Cindy & Katie’s Design Dilemma

Cindy’s daughter Katie’s bedroom is already cool, and she wants to up the ante. Here’s her letter:

I need help with my daughter Katie’s room. She’s a 15 yr old self-confessed band geek and is not a girlie girl (she’ll happily throw on her cowboy work boots with her shorts to go to band practice- no makeup- won’t shop for clothes even when necessary). The door on the left with the mirror in the first pic will be removed & sheetrocked. The door on the right (with the towel over the window) will lead to a walk-in closet. When it comes to style, we like modern, casual, & bold. The things that must stay are the bed and the stuffed animal head on the wall. The sideboard and the tall white chest thingy can go. The green chair can be replaced along with the desk/chair. We also need curtains and maybe some shelving for googaws and doodads and books. When it comes to color, Katie loves the green paint. We were going to paint or stencil a pattern/graphic on the white wall but couldn’t ever find anything we liked and couldn’t decide on a color. She does not like pink or paisley. I bought a couple of cheap giraffe paintings in Africa that I thought I would hang in her room. If you can fit them in, great. Wildlife photography is a hobby of mine so if you could incorporate one of my photos I think Katie would like it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! – Cindy (& Katie)

Here’s the plan:

And now for the mood board breakdown.

1. Those three green walls had us at hello (especially when we learned Katie wanted to stencil the remaining white one) so we took inspiration from the punchy and bold backdrop and selected a vibrant orange color as our counterpart to the green. Layered with deep chocolate brown furnishings along with some crisp white pieces and some tan tones too- even some patterned animal print- the entire effect will be cheerful and modern with a bit of an exotic safari vibe running through the room (to complement that amazing stuffed buffalo head on the wall).

2. Cindy mentioned that the door with the green towel on it in the first picture will soon lead to a walk-in closet (yeah, we’re totally jealous!) so we thought removing the door (towel and all) and replacing it with a textured bamboo curtain that Katie can slip through would be the way to go (it will also maximize that corner since it will no longer have to accommodate a swinging door). And could the price be more of a steal?

3. As we mentioned, we thought accenting the lime green walls with pops of punchy orange would really add bold interest and fun to the space, so we’d love to see one of these vibrant lamps on either side of the bed atop these matching bedside tables that will work seamlessly with Katie’s existing Malm bed from Ikea. Oh and speaking of the bed, it’s on the move. Because the door with the mirror to the left of the buffet in the first picture will be removed and drywalled, we’d love to see the bed placed pretty much where that buffet was (with the buffalo head centered above it) so the soon-to-be-stenciled white wall will become an ultimate headboard of sorts.

4. We noticed that Katie likes to have her schedule on display (see the third picture above) and also has a music stand in her room for practicing. We thought snagging a chunky clean-lined music stand (online or in a local music store) and spray painting it the same lime green as the walls would be an amazing way to mod things up. Plus it can be stuck in the corner to the right of where her bed is now (to displaying her schedule and her sheet music with style to spare).

5. Here’s our plan for the white wall. This knot stencil is just $30, but the amount of impact and personality that it will add to the blank wall will be priceless. We’d love to see vertical rows of the stencil in orange (try Benjamin Moore’s Orange Burst 2015-20 or Electric Orange 2015-10) spaced about 7″ apart for a totally textured and almost bohemian look that will really make the entire room, especially once the bed is moved over to our new accent wall.

6. To continue with our touches of safari, this fan will keep the room cool while looking intriguingly exotic without feeling too heavy (like fans with big woven brown leaves may have). Plus the small understated halogen bulb is streamlined and will add a bit of sparkle to the space without feeling overly feminine.

7. These linen curtain panels with nailhead trim feel tough and textured, perfect for our not-a-girly-girl Katie. Hung high and wide on each window (as well as between them on that long wall of windows on the right side of the room for the effect of one big wall of glass) they’ll really make the room feel even more expansive while softening some of the lines for an enveloping feeling (plus they’ll add tons of height thanks to the floor to ceiling verticals they will create). And layering in bamboo blinds (which are totally affordable at places like Target, Walmart and Home Depot) is optional for even more of that textured and worldly feel.

8. Katie’s new desk (on sale!) and chair will live centered under the double windows that were once behind her bed, and we love the clean lines of the white desk (which we personally own and adore) paired with the pop of cinnamon in the chair.

9. Since Katie’s more into graphic patterns and texture than pink and paisley, we thought animal printed bedding (this one’s inspired by the ocelot instead of the cheetah) would be exotic and bold when paired with everything from the stenciled orange and lime green walls to the stuffed buffalo head that will be centered above the bed. And a thick faux-fur throw folded the foot of the duvet adds more of that safari sophistication while still being playful and cheeky. And speaking of that furry texture on the bed, we’d also love to see a giant 9 x 12′ flokati rug placed under the bed to ground it in its new location (on the stenciled wall) to really add more of that inviting layered look to the space (the texture and soft color will temper all the brights in the room for a balanced and inviting effect).

