Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reader Decorating Dilemma: The I'm Moving Home Edition


Dear Decorno,

I need help! I'm a soon-to-be graduate who will be moving back in with my parents. That means, moving back into my high school room. It is currently bright orange (a choice I made when I was trying to be a quirky 16 year old) and stuffed with old high school memorabilia and all the junk my parents haven't had a place for over the last 4 years. I need to create a comfortable space I actually want to live in, rather than one that reminds me of my dismal chances of getting a job in this economy and ever moving out for good. The room was originally the master bedroom of the house, a basic 20x20 ft shape. My current mattress is a queen, and there's no way I'm returning to my high school twin bed. Other than that, it's all fair game (including the color). Any suggestions for me? What would you do here? Thanks!

-Leah




Dear Leah,

This is a very easy one. Don't do it. Don't move back.

If you insist on defying me (they always do, these kids today...) you should find another place to live. Why are you moving home? Moving home after finishing college is not good for the soul. Rent, say, an illegal room. I did it. It was $225 a month, which was easy money, even with a shitty job at J. Crew while I was working my way through school. (Read all about it HERE.) It will toughen you up. I moved home when I needed a break from college and it was terrible. It lasted 3 months and then I left. If ever there is a time you need to make it on your own it's now, when the economy is shitty and you're scared shitless.

Don't decorate that room. Don't move back. There is no decor-solution for your here. For me to tell you what color to paint it is like me giving you aspirin to fix a bad case of the clap.

Go out into the world. Live paycheck to paycheck. Get a shitty job. Learn to make the best of it by sleeping with your co-workers at the pub. Stay out late. Do some drugs. Volunteer at the food bank. Move to a totally new city. Sleep with some rich guy to get a free trip to Rome. Sleep with young guys just for the fun of it. Work odd jobs so you have time for matinees in the afternoon. Read constantly things that would never be assigned to you by a teacher. Fall in love - mad, ridiculous, irresponsible love. Ask your parents for 5 grand and move to some beachy spot in Thailand for as long as the money will last you.

Go be both brave and stupid. This is your only chance. Do it for all of us who figured this out way too late in life.

Love,
Decorno

99 comments:

muranogirl said...

I agree with Decorno. Sage, crazy, advice.
By remaining at home, kind of like in the movie Cinema Paradiso or any home town, you will find yourself dying there and not truly living.
Break away, take a risk.

cybill said...

This is the most irresponsible, wonderful, crazy advice in the world. It's perfect, I love it and Leah, I think you'd better do it Decorno's way too! Live a little!!!

Mandy said...

Agree 110%. I just graduated from college in 2007...and since I've lived paycheck to paycheck, but I've had such a great time learning about who I really am and how to deal with the real world. And I've loved decorating my apartment. :)

I look at my friends who have moved home, and even though they are really smart, independent women when they are away, it's nearly impossible to not revert to your high school self when you're home. It's a hard time...but try to tough it out!

Best of luck to the poster! :)

David said...

It's true Leah, listen to Decorno. You've got the rest of your life to put together comfortable rooms. You don't have the rest of your life to be selfish and irresponsible.

Decide what would be the most fun, what would make you the happiest, and go do it now. Later on when you're settled and gainfully employed (both will happen, I swear) and living in your comfortable rooms you'll be so that you did.

matt said...

i moved home after college for 2 years. important note: my parents have their own lives and are not the types to encroach on my space. i had a shitty job, but was able to save some serious cash (thanks to the free meals, laundry, utilities, etc). when i did move out i was able to pay cash for my furniture etc and be debt free. but i guess if you're able to fuck some guy for a free trip to europe that would be cool too.

Anonymous said...

I moved home for a year but my mom made me pay rent so I wouldn't be a loaf (250) and she didn't do my laundry. I saved enough to pay down some debt I accumulated from college. Decorno's idea would be perfect if you aren't in dire straits...I moved back out a year later (my fear ...and my mom's...was that I might never leave) My mom was good company but never made it that comfortable...Just make sure your life experimenting doesn't involve credit.

Anonymous said...

don't screw some guy to go to Rome....Portgugal, maybe, but not Rome....

Kwana said...

Decorno as the mother of teen twins that will be off to college in 2 1/2 years you had me at "Don't do it". I'm with you on all of that as long as they do it all responsibly and don't do drugs because then the responsibly goes out the window and they end up back at home begging for money.
I say after college be out on your own by any means necessary.

Gypsy Lynne said...

i love it! decorno, you should get a weekly advice column!

delilah said...

Wow Matt, you sound a little bitter that no one would sleep with you for two years because you lived with mommy and daddy! You sound like a lot of fun, wish I knew you!

Leah - I agree with Decorno completely, and really can't think of anything more to add. Her advice is perfect. You have the rest of your life to work an adult job, and decorate comfortable rooms. Now is the time to get out there and fumble around and have the time of your life while doing so.

Anonymous said...

The lady in the picture? She went straight from her parents' house to her husband's house. Ended up killing herself at age 45. Seriously.

katek said...

Seriously, listen to the nice lady. I was too responsible after college, even though that did mean moving to NYC with no job, no money and no contacts. I wish I had been able to relax enough to just crash somewhere and save up enough money to travel, or....something. I temped until I got a job at a big magazine a year later--hardly an adventure. Still, if I'd moved home.... Ack.

The Steel Magnolia House said...

Indeed, Decorno.

ArchitectDesign said...

If at all possible, I agree with Decorno as well. I haven't lived at home since I was 18 (that includes summer and winter breaks!). However, I know a lot of people who lived at home the first 2 years out of college, saved up a sh*tload of money and bought their own places with 20% down. Depends on what your priorities are (and how big your parents house is).

hello gorgeous said...

Yay, Decorno!!

My advice exactly!!!! In almost my exact words! Well, exactly except for the drug part (my legal team says I can't condone that) and my conscious can't let you trade sex for trips, but...

I graduated from college in a similar job market and WORKED AT BURGER KING WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE to pay rent. That's how serious I was about not moving back in with my parents. Actually, it never occurred to me to do so.

