Tweens are tricky. Still interested in toys, but wanting to feel grown-up. Drawn to items more suited to older teens, they are not really ready for the responsibility, content and/or materials those items are made from. And all the stuff marketed for them is just so bleh. Icky, stupid junk. Vampire dolls? Really? Is that the best we have to offer kids? (I know, three questions in a row, sorry). I tend to default to art supplies, but we’re getting a bit overrun with those. The kits never seem to get used here and I feel that basic materials should be available year round, so they don’t make good presents. I figure if I’m struggling to figure out good gifts, you might be as well, so here are the things we’re considering for our tween this year. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
We have a very artsy girl, she loves knitting, sewing, sculpting and all that. So I need to find gifts that speak to that love of hers, without defaulting to items I know she won’t use or that don’t feel like presents. I do like to restock some supplies at Christmas, like the clay, which goes quickly and isn’t something I keep on hand consistently. She also loves to make movies with her friends and it might be time for a camera of her own, along with some directorial advice. Some hair chalk would add a new dimension to the costume fun.
10-year-olds still like to play with dolls sometimes and this 10-year-old is particularly obsessed with fairies. Both of these need to look more “grown-up” now though, so a new outfit that mimics what she wears all the time and a porcelain fairy might fit the bill. And of course books. She’s getting more than just these two, there will be several from the book list a few weeks ago as well.
What do you like to get for tweens? Any suggestions?
1. Daring Book 2. Grimm’s Fairy Tales 3. clay tools 4. fairy 5. screenprinting kit 6. origami paper 7. sony bloggie 8. film making book 9. american girl clothes 10. hair chalk
Well, look at that. It’s a sewing nook. All ready for chaos and mayhem. That is what sewing nooks are for in your house, right? Cause it sure is here.
We finished creating Emmeth’s sewing nook this weekend. Much of the organization and clearing was done over Thanksgiving, but the final touch took a bit longer. Here’s the before.
We didn’t paint and looked to repurpose furniture we already had to create the space. I’m under no illusions at this point that my children will take care of furnishings placed anywhere near a craft area. They will find a way to leave marks and gouges, stopping just short of complete destruction.
To prep the space I pulled two large garbage bags worth of old art projects, broken toys and other ephemera out of the space, as well as selling a number of outgrown toys and books. We were able to get rid of the large storage unit by the time I was done. Whew.
The nook is, like everything in the basement, oddly shaped. It’s tiny, about 10 feet by 3 feet, with a low ceiling. There’s a large opening, but there’s also space on either side. It’s got good light though and an electrical outlet in easy reach. I focused on creating plenty of storage for projects, keeping tools and materials in easy reach and easy for her to keep tidy. We’ll see how well that works.
When clearing things out, I found an old banner kit so Emmeth created a Sewing Corner banner to define the space. I covered our craft table with oil cloth. The finish on top had been destroyed by art projects over the years, this looks good and will be easy to clean. Finn built the peg board, the final project that took a bit longer. I had just thought we’d hang peg board on the wall, but he made a great frame for it as well.
There’s really not much to keep on there now, but I’m sure she’ll find use for all the pegs soon enough. The sewing machine sits atop my grandmother’s dresser, last seen in the office. There are narrow shelves above to display projects. The dresser holds the cutting mat, thread, rotary cutter, yarn and felting supplies. Large bins under the desk store fabric and scraps.
She’s already busy working on projects.
We’re really lucky to have a semi-finished space in the basement (which doesn’t look like this anymore since the great sofa switcheroo, I should take new photos . It’s very large and open, making it a great space to play and hang out. Unless you’re over 5’6″ (5 foot in some places), then you’re cramped and uncomfortable. But really, how many people are taller than 5’6″? Not me and really Finn enjoys crouching and banging his head on soffits. At any rate, it makes a fabulous space for the kids and since we’ve finished finishing it (it had walls and a ceiling when we moved in. And a bar and a bathtub.) its been such a luxury to not have to look at mounds of kid toys everywhere. They still creep upstairs, but in manageable amounts. However. Kids grow and change far too quickly. What worked for the space four years ago is not as effective now.