10. And because Cindy mentioned that Katie has a bunch of books to store, we dug up this awesome orange vertical bookshelf that almost makes a giant stack of books appear to be standing on their own (we’d love to see it to the left of her new desk, which will be centered in the windows where the bed used to live). And for even more storage space, three of these Ikea shelves, laying on their sides with casters added on each bottom corner will create one long rolling bench/bay of storage that can be placed in front of that wall of windows on the right in the second photo (they won’t block the view but they’ll certainly add tons of display and storage space).

Oh and we can’t forget those awesome giraffe prints from Africa which work perfectly with our scheme and will add even more of that exotic safari feeling. We’d love to see one framed in dark wood on the expanse of wall to the right of where Katie’s bed currently resides (which will soon be where her painted music stand will live next to her desk) while the other is also hung in a dark wood frame between the existing closet and the door to the bedroom on the opposite wall. And when it comes to Cindy’s amazing wildlife photography (like this lion photo), Katie could easily work in some smaller dark wood frames on her desk or even place a giant blown up canvas print of it on her easel (to be swapped out with her schedule and her sheet music whenever the mood strikes).

So there you have it. A bold and exotic bedroom full of adventurous style. We can’t wait to see what you guys think!

Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!


  1. says

    That space is AMAZING! Those windows are incredible- tons of natural light. I wish I had a space like that now, let alone when I was 15! Primed and ready for a great reno and I personally can’t wait to see the results.

  2. Tawna says

    okay. Best mood board EVER. not just because of the awesome colors, but because it seems like you guys really filled the space up. Sometimes it seems the moodboards just have a few items, but this one is PACKED. I LOVE it. I can totally visualize the room and am so excited for katie!

    Esp. since my husband and I met in band. :)

  3. Christa says

    I love Katie’s strong sense of self and the quirky touches to her room already. Combined with your suggestions her room will be great! What a neat space!

  4. says

    This board is the opposite of my style. BUT I love it. I’m dying to know what Katie thinks because if she doesn’t like it, I’ll move in!!

  5. julia says

    Great job! I love the stencil idea and the rolling storage under the windows – very creative! The room will look amazing when done. And it seems like it totally suits what they were looking for (bold, exotic). Can’t wait to see the afters!!!

  6. ellear says

    This is a great mood board. Immediately when I saw you suggested the linen curtains with nailhead trim I thought to myself “she could totally make those for so much cheaper!” (this is coming from someone who has a number of windows like this in a room and is more than aware of how expensive it can be to outfit a few windows!).

    I actually was just reading on ( about using painters drop cloths (the ‘poor mans linen’ as one person called it) as a much cheaper option to cover all those windows. Then Cindy and Katie could head over to their local craft store and get a few yards of nailhead trim and attach it themselves for a DIY look. Much cheaper and a fun project for mom and daughter while they revamp the room!

  7. says

    Hey guys — I LOVE the overhead fan you picked out, and the mood board is kickin’. However, I could never justify (at least at this point in my late-20-something life) a $400 overhead fan.. any pointers on DIY solutions? Or cheaper safari-slash-modern options?

    • says

      Hey Jill,

      You probably can find something cheaper with bronze or brown leaves for that safari feeling and just spray paint it crisp white for a refreshed and lighter look. That would be a great little DIY take on it that won’t break the bank. And even places like Home Depot and Lowe’s have cheaper brown/bronze versions. Hope it helps!


  8. prettythings says

    Great mood board – and great room! Love all the windows…

    I hope Katie keeps that green chair – would look great with a pillow or two in green and linen.

  9. Briel K. says

    I love the size and colors of her room. I hope they’ll send in after photos! I wish more of your Design Dilema people would do so!

  10. Diane says

    OOOO…I love the colors! I am getting ready to redo my office. I have a dark apple green upholestered chair and I wanted to use orange for an accent. The lamp you picked would be gorgeous. Any thoughts on a wall color? Would a tan work? And can I have an area rug on top of carpet?? Thanks for all your great ideas! I’m addicted to your site. :)

    • says

      Hey Diane,

      Yup, tan would definitely work and we love an area rug on top of a carpet- it’s totally a “do” in our book (it helps to define an area within a bigger room and adds extra layered interest). Hope it helps!


  11. Julie says

    This room is so NOT my style, and yet I LOVE IT!!! Very nice job. What a fun room for a teenage non-girly girl! I really hope Cindy sends some “after” pictures, I would love to see how it all turns out.

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