Even when I finally got a job in publishing, I couldn't pay my rent with that measly salary. So I waited tables nights and weekends.

I was so happy. It was freeing and so empowering.

Screw decorating (for now)!! Rent "Flashdance" and move on with your life...(okay, I think I just revealed too much :-)

Anonymous said...

Sponging off your parents to save for a down payment is cheating. That's the same as parents just handing you the cash. A person needs to ask himself when exactly he will start to be independent and needs to do that even if it delays home ownership.

court. said...

I love you. Why couldn't I have read this 4 years ago??

Anonymous said...

100% agreed with Decorno - I had a wild reckless youth that I often say I'm lucky I survived - causing much frustration and total fear for my picture-perfect do-everything-the-way-society-endorses parents (who perhaps I was rebelling against, and who subsequently divorced) - thankfully they did instill enough of a moral compass in me that I avoided going too far with drugs, etc.

This was in the late 80s/early 90s - after not finishing college (not something I advise, but that was me), I toured all over Europe, then lived in London for a few years (on the barest income made from selling artwork - I lived with a secretary from a company where I sold my art, and slept on the floor under a drawing desk in her tiny flat) until I had sated my wanderlust, grown up and acquired the skills, experience, and networking connections to land an awesome job for a world-renowned company in a creative field back in the states. A completely unconventional route, but in the end I even made my parents proud.

I have since left that job (this time sated on the high stress and go-go treadmill) and now live a simpler, less complicated/more contemplative life in a small house out in the country where I'm able to authentically carry off the rustic cottage-inspired decor I'm currently into - and I confess that via the internet and great blogs like this one, continue to experience other lifestyles somewhat vicariously.

I worked with people at that big company who worked real hard to get there straight from college (impressive) - but after over a decade together (even with after-work partying) people started to reflect about what they'd experienced in life, and suddenly you get to an age where you have responsibilities that require you to reign in your dreams a bit. I feel so lucky to have no regrets, to not feel like I missed out.

I'm not saying my path was perfect, much of it was by luck or accident - I also made many mistakes, which I forgive myself for because I'm human. I am so grateful that people didn't disown me for doing the things I did. My mom still despairs over the missed opportunities of her own youth, which is a constant reminder to me of how fortunate I've been.

I never tire of reminiscing about the crazy things I did. I suppose you could say they continue to sustain me now, as I peruse the internet for wall color ideas (hmm, I'm thinking something the color of the walls in that underground rockabilly club in London...!)

Leah said...

Wow. I'm actually totally surprised by the responses! Let's say, for educational reasons, I HAVE to move back to my hometown for at least a year before I can apply to grad school (I need to take some classes as prereqs that weren't offered at my university, and my mom works at a school nearby so I can take courses for almost free). I've thought about getting my own place downtown, about 10 minutes from home. But doesn't that seem silly when I could get rent/utilities/food for free (or at least much cheaper, if I pay my parents a bit every month)? That way I could save money for grad school, be able to afford a car, etc.

This move home is absolutely NOT permanent. I'm applying to graduate school once I get those classes out of the way, and then I'm gone. My parents don't want me at home for longer than a couple of years, and I don't want to push it for even that long.

Okay, so those are all my rational reasons for moving back home, but I can't say I haven't strongly thought about what everyone here has said. I have another semester to decide, I guess.

Gina said...

I agree with Decorno. i am a mom of 3 (62) and I would like to give you this advice; go buy a lonely planet and a ticket to Thailand, India or Bali - all of which are easy traveling. If you need more inspiration, see my blog:
http://www.ginanews05.blogspot.com/

Happy decision


Gina from Germany

Rachel said...

Leah: Graduate school is for suckers. I know, I've done it. Twice. And I work with grad students now.

My advice is this: work or volunteer in whatever field interests you, even if the job doesn't. Museums? Check coats. Lawyers? Make photocopies all day. It isn't worth acquiring a mountain of debt until you're sure you're on the right path. And smart enough to know when a prof is blowing you off.

Decorno is right: live a little.

Anonymous said...

...or u could get a boring 9-5 job and not live with ur parents... (i know, i know not a lot of them to go around these days)
but yeah good advice. i've been out of college since may and moved to a not so cool area to not live with my parents (who are awesome, loving, non-privacy-encroaching, pot-smoking cool people) who live in a much cooler neighborhood. i live in a tiny place i can't afford that i decorate on a shoe-string budget in between shuttling to and from my boring job - and i COULDN'T BE HAPPIER!

tritesprite said...

I agree with Decorno. I moved out of my parents house at age 17 and never went back. I lived in squalor across town from my parents' comfortable, upper middle class neighborhood. It was wonderful, even when I had to eat PB&J for a few weeks.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that when you live in poverty, you meet other poor people and realize that the world is not made up of people with BWWs. You also learn how to be creative. When you can't throw money at a problem, you find that cheaper alternatives are often more fun and more interesting.

I eventually went to grad school. I have student loans. The interest on them is 1.5%, a small price to pay for the richness of life I found living on my own.

morrismore said...

Young person, from your latest post, it sounds as though you've already made up your mind to move home. I'd listen to Decorno--she knows best. There will be plenty of time to decorate, and to lead a stylish, civilized life, when you're older. This is your time to have fun, to experience life and be a little wild. There will be PLENTY of time for the chintz sofa, the ironed cocktail napkins, the Mercedes station wagon and the clothes from Talbots. Trust me on this one.

Anonymous said...

Leah, don't let us boss you around. You sound grounded and smart.

Leah said...

