Let children help decorate their space

March 25, 2006|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT - Copley News Service

Q: I need ideas! My husband's daughter, 8, from his first marriage, is coming to live with us - don't ask! We're lucky to have a bedroom for her, but how to decorate it? She's so young. Should I wait and see what she wants, or make it nice for her arrival?

A: Yes, to both questions. Why don't you go on and get the basics in place - the bed, a desk and a chair, at least, so she knows you're expecting her. I'd also have a few paint samples, wallpapers and fabric swatches on hand, too - no more than three of each, or things could get confusing. Give her a few days to make her pick, then you can decorate her new room together.

At her age, you'll probably be doing it again is short order, so relax and have fun. There's no "mistake" you can make that can't be painted over. In fact, paint is your cheapest and easiest decorating medium. Look what joy a couple of gallons bring the young girl's room we show here. Designers from Glidden have personalized the sleigh bed, and striped and stenciled the once-plain white walls. Add a color-related comforter, blinds or shades for privacy, and perhaps an inexpensive - read, washable - rug, and she's got an almost-instant room of her own.


One hint: to paint the stripes, lay on the under-color first, in this case, chartreuse. When it's dry, mark off the stripes with a plumb line (from the wallpaper store), and masking tape, then use a roller to paint. Wriggly edges will only add to the charm. The stenciled flowers around the ceiling were stolen from the comforter. Trace the design, transfer to stencil board, cut out and paint on. For more easy tricks with paint, go to punch up or call (800) GLIDDEN.

Q: My girlfriend tells me you can buy furniture from Princess Diana's family estate, the place where her brother now lives and where her memorial is. Is this true?

A: True, indeed. The ninth Earl Spencer, Charles, brother to the late princess and current resident of the sprawling, five-century-old family home Althorp, has allowed famous furniture-maker Theodore Alexander to make repros of selected furniture pieces in the house.

He's not alone. Lots of the landed English gentry have looked to licensing in their struggle to keep their "stately piles" alive. Proceeds from the Althorp sales will help preserve the enormous estate.

The Althorp collection offers some 200 pieces, including a repro of the "Washington" chest, which had been in the family when our George's great-great-great grandfather left England for the New World in 1656. The Washingtons and the Churchills and the Spencers are all related, didn't you know?

First introduced in 2004, the collection is now making its way into American furniture stores. Click on to find out where.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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