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Leah's back - and this time you have to decorate her room.

That's right. After THIS, we're having a do-over since, well, she's not interested in us telling her to go to Thailand and have sex for money (joke, people! only a joke! sheesh...). She just wants to know how to decorate her room, for God's sake.

So, here we go again. Let's help her out.

Here's what she wrote today:

Hi Decorno! After the debacle of last week... let's try this again! I'll try to be more specific this time. I'm moving back in to my parents' house and I need to revamp my high school room. The room isn't 20x20 (I'm terrible at estimating size), it's actually closer to 15x15. You can see how it's set up in the photos. You can also see the piles of stuff that have built up over the last few years. Most of it is my parents', and most of it will be cleared out.

I do need this to be a room I enjoy and feel comfortable in. This does not mean that I will live at home forever just because I chose a nice paint color. I'll eventually move out for many reasons, and the decor of my room is honestly not going to change that. I want to change the color because I know my parents were never thrilled with it in the first place. I won't settle on any major changes without their opinion, because it is their house. But they're very flexible, so it will be hard to find something they really hate. In my current apartment, I'm not allowed to paint, so I would love to have some fun here. But a neutral color would be okay if someone could give good ideas on how to bring in color in another way.

Some other things people asked about:
-The floor is hard wood.
-I have a queen bed, but I'm not a big fan of the frame I have now.
-The closet isn't huge, so I need somewhere to put clothes.
-I hate my high school book shelf, but I still need some kind of shelving.
-I have a sewing machine, and have made myself simple curtains in the past.
-My budget will be small, but I don't mind springing for a couple of things that I can keep for a long time.
-Moving in is NOT negotiable. I'm doing it, but it's not permanent. Don't worry, I've been to Rome. Twice. I paid. [Ha! Ok, got it. We will quit bossing you around now... - Decorno]

Thanks for doing this again! I'm still surprised at the reaction your original post got. At least it's a good story for me to tell.

So, everyone... ideas for Leah?

(UPDATE: Thanks to Google alert, I found THIS.)


David said...

Ok Leah, if it were me, I'd go down-and-dirty:

Take the wall where you're putting your bed and leave it orange. Paint the other three a warm, mid-range gray.

Furniture: Hit craigslist for the tables/shelving/headboard. Find stuff with lines you like, paint it all gray, a couple shades lighter than your walls.

Bedding: Gray/white/orange, whatever you like. Maybe throw in some black as well.

Lighting: Target for lamps, in white, with black shades. Upgrade that ceiling fan. Minka Aire Concept II is a simple, close to the ceiling design. Sometimes you can find them cheap on ebay.

Floor: Area rug, black and white, in a pattern you like.

Windows: Matchstick blinds. Think simple and neutral.

Mix in some art you love. Doesn't have to match anything. Done.

Anonymous said...

wow, Leah. If my room at home was any where near the size of yours I would have never moved out.

I kid, I kid!

ok, here goes:

1) Grey walls.
2) Buy a rug to fill and unify the space.
3) Neutral duvet cover/sheets with a colorful accent pillow and blanket.
4) Go through your shit. You don't have to share this room with Leah circa 2004. Organize the bookshelf, file away 90% of what is on the bulletin board and resist the urge to hang up pictures from last year's XXX-mas party with the football team.
5) bring in fresh flowers whenever you can. seriously. only grown ups do that.
6) can you paint some of the furniture? right now it is awfully matchy matchy. if you can't paint, can you swap one of the pieces with something from another room?
7) either pull the bed out of the corner or treat the room like a studio apartment and put the bed behind some sort of shelving/barrier (ikea expedit maybe?). If you go the studio route, you can put a small loveseat or two chairs on the other side for when you have company.

Since your parents are obviously not using this room for anything other than storing stuff/housing you, you should definitely rope them into helping turn the space into your room/future guest room. You'll get to lead the charge in redecorating and give them a room that is adult enough to lend to visitors once you leave. Everybody wins! Good luck!

malbec said...

My best advice is leave it as is. You're going to move out eventually. Why waste your money improving a room that does not belong to you? Plus, trust me, when I moved home for a year after college, I spent no time at home.

Put that money away for a deposit on your next apartment.

ohnomyboots said...

Hey Leah,

First off, I was impressed with how strongly and diplomatically you stood your ground last week.

Your color is going to set the room, and you seem to not be leaning in any one direction. I vote a medium-light grey. It'll look sophisticated with all the white trim and will play nicely off of the rich tone of the floor. Also, the bed is weird, but considering that beds get expensive, I might even leave it (again, the wood will look nice against the grey).

Rugs also get expensive, but check out ecg liquidators on ebay- they have lots of (imperfect) persian & oriental rugs that no one bids on, you'll spend about $100 on shipping. Most are technically runners, but I got a 5x10 and it's gorgeous.

I'll leave it to others to get into specifics (furniture arrangement, bed linen choices) but I'll make the cliched-but-useful recommendation of sticking to neutrals for the big pieces (duvet, etc.) and getting your colors in via accessories (pillows, a blanket).

If grey is too blah for you, perhaps a very muted lavender? Again, can look good with the weed (typo, but it stays, I meant wood), and then maybe bring in a rich yellow for accent.

Pick a sophisticated color and your room is going to be immediately transformed.

Your parents sound fantastic. Good luck!

michelle said...

Keep both the wall and trim colour, match a bed cover to the walls exactly, use a white curvy upholstered headboard, pick one other print, add some neutral coloured texture on the floor and in a throw. Lastly, add a sitting area, even if it's just a bench at the end of the bed, if you can. I know what it's like to move back in with your parents, and you will love your alone space.


ohnomyboots said...

the ebay store is ecg select.

michelle said...