Okay. I appreciate the sentiment, really. I've thought about all of this. But I just want to address a couple of things.
1. Can someone just give me decorating advice, please?
2. I won't be freeloading. My sister lived at home for a year after graduation and my parents worked out a system with her that will probably work for me as well. That includes doing the cooking and cleaning for my family.
3. I don't currently live in some mansion with no contact with "the real world." I've been a struggling student for 3.5 years already. I take classes and I work and I support myself with help from my parents. I don't need to live on my own to know that not everyone has a BMW. I've never had a BMW, by the way, and neither have my parents.
4. Again, this move is NOT permanent. I have a specific plan in mind that requires I do somethings before I can apply to grad school. YES I'm applying to grad school, because a higher degree is necessary to do the things I need to do. For the time being, I'm applying for jobs/internships that will get me closer to that field, but I will eventually need the degree.
5. I've gone to Europe. Several times. I paid my own way, or borrowed money from my parents and paid it back. I'm currently in a bit of debt to them from my last trip (a study abroad). I'd rather not start graduate already under a mountain of debt. Graduating with debt may be inevitable, but there are things I can do beforehand to ease the pain a little.
6. I plan to work shitty jobs, several of them, while taking classes, in order to save up for my move out. I don't think it's going to be easy to find even a shitty job in this economy, but I do not plan to sit around eating bonbons hoping my parents will pay my way. I also don't plan on staying at home until I have enough money to buy a house. There will be no house-buying in the near future.
7. This IS me following my dreams. I know what my dreams are, and I'm doing what I need to do to get there.
8. I'm not sure how borrowing 5 grand from my parents to live in Thailand makes me any more independent than moving home to save money for myself and my future does. My parents don't have any interest in funding me being lazy in another country any more than me being lazy in their house.
9. Seriously, no design advice? From anyone?

Anonymous said...

I absolutelty agree!! Please, girl, don't do it! If I had it all to do over again, I would. I was robbed of some of the best years of my life. I stayed in my hometown area for love, and when that fell through, I had to move back in with my mother. I was depressed and felt hopeless. GET OUT! Make it work. Do whatever you have to do. Live like it's nobody's business! Ten years later you will thank us all. I swear to God!

David & Becky said...

How incredibly sad Decorno that you are so petty and small minded. This person has made a very hard choice, she reached out for help and was mocked and ridiculed.
We are in difficult economic times, there is nothing wrong about being practical and making intelligent financial choices. If more people did that we wouldn't be in such a crisis right now.
Are you people going to pay her car payments, student loans etc.?

Anonymous said...

Leah, if you have made up your mind, then ok. But on a side note: You say you are not freeloading, because you will cook and do cleaning. I think every child should do these things when living at home, not matter how old they are. You share a home so you share the work.
I find mothers (or fathers, but it's mostly mothers) who do everything for their kids irresponsible, because the children don't learn to do these things by themselves.
If you truly don't want to freeload, pay rent.

Anonymous said...

Leah,

Just remember that growing up means ignoring advice, whether from the sensible adults or from the "rebels."

tritesprite said...

20x20 is rather large. I've lived in studio apartments of roughly the same size, including a kitchen and bathroom.

My suggestion would be to approach decorating it as you would a studio apartment, creating a living area distinct from the sleeping area, considering a loft bed with an office area beneath (depending on your ceiling height), things like that.

Go find NYC decorating sites. People there are amazingly creative with really small spaces. And on low budgets.

Leah said...

I don't feel mocked and ridiculed, exactly, but a little defensive (as you can probably tell!). Sorry if that comes across as rude. I do appreciate the input.

As for grad school as a wise financial choice... I've been told by several people (in academia, so take it or leave it) that going to grad school is a great idea right now, so we can essentially wait out the recession and enter the job market when it's better and we're more qualified.

But I guess that's not really the point. The point is... I'm going. Not right away, but I'm going. So how am I going to get there?

Cristina said...

So open to any ideas.
Do you like red? I love red or deep colors.
Blue seems like a cold color to me.
Personally, if it's just a decision that can me made on a whim, I'd pick a favorite color but make it a little more muted.

Then I'd go get some cheap but cute fabric and make a make-shift fabric canopy/headboard with it by hanging the fabric from a curtain-rod ring with the fabric draped through if that makes sense. Then hanging the ring from the ceiling so that the fabric drapes behind the headboard. cheap vertical decor.

New comforter or old buy some accent pillows to match. and get some floor pillows and a low coffee table for a small informal sitting area.

Angela Todd said...

Loved, Loved, Loved this advice!

Anonymous said...

Not freeloading because you'll be cooking or cleaning = freeloading. Seriously, are you saving your folks bucks so the cleaning lady or cook doesn't have to come in?

Apply for grants and scholarships if you really NEED to go to graduate school. Sublet with a bunch of roommates in a house. Find cheap housing on craigslist. Work at Starbucks. But for heaven's sake, if you're going to pay rent, do it outside of your parents' house.

--Recent Employed Grad '08

Anonymous said...

Keep the walls Orange so you know you are not a permanent fixture in the house :) OR let your mom pick as you are really making an improvement to her home....

One note on the whole going back to school to "wait out" the recession....I can think of about 500000 people that have been laid off that are going to "go back to school"....so when they are out, they will have 5/10+ years of experience on top of an MBA or other grad degree. These are tricky times...I think the point people are making is you should really think about this before you do it. I get that you need to take pre req's and all that to get to where you want to be in grad school. But what's taking 2 or 3 years to get them done, live on your own, work, and go to school. Take your time....because I can also tell you that a lot of the 500000 mentioned above have 5/10+ years of experience in a job they loathed.

CSS said...

OK, Miss Leah...Here is what I would do....

Pick a dark paint color like a peacock blue and pair it with white linen (or cotton) panels that break 1" from the floor. Does the room have carpeting - if not a sisal or West Elm makes fun printed options (or look at remnents from a local carpet store).

I would divide the room into 3separate areas (reading/TV watching, sleeping, and studying).

For the sleeping area the tufted headboard from Urban Outfitters in a cream velvet, with cheap white bedding from CB2 or Target (matelasse cover, duvet cover and 2 euro shams.) Pair that with 2 fun orange or pink printed pillows.

The study area could be a parsons desk or an older desk that you slap a coat of high gloss black paint on (I know that was some of your pet peeves in the earlier post...but I like the look). Get the lucite chair from Ikea with a cute pillow for your butt.

