Over the weekend, we transformed the girls’ bedroom. Friday, beds and everything else came out and the room was cleaned preliminary to gutting it. Sunday evening, beds went back in. Monday morning? Two very excited teens were up bright and early, excited to move all their things back in, hang posters, and bubble over about the potential their new space had.
They earned it. Normally today you’d be seeing an ETWYRT post, but it will be delayed this week. The First Reader and I both were under the weather for most of the weekend. So the girls did most of the work on converting their room from a dark, allergen-filled space into a light, airy, and most of all, clean space they could enjoy. I provided technical support and some detail work, the First Reader a bit of grunt labor and funding. But the Junior Mad Scientist and Ginja Ninja got to take control of their own process for the most part. That’s not why we started this, but it may be the best part of having invested the time and money into it.
It all started when we were moving in. Well, let me back up a bit. When we saw the house for the first time, there were a lot of fantastic features we loved – the porch, the big kitchen, the yard – but some problems. And the room we designated as the ‘girls’ room’ was one of them. It was dark, had shag carpet, and a funny smell. Not like mold, but a heavy incense stink with something else underlying that. We’d hoped that cleaning it, and taking down the drapes the sellers had left, would help. The JMS was still staying mostly with her grandmother to finish her homeschooling year, but once she’d come back to the Nut House we realized that hadn’t been enough. She would get up in the morning with her eyes almost swollen shut, and would sometimes sleep on the couch to avoid her room. The GN, not normally subject to allergies, was also suffering. So we knew that we couldn’t put off the project any longer.
The initial plan was to strip out the carpet, paint everything! walls, floor, ceiling, everything! with Kilz to seal in whatever they were allergic to, and then put down flooring. We also thought we’d have time in the weekend allotted to finish the project, to paint personalized colored walls too. Well, Friday evening when I was showing them how to cut carpet, I pulled back the carpet pad and realized we’d gotten very lucky. Their room has a lovely hardwood floor under the dirt-brown shag carpet. So we put the carpet right back down, and used it as sort of a drop cloth while we were painting the ceiling and walls.
The walls were originally a shade of gray, and a deep maroon red. Paired with that carpet, the bedroom more closely resembled a cave, decorated, as a friend quipped, with the blood of your enemies. The girls wanted to each paint two walls with their favorite colors, and during the planning stage I’d taken them to the hardware store and let them pick out paint chips, cautioning them that while they could choose paint, it had to be pastel! Dark walls would just replicate the problem. They were a little disappointed they couldn’t do teal and rich purple, but the results bear out my precaution, as the room is light and airy now.
We learned a lot while doing this project: the JMS is a natural painter, the GN is not, but did pick it up. Paint the trim first, then come back with a handy gadget to paint right up to it without having to tape. Figure out if any of the paint is oil – it’s not common interior paint, but from the way the Kilz was acting on the red walls, we think it was oil, and we had a little trouble with the latex paint wanting to come off with the tape. Tape bits you don’t want to paint, which seems obvious, but we had a little trouble with the tape on doors and trim not being wide enough, and that combined with enthusiastic young painters led to some oops. Which we aren’t worrying about.
As we were finishing, the girls asked me to paint a little art, some swirls and curls and butterflies. I was happy to do this, but we used very subtle colors so it isn’t easy to see in the photos – and I turned any random paint drips on the walls into butterfly bodies!
They learned that they could do this. ‘This’ happened to be painting, ripping out carpet, staples, and tack strips, but because the parent’s weren’t able to help like they would normally, the girls not only got the agency of picking out paint colors, they got to do the labor on their own. As a result, I think they were even more happy and invested in the room than they would have if I had stepped in and done it all. It was a great learning experience.
Cost of room remodel: ~$300 (including new blinds and rug)
Happy Tired Girls: Priceless