Several things remain – I like to keep the floor space as open as possible. We need a space for building large things, a space for art projects, a space for dolls/dress-up and space for games/reading/Wii, TV, lounging, etc. The space needed for dolls/dress-up, however, is shrinking as the tall one grows older. And the type of crafting space is changing. The small one still needs plenty of space for building and physical play. Here’s the current breakdown.
Crafting space in the weird little nook by the entrance.
It’s a weird little set of nooks just inside the door. The first picture is looking to your left, then around to your right. The last picture is storage tucked under the stairs. The tall one has asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. I’d like to set up a functional area for her to sew and craft. We either need to refit this space some or move things around. There’s another strange little nook at the back, you can see it at the back of the opening photo. Here’s a close up.
We could clear out those shelves and relocate or get rid of them. The bins could move where the art area is now.
I sew but not continuously. I’m trying to think of what would help organize such a space for a child. So far every project has just resulted in fabric, thread and needles everywhere if she’s not supervised. Which she doesn’t really want to be, nor do I want to. She’s quite capable of just making things and I want to empower that. I also don’t want to pull pins out of guests. Their parents tend to frown on that sort of thing. Plus they yell. Loudly. I don’t like noise.
At any rate, crafty types, what do you like to organize your sewing/knitting/craft spaces? Which area would you choose? I’m open to replacing her table, maybe something with drawers? I’m sure I can find something thrifted or on Craigslist to paint and make cheery and cute. This will likely be part of her holiday presents, so I need to get going.
The children firmly insisted on bringing home some gourds during this week’s grocery shopping, so I finally gave in and let them each pick a few. I added some pomegranates and then let them style the centerpiece. I think they did pretty well with their composition, all things considered. It’s certainly better than my failed spray paint attempt. They keep asking if these are edible though. Anyone know the answer to that?
Remember when I began working on bedrooms for Sharon’s children? Well they were recently painted and are looking much better.
Leah’s room has new furniture and a new rug and fits her request for teal, purple and hot pink.
will finish the space, as well as a chair for a reading nook and her newly repainted dresser (in purple, of course).
Danny’s room, however ended up a bit more mint than Sharon would like, a color compromise on her part. We’ll deal with that by covering large swathes of it. A large bookshelf, bright curtains and some large art should help tone down the walls. Danny was just as opinionated as his sister in the room decor, but with less of a wish list and more of a “no, don’t like that”. Tricky, but I think we’re slowly creating something everyone can live with.
Are your children opinionated about their spaces? How do you handle it?
This week’s Craigslist Weekly Room is a shared children’s bedroom. I grew up in a shared room till I was a teenager and while I was very happy to get my own space, there is still something charming in my memories of shared space.
For this space I found two wooden beds, not matching, but similar, as in the inspiration picture above. They could easily be painted, but I also think they would be perfectly lovely as is if they are not too beat up. Paired with a large steel shelving unit (this is a room for boys, steel is good) to corral all those things children accumulate, as well as a soft gray rug for wrestling matches, a dresser, a fun magazine stand, and wooden chairs (which I would definitely paint), you have a simple shared space for two active boys.
I’d finish the room with bedding in similar tones, some steel letters over each bed to echo the steel bookcase, dark curtains to encourage sleeping in (yeah, right), and plenty of baskets for storage.
What do you think, is it important for beds and furniture to match in a shared space?
The Weekly Room is a series in which I challenge myself to create an idea board from furniture found entirely on Craigslist. All furnishings must be in good condition and only one IKEA item is allowed per board. Unless otherwise specified, furnishings in the Weekly Room can be found in the Chicago Craigslist. All sources are on the Pinterest board, the pins for which are updated weekly as well. If you have a room or city you’d like me to try, let me know.
I like fall, but I’ve never been into seasonal decorating. I don’t change out my mantel or have door decor that changes with the seasons. Perhaps it’s because I switch things around so much anyway it just doesn’t seem necessary to find an excuse for change. When you have children, however, there are certain expectations. Pumpkins, for example. This year, I’m interested in finding ways to keep the idea of holiday decor without feeling like I’m compromising aesthetics. I really like the spray painted pumpkins above. I might even go for pink, although let’s face it, that’s a long shot. The pumpkin dioramas are super cute too and the kids are already coming up with ideas.