Find a comfy loveseat and throw something over it (sheet or blanket) if the fabric is fugly and you can't afford to recover (no bong tapestry circa Jerry Garcia (RIP) 1992 please). A floor lamp like the KULLA from Ikea would provide needed light and look good with the big metal drum shade.

Then cut a huge piece of homasote (from Home Depot) and cover with a fabric and staplegun to the back of the homasote. Hang this on the wall over your desk to pin up all the stuff you will need to easily access.

Good luck....

CSS said...

PS - That would be a diamond matelesse cover - not the ugly floral embossed crap you find in Martha Stewart's Kmart line....

Alice said...

Leah--

As far as grad school goes, I'd say that if you KNOW what you want to do, go for it. It sounds like you do. If you're at all unsure, though, take Decorno's excellent advice and take some time to be irresponsible.

Grad school is a HUGE responsibility, and takes an incredible amount of focus, determination, and energy. It is NOT the same as undergrad. You're expected to act, dress, and speak like a professional (if you want to be taken seriously by your professors), and to accomplish significant projects unlike anything you've probably done before. If you haven't taken the time to be young and irresponsible before you get into grad school, you will be stressed and unhappy once you're there. Trust me, I graduated with my master's in May, and am currently working on my PhD. If I hadn't taken a year after college to bartend and share a small, crappy apartment within walking distance of the best places in LA, I would have been so much more stressed out in grad school.

The fact is that time spent irresponsibly gives you some perspective about putting pressure on yourself. It helps you remember that everything is relative, and not everything in life needs to be taken so seriously. You're likely to feel a lot less resentful of school if you've had time to screw around. And, in the grand scheme of things, a little bit of debt is NOT the end of the world. If you get the right degree, you'll pay it off pretty quickly.

I know you're over this kind of advice, but I've been where you are, and it's never worth it to move back home. My best friend did this and absolutely hated the entire year she was there.

If, however, you insist. Try painting three walls a relatively neutral shade, and one wall a bolder color. I did this in my last bedroom with a pale turquoisey blue and a dark teal, and everyone that saw it commented on how cool it looked.

LindsB said...

Very well said, and totally true. The best thing I did was move from my Sorority house straight to my own apartment in the city. Best.Time.Ever!

corine said...

If you were my daughter, i would encourage you and applaud you for this sound and mature decision to return home. Heck, I'd even sew you some curtain and assorted pillows... If you were my daughter that is...

But thank god for you, you are not my daughter, so my advice to you would be to RUN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Words to live by - I love it! You're only young once, and you'll probably never have a chance to live this irresponsibly again... Go for it!

snobertson said...

I went straight from college into a very demanding career with no real goals other than "be a success, get promoted." Then, I burned out, had a quarter-life crisis, quit my job and am going to Europe for three months. Then I'm coming home, taking out student loans and going back to design school. Jobs aren't all they're cracked up to be and I realized I really regretted not being more irresponsible. I'll be broke and virtually homeless for a while, but I'll have more of a life and that sounds pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Wow...don't I feel like a shitty mom. My son did graduate this summer and we encouraged him to move home rent free. We wanted him to get a job - any job- while he decides on grad school..he does plan on going back and did mention that he is not in the right frame of mind to do it right now and is currently happy in a crappy job in the mean time.. I now understand what he meant by- not ready- when I read a few other posters say the same thing.

He has a girlfriend-- who is trying desperately to convince him to move in with her-- not a good idea --I think-- if he moves out-- I'd rather him move out on his own than in with her---for many of the reasons all of you have mentioned.

I'd rather him move out and struggle and appreciate his freedom, lack of money and ability to instill confidence in himself knowing he can do it. I'd rather him learn -really learn- time is precious and the clock is always ticking-- you might not always make the right decision- but hopefully you'll learn you made the right decision at that time.. and hopefully a bad decision will be worth in experience what it cost you in money-- and if it was costly -- you'll learn not to make that decision again.

I can only hope my son --and daughter in 2 years- learn that my biggest accomplishment as their mother is to see them be capable, independent, self confident individuals. Ones who love themselves and hopefully will be happy with someone else to love them. I look forward to seeing what they become and what their future brings them.

Anonymous said...

leah,

i was in a similar situation. i graduated then traveled the world and now i have decided to return to grad school. i grew up in a college town and my parents live just a bike ride away from campus. my parents have a lovely house and are in the process of doing some DIY renovations so instead of getting an apartment i am going to stay at home while attending school and help them with the renovations. i have an amazing quirky family that allows me to be a free spirit but welcomes my presence.

decorno has a point, but you are still young. you will still be young in 5 years. age is relative and it is okay to want to be practical during these times.

as far as decorating goes, my room has tan walls with a vintage yellow desk positioned between two closet doors. i have a queen bed with a mish mash of vintage sheets, a jonathan adler duvet ($20 bucks on ebay) that is blue and white. i have an antique oak dresser that i put modern drawer pulls on. i like the fact that i have tan walls because it allows me to be more bold with my accessories.

good luck with everything!

Vivien said...

Bravo Decorno! Listen to her, Leah.

You're going to learn as much living on your own as you are going to Grad school. You're going to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and I'm betting you'll learn that you are much stronger and more capable than you think.

A little trail by fire in the early years goes a long way to making you a stronger, more balanced, more determined human being. Go for it! Prove to yourself that you can take whatever life throws your way. You'll love your life - even if it means being a little uncomfortable along the way.

BUT... If you do move home. Don't you dare redecorate that room. It's not your room - your room is yet to be.

Jessica Claire said...

If it works for you then go for it Leah! I moved back home after undergrad and have never once regretted it.

My family is super close and I adore my pets and the madness of living in such a full house. But never mind my reasoning - what it boils down to is what's right for you. Don't feel like you have to defend yourself to people who don't know you or the details of your situation, even if they are being honest in their advice and mean the best.

As for decor advice (finally!), I would paint your room a nice shade of creamy white and go with neutrals for the big pieces. Once you move out, the room can be repurposed as a peaceful guest room that is visiting grandma-friendly.

