Oh, lord. We have to…

Oh, lord. We have to finalize our paint colors soon, and we've been asking Kavi what she wants on her walls. She wants pink and purple. Which I think means fuschia walls. In theory, I want her to be able to choose a color that makes her happy. But:

a) it's a small room, and I'm worried that it's going to feel overwhelmingly dark (though maybe that'll just feel cozy to her?)

b) she's three and a half -- she has a new favorite color every few months

c) all the decor so far is dark wood with rich pink and orange main notes, and turquoise and pale green accents -- I had planned to tone all that down with a pale yellow or pale green on the walls, not crank it up another notch!

Here's a pale yellow background, for example -- I love the feel of this room, very antique and Indian:

And here's one with green walls, though I was envisioning a lighter green:

What color would you put on those walls? I'm not planning on changing the bedding for several years, so that's what you have to work with: bright pink, bright orange, bright turquoise, medium-pale green.

Here is her current bedding, to give you an idea -- sorry the lighting isn't great:

I don't currently have a good picture of the room, but it's smallish.

I'm also worried because it seems like most of the designed pink-orange rooms have a fairly modern feel, with lots of crisp white to set against the bright colors. Whereas her bed is dark wood, and in general, I'd prefer to have the room feel more Indian / vintage, and perhaps avoid crisp white entirely. Off-whites are great, though. Can I do that without it just ending up feeling dark and muddy? (Now I'm feeling like I should have gone with more muted pinks/oranges, instead of the brights -- but I didn't want pale pink or orange, just too wimpy. In retrospect, though, there's a difference between pale and muted. Sigh. Too late now, though I can update it for the teenage version of her, if she still likes these colors.)

9:30 update: I just showed her some rooms, and she said she likes this one, but wants pink and purple. Which maybe means pink and purple separately, and not mixed together? She's not so clear on this. I think this room is pretty, but a little too intense in color for my taste.

Maybe she wants a purple room like this?

She also likes the green-walled room above, with all the bright pink furniture, so maybe I can get away with not painting the walls pink and still have her happy. Hmm...

I can't decide if I like this boys' room or not -- too dark? I can't tell if the color on the walls is brown or green or a mix. The beds are super-cool, though. I wonder if Anand wants a swing bed:

And while we're at it, what do you think I should do with these shelves? They're IKEA's Akrobat shelves, and I plan to keep using some in her room, but the beech pressboard doesn't really coordinate well with the real rosewood of her bed. So I thought I'd try to sand, prime, and paint them -- do you think that would work? And if so, what color should I do? Maybe an off-white, with a colored interior back? Or do a color, like the turquoise or pale green? (I'm worried that the latter will look super-modern again, but perhaps that can't be avoided, given the shape of the shelving unit.)

14 thoughts on “Oh, lord. We have to…”

  1. Just a warning, when she is a teen, she might paint her room black!

    Ask her if there is a dress or outfit she likes that has the right pink in it…

    And I’d just go for it. It doesn’t have to match the rest of the house, because she will want different things as she grows up…. so even if its just for four years or so….

  2. When my five-year-old wanted pink everywhere, I hung curtain rods around her room and hung second-hand curtains and sheets. Even covered the door. She loved it, and when she outgrew the pink we could change things easily.

    Just a thought.

  3. I like the purple. I think it will make the room really rich in color. Paint the ceiling and her side of the door pink for fun. It’s just paint and it is her room. Other than the first few tours you take through, not many people will ever see Kavi’s room.

    Now, you might want to pepper my comments considering we had our daughter’s room done in pink on pink harlequin pattern with ribbon and jewels outlining it. And our son’s room was painted in a landscape starting at the clouds and going down to the horizon – on the walls, ceiling, and doors.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Hmm…I admit, the suggestion to just hang some more pink if she wants it is very appealing. I know we don’t have to bring guests through (it’s up on the third floor!), so I’m less worried about that, and more about it giving me a headache every morning when I walk in!

    Right now, I’m leaning towards the light-to-medium greens, since she liked that room. Hmm…

  5. The curtain idea is interesting, but I definitely vote for letting Kavya pick her own colors. I think doing so made a big difference to my daughter when she was only a little older. She learned what it meant to live with her choices until is was convenient and practical to change them, and she was happy wioth the colors for a long time.

  6. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Kevin also votes for letting her pick. I think I’ll try getting samples of both options (light green and dark pink), painting them out on boards, hanging them in her room, and seeing what we all think. Although I suspect the dark pink will win. Eep.

  7. Wow, I’m surprised I’m in the minority here!

    I would strongly vote for pale green/yellow/pale teal/pale lavender on the walls. I think that not only would it would offset the bright colors in her bedding better (making them “pop” as TV designers like to say) but would also be a much more neutral background as her tastes change.

    People always say that “paint is the easiest thing to change,” but as someone who painted over an entire kitchen that was originally dark red, I can tell you it’s NOT. Your painters will probably have to do a primer coat and 2-3 finish coats to get good coverage on a dark pink. When you’re talking Benjamin Moore, that adds up quickly to big bucks on paint…not to mention that you’re talking equally big bucks to paint over it in the future because you’ll have to use a mega-strength primer & lots of coats to get any other color over that pink.

