{reader’s decorating dilemma}


Received a lovely letter from reader Nicole, requesting design advice for redecorating her bedroom, and as there are so many creative and talented bloggers who stop in for a visit everyday, thought it might be fun to hear what advice, recommendations, opinions and links we can dream up:

My name’s Nicole, I’m 16 years old, and recently have gotten a room to myself, as my sister has moved out! I’m 16 but I have a bit of an older style when it comes to interior, so I’m not into the whole “teen room” thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wanna dress and live in a room like a grandma! I love interior design and fashion design and photography, and just love designing and re-arranging my friend’s rooms and rooms around my house.

However, I have a small problem, my love for interior design has become my downfall. There are so many things I want to experiment with, so many things I love, I just have no idea how to do my room. Do you have any ideas or advice?

Here are some of the things I love: Lace, the colour grey and blue grey, cream coloured things, books, cozy beds, and lamps that cast a pretty yellowey glow, I love fashion design, photography, art, and poetry. I especially love, love, love writing and literature. I love a nostalgic look, and I love the sophistication of French style but also the coziness of English style. I need a place that’s conducive to writing, but also something that will inspire me.

Some of my favourite looks are:
Bistro/Cafe type tables and chairs

Globes, Book shelves and Cases,
this vase is just beautiful (from your site of course).

I just feel like I like all these things but can’t see them coming together as one room!! A couple things you should know, I have a slanted gambrel ceiling so it’s difficult for me to hang large artwork (grr), and I have an unstained wood floor. Depending on what colours I (or you advise me to) choose, I might stain it darker. My room is really big though, and has a stair case going down I could do something pretty with I think. Despite the fact that I’d love one, money wise I can’t afford a chandelier, but I love pretty lighting and all things antique looking.

Your help would be appreciated so much!! I just love interior design, but because it’s my own room I just can’t seem to do anything with it! (And the walls right now are bright yellow and hot pink *bleugh*)

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this,

{images: 1 – Theo Fennell; 2-4 – follow studio; 3+5 – gentl & hyers via mila; 6 – unknown but still searching . . .}

21 Notes
  • Nicole, you sound like such a sweet sophisticate. The only thing I might add here is to peruse old bookstores for books with incredible covers, fabric if you can find them. And if you can, buy books that you haven’t read yet, especially classics, so they will be functional as well as decorative! I’m a book lover myself and I think there are few decorations better than gorgeous old books.

  • Thanks so much, anonymous, for such a lovely comment :)

  • Anonymous said...

    This is an especially sweet, kindly post, Miss Glamorous.

  • Anonymous said...

    You’ve done the hard part, figuring out what you love. Actually decorating your room is the fun part. It’s a treasure hunt, where you get the prize of a wonderful room in the end, as well as the fun of the hunt.
    A few words of warning that I found out the hard way:I love the sublty of blue grey walls, but be prepared for the room to change dramatically depending on the sunlight. Definitly paint your ceiling white/cream, or your room will get very gloomy at times. Also, lots of lace can overwhelm the overall design. Keep it to a few touches here and there, and use sheer white fabric .
    Even if you could, I wouldn’t hang big pictures. Find small images that you love (pen and ink drawings, sepia or black and white photographs, and little watercolor jewels) and hang them in clusters. You can pick up interesting frames very cheaply secondhand, paint them all the same shade of gold, and hang them with ribbon.
    If you need clothes storage, try to find a big old china cabinet. It’s a bit more interesting than a regular old vanity/armoir. You can display all your folded tops, or add a curtain behind the glass door.
    Collage “old” (tea stained) sheet music or letters onto your wastepaper basket, and anything else that looks glaringly new.
    I love the romantic look of old “bridge” floorlamps, and they make very convinient reading lights. I found a new “shabby chic” cheap white one years ago and painted it antique gold. When I brought it to the lamp store, they thought it was an expensive antique. A coat of paint can work wonders!

  • Anonymous said...

