Getting Started on Redecorating Kathryn’s Bedroom

When I asked if anyone in the Chicagoland area needed decorating help, hundreds of local (and some hopeful not-so-local) readers applied. I read each submission, narrowed the pool of applicants down to a smaller number, and ultimately selected Kathryn and her bedroom. American Express has provided a $1500 budget, and I’ll be using the new American Express Prepaid Card to help keep me on track.

Kathryn and her husband, Finn, live in Oak Park with their two kids. Their home’s three bedrooms are all on the second floor, which was originally an unfinished attic. Like many homes in the area, ours included, the space had been expanded decades ago with a dormer. The quality of the renovation though was… lacking. Kathryn and Finn would love to remodel the space eventually, but until they could afford it, they aren’t sure what to do with their bedroom. How much do you sink into a space, knowing you’ll be changing it down the line? How little do you do, knowing you’ll still be living with it for the next five years or so? Kathryn had also entered her home office for the project, but we both agreed that we should try to make her bedroom the best it could be.

Taken individually, there are some really great elements in the room. The black and white zigzag rug, Eames LCW chairs, and painted white floors are cute. Kathryn added vinyl decals on the wall to look like a wallpaper pattern (smart), and she sewed a slipcover for the headboard to give her bed a different look (also smart). From certain angles, the room isn’t bad. If you step back though, you see that the bedroom doesn’t quite work as a whole and there are some space planning issues to be addressed.

For example, clothes are hung on a low rod behind curtains along the pitched side of the room. More curtains serve to partition the stairs. We’ll be addressing both of those issues with a large, freestanding wardrobe. Kathryn and Finn will be putting in a lot of work to help get their room ready, including picking up and assembling the wardrobe, so the Prepaid Card will come in handy. I’ll be able to send them out with it and a shopping list, rather than trying to coordinate a delivery and dealing with reimbursement.

I’ll be doing my share of shopping for the bedroom too, of course. I’ll be on the lookout for two new nightstands, some lighting, new bedding, and a host of other things for the space. It will be a challenge to redo such a large room, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the Card transactions to make sure I’m on track.

I’ll meet again with Kathryn soon to finalize a design plan, and to choose colors so that she and Finn can get started with painting. We’ll be working (quickly!) toward showing you the finished space at the end of November, with an update or two along the way. I’m so excited about this! I can’t wait to show you how it all turns out.


This is Eleanor’s favorite thing to do lately. I told Brandon she’s planking.

Kids are weird.

Everyone except me has been sick here. Eleanor had a high fever (104°), and Brandon stayed home from work yesterday. August has had it the worst though. We’re on day five for him and he’s miserable. He needs mama constantly, so I’m not doing much besides comforting him all day. I’ve been letting him nap on me, and sleeping in the glider with him in his room all night. We’re both not sleeping well.

* Edit *
Of course I got sick the next day.

The Dollhouse Wallpapers

My dollhouse has seven rooms. Eleanor and I went to Paper Source to pick out some wallpaper for it, and we came home with three pretty papers to go along with the one I had already picked for the bathroom. I think wallpapering four rooms in the dollhouse is probably the maximum allowed to avoid pattern overdose, so I’ll paint the rest.

The stairs are getting a striped ribbon runner, but I’m still not sure what to do with the stairs themselves. Paint them a fun color? Or shiny gold? Or go more classic with wooden treads and white risers?

I love planning these little details.

Walton dollhouse from Melissa and Doug — They’re offering my readers 15% off wooden dollhouses with the code “DH15”

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