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Designing With My Very Involved Daughter – And The One And Only Wallpaper We BOTH Love!!!

I walked into this room design process fully willing to let Birdie’s creativity lead. I would NOT try to control her effervescent light. But much like Halloween costumes, you can only impose your wants for so long before their “youthful” choices and tantrums dominate. The first few years you dress them in a costume that makes you and your friends laugh, like Mario Batali, “Weekend At Bernie’s”, or Dolly Parton (true stories). But around age 4-5 they want to be Elsa and Spiderman and you swallow your disappointment, embrace their generic choice, feign enthusiasm, and “Ok! ELSA IT IS!!” Again!! Big kid rooms are the same, unfortunately, but different because a dumb $18 one-night-a-year costume has far less implications than a full room design. As I wrote about last week, Birdie is extremely enthusiastic about design and color, she feels confident she will be an artist when she grows up, she wants a room that is full of her personality and will not settle. Not sure where she gets it from:) It’s exhilarating to be her mom. So I sat down with her, innocently, on Pinterest ready to find the “jumping-off point” when she said, “let’s just google unicorn wallpaper”. Against my better judgment, I typed that death wish on the keyboard and it all went off the rails.

She squealed and screamed, “I want that! THAT!!!!”. These aren’t even “wallpapers” for your wall, they are digital art for your computer (mostly) but they are full of incredible energy and color and, y’all, that’s what she wanted. OOF. ROOKIE MISTAKE. I did my best “cool” mom act and said, “oh yeah, that’s so fun…but what if it was more like …” and then I plugged in “Scandinavian pink girls room”. Here’s what came up:

She responded in the most adorable voice on the planet, “Oh no thanks, mama. That is what you like. That’s not enough color. I want ALL the bright colors. ALL of them.” and then the kicker, “even orange and purple…”. I was quick to stammer, “of course, sweetie, it’s your room and I want you to love it,” while I panicked inside.

Then over the next few weeks, I used my brain and more developed manipulation skills and pulled up only sites where I loved all the options. i.e. House of Hackney, Schumacher, Hygge & West, Minted, etc. She made me pin every single one that she loved which was 99% of them with strong saturated bright colors. I tried my hardest Oscar-winning performance to show them all equal enthusiasm, while I obviously had my preferences.

Meanwhile, we were working on her dollhouse together. I told her that she could be the lead designer and that I would be her assistant. She could design it HOWEVER she wanted. We went to the craft store and bought “wallpaper” full of donuts, ice cream, unicorns, and 10 different flower patterns. She chose the paint colors and gems for all the furniture and I went to town making them all. I matched her enthusiasm at every turn because honestly, it was SO MUCH FUN doing this with her. As I in Tuesday’s post, cultivating a shared interest is an extremely important thing to me as I can see the potential for decades of fun, together (if I don’t mess it up).

She would scream with delight, so excited when the donut wallpaper went up in her dollhouse bedroom. She wanted to hang paper butterflies in the corner like a mobile and I helped her figure out how to do it. Here and there I would try to teach her about focal points, balance, “restraint” (ahem), etc, and she changed some things but I honestly tried to bite my tongue and let her lead. I’m SO GLAD that I did. I feel like if we hadn’t had that dollhouse experience/experiment I wouldn’t know the extremes of joy that her own creativity induced in her. SCREAMS OF JOY. She was having the same reaction as I did to the pantry vintage windows and there was NO WAY I was going to deny her and myself that joy in her future, real bedroom. Lesson learned. This room is hers and we are going ALL OUT.

But at the same time, we talk a lot about waste and landfills in this house. They know that we won’t support buying anything that doesn’t have longevity. Not that we have to keep everything forever, but it can’t be plastic $8 LED unicorn lamps from Amazon that would break or that she’d hate next year. Further research and exploration were necessary:

So we listed what she loves and they were as follows:

  1. Unicorns. (fine, for now – we can bring them in…. somehow)
  2. Flowers (!!!!!))))
  3. Butterflies (!!)
  4. Birds (and all animals really) (!!!!)
  5. Hearts 🙂
  6. Candy/sweets

For colors she wanted the following:

  1. Pink
  2. Purple
  3. Teal
  4. Blue
  5. Green
  6. “All the colors in the rainbow mama, except gray”.

It gave me a great jumping-off point. I pitched an idea, that for her real bedroom I would be the designer and she would be my client. I walked her through the process, how I would present her ideas and she would get to choose. To be clear, she is super opinionated but also strangely reasonable and can compromise. She loves so many different things, I could easily convince her of the next thing if I felt like it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. Maybe she trusted me because of the dollhouse experiment? She agreed to our arrangement so I narrowed down the wallpaper choices that I really hoped she would love.