I’m also loving this dahlia wreath. I’m not usually the crafty type, but I think even I could find the patience to make this.
What about you, do you like to decorate for fall?
Today we’re going to look at plans to redo this bedroom for a five-year old girl. To illustrate her wishes for the room, Leah, like any other five-year old, drew me a picture. It was pink, teal and purple stripes. Her mother was less than enthused with the plan. So how to take this to something workable? Well since I’ve already worked with one client that demanded everything be purple and another who wanted rainbow with extra green, I felt fairly sure I was up to the challenge.
The color scheme, via Leah.
Which I translated from stripes to teal walls, purple dresser & headboard, pink accents. Trim, ceiling and closet doors remain cream.
The furniture plan. Sharon wanted much more storage in a style that would grow with her daughter, as well as a desk for craft projects and later homework. Seating for friends, a comfy family reading chair and a soft rug completed the needs assessment. So here’s the plan. I’ve placed a headboard and dresser similar to what she has in the idea board, as both are staying. They’re white now, but will be painted purple.
The dresser stays in the little nook, shown below, while two large bookshelves will replace the small white one currently in the space. The desk will go between the two bookshelves. The dark wood of the bookshelves and desk will help ground the brighter colors in the space and provide a space for the eye to rest. The bed moves to the far corner and sits on an angle, so the reading chair can move near the closet. Leaving plenty of floor space for playing, slumber parties and lots of fun. A soft rug in a bright color finishes things off.
And then a ton of accessories.
Fun wall art, some decals to brighten up the closet doors, plenty of little hooks jewelry, fun suitcases for the polly pockets, colorful bins for the stuffed animals that seem to multiply during the night. Leah was a little (ok a lot) worried when the wall color was just teal, no stripes, but I think all these bright colors in the bedding and accessories, not to mention the painted furniture, will create a space that’s both uniquely her and one that her mom can stand to see every morning. We’ll be on a shopping and painting spree this month and I hope to show you the completed space in September (what?).
What do you think, could you go this bright in your child’s room? Sharon has two spaces I’m planning for her, later this week we’ll look at her son Danny’s much more subdued space.
Sources for everything on my Pinterest board.
Thank you all for your support yesterday, it really does mean a lot to me. And now back to our regularly scheduled decor chats. Time for another make over I think, let’s lighten the mood. Sharon recently moved and wants to redo her children’s rooms (that’s her daughter’s room pictured above). Her timetable is fairly quick and she lives nearby so I’ll actually be able to show you progress on these rooms.
Both rooms have wallpaper (that blue stuff, ugh!) that’s coming down. So new paint colors will make a big difference. The beds are staying, as is the rug in her son’s room. Challenges include poorly placed radiators, storage (of course), a desire by her daughter for all pink contrasted with wanting it to look like a colorful drawing and odd little desk nooks. Should be fun! I’ll be starting with the little girl’s room with an idea board later this week. You can check out Pinterest for a sneak peek into my ideas for both rooms.
Dear Pottery Barn:
We don’t always agree on style, but I generally think of you as a family friendly sort of store. You seem to design your furniture at least with the rough housing of kids in mind. I have to say, however, that in perusing your latest collection of accessories, I think you might have forgotten what its like to actually live with children. Particularly boys. I mean really, have you looked at what you’re suggesting we put in our homes? Giant metal keys? Do you not want me to have anything nice?
And bats as decor. I don’t know about you, but I have a rule about sports equipment in the house for a reason. Sure, they look cute in your picture. But would they ever actually stay on the coffee table? Not in my house.
And pairing this with a hurricane full of balls? Not wise, Pottery Barn, not wise. Glad I got the heads up on this decor trend before I brought my kids with me to the store.
A few more. I’ll just caption these with what I can only assume is their intended use.
Oh and your sister store, Restoration Hardware? Don’t get me started, they went over the edge a while ago.
While all of these items might be well and good for some people, think of the children Pottery Barn! The poor, poor children.
The lady who spends too much time looking at decor online. Clearly.