Inject your personality with well-priced accessories that are portable and that can be reused. If you do want to invest in a big piece, make sure they can have a second life in your future room. I bought my bedroom cow hide knowing I can use it in my future living room and every time I buy a throw pillow for my bedroom I ask if it’s versatile enough to work on a sofa as well.

Leah said...

Whew. I feel exhausted from the sheer overwhelming power of everyone's judgment. I think I've made myself pretty clear, although I don't really know why I felt the need to justify my actions to anyone. They are MY actions, not everyone else's chance to live vicariously. I also feel like I somehow need to defend my apparently selfish, immature decision to "freeload" off my parents, but that decision has absolutely nothing to do with anyone here. If it doesn't bother my parents (who work very hard, who are not millionaires, who did not spoil me nor my siblings), I don't see why it should bother the (always courageous) Anonymous posters.

So thanks for the concern y'all. I get it. You disapprove. Now if someone could tell me what color would best cover the orange on my walls, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks to those of you that stepped back from your podiums and actually answered my question.

Anonymous said...

blech, I hate grad school and am thanking god that i am months away from the end...i'm in the sciences though, where i'm actually earning a (pitiful) stipend, rather than racking up debt, so i've been floating in here a little longer than i needed to, hoping the new admininstration will at least return aunnual increases in funding to the NIH, etc. to increases in inflation... but blah blah, yeah I agree with your strategy that this kind of economy is the best kind to be in school. all these years, my classmates and i have been saying, well, at least, we have job security...

as for your general strategy of moving back home to get a toe up to your next step -- my husband did that with a very specific plan because he needed some specific training available in his hometown. he spent the whole time miserable in a particularly miserable part of his parent's house and did nothing to improve the part of his house, and got the hell out of there asap. worked completely as planned and the next year, he bought me a big fat engagement ring with the bonus from his new job. we got married last year :)

as for the orange, i say don't change it, embrace it or hate it but don't bother changing it, because you are going to jump in and jump back out. just think about what you need to do to the space to make it great for studying...check out howaboutorange.blogspot.com -- lots of orange-worshipping good-looking workspaces. and nthing the ideas about new york city decorating sites. i've done my phD in nyc, and i would recommend replacing your desk or whatever with a big table. the only 'decorating' i would suggest is decluttering and buying some organizational containers. maybe a low maintenance plant or a lava lamp for meditation while studying/writing. good luck!

p.s. - I think it's funny how people keep telling you/using as an example from their life to go wander around Europe for awhile, when so many people our age/situation in Europe still live with their parents and commit such acts that you propose. It's perfectly normal in parts of Europe for people to live at home the entire time they attend college and beyond, and no one thinks strangely of it at all....

Decorno said...

Leah - why don't you email me a photo and we will get down to brass tacks and help you decorate the room.

People aren't really judging you... we're just trying to live vicariously in ways we may not have been brave enough to do the first time.

Send a photo and we'll play decorator, I promise.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea that because your parents have room for you to move back home they obviously have a cook and a cleaning lady. With you living at home they can buy more champagne and caviar! Win-win!

I lived at home with my parents (house style made it easy--I had the entire second floor to myself) and I don't regret it. Having money in the bank makes it easy to ignore unwanted advice. Do what you need to do.

To cover orange...what you need to do depends on what color you're going with. Whatever you go with, you'll need to wash the walls and prime. If you're going with a dark color, just do one, maybe two coats of tinted primer and then paint it. If you're going with a light color, you'll need several coats of a stainblocking primer. Paint until it looks solid white--probably 3-5 coats--and then add a couple coats of your top color.

Treating it like a studio is what I would do. 20x20 is enough room to have several separate areas. You could even do a little kitchenette.

Good luck!

Bethany Reine' said...

Leah,

Jessica Claire, tritesprite , CSS, Christina and Alice were the people I agreed with the most. I think you should do one bold wall to, like Alice and add colorful pieces you can take with you. I moved to Africa (and still live here) for two years. My husband and I struggled with how much to make our home OUR home or should we just deal with the tacky grandma leftovers until we leave...we are teaching at a school in Malawi and live off of donations and the charity of others.
I wish I had finished school before I ran off to be adventurous and crazy, but I love my life! I'm 25, married with a 6 month baby boy living and working in Africa! You don't have to be single and sleeping with a bunch of grease bags in order to claim your independence. you do what's right for you!!!

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, I'd paint it blue, and accent it with either gold, brown, black or silver depending on your preference. Then I'd through in some different textures - maybe get a fabric-covered headboard or have one made, buy some pillows with soft materials that you'll love and won't just toss on the floor. If cash flow is an issue and you want to change up your furniture, buy vintage and replace the knobs with something from the hardware store that looks classy. Be creative with lighting - a nice overhead fixture paired with a few lamps or a desk light.

I moved back home after university and have managed to make a living, travel the world, fall in love, and not become some sort of deranged loser. It's all about your own journey. Good luck with the room.

design citation said...

YES! YES! YES! I grduated during the worst recessionin the early 80's - from ART SCHOOL. I moved back for two months - disater! have you thought of moving to a cheaper city? in europe? There are always jobs out there - ask around - ask people on the street - in starbucks -anywhere! And if your parents are cool, tell them to ask their friends to help find you work. and DO ALL the things Decorno advises - this is the wisest advice I've ever ead to a young person. lets not mince words here - life is tough and fun,a nd all those things but you have to take the bull by the horns. above all - talk to your friends - they are in the same boat and amybe you can pool your resources and have some fun while your at it . GOOD LUCK!!

Design Junkie said...

Leah, before you paint those orange walls, I have one word of advice. Primer.

Anonymous said...

Leah sounds very sensible and grounded and like a girl with a smart plan. There's nothing wrong with going home and and being with family. They are the most important people in the world after all.And screwing around to get to Europe doesn't sound smart, just crass.

Anonymous said...

maybe one of these "nice" bloggers would offer you a room?
Please don't do drugs or screw anyone for money! Always wear a condom too. Have a blast and respect your parents.

Anonymous said...

Leah,

I think what people are really saying here is "Damn, I wish I'd gotten laid a lot more when I was young and (sort of) hot. Don't make the same mistake I did!"

