My Tween’s Big, Fat, Super Awesome Room Makeover!

A few years ago, I promised Mari a room makeover for her birthday. I mean, I went all out, too gave her a gift bag with swatches and furniture print-outs and catalogue tears from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. On paper? Her room was fan-freakin’-tastic. In reality, outside of some new bed sheets and a spectacular set of bookshelves I caught at a Haverty’s sale, Mari’s humble little abode remained, well, humble for two years.

But over the fall (and when I fell into a little extra cash), I made up my mind to give my baby the big girl room she deserved. While she was away on a school camping trip, I got busy clearing, organizing and designing the tween heaven you see above. Here, the ugly before and the happily ever after

THE (Not-So Pretty) BEFORE

The biggest statement in Mari’s old room was the bedspread an eclectic, hodgepode of prints and colors. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but really, it was an eyesore that made us think we really needed to downplay the color and textures elsewhere in the room, lest they compete with the mess on the bed. Plus, there weren’t any curtains on the windows I couldn’t figure out what would look best so indecision kept them bare and the television, sitting on its sad little TV stand, sat all alone on its own wall, making one whole side of her room about as visually interesting as watching paint dry. Couple that with messy bookshelves that took up all slack for the lack of storage space, and her room regularly looked like a flavorless mess. I changed that, though.


Yes. I went big. Literally. The centerpiece of the new design is a wall-sized tree decal from Pottery Barn. It’s got birds. It’s got leaves. It’s got flowers that double as pin cushions. And LOTS of vibrant color, which made it easy for me to pull out and play with different textures and colors throughout the room. The walls are a beautiful neutral blue gray the perfect backdrop for lots of hot pinks, soft yellows, browns and a tip of green.

I had a whimsical striped slipcover made for her all-white headboard one that pulled in all of the colors I wanted to focus on. The pinks and green and blue in the print made the blue on the walls more lively, and the white cover with pink, yellow and brown accent pillows and the magenta throw made the biggest piece in her room pop. I switched the bed on the wall next to the huge white closet to balance the bedspread and maximize the colorful bed. The paper lantern added a hint of color up high.

Mari is a HUGE reader and so I thought it important to give her a place to sit and relax with her books. I created a tableau with her chair reupholstered with an elegant off-white and soft pink print a side table and functional-but-pretty bookshelf lamp, and placed them all up under her tree and next to the window, covered with simple but sizzling pink sheers. What better place to enjoy her favorite pastime?

I made the sad little wall where her TV was happy again this time with a rockin’, super tall writing desk with maximum storage (which helped me find places to tuck all the extra junk that was cluttering up her bookshelves). The polka dot chair tied right into the whimsy and color of the rest of the room, and the oversized flower mirror (since hung up on the wall) helps brings the pretty back.

To make room for her new desk, I got rid of Mari’s bulky dresser; her clothes are in the closet in a series of colorful canvas wall bins that give her easy access to her clothes and shoes. Of course, Ms. Lila inherited a whole bunch of fun stuff that sat tucked away and unused in Mari’s closet, including this Statue of Liberty costume, which she just had to model. Little nut!

We surprised Mari by pulling all of this together in the two days while she was away on her camping trip. When she walked in, I had Drake’s Fancy blasting from her iPod speaker totally MTV Cribs style! I wish I remembered to have my camera ready for her reaction; you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that her jaw was on the ground and her smile was as wide as the distance from here to Beijing. I know I won’t ever forget it. In the end, she agreed that though the makeover took quite a while longer than she expected, it was well worth the wait.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. So, you’re going for Mom of the year huh?! I would move into that room…and I’m a grown woman.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      LOL! Baby girl deserves it! Plus, like I said, I’d been threatening to update her room fordoggoneever! LOL!!!

  2. I agree with DFig….I would move into that room too!!

  3. Fantastic job, but I will not show this to my daughter…you’re making me look bad! My daughter asked for a makeover for her pink room (a color she used to love) to a blue room (now her favorite color). I said yes, but it’s been several months now and I haven’t done a thing.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      It’s tough, dude! Mari’s room was green and I painted it blue, got those godawful bed covers and then stopped redecorating FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS! She was overdue. You’ll get to it, babycakes. And when you do, she’ll appreciate cha!

  4. You did SUCH a great job Denene! I’m in love with the tree decals, the wall color and that fabulous slipper chair! You’re making me want to re, re-do my daughter’s room 😉

    But first, I need to finish all the other projects around the house that have gone undone. So…umm…who’s your upholsterer, because I have a couple chairs I need to have done (that I’m too lazy/unmotivated to attempt myself).

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Jennae: I’ll email you the contact number when I get back to my rolodex. They’re a small shop—and they’re super good and super cheap. You just have to buy the material…

  5. Oh my word Denene, her room is AMAZING! I’ll bet her jaw was on the ground in amazement. Wow!

  6. It is beautiful. The amount of work shows in every detail. She is one lucky girl.

  7. Okay so a decorating party in Danville…When?

  8. *whipping out my calendar* And you can fit the TBS abode in when….?

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Oh, I’ve seen your skills, Ms. Missy! You’re nice with the designs! But I’m always game for a visit with TBS!!!!

  9. This is so awesome!! I love it!!!!! You’re the best mom eva! Love the wall decal.

  10. How superfabulous! Lovely job for a lovely girl. I’m moving soon and will have the opportunity to create another space for my daughter & myself too. Thanks for some great inspiration!

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Aw! Girl, let me know if you need some help. I SUPER heart decorating little girl rooms! (And big girl rooms, too!)

  11. BEAUTIFUL! And I must say…the BEFORE didn’t look half bad either.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Aw, thanks, beauty! The before was decent, but it was just lacking some things; it wasn’t pulled together. She loves the new room now, though!

  12. I love this room!
    I love the tree decal! I think I might steal that for my office.

    Well done.
    In my house that would cover Christmas for 2011 and 2012!

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      I got the tree decal, the desk, the flower mirror and the polka dotted chair from Pottery Barn Kids. Everything else new in there came from Target. And yeah, she won’t be getting a new room until she goes to college and moves into her dorm. HA!

  13. I so love love it……

  14. This came out really nice. I love Pottery Barn. The pin cushions are a cute addition. I have a wall decal in Kennedy’s room and that might work perfectly for the ends of the branches. Lovely!

  15. Gorgeous! I love everything about it and I agree with one of the comments above…I would totally move into that room too! Nicely done, you get mom of the year for sure 🙂

  16. Wonderful!!! I am in the process of a super room redo for my almost teen daughter and this definitely was inspiring! Go Mama! Go Mari! A beautiful room for a beautiful Jr. Diva 🙂

  17. Dude, I thought the before looked pretty awesome, but then as I read on and as you pointed it out, I noticed the bare window. And the t.v…. lol @ “as visually interesting as watching paint dry.” How do you come up with this stuff?

    Her reaction warms my heart. I’m sure she was super excited. Shoot, I would be too if i had a room like that. Can you makeover my bedroom?

  18. Love the room! Gotta question…where do you end up storing all those books? That’s the big problem we have with my daughters room. She LOVES her books. She’s only four, she tries to keep them put up, but at four that can be a challenge. Wish I could come up with a better solution than her messy bookshelf. Again..nice job on the room!

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