As I was shopping I thought about the following:

  1. It HAD to be very very colorful and fun, or she would just say “No, mama”. Note taken.
  2. It had to last for a decade. Nothing too silly or young (like unicorns or donuts) and nothing cheap or too trendy.
  3. It had to work relatively well with the rest of the house and the other bedrooms upstairs. Nothing too cartoony, dark, random, or crazy busy.

1. Queen’s Flight Panel Set | 2. Butterflies Wallpaper | 3. Simons Äng White | 4. Rabarber | 5. Midsummer Eve | 6. Garden Party Trellis Wallpaper | 7. ARTEMIS Wallpaper | 8. Exotic Butterfly | 9. Millefleurs

I felt pretty good about presenting all of the above to her. Just like a designer, I had my favorites, for sure. As much as I love busy patterns in photos, I don’t love living with them as much. So I was hoping that she wasn’t adamant about a few of them.

She nixed some immediately (for not being bright enough). She considered the unicorn wallpaper (oops not shown) but agreed that she didn’t know if she would still love them in 3 years (one of her formerly unicorn-obsessed best friends is 9 and no longer as into them). I may have stacked the cards a bit because the only physical sample that I bought at the time was the Butterfly Baudin from Schumacher because that is the one that I wanted. I felt that it checked the boxes that I wanted. Proof of said boxes:

  1. Light, bright and airy – it had a decent amount of negative space that kept it from being too dark, heavy and busy. While I love so many dark patterns, for these three bedrooms on the landing I want it to flow relatively cohesively.
  2. It’s feels kinda vintage-y and classic/traditional (versus a more contemporary butterfly or animal pattern).
  3. It’s full of so many wonderful colors. This girl wants everything in the room to be a bright color. So we have been collecting vintage/thrifted dressers to paint. While she loves neon and some lime green, etc, with this paper as our guide she has a ton of colors to choose from – all approved by her designer (me).
  4. The flora and fauna vibe still feels “Oregon farmhouse” appropriate.
  5. I loved how the pattern would interact with the diamond pattern of the original windows. while some graphic patterns could have worked I liked the juxtaposition of this more organic pattern next to the straighter diamond pattern.
  6. I could picture it from the landing and it just made sense with the house. Walking up the stairs and seeing through those light blue doors just makes me so happy and feels right.

For me, the colorway was a no-brainer, but I put it on social media and the all-pink version was the winner. Not us. The “Never Bright Enough Henderson” team wanted the teal/yellow and pink version. I tried my best to conceal that it was my favorite until she made the decision herself. It was SO enthusiastic. I think she feels really proud that her choice was the one that a professional designer would have chosen. And it was a shared celebration that we had found the most perfect wallpaper (and WE ARE STICKING TO IT!!).

So we are off with an incredible jumping-off point that is making the room feel very clear and cohesive to me as her designer, and so wild and fun for her, my adorably involved and totally spoiled/sweet client. I had zero intention of even thinking about the kid’s rooms yet but she was so excited about the design and talked about it all the time. It’s such a fun way to spend time together. So y’all we are doing it. WE HAVE OUR JUMPING-OFF POINT!!!

Opening Image Credits: Design by Julie Rose for EHD | Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: A Little One’s Mid-Century Magical Bedroom Reveal

Photo of Emily and Birdie by Kaitlin Green

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18 days ago

Be still, my heart! Birdie’s enthusiasm and palpable love of the design process is so pure and sweet. I loved reading this post and the thought of her as your client, Emily. What a cool exercise on compromise!

The wallpaper is so dreamy and even at 33 years old I kiiiind of want my bedroom to be covered in it too! Can’t wait to see what else you too come up with for this magical space.

18 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

Two* 🙃

KMR
18 days ago

Birdie seems like such a sweetie pie. I may be more excited to see the execution of this room than any other in the farmhouse! I voted for the all-pink wallpaper but clearly I was wrong. Love your choice so much

LouAnn
18 days ago

Team Turquoise!
Sigh. I remember my girl and I decorating her bedroom together. It was SO much fun. Now she’s grown and out of the house and thriving. I don’t miss the arguments but I do miss moments like this. Cheesy as it sounds, treasure them.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

Yes! I had that same thought. My daughter is 19 and I love our relationship now, but still sometimes long for those sweet kiddo years. Enjoy every second Emily!