Decorno said...

(Anon 5:53... you don't always take me so literally, do you? I am always both amused and surprised when certain people can't understand when I am being facetious.)

Anonymous said...

Wow - I know a LOT of people who moved home for a few months after college! It was no big deal - I lived at home for 6 months and did not feel like my soul was destroyed. Then again, my parents are pretty cool and live in a great city. I still went out with friends, drank too much, etc...And my parents were happy to have me around after 4 years away from home.

However, I would say - don't spend too much money decorating! With the money I saved, I was able to decorate my new place with great furniture that I love. Pick a paint color you love that will also look nice in the house once you leave - maybe a soft gray? I think the yellow-and-gray color scheme that has been so popular lately is lovely. Add some nice pillows, some art from Etsy, etc. Everything is on sale now, that is one nice thing! Good luck!

Leah said...

Sending you a photo soon! First I have make the room look half-way presentable...

Krysta said...

At first I was going to say that moving back home isn't necessarily terrible for everyone, that living for free and saving money for a few months or a year is arguably smart, and that sleeping with guys (whether rich or young) doesn't mean you are living some bad ass life.

But then, I thought about the last 8 or 9 months of my life. I moved to New York City essentially on a whim with literally no money and nowhere to live. I live paycheck to paycheck, am paying back the money I borrowed to rent my apartment, and have no promise of any type of security. But these have been some of the best months of my entire life. For the first time ever I feel like I am living my very own life, where I am totally on my own and have no one to answer to. It is the best feeling.

So I say heed Decorno's advice. Be brave and don't be afraid to be stupid.

Anonymous said...

I recently moved into a roommate's house and in an effort to make my room feel more like "home" I bought a relatively cheap, but cute, headboard at CostPlus--which really made it feel more "grown-up" and less like a dorm room. Plus I did a gallery wall w/ a bunch of framed pictures on one of the walls. Also, if you keep your bigger pieces and wall color neutral, you can change things around often and add color/trendiness with cheaper accessories. Good luck! And P.S., going to grad school was the best decision I ever made!

Deb-IL said...

Leah it's hard to give specific advice without a bit more info than 20 x 20 and a queen bed! Do you have colors that you love and like living with? What kind of light is there in the room? Lots of sun? North exposure? Is there carpet you have to work around and if so what color? Or wood floors? Do you have a budget in mind? Are you creative/handy/willing? Can you sew?

There are lots of ways to make that space comfy and useful but help us by defining things a bit more.

BTW - in my mind, ESPECIALLY in this economy, you take the leg up wherever you can get it. As many have said, there is plenty of time to be the 'adult' so give yourself some breathing room while you create your life. If families can't help each other, what's life all about? It wan't that long ago in our culture that generations of a family huddled together in cluster housing and all worked togher. It's not a bad idea and its time has come again, IMO.

Deb-IL said...

Leah it's hard to give specific advice without a bit more info than 20 x 20 and a queen bed! Do you have colors that you love and like living with? What kind of light is there in the room? Lots of sun? North exposure? Is there carpet you have to work around and if so what color? Or wood floors? Do you have a budget in mind? Are you creative/handy/willing? Can you sew?

There are lots of ways to make that space comfy and useful but help us by defining things a bit more.

BTW - in my mind, ESPECIALLY in this economy, you take the leg up wherever you can get it. As many have said, there is plenty of time to be the 'adult' so give yourself some breathing room while you create your life. If families can't help each other, what's life all about? It wan't that long ago in our culture that generations of a family huddled together in cluster housing and all worked togher. It's not a bad idea and its time has come again, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is difficult to *read* whether someone is being facetious when the other party does not know the writer well. [Example - the Asian newspaper which thought The Onion online "news" stories were real.]

Ivy Lane said...

Do it all, EXCEPT the drugs!

boocat said...

You are my new god, Decorno. Wisdom from on high I wish I'd been told thirty-five years ago. I would add simply that once she makes it to Rome she should hitchhike to Florence and see everything.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ivy, you would have been WONDERFUL with the right drugs running through you.

Megan said...

Thank you, thank you. I am about to graduate from college and I am so glad to hear this. I really don't want to move home and hearing this makes it very clear that my decision is right not to move. thanks.

Jennifer said...

leah,

sleep on it, let yourself consider the alernative. consider that your reasoning could be driven from fear, good healthy fear wanting you to avoid the 'tougher' road.

but please give the recommendation a chance, it must mean something that is is backed by so many readers who are a bit older and have a different perspective. honestly the few bucks you save living at home or lower tuition will be insignificant in your lifetime.

try to look at the bigger picture. but maybe it is just not possible. that's why so many of us had to learn the hard way too.

Lisa Hunter said...

Leah,
I personally think you shouldn't "nest" too much in your old room if you're planning to move out.

Ask your parents what they'd like to do with the room when you move out, and how they'd like it decorated. You could decorate it "for them," while you live there.

Anonymous said...

After the previous eight years, it's kind of refreshing to see someone pursue an intellectual life with so much determination.

my little apartment said...

this is the best advice you've ever given. i wholeheartedly agree with ALL of it.

AvenueFog said...

A - to the f'ing - MEN, Decorno.

Moving home should never be an option unless you or your parents are deathly ill.

Nothing builds "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" character than having to sink or swim.

Christine in DC said...

Leah,
For what it's worth, it sounds to me like you have a good plan! I wish I'd had that option b/c I blew way too much money on rent while earning virtually nothing and had the debt to prove it and the corresponding stress. Not that it's bad to have those experiences, but living on the edge of poverty didn't make me feel free...but then again, I wasn't sleeping w/ guys to get to Rome!

As for decorating, don't know what shade of orange you're working with, but maybe you can keep that if you're only planning on staying a year. I've been hankering after painting my bedroom grey lately. W/ white linens. Pack away anything that is too reminiscent of high school or childhood (basically anything you wouldn't display if you had your own apartment) to make it as grown up a space as possible to prevent the relapse into feeling like a kid!

kristin said...