Leah, see a sketch of one possible solution on my blog...

Thanks for the fun Decorno!

I'm off to frost cookies :)

Libby at Aurora Primavera said...

It is always hard to judge colors on web page, but the orange actually looks pretty good to me and since I hate painting, I say KEEP IT. I would edit this room down to:
orange walls
white everything else
wood floors
silver/stainless steel, gray
Get rid of the curtain sheers; replace with matchstick bamboo or white miniblinds.
Invest in a white matelasse bed coverlet; you can take this with you and it will always be useful for extra bedding, guest room, etc. the rest of your life.
You've got some feng shui issues with furn. placement. I would move bed away from wall and place it against the window, using window as headboard (against feng shui rules, but I like it). If you keep the bed, can you detach the footboard? If so, do so. Then get two European-size bed pillows, cover with matching matelasse shams and place upright against headboard.
Place a table or small desk for computer at 45 degree angle in the corner where your bed is now.

Get rid of all that stuff that's on the walls, or rehang much closer together on a smaller wall area. Hanging pictures randomly like this is death to any room.

On the wall where your bed is now set, after taking down the small picture, replace with a really huge black/white photo print or wall hanging. I'm talking 3' x 4' huge if possible. If you could get your hands on a Franz Kline painting, that would be ideal. This will be the focus of the room as you walk in the door. It needs to be fairly bold to offset the orange. Two alternate ideas, if the Kline painting falls through, depending on your taste: giant Marimekko poppy fabric on a dowel. Or see
for some ideas. These posters are cheap and you don't need to spring for frame, just tack on wall since you are not staying long. Robert Motherwell's Samura N.1, 1974 would be fab.

Any furniture purchases should be dark wood stain or black.

No rugs.

One or two large plants; your room has great light. If you are not good at houseplants, get a jadeplant and never water it. Or go completely ironic and buy a blatantly fake 8 ft. banana tree. Place in a galvanized metal tub.

Lamps in stainless steel, utilitarian design. Large galv. metal washtub for magazine and clutter.

Anonymous said...

Agree with malbec. Leave it as is.

The badness will keep you focused on your mission. Don't put up "art you love." Don't "upgrade" anything. Think of this as a staging platform, or a waiting room.

Ultimately, it's your parents' room, to do with as they please (and anyway, they may (secretly) hate your taste in paint colors and such).

Shelley said...

Paint the walls a light gray/lavender color, paint the bed glossy black and then put a patterned (ikat/indonesian, modern floral)blanket/fabric/rug that you love in whatever catches your eye with color (lavenders/purple/blues/greens/cream) over the headboard, keep your duvet/blanket in white/cream; an area rug from the ebay store cheaply use persian runners or a medium/large rug if you can score one or keep the area rug neutral with cream or black. Keep the bookcase - it's perfectly huge - but toss, edit and rearrange. Use a small print fabric for shades or a window panel that pick up the other colors or maybe a neutral with black trim or striped cream/gray large stripes. A cute little loveseat/uphostered bench/settee at the bottom of the bed in a plush fabric (velvet/mohair/wool)and tufted if you can find one (craigslist/vintage store/urban outfitters/target). All the art you can create/use from another room/or already have. Good luck!

ita darling. said...

ok. there is some great ideas here. i love the sketch you made michelle! but im back on the boat with malbec and anon 10:15. keep it mostly as it. eliminate all the clutter. go to ikea and give yourself a $75 budget for all white bedding. and a ficus. and i love the idea for the calender. buy the stendig 2009 calendar by vignelli at unica for $30. its the best! the orange will be a constant reminder of who you used to be, where you are now, the de cluttering will be cathartic, and the white will feel artsy and minimal. you are a stubborn one aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to all!

beachbungalow8 said...

happy holidays Elaine,


Leah said...

Brilliant! Now I remember why I kept coming back. Thanks!

drwende said...

Start by finding bedding you love at a price you can handle. Don't think about matching the orange -- you're going to use one of the medium to light bedding colors as your paint color. So if you happen to choose something that matches the orange, that's convenient; but don't fixate on it. The bed's your biggest piece of territory, so it should reflect who you are NOW.

One of the big differences between a grown-up room and a high school room is that grown-ups tend to aim for serene bedrooms. This means storage is your next issue. Craigslist is one way to do it; if you really need lots of storage on the cheap, IKEA is also a win. The idea is that things are tidy, coordinated, and mostly put away.

Put away reminders of High School Leah and focus your accessories on a few things that express who you are now or who you're trying to become. This will help remind everyone that you're back as a step on a longer journey, not a retreat to the past.

Find room for a comfortable chair, so you have a place to sit that's yours alone and that isn't the bed. No matter how well you get along with your parents and enjoy being with them, you need a corner that's your own sitting room, and you have space for it.

Make sure you have a reading lamp for any place you sit and read. Target's not bad; IKEA's okay; thrifts are sometimes the way to go.

Make sure the room has a touch of black. That always makes a room look more adult and pulled-together.

Lisa Hunter said...

The orange is not bad at all, but you've got a 1950s Leave it to Beaver vibe in the furniture and the dainty sheer curtains. I think if you include some graphic (maybe Marimekko?) curtains and bedding and get rid of the teenage clutter, you'll have a lovely room.

It has great floors and architectural detail.

Au said...

Wait, wait, wait. You're changing the wall color because your parents never liked it in the first place? This comment alone makes suggestions easy: Do nothing to the room and move on the very minute it's feasible.

Au said...

Wait, wait, wait. You're changing the wall color because your parents never liked it in the first place? This comment alone makes suggestions easy: Do nothing to the room and move on the very minute it's feasible.

Anonymous said...


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