    Talk about a girl after my own heart! I am only 19 years old and have been obsessed with interiors since I was very young (like you it seems). Never really felt the ‘teen room’ thing either, once I went on a camp and as a surprise my parents had my room painted canary yellow and cadbury purple. I actually cried with devastation at the intense chocolate bar wrapper colours my beautiful white room had been “ruined” with! Thankfully I only had to put up with it for a year before university beckoned and finally I had a space to call my own! Last christmas all my friends asked for new iPods and laptops but I was the kinda girl who asked for an amazing mirrored chest of drawers. I’m sure the above advice from other readers will give you some great hints but if you are in the southern hemisphere, australian insideOUT magazines just ooze delicious and totally copiable images which I have drawn heaps of inspiration from for my flat. It’s good to know that there is somebody else under 20 who wants to surround themselves with beautiful things. There are only so many cartoon floral duvet covers a girl can handle before she craves gorgeous fur throws, lamps, bentwood chairs and hundreds of silk pillowcases – all in shades of pale blue, grey and white if you are me. Good luck with your room! Send in photos when you are done!

    and by the way, staining your floor a deep rich dark brown is a great idea, our living room is like that and its so much more interesting than a great sea of bland carpet.

  • love these images.

  • Hey!
    It’s obvious that you have good taste, but as you pointed out – when you’re cash strapped everything seems a little less atainable – so start with what you can do / or have.
    If you are really low on cash and don’t have even have enough money to repaint / wallpaper the walls, then maybe do something crazy and pin your whole wall with A3/A4 size sheets of plain paper, which you can paint a motiff on (tip: use single colour pins; maybe grey or white). Leave a few boxes empty in between and fill it with cut out trendy magazine pages instead, let your creativity go wild :) good luck.

  • wow–are these your photo pics to go with nicole’s words? this is an amazing post…so sweet and perfect in every way…wish i was this sophisticated when i was her age!

  • LOVE that photo of the girl outside, how gorgeous!!! :)

    As for the design dilemma, my advice for the whole room would be to almost make it into a “studio apartment” feel.. you’ve got a big room which is perfect- divide the room up into different areas: bed area, couch/chair area with a cute coffee table, a desk area where you can write.. etc! Then you can feel like your room offers so much more than just a place to sleep- you can maximize its potential by making it a multipurpose area!! Good luck, you sound like such a great girl with an eye for design!! xo!

  • Ah! So, I’m Nicole (from the letter). You’ve all been so INCREDIBLY helpful it’s crazy. I love the ideas and I’m beginning to see them come together in my mind. Any more suggestions are welcome. I just love hearing the great ideas and in my mind they look gorgeous.
    Some of you seem like very kindred souls! It’s lovely.

  • everyone has great advice for you! the only thing i would add is don’t worry about making a mistake in decorating… i made many mistakes in designing my own spaces when i was younger and learned so much from each of them! take a risk, try something new, and if it doesn’t work out you’ll be a better designer for it!

  • I have always been dreaming about such a bed ))) Fantastic!

  • Clara said...

    Goodness this young lady completely said everything I wanted to say. I’ll be getting a new place and am absolutly torn about which direction to go. The love of ‘cream coloured things’, ‘chandliers’, ‘antique’ and ‘french’ not to mention BOOKS…looks like she’s a similar soul. Major difference though, my room is pathetically small.

  • Nicole,
    The difference between being a lover of design and a designer is simply the courage to spring into action and be willing to experiment. You sound like you have an incredible focus for someone so young. Just dive in and create what you see in your minds eye.

    Try painting the room a lovely gray blue and paint the floor and ceiling white. You’ll have a very neutral palette to build on. Flea markets and yard sales are great sources for inexpensive lace and vintage linens that can serve as a base for more expensive throw pillows.
    Target has some great slipcovers so if you can find a inexpensive chaise lounge or chair just cover it.

    Check discount home stores such as Tuesday Morning, Ross, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for accessories.

    Finally, treat yourself to a large iron candalier ( non-electrical hanging candelabra). They can be found at the above mentioned stores and are usually very reasonable. You can embellish it with chandelier crystals or ribbon, whatever you like.

    Remember, there is no right or wrong way in design. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to take action!

  • Nicole has such a sophisticated style with all the things she’s attracted to and feeling linked to! It’s incredible to be given free reign in one’s room :)

    Remember, you don’t have to get it exactly right at the beginning. Going slowly and watching a room evolve is so much more fulfilling!

    Best of luck!

  • Looks like these photos hit the mark on her style. I love the idea of an English countryside style of look. Small writing desk with wrought-iron headboard and lace dollies around the room. Good luck!