Jenni
18 days ago

When I was in high school we had this gorgeous home – hardwood floors, colonial style, traditional finishes, etc. , and my mom let me paint my room bright bubble gum pink with black and white bedding. I cringe now to think of it but it did not bother me at all then. I have very much enjoyed your stories of this process and look forward to more. I too have nixed Elsa as a design feature for my daughter – Elsa gets to hang out in the form of nightgowns and stickers but that’s about it. Sometimes I think it helps for kids to just notice why one space is cozier than another. My two youngest (age 11 and 8) always want to be in my room at the end of the day because it’s “just so cozy,” and we have conversations about what makes a room cozy and calming vs. not. We even have rules about cozy kingdom – no overhead lights, vintage accessories, plants, etc. When I bring home new thrifted finds like a floor lamp, basket, or ceramic duck, I often find it being confiscated and moved to their room.

Emily
18 days ago

Have you read the Lily Huckleberry book series?? Not only a cute book but a great jumping off point for decor. They even sell some wallpaper!

Shannon
18 days ago

This post was a treat to read from start to finish! That wallpaper is perfection. But more importantly, Birdie is so lucky to have such a creative, fun, adoring and engaged mama. Not to mention talented of course. Cannot wait to see her room take shape. And I recognize that doll house dresser 😉

Megan Lec
18 days ago

Love her excitement! Placing Birdie as the client is such a great choice. She feels valued and respected and you can bring her options. I can’t wait to see this room!

Awwwww, I love this so much.

Jessvii
18 days ago

I know you’ve said before that your house/home is your work. But maybe take a step back, turn down the pressure, and have a few spaces that aren’t for your work. If unicorn sheets and a unicorn lamp are her jam now but not in three years, that’s OK. Someone will gladly take the stuff off your hands at a garage sale or charity shop provided they were well-made enough to last (I am not advocating for the $15 Amazon plastic stuff). The stuff could also be used to refresh a shelter or other similar housing for those in need, as you’ve done several collaborations like that in the past. Kids’ tastes do change but a love of flowers could also wilt, or a love of the color pink, etc. A love of unicorns is no more or less unstable than a love of animals generally, or butterflies, etc. It is impossible to know what a child might like in 3-5 years, or what a kid who turns into a pre-teen or teen might like. I guess what I’m saying is that what seems to be important to you is teaching your daughter about the design process and fostering a… Read more »

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Jessvii

Personally, I can’t wait to see Birdie’s “Pinterest-perfect” room because I know Emily will make it uniquely beautiful and inspiring. And this IS her livelihood after all. What is the harm in helping her kids refine their taste and choose design elements that make Emily happy, too? Im sure there will be unicorn stuffies aplenty.

Gwoman
18 days ago
Reply to  Jessvii

Agree with all of this. Additionally, I think Emily is missing a wonderful opportunity to show readers how to design a child’s room for the long haul. How to choose furniture pieces that work as a child grows up. How to let them have fun in design without spending a fortune. How changing linens, rugs, even paint can let a child’s sense of self come through. How money doesn’t grow on trees so sometimes you need to work with less than ideal choices. There is definitely something to be said for giving a child a simple room with good furniture that can adapt and grow with them and easily changed as their tastes change.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Gwoman

The wallpaper they chose is very sophisticated and can easily be worked into a teen/young adult room. And Emily did purchase well-priced, quality vintage furniture that they will paint together and can always repaint/stain again later.

Anna
18 days ago
Reply to  Gwoman

In my reading of this post and others about the process of designing rooms with her kids, I think that is exactly what she is doing– she IS working with her kids to think about what choices will stand the test of time, considering cost/value in purchase, and having fun without spending a fortune (e.g. buying a thrifted dresser and painting it yourself). She is balancing her expertise and livelihood as a designer with her kids’ exuberant and youthful tastes, as well as her access to resources/privilege along with her thrifty upbringing and family values, and I for one am 100% here for it!

Terra
18 days ago
Reply to  Anna

I agree with you, Anna! That was my thought as well.

Brie
17 days ago
Reply to  Anna

The wallpaper they chose is $800 per roll, so not sure I fully agree with you.