What's wrong with borrowing money from or living with parents for a down payment or an education? If the cost of a home or school is cost-prohibitive otherwise, why is it bad to do it? In other modern Western countries, children live with their parents for a really long time, well into adulthood, until they can buy a home in cash. Leah is doing it so she can go to graduate school. I think that's a worthy goal. Just because some people don't get much out of their education doesn't mean that Leah won't. Go for it, Leah.

Not to be a downer, but being orphaned right before I got my Bachelor's, I wish I would have been able to spend some serious time with my parents as an adult. Last time I lived with them, I was an insane 18-year-old. My older siblings got to live with or near them as adults, and they have some great experiences that I will never have. An additional perk, my siblings are a lot more stable financially than I am. Love your family. Spend time with them. They are important.

I have a friend who lived with her parents through her masters, is still living with them with her first professional-level job, they are all happy as clams, she has a huge social life because she's not working two jobs like me, and if only her bank account were mine...

How much money are you willing to invest in your room? 20 x 20 is a nice large room, so you can set up different areas. It will be like your own studio only you won't have to cook where you sleep. What decor style do you like? What pieces of furniture do you want to have when you move out on your own? What do you already have?

a little sewing on the side said...

I don't blame you for wanting to get rid of the orange. KILZ is pretty good primer. I agree with advice to paint the room a neutral color and treat the place like a temporary arrangement.
As the parent of a recent college grad, it was pretty stressful for those few months before she got a job and moved out. Now I miss her terribly.
But, in this economy, I'd make room for her here in a heartbeat and hope for a good solid plan like you have Leah.
Good Luck.

Love your blog decorno!! LOVE IT.

Anonymous said...

She should not move home, but you gave her some very bad advise about what she should do. Taking drugs and sleeping around ain't cool.

ita darling. said...

ech. this thread is awful.i dont know why, but it is painful. i'm not that old (31) and moved back home for one summer in college when i was 19 because i joined a sorority, did too many keg stands and couldn't run off with the hungarian circus. whatevs.. i made sure i never had to do it again....

LEAH! do what you want, but i think you should re-do the room with your parent's taste in consideration first and foremost. That way- you will be challenged design-wise to create a pleasant space that will be a permanent part of their home. YOU will not be a permanent part of their home.just paint the damn thing a perfect shade of greige, or another neutral of your mother's choosing. i dont want to be asshole, because you can do what you want, but you sound a little bratty worrying about how your highschool bedroom is decorated while you have an extended layover into the next chapter in your life.

i am fully in support of creating your own space when its YOUR OWN SPACE, but not in your folks' house. you're not 16 and being quirky orange bedroom paint girl.

other than that. do what you want, we all wish we could do it all over again. your reasons seem FINE, but FINE is NO FUN. for pete's sake, why are you rushing into adulthood? it just seems so sad that you don't want to go a little crazy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Leah, the color should simply be one that you like. I would only add that plain white can make a room look boxy if it's in a typical post-50s type house (low ceilings). I agree about making a few distinct spaces with rugs and furniture. Keep your parents in the loop. Maybe create a kind of guest suite that you and they would enjoy in the future.

BTW, how wonderful you're going to grad school! I think you've got the right idea: grab it while you're unsaddled with job, kids, etc. You're obviously savvy about enjoying life, too. What a great combination! Best wishes to you. - Jean

Anonymous said...

Decorno's an absolute idiot. She thinks that because she was quoted in this month's "Elle Decor" that she's a sage. Puhleese. Follow your dreams (even if they don't involve you running around India or Thailand), don't do drugs, and don't sleep around. There is NOTHING romantic about being poor. Being responsible seems to be a totally alien notion to a lot of these Decorno readers and that should make you a non-conformist in their eyes (if it's their approval you're really looking for).

Megan said...

AMEN!! Learned all that WAY too late!

Decorno said...

Anon 10:01 - how was working my way through college (something that took me seven years) not completely responsible? The advice I am suggesting in my post is to follow your dreams, but to do it on your own dime, which I did. I doubt you can say the same.

Anonymous said...

Anon10:01

What pleasure do you get coming to this blog?

Mary Beth said...

I've been thinking about this... On the one hand, I would hate to see you make the same mistake I did. I returned to my parents' house "temporarily" after college. Long story short, "temporarily" turned into far too long, and I missed out on a lot. It took years for me to recover my self-confidence. On the other hand, you are not me, and I should not see your question solely through the filter of my own experience.
So.. Here is what I suggest. Since you have sound reasons for your move, and you have concrete plans for the future, go ahead and move back in, and be well. BUT - do not decorate your old room in any way that will make you want to stay there. Don't 'settle in'. If your parents have a guest room, take that one, and help them re-do your old room as an office or alternate sitting room for themselves. If you must stay in your old room, just paint the walls a nice shade of white ("Swiss Coffee" gets a lot of play in this month's Elle Decor or Met Home, I forget which), and send the tchotchkes to the basement. Then put a big, cool graphic 12-month calendar on the wall as a reminder to yourself that you have a deadline to meet.

And then have a wonderful year in school, and much success in your life.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Decorno,

Telling people to "follow their dreams" and then do drugs and sleep around does not strike me as responsible. Big deal, you paid your way thru college (so did I). You think you're so cool telling people to experiment with drugs and sleep around (actually the consequences of those two things can postpone your dreams if not destroy them). You think you're so hippy chic by telling people to do things that are destructive to the human spirit and to human dignity. WRONG. Be a grown up. Your posts show that you don't want to grow up. If you think doing drugs and sleeping around are so cool and important to personal development and maturity, why the hell aren't you doing them now? What's stopping you from taking your own stupid advice?

Decorno said...

Anon - Do you really take the things I say so seriously?

If so, why?

Anonymous said...

Dear anon 5:04,

I have taken drugs.

I have had casual sex.

I have loved both.

I did not become syphlitic, or an addict. I graduated from college. I got a job. I bought a car, and a house.

I am sorry my storyline doesn't correspond with the Lifetime movie-tragedy you want it to be, with my dreams "destroyed," my "dignity" shattered, and my "soul" in ruins, my skin festering with lesions.