  • Nicole:
    You mentioned that you have a lot of different styles you like. A good idea is to pull about 25-100 pics of rooms that appeal to you. Then look at what the common elements, feel or theme is. This will help you to see how your ideas do fit together.
    Check out the blog on “Lindsey’s Daughter’s Bedroom” by Cathy over at openhouse.homegoods.com I think her tips for a 17 yr. old girl’s bedroom will help you to understand what I mean.
    joan kosmachuk, professional organizer

  • Nicole, you have wonderful taste!

    Decorating a bedroom is such a personal thing, but here are my suggestions:

    1. Don’t be in a rush to decorate all at once. If you’re patient, you’ll pick up lovely, meaningful pieces to add to your room over time.

    2. Create nooks for different activities. I love Melissa’s idea of a comfy armchair for reading, an antique desk for writing and a cushy bed for lounging. You’re on the right track thinking what you use your bedroom for.

    3. Look for small touches – a pretty lamp (or two…or three!), a vase with flowers, a luxurious throw blanket or rug. You can keep the color scheme simple and the walls bare so these pieces can shine.

    Good luck – like Emily, I would love to see pics of the end result!

  • I think she knows too well what she likes but having a hard time putting them all. I guess in this scenario less is more and try doing it a little by little.

    I’m no interior design expert but I know what it’s like doing things for myself as supposed for others. I can be a lot more realistic and objective for others and it’s impossible to do that for myself often times. :)

    I think leave the space in a natural state and incorporate pieces she likes and build on it would work well as long as she is patient. Now that’s what I don’t have, patience but I guess I have to learn that doing my own design and setting up my own space.

  • Hi Nicole! First of all, you are a very expressive writer! I resonated with everything you said, I too love those things. I was the same way when I was 16 too!

    As far as your room, I would go with everything you love. Most of the furniture I had in my room at 16 is in my house to this day. You are smart to not go with the teen room look.

    I would stain the floors dark, if you are able, and paint all the walls and ceilings the blue grey color you like. The grey with some blue in it will give it a cozy snug look. If there is trim work, paint it an antique creamy white — the touch of yellow in the antique white will give you a nice creamy look that will glow in lamplight.

    You can put creamy white lace curtains at the windows. Put cozy lamps on either side of your bed for reading and for nighttime ambience.

    Use a variety of linens to make your bed cozy and inviting. Lots of pillows to allow you to lay in bed to write or read.

    Since you have a big room, find a nice comfy chair (either something your parents have or you can find at a garage sale) and if you don’t like the fabric, throw a cozy blanket on top of it. Put a nice reading lamp next to it and pile your books on the floor and on a bookshelf.

    For writing, you might want to find a dark stained antique writing table at a thrift store. If your room has no walls, you can always place the table at the end of the bed. Have a lamp on the table and a good chair pulled up to that. That will be inspiring to you when you want to sit at a table and write. Plus the more little lamps you have in the room, the more charming the room will be.

    The stairwell is the perfect place to add some charming details. Maybe handpainted stairs (or affix wallpaper or decoupage on the backs of each step), on the wall you could have a haphazard collection of old frames showcasing whatever inspires you. Maybe cut some images out of old books or photocopy images in black and white or sepia tones. The stairway is like the entry to your room, so you want to make it welcoming and intriguing.

    You can always had in some pops of color or a few funky accessories if you feel you want to put in a youthful touch. But I see nothing wrong with going with a classic look even at your age. It is all about what truly inspires you.

    Well, there you go! That is my vision for your room! I loved your letter!

    Have fun,

  • Start with Dove-grey walls. It’ll take your room to a neutral and it’s easy to decorate around.

    I like the idea of staining down the floors – a glossy dark floor with grey walls is the perfect pallette for what you’re describing.

    Use the stairwell wall (if there is one) to showcase some of your great art. Reframe what you have before you replace it. You’d be amazed at what a new mat/frame will do for a piece of tired art.

    You know what you like, so that’s not the hard part – and the best part about being 16 (or about having a space you can decorate) is that you’re allowed to change it. Invest in pieces you love and no matter what else you do, your room will feel like home.

    Have fun and share pictures!

Comments are closed.

  • Thank you for stopping in to say hello — it's lovely to hear from you!

    Please note that comments are moderated for spam, profanity, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business.