Lisa
18 days ago

Beautiful!

Annie
18 days ago

That wallpaper is pretty but it seems *very* expensive and wallpaper is such an effort for something she’ll like for maybe 5 years if you’re lucky. I would paint the walls in whatever glorious color bonanza she wants (murals! stencils! colorblocking!) and then happily repaint when she’s a tween and decides she wants a bedroom inspired by Dark Academia or whatever.

Alice
18 days ago
Reply to  Annie

$812 a roll for a kids room? Wow.

Alice
18 days ago
Reply to  Alice

That’s about $5000 in wallpaper for a 10×12 room.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Alice

Emily, I hope you don’t allow all these sour grapes to ruin you sweet endeavor. It’s shocking to me how ready people are to comment on how others choose to spend their (hard-earned!) money. Especially given that you go out of your way to emphasize your gratitude. Not a good look, people.

L
18 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

The mention of budgets is so scarce on this blog these days, that whenever it is does come up in the comments it’s quickly labeled as coming from haters…or sour grapes?! I think it’s great that Emily is vocal about sustainability with her kids, but why shouldn’t longevity of selections & the discernment of a hard earned dollar spent be included in that conversation in a responsible, age-appropriate way? Don’t they go hand-in-hand? 
  After all these years reading EHD, my favorite kid space is still the Land of Nod tween room (with her little brother’s a close second). It was the old days of client work (i.e. budgets, gasp!) & the perfect example of how to grow in a space with timeless/heirloom pieces, a beautiful paint color & statement accessories while letting the tween’s personality shine through in every selection. I have referred back to it many times when helping my own kids with their rooms as it is such a good reminder of both the importance of self expression and the creativity in limitations. Good design doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  L

Emily writes frequently about teaching her kids the value of money and making selections based on quality and longevity. She can’t hit every pious note in every post! That would be insufferably redundant and boring.

Amber
18 days ago
Reply to  Annie

Just a note that that is the retail price you’re seeing. Emily surely gets a trade discount.

My mom was an interior designer (retired), and it really spoiled me for having really nice things at more normal prices.

Atiya
18 days ago

I LOVE THIS POST! I have a 4 year-old and am excited to navigate this process with her as she grows more articulate and opinionated about her spaces (while also figuring out how to steer her away from the junky “licensed character” stuff). I look forward to following along with you and Birdie. By the way – I would put the butterfly wallpaper you chose in my home office in a heartbeat. My office is filled with flora/fauna imagery as a balm against the spreadsheets I stare at all day. It’s a perfect aesthetic for a workspace as far as I’m concerned!

J
18 days ago

Beautiful choice! As I was reading about Birdie, I thought she might like a very eclectic mix of bedding. Take a look at Society of Wanderers. Fun, colorful prints, linen bedding to be mixed and matched. I think it could work well with her vision and yours!

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Tara Lynch
18 days ago
Reply to  J

Totally agree! Their bedding is magical. 🙂

J
18 days ago
Reply to  Tara Lynch

It is magical! I’m in love.

Vicki Williams
17 days ago
Reply to  J

Oh my gosh! What a great site Society for Wanderers! wow! thanks for including the link!

18 days ago

You handled this so well! My little one is into all the same things and I think you chose the wallpaper to perfectly suit her wish list. Can’t wait to see what you end up doing with it.

Melissa
18 days ago

Parts of this are really sweet (I love seeing parents share their passions and interests with their kids!), but much if it makes me really sad. I can’t understand devaluing your kids likes to this extreme. The way you talk about her bold colors as if it’s clearly such a lack in taste, when the truth is it is her taste, not your taste. We actually believe in valuing our kids opinions and tastes in our house, and it looks like letting the kids pick the colors they really like, not the one they like most out of the ones mom likes. It’s a kids bedroom, it’s paint- by the time she outgrows it she will be old enough to repaint it herself. The kids already live in a house designed for Pinterest, let them have a space that is truly for them. It just seems ironic, the need to apologize for how privileged your kids are to live in a Pinterest perfect bedroom, when really the privileged kids are the ones who live in a space where their tastes are truly valued rather than filtered through their moms opinion of what will sell on the internet.

Emilie
18 days ago
Reply to  Melissa

I think parents can give kids however much control over their bedroom decor as they like–from none to full control–and it will be FINE. It’s probably useful to give kids some control, but it can come in many parts of their lives; and it’s also good to help them understand that they are part of a team and their parents get more of a say in some areas of their lives (but again, there’s flexibility!)