What's with the melodramatic scenarios of death and destruction? Why are you so bitter and angry?

Anonymous said...

To anon. 5:26- I am impressed that you are so resilient, but some of us can't quite cope as well as you with doing drugs or having casual sex. I'm glad things worked out for you, but as far as I'm concerned, I was emotionally damaged by casual sex. Perhaps you will say that I am weak and an exception to the rule, but I disagree. For as many people that can get away with experimenting with drugs and sex, there are just as many of us that cannot extricate ourselves from a mess. So, instead of making it oh so cool to sleep around and do drugs(and make it seem as if it will empower us), please understand that there are some of us who do not manage as well as you do.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:42, 5:04, and 10:01

Look, you thoroughly disapprove of the blogger ("a complete idiot") and you disapprove of most of the commenters (they find "being responsible a totally alien notion.")

So! To summarize: We're bad, dangerous people, leading frail young people astray.

Then WHY KEEP COMING BACK, to a place whose values are so repellent to you?

Alison said...

Hey Decorno! YOU THINK YOU'RE SO COOL!

Jesus, I haven't heard that one since 1973. Now I have Helen Reddy swirling around in my head. Thanks, Anon, whatever the time. I am woman, hear me roar. (Opium and ass sex are key).

billyhacker said...

Leah,
Thanks for sharing your question. But I think you're underestimating Decorno's insight. You're asking about serious tips for decorating your high school bedroom. Just stop there.

For people that read Decorno this will ring a lot of bells. The question is not whether you have conviction in your decision, but do you know what you are asking? You are asking for help gilding a cage of comfort.

Decorno's advice is more about acquiring a few mistakes and a little pain than it is about advice for good living.

My bio is the ragged edge of Decorno's advice with intermittent ivy league and grad school sprinkled in - and it's the only way I would have learned compassion. And the only place I could have gotten that is exactly not home.

Anonymous said...

This thread has brought out an almost Asperger's-like literalism in some of the comments.

Try to catch the SPIRIT of Decorno's advice, commenters. The SPIRIT.

I know you can do this!

The Upstart said...

Hey Decorno, what happened to the "who pays for college" post? I just read it in my RSS reader and it's gone now. Working in higher ed, I actually had something to say about it.

Anonymous said...

It's a lot easier to hop off to Europe and take drugs when you have the cash flow to pay off student loans for a few months before you leave. As a recent grad myself, I say move back home and save the money. It's only for a year and the amount you save will be worth MUCH more when you factor in the interest on your loans (just make sure to pay as much into those while you can!). Of course, this is assuming you have student loans. There's nothing wrong with being responsible, which is really SMART (let me repeat that, SMART!) in this economy. Be crazy later, be smart now. Trust me, it's hell getting out of grad school with mountains of debt. Pay off what you can now and your life will be much calmer later than if you had spent more money traveling and falling further in debt.

So, for the room, I suggest something soothing. When living with your parents, you're going to want to have a sanctuary to go to. I love a light/medium green with white trim, but that's just me. 20x20 is a great size. You'll probably want to put together an office area for school work. My favorite way to do this is by blocking off an area of the room with a large bookshelf (I use those square ones from IKEA) and putting a desk behind that. I COMPLETELY agree with another post about packing away all your high school memorabilia. Actually, I suggest donating a lot of it. Watch a couple episodes of Clean House, figure out what you can't live without and give it all to someone who will appreciate it. It's easier to act grown up when you room isn't covered with stuffed animals and VW Bug candles.

Ahem, so, I guess I have one agreement with a lot of the other people who have posted... during your year taking classes before grad school, get a job in your chosen field, even if that means volunteering with no pay. This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. I REALLY wish I would have done that before grad school. However, I couldn't afford to start paying off loans between under- and grad school and went straight through. If I had worked in my industry first I don't think I would have gone to grad school because it turns out my main interest in the field doesn't require a degree. So, make sure that's exactly what you want before you go because grad school can be HELL. It was by far the worst three years of my life and I have the constant pressure of loans to remind me of that.

But still heed Decorno's advice a bit and during your year "off" make sure you go a little crazy with friends (while staying out of jail, of course!). But it sounds like you're smart, practical and well-adjusted so I probably didn't have to add that last little bit. Great luck! It's always good to hear of someone who has a realistic view rather than trying to live beyond their means.

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reclamationdesign@yahoo.com said...

That is the best advice you are ever going to get anywhere. I am reading your question, and the answer, long after the fact, so I hope that you followed it. Let me tell you, I am 49 years and when I think back on my very happy life, those years were the absolute BESTEST. I grew up in NY and when I graduated I moved the SF where my sisters were in law school. I lied about the skills I had to get a job, but once I got on the job I set about acquiring those skills with a quickness and an intensity and a DRIVE (that I could not even think of mustering now) and I became the best at what I did, and employers would seek me out and I made lots of money and me and my friends ate out all the time and had great boyfriends and great times. And even though I would like to say we lived with abandon, we actually did not, we lived with abundance -- an abundance of joy that you will never find in your parents' house. Go forth, my child, and LIVE.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled at the small amount of decorating advice Leah received and the hefty amount of "life" advice that seemed pushed at her. Wow, this is a decorating blog. I'm pretty sure that if she wanted some life advice, she'd write to Ask Annie in her local newspaper.

Give the girl a break, she just graduated college. I'm sure she had her crazy days where she slept with guys to get to Europe (however sensible that is?) Now it's time to focus on "real life" and save up for graduate. I don't understand how some of you cannot see that she's making smart moves in order for a successful future. If there's no means or jobs out there for me whenever I graduate college you better believe I'll be "freeloading" off of my parents and will not really give a damn of what any really distant bloggers think.

As for decorating, I'm all into redoing furniture right now and I'm loving taking old furniture and distressing it and painting it. Does any of your old furniture have any potential for that? I'm loving shabby, beachy looks using white, like khakis, and muted aquas with distressed furniture and a lot of linen and burlap fabrics!