When my daughter was born, decorating her room was easy.
Pastel pinks, blues, yellows and greens. Elephants, lion cubs and blooming flowers. She was too young to complain. Now as she reaches 15, that story has changed. While I would like to say that she is a laid-low type of teen and so easy to please in almost every aspect, her bedroom was not one of them. She was growing up and was out-spoken in the sense that if she didn’t like something, she would tell you – politely, but she would still tell you. She likes black ( I suppose this is normal since practically every teenager I know is either going through or has been through this phase – including myself). So when she approached me about redecorating her room, I cringed just thinking of how this conversation would turn out.
“Mom, I want black paint and black walls and black sheets and black pillows. Everything black.” This after building a new house and already having been through the discussion that her room would not be painted the color she wanted. After saying “No” hundreds of times because I knew she would later change her mind since at the time she was a “tween”, I stuck to my guns and said no again. And I was prepared to say no this time as well but I asked her the oh-so-dreaded-question, “And what color would you like now?” I was surprised to see that the dark cloud looming over my head just waiting for her to say Dark Blue so that it could open up and rain heavily upon me was slowly disappearing as she said, “I just want some baby blue in my room, somewhere.”
That was it? No fighting, no black everywhere and then blue everywhere to just baby blue somewhere? Could it be that I had heard wrong? Obviously she could see it on my face that I was thinking it because she reached out to place one hand on my shoulder and said, “Yes, mom, that’s all I want. Baby Blue because it is my favorite color.”
Her favorite color was Baby Blue? Since when? Before she could walk away, I jumped up after her, shouting in astonishment, “Wait a minute? What happened to everything black and dark blue and all the dark plum stuff you wanted? Where did that go?”
She shrugs. “I don’t know. I just know I’ve always liked baby blue and I’m good with that.” Then seeing a moment of hesitation on my behalf, she darts back upstairs to whatever she had been doing when it first occurred to her that it would be a good time to brief me on her decision. I was left standing there thinking, “What happened? And baby blue? “ That’s when it dawned on me that she had said ‘somewhere’. I quickly amended, shouting up to her, “I’m not painting that room, you know that right?”
She pops her head around the corner to say, “I didn’t ask you to paint. Just put blue in my room.” Then she laughs at my confusion and happily disappears.
That went well, didn’t it?
Yes. And no.
Teenagers are difficult to design for.
They change their minds every day and have no idea how to express their constant thoughts. Well, most don’t but obviously this one does. To a degree.
While visiting a local design showroom for a meeting with several other designers, I tell her to look through the fabric and see if she likes anything. Now, for those of you that don’t know what a design showroom is, it is a textile showroom. There are hundreds or thousands of fabric samples neatly organized and hung up on display for the Designers and Decorators. It is not open to the public and you must either be in the Interior Design Field or be there with a design professional you have hired. My daughter was with me that day on the premise that she wanted to see mommy at work and upon being welcomed by their staff, she took a deep breath and chose one section of the building to go to. I watched her sift through rack after rack and when she realized just how large the facility was, she turned to me and said, “Why don’t you choose?”
“Because it is your room.”
“Aw, but I don’t know what I want.”
“Exactly!” That is what happens. That is always what happens. My child knows what she likes and what she does not like but did not know what she could live with which is an entirely different matter. As a Designer, I realized that this is usually and almost always the case. It is my job to figure this out.
Two weeks ago, I was out with a friend and saw a black velvet pillow with a broad stripe of rhinestones in the center. I remember taking it up and whispering, “This is it. This is my daughter. This is the inspiration.” My mind instantly went to work. Despite my daughter having quickly said “I don’t like.” the moment she saw it, I responded with a “Just wait and see, Maria. Let me do what I do, and we’ll see how you like it, OK?” She reluctantly nodded a yes and I set to work. After removing all bedding from her bed, I replaced it with her grey-blue sheets and white embroidered pillow cases. I remembered the twin silk throw pillows I had been storing for this project and brought them out. I reupholstered her antique chair that I had purchased a few months ago with the premise that she would eventually need a small seating area to comfortably put on her shoes. I gave the carved detail on the chair a touch of silver leafing to complement the silver on the new seat cushion. I also added the silver leaf to the nearby nightstand where her lamp would someday sit. Finally satisfied with my progress, I stood back to take a look. Her room looked better but not quite finished. I was missing the duvet and the draperies. And a few things on the walls.
I was far from finished…
*This article was originally published on July 29th, 2011.