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

Yes Emilie, so true. Birdie’s taste IS being honored here, and nurtured and developed. Children crave structure and boundaries, and limiting their design options to one’s that work for the entire family is not only acceptable, it’s good parenting.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

*ones

Alice
18 days ago
Reply to  Melissa

Children can also learn the value of compromise and recognizing that their choices affect other people, too. I don’t see how the answer is to let the child run wild and make unguided choices.

Jen
18 days ago
Reply to  Alice

I am with Melissa on this one. While kids absolutely need to lean restraint and compromise, there is a difference between compromise because of budget, feasibility, because they share a space with a sibling. Restraints on not doing something structural to the room, or to an expensive piece of furniture, absolutely 100% agree. But “compromise” because the parents don’t think the the kid’s taste is legitimate, because the kids color choices are too bright, and/or because it’s not Pinterest worthy, is just not the same thing.

Shannon
18 days ago
Reply to  Jen

So Emily should have let Birdie order unicorn wallpaper that was actually a screen saver? Where exactly is Emily not honoring Birdie’s taste in this post?? Some of these comments feel like people are trying real hard to find something negative to say. Here’s a lesson from my mom that I was happy to pass along to my kids, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

BW
18 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Calm down, Shannon. Emily is an adult with a team who moderates these comments very closely. She doesn’t need you to be her white night allllll over the place.

🥰 Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  BW

👍

AzureSongLA
18 days ago
Reply to  Melissa

Having hung wallpaper in my 8 year old daughter’s room, this is absolutely an area where parental control should be exercised. It’s not easy to hang or remove, nor is it cheap. Sure, go crazy with throw pillows, blankets, and artwork. My daughter is 15 now and we both still like the wallpaper. It’s a lavender butterfly wallpaper by Candice Olsen.

Kate
18 days ago

As I read this as a mom of 4 I was reminded of painting my little girl’s room. As our kids got older we let our kids choose the color for their room. Our 9yo picked Jamaican Aqua for her room and as I rolled that first stripe of paint I thought gosh this is bright and almost said something to her about maybe choosing something down the paint strip but held my tongue and she LOVED it❤️ Fast forward 4 years she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and was in a wheelchair after her surgery we thought about moving her room downstairs but instead had a chair lift put in so she could be in her own room. That was 10 years ago now and she is a thriving 22yo heading off to grad school and her siblings have all long since changed the colors of their rooms but her room is still Jamaican aqua (repainted more than once) a bold move from a bold brave girl and it is now one of my favorite colors❤️ Enjoy this time and I think a child’s room is so much more than a room it is a sanctuary and… Read more »

Tracily
18 days ago
Reply to  Kate

OMG, thank you for sharing that story. It truly highlights what is important and what becomes important. Thank you!

Jessvii
17 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I have learned so much here from your story about the aqua paint and the girl who chose it. Crying happy tears right now.

🥰 Rusty
18 days ago

“Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror.” 
👀 Emily!!!! You have an absolute MINI-ME in Birdie!!! 💞
MELT MY HEART!!!
I love how it almost ran away from you into wild-fluoro-land, but you reigned it back in and found a way to guide the process into safer territory.
Yaaay!
Lurve the wallpaper!!💗💗

Roberta Davis
18 days ago

I’m so impressed that you are thinking about her and how this will affect her the rest of her life. And she is learning some things about practicality in design. Can’t wait to see what all you two come up with! Our family members are always our clients, aren’t they? Maybe the most difficult ones, because of how invested we also are in the result. I stumbled onto the “present only acceptable options” thing with my husband and it worked very well!

Beth
18 days ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Right?! My husband isn’t interested in design, but it’s his house too, so I want him to have a say. And sometimes I can’t decide. So I give him two or three options and go with whatever he likes best. It’s worked out really well–and sometimes he really good ideas.

When I was growing up, my dad was the same way with me. When we went clothes shopping, he would pick out several dresses, and I would choose my favorites. Of course, he kept my taste in mind–I always preferred dresses when I was little. Same with decorating my room. The older I got, the more autonomy I got. I love that he did that.

Roberta Davis
17 days ago
Reply to  Beth

right!