    I also have a philosophical component – as a mama to 2 small children myself, I’ve seen that my kids’ tastes change rapidly. Of course she would pick the bright pink on a board…that’s the color she likes. But I doubt that cognitively she understands what it would mean to have an entire room in that color – I know my kids wouldn’t. I think having her choose between 2 or 3 more neutral colors that would go with the pink/orange she already has in the fabrics would give you something with a lot more longevity. You could also compromise by painting one wall in the bright pink (or maybe a closet door – that could be fun), maybe the wall she would look at from her bed.

    As an aside, I LOVE the hanging (faux-hanging?) rope beds – those are awesome!

  8. I lived through Paige’s purple phase. We painted light purple walls and did her door and around the windows in her initially desired intense shade. It was a very livable compromise.
    For Matt, when he wanted his room red and royal blue the compromise was an accent wall in his preferred intense blue and got an area rug and bedspread in the red.

    Paint can be changed.

  9. There is a lot to be said for letting her have the visible symbol of control and autonomy of choosing her own colors. On the other hand it probably is somewhat difficult for her to envision, long-term, what it’s going to be like, and it is a choice with adult-level consequences; you’re not just going to do an expensive repainting on a whim. If it were me, I would probably talk it through with her: state some conditions from your side (no colors that are going to drive you completely crazy), hear her ideas out and take them seriously, and come up with a deal agreed to by all, perhaps with steps (paint one wall pink and see what we think of that first; or as KD says, try curtains).

    I often use such things as leverage for getting active buy-in from the kid on things I want. Like: I’m skeptical about pink, it’s my house too; on the other hand it’s your room. I’m willing to try putting up with pink, if in return you’re willing to eat broccoli (or whatever) which I know you’re also skeptical about. Possibly a certain amount of broccoli-eating (or whatever) will occur before the pink-painting as a confidence-building measure.

    This tactic suits my personality and those of my kids, but I do not necessarily recommend it to everyone. If my kids are any guide, you will end up with very honest, scrupulous and reliable kids who are also iron-willed, defiant, ruthless, hair-splitting, tireless negotiators. You have to decide for yourself if this would be a good thing. 🙂

  10. As an addendum, while I’ve strayed onto the subject of deals — if in fact that’s the sort of parenting style you want to cultivate (as I say, it works for me, but there are potential drawbacks too!) — there is a certain magic, even at three, to writing things down. A signed contract with clauses saying what the limitations and conditions are (only after broccoli, if you don’t like it you are nonetheless going to have to stick with it for up to 4 years, etc…) can make kids feel marvelously taken-seriously, move them to think carefully about what they’re getting into, and is useful ammunition later (so many disputes in my household are resolved by my going to the filing cabinet and holding a signed sheet of paper aloft!)

  11. I’m all for letting her pick her own colors, but I’m biased. I was *never* allowed to have any say about what color my bedroom was painted when I was growing up– it was very much my mother’s taste.

    Also, I *love* the rope swing beds for a boy’s room. I wonder how stable they are and how much they swing? I have a vision of two children swinging as hard as they can and trying to crash the beds together…

  12. I agree with Yasmara with a couple additional comments:

    Kids know what colors they like but are generally happy with a lot of the color they like. It doesn’t mean you have to do carpet or walls that color. My kid currently wants pink carpets in her yellow-painted room with red curtains and multicolored polkadots. I’m quite happy to let her pick out fabric for new curtains, but she is never getting pink carpet.

    Bubblegum pink is the color they used to paint prisons with because it is a soothing color. But soothing as in stupor, not a proper soothing color like blue. Don’t know about fuschia.

    If you don’t like bright white, don’t use it, but bright white walls with dark wood was a very traditional combination in many points of history including “Real” Victorian, which in this case means Victorian in the UK, not the US. It wouldn’t feel modern, once you add your furnishings and the dark wood.

    Personally, I’d give her pink (or purple) curtains. Heck, let her pick out the fabric at a fabric store, subject to it being a suitable fabric for curtains (ie not fleece). You already have a lot of pink/orange/etc stuff to put in. (you could also let her have pink throw rugs, if she doesn’t trip as much as my darling)

    Letting her pick her colors is valuable. Letting her have a say as to the feel of the room is valuable. Let her pick out trim to put on a tablelamp, if she’s going to have one. In my opinion, letting her pick the paint color isn’t necessary at that age. She won’t differentiate in the end where the pink and purple is, as long as there is a lot of it.

    I personally vote for a pale wall color and I probably would do a soft white. Not even yellow, believe it or not! Much easier for when she suddenly decides to go with lavender and blue.

    I also agree that painting and then painting over clear bright colors is expensive and timeconsuming. You’ll need colored primer and probablys 2-3 coats of paint on top of it. Possibly more to change colors later.

    Plus it’s just so hard to get all the pinks to match!

  13. As an FLK (Former Little Kid) I strongly advocate letting her choose (and not even trying very hard to change her mind.) Yeah, painting over a red kitchen is hard — I painted over an aqua kitchen with red once and later, when I came to my senses, needed 9 coats to change to tasteful grey and orange. But you asked her and she needs to know her opinion counts.

    I’m 57 years old (yikes!) and I can still remember the first time my mother ignored my opinion when she’d asked for it. She tried to convince me I’d really like yellow — didn’t and don’t to this day.

    FWIW, full disclosure — I love purple and orange — together and separately — so I still tend to have the taste of a deranged 4 year-old. (Never quite got to pink, though fuscia and magenta are now on my pallette.

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