase that hopefully won't last long. She is really a blonde. See?....her roots are growing out already!!!!! EEK!)

Above: E. and her friend apply paint to cover logos on the sides of a square trunk from the neighbor . I had an idea for its make over which involved recycling and just a few cents. E found a Chinese newspaper on a bench in the metro station in D.C. On a color copier, using the newspaper and some Chinese pictures she had, we made collage papers which I used to decoupage on top of the trunk .

Above: This is the area in front of her bunk bed/futon. She uses the black trunk for a "coffee table" and her plastic horses are inside. You can see this photo was taken before I decoupaged the top of it. She didn't get rid of/pack away her folding horse stable and horse trailer for her toy horses. She still plays with them. It is very relaxing for her.

The bottom basket (really a picnic basket) holds her magazines. The top basket holds her stuffed animal horses. We already had the baskets and they were recycled from other areas of the house.
A place for everything and everything in it's place. This is a hard concept for someone like E who has avoidance OCD and hoards. She does not have the more commonly known form of OCD where there is a need for everything perfectly lined up; quite the opposite. She thrives on an abundance of stuff randomly around her.

Above: The lamp is from a thrift store for $2. It is wrought iron and VERY heavy. We painted it black. It came with a NEW lampshade (the right color, too!) and a WORKING light bulb!!! Next to the lamp is a battery operated water fall fountain we bought at a garage sale for $1. It WORKS great. Anything that has a calming effect is a good thing!!

Above: is the hand me down dresser from a friend that I had painted for A's room back when she was a toddler and had a giraffe bedroom...then when N. came along we used it in his safari theme nursery. Now it was time to do away with the giraffe skin paint and do Chinese.

Above: this is what the same dresser looked like with some new paint. In the background- that's the shelf we stacked on top of the other shelf.

Above: is the way the giraffe dresser drawers looked before we Chinesed them. The top two had all those wooden knobs and the lower ones had hanks of raffia tied through where the drawer pulls were. I should have showed you the raffia before I removed looked pretty cute...but alas we had new plans for these drawers!!!!

Above and below: Tadaah!! Look what I did with the color copy machine at the office store!! Now the drawer fronts are covered in the collage paper we made from the Chinese newspaper we found in D.C. left in the Metro on a bench and misc pictures E. collected. The top 2 drawers have 2 small drop pulls and the other 4 drawers have the bigger center handle.

I wrapped the drawer fronts with the heavy weight paper (we used the same on the top of the square trunk) and stapled it on the drawer backs. Very easy to do. E. picked out the new drawer pulls at the store. A "brand new dresser" for under $20.

Above: We kept moving little things around from here to there until they found a "home" in her room!
The mirror was from a garage sale (already painted black) bought for 50 cents. The lamp was from Family $.

Above: The Chinese print in frame from a garage sale for 25 cents. Of course she had to have her clip board/bulletin board made by Aunt Sue and her b-day gift of the Chinese Kimono on bottle from Aunt Sue added to her room!!
She had to keep her horse barn stacked on top of her horse stable (we'll just pretend it's Chinese!!)
Above: This was one of E's 16th birthday gifts. Her first piece of REAL furniture!!!!!!!!! It is an antique and still has the old furniture maker stickers inside one of the drawers.
She was so excited about it. ( her Daddy was not so thrilled about having to go pick it up after a long hard, hot day at work!) I told her she can keep this forever. I bought it for her at a garage sale. It cost more than 50 cents... I got it for $40!!. It weighs a ton!! My Sweetie was impressed with how it looked once inside her room --and the great price.
We also finally hung up her horse show ribbons she won at age 9.

Don't look too hard because we still have to repaint the 2 off white walls with a fresh coat. I guess we did that stage a bit backwards. Oh well. They are walls that will be easy to do as we only have to slide the furniture out a little bit and put down a drop cloth. We were just so anxious to get everything in!!

Above: The inside of the desk is so fun with all the little cubbies and drawer. She filled this up with no problem at all!!
The shelves hold the little things she loves..horses and little boxes and Chinese things received as gifts over time. Also the chopstick set I brought to her as a San Fran souvenir from my trip to stay with her Aunt Sue and a little figurine of a Rottweiler like Aunt Sue's.

We decided it looked best being on a slight angle in the corner of her room. I told her she could pick from one of my many orphan chairs in the garage to redo for the desk chair.

Above: Little brother(who won't leave Elise alone and thinks she needs his companionship; aka pesty little brother!) reading one of E's Harry Potter books on the futon bottom bunk.
Soon after this photo was taken I found some soft jersey knit black sheets on sale at Target for her full size futon bottom bunk and twin size top bunk. They were really cheaply priced on clearance. Gotta love when you hit a clearance sale just at the right time!!The primary color striped sheets sure weren't fitting into our theme.
Still on the list is to make a cover for her comforters with Chinese print fabric.

Here's a better shot of the ceiling I painted about 8 yrs ago.
The horse picture is original to the house and used to hang in the front hallway in the 1950s. (Remember I am living in the house I grew up in that I inherited...the only house I have ever lived in!! As a matter of fact- this is the room that I grew up in.)
The lanterns were hand me downs from friends. I will sew a valance for the curtain rod from Chinese print fabric.
I hope you enjoyed coming along for the journey of the bedroom make-over!! I only hope E. can feel relaxed and not too stressed when she is in it. We will see what time brings. We judge E's coping skills ~or lack of ~one day at a time at our house. Sometimes hour to hour.


a portland granny said...

What a wonderful walk through your remodeling of your daughter's room. You were so creative in all the little things you did. Loved the dresser and her cupboard secretary. That is a beautiful piece of furniture!!

Took me right down memory lane and redoing the kids rooms with as little money as possible. I had a dresser in the kids' room that I must have painted at least a dozen time over the years to go with whatever we were doing in one of the kid's rooms.

How fun for all of you to get it done. Isn't it fun??

Oh to have that kind of energy again!

Thanks for the stroll through the remodel! It was great!


Mrs.Kwitty said...

What a fantastic redo--and you did so much work. I'm so impressed! I hope it makes your daughter happy every time she goes in there.
Smiles, Karen

She'sSewPretty said...

Wow! Good for you and Elise! I love red and black. I had a secretary just like the one you bought for Elise for 40.00. I sold it for 500.00. Hmmm...maybe you have a real treasure under the white paint. I hope Elise is enjoying her grown up bed room. Makes me want to do some redecorating.