18 days ago

I LOVE this wallpaper and it is a totally perfect combo of your and Birdie’s emerging and evolving style. And I can see how it will grow with her. Such a great choice. I love her joy in color, and patterns, and animals, and your approach to creating a great space just for her.
I may be biased because I adore butterflies – and, if you’re ever looking for art that coordinates perfectly with this wallpaper, I’ve actually painted some in watercolor! You can find it here:
https://www.wanderinglaur.com/product-page/butterflies-watercolors-limited-edition-print-you-choose-from-7-images
Can’t wait to see this final room when it’s complete (and in my wildest dreams including some of my own butterfly art ;))

Lisa
17 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

gorgeous paintings, Lauren!! <3

17 days ago
Reply to  Lisa

Thanks so much, Lisa!

Kat Randall
17 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

THESE ARE SO CUTE! nicely done 🙂

17 days ago
Reply to  Kat Randall

Aw, thanks so much, appreciate that!!

Tara Lynch
18 days ago

How could you not love her? She’s so sweet and effervescent. And, she loves her mama like nobody’s business! Oh, and of course, the wallpaper is perfect! Yay, Birdie!!!

Julie
18 days ago

For my daughter’s 9th b-day we let her move out of a shared room into her own room that we let her design herself. On her b-day I presented her with a blank slate of a room (just a bed with white sheets, white walls, and a white swing … and 4 different mood boards that she could pick from to design her room. I spent hours curating each mood board picking things I knew she would love, and then she spent a very long time picking which one she wanted to go with (Of course we still swapped out a few things and there were some things on each of the boards that she had to have), but in the end I am absolutely in love with her room, and so is she, and even though I had narrowed down her choices by creating the mood boards to begin with, she still feels like she designed her own room. It was a really fun and rewarding process for both of us!

Amanda
18 days ago

OMG i love it so much and want the purple butterflies for MY bedroom LOL
my husband can just enjoy it too lol

Erin
18 days ago

Love where you ended up AND how you got there!!

Anna
18 days ago

This is so fun and I think you are striking a beautiful balance in this design process! As someone who has never really been “into” unicorns (even as a kid), one unicorn decor idea even I could get behind would be to incorporate images from the 15th century unicorn tapestries (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/467642), or perhaps other similar antique unicorn imagery– could be a nice alternative to the full on Lisa Frank/Beanie Boo experience that you and Birdie could both embrace? Can’t wait to watch this room evolve!

Valerie
18 days ago

What a sweet post! Not a parent, but it’s so inspiring to see people intentionally parenting with a view towards the longevity of your relationship!! So sweet and also love the wallpaper haha

Tara
18 days ago

I just got home from a 2 week vacation in Scotland and, much to my delight, discovered that the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland! There are myriad coats of arms with unicorns in them. They are all over Edinburgh. I’m sure if you dig you can find some classic, old style unicorn decor that would suit Birdie’s fancy and go with your house style!

Anna
18 days ago
Reply to  Tara

Love this!

Stacy
18 days ago

Gorgeous wallpaper in what I’m sure will be a lovely room, but as a mom of a teenager, please do yourself and Birdie a favor and delete this before she becomes a pre-teen and reads it. The way you talk about her style is most likely not going to be well-received by her, and your manipulation of her for the sake of your job is going to soil a nice memory of her mom giving her “the exact room she wanted”. Maybe she won’t care because she’ll be so used to it by then, but if she does, watch out.

Susan from FOAS
17 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

I too was struck by the devaluation of Birdie’s taste and Emily’s manipulation (Em’s word) of Birdie to get Birdie to choose what Em wants, not what Birdie wanted. Manipulation is seriously bad for relationships, even at Birdie’s age, maybe especially at Birdie’s age. Emily, I hope you can take a step back and re-evaluate your approach to this and to Birdie. Birdie’s dollhouse is fabulous, and I say that as someone who is not a bright color person. Let Birdie be herself, support that and do it on a budget so that if her taste changes, she can update her room. Her taste may not change – some people love the colorful, some people love the tasteful, some people love the neutral, and so on.

Shannon
17 days ago

The word “manipulation” is meant to be funny here, an exaggeration, humor! As a designer, I would imagine Emily is particularly sensitive to visual stimuli, in fact she’s said as much. So it makes sense that she’d want to set limits. And she’s dealing with a 7-yr-old, limits are the whole point. Many moms just decorate their young kids’ rooms and that’s that. And the kids are not permanently scarred by the experience. I’d imagine they feel loved because someone took the time to create a beