Our oldest son turned 16 in June. We were at a loss as to what to get for him. A watch? Not a car, hahaha! We tried suggesting experiences, none of which seemed to excite him. He has the smallest room in our house. For a small house, 1700 square feet which includes an addition that is our family room, our bedrooms are pretty spacious – except for his. It comes in at a whopping 8′-6″ X 11″-0″ WOW what to do with such an immense space? The poor kid also has every piece of miss matched furniture that we own tossed in there. And on top of it, dare I say possible hoarder? OK, OK, memory saver – that sounds better!
He spends more time on homework and studying then the other three kids put together. And is always doing it hunched over on his bed. He is now a junior in high school and has aspirations of being a cardiac surgeon one day – so take your omega 3 and get walking or you may meet him one day, just saying. We not only had a super tight space but also a super tight budget. I have my degree in interior design so I am always up to getting my hands on a renovation project and trying to be as creative with the space as with the budget. I eagerly accepted this challenge at barely 100 sq ft and a $300 budget -then got to work.
Thankfully the room has a standard 2′ x 6′ closet that we put organizers in when the kids were little. I pulled everything out and sorted it into small boxes. This kid has done and does as much as he can. So I packed up karate belts from white up to brown with 3 stripes. T-shirts from every musical he has been in from middle school through high school. Every gadget and gizmo anyone has ever given him…and stored them on the way top shelf of his closet. Still trying to figure out what to do with his dance costumes…insert scrunchie face emoji here. Then used the rest of the shelving to organize his camera and computer equipment, gigantic reference books my dad has given him through the years as well as his clothes.
Did I mention the room is small?
We wanted to give him a desk in his room, so we put as much of his clothes into the closet as possible because there wasn’t enough room for a desk and dresser. I know not ideal, but since we had space in our basement outside the laundry room for his dresser we took it out of his room. I also got him a few of those cubes for on shelving units and he has since used those for over flow clothes of socks, pj’s, t-shirts etc so he isn’t always running up and down the stairs. We made the desk out of a piece of butcher block counter top we had left over from our kitchen renovation. Hubby and my dad just cut it down, drilled a grommet hole in the top and secured it to the wall with some heavy duty L brackets. Apparently it holds 1,000 lbs – anytime my dad is involved it’s sure to be indestructible.
In my past professional career I always specified Benjamin Moore paint. When you are a designer in a large city architectural firm you have every paint manufacturer and every paint color available at your fingertips – and I continue to stand by my opinion that Benjamin Moore offers and amazing product and the best BEST colors! Our son didn’t know we were renovating his room, although I believe he suspected, but we had talked about doing his room for awhile so we had discussed paint. He had asked for white or light grey. One of his favorite places on the planet is the beach, so I went with Benjamin Moore’s color Sea Salt. Because of the lighting in the room it kind of looks different in each photo but it’s a great neutral light fresh color with pale undertones of blue/green/grey.
Since the budget was tight, I broke it down as per how much per item. The rug is an indoor outdoor rug and it was $49. Not bad for a rug, but when your budget is $300 that doesn’t leave a lot left. Calculate in $40 for paint and we were already almost down $100. I wanted to get a used table for his night table but after spending two days trying to hunt one down I gave up and found this super cute night stand for $50 along with the lamp at $25. The budget was going so fast!!! Old rule of thumb was that you should spend 1/4 of your budget at least on accessories. Thank goodness I found a huge clearance sale happening at Hobby Lobby and was able to snag all of the items for his desk area for $45 and got an amazing deal on his bedding on Amazon!
We needed a place for all of his memories.
Because he does so much, he has a lot of things that he likes to save. He also has a lot of favorite people in his life besides me, so I started trying to come up with a way to feature these things in a clean organized way. Since the space is small the more clutter the smaller and smaller the room looks. I was always taught to not try to make a room look bigger, if it’s a small room embrace it and create an intimate, cozy, clean space. So that’s what I tried to do. I came up with this memory wall idea. I took photos we had from things he participated in and asked a friend to send me some pictures as well. I got these simple white frames or different sizes and filled them with photos we printed in sepia to pull the warm tones up on the wall found in the floor and butcher block top. I also framed some of his special things like his first official race bib, his Playbills from Broadway musicals he has attended and his brochure from his college tour to the University of Pennsylvania (his dream school). When you make a photo wall it’s important to lay it all out before you start putting it up on the wall. I’m a huge ‘by eye’ person but I did actually use a small level to anchor the first item, the shadow box, then went from there. I just used command strips to hang everything. And he can continue to add to this wall.
Again since our budget was so tight we just reinvented some of the things he already had in his room. Like his parrots that have been hanging from a hook in his room since he was probably 7 years old. He got them on a trip to North Carolina and loves his parrots. But they were parrot colors like bright red, blue, yellow, green….so as I stood holding them in my hand, my daughter said, “I got this!” and disappeared. She spray painted the parrots white, and then used gold paint to add a little accent to them – one of my favorite parts of the room. And lots not forget his fedora that he loves – popped that baby on the wall too! He loves it, so why not? Display the things you love!
He loves his new space, and uses every inch of it. From under the bed to the nightstand drawer to the bins to the desk. This space is one of my favorite in our house, and his two younger brothers are currently fighting out who gets his room when he goes to college!
PS – those are his favorite pencils, not for display purposes…he guards them at homework time each night! Below please find some links to items we used in the project.
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What a thoughtful gift and it looks amazing! I bet he loved it! Thanks for the inspiration and also tips for doing something like this on a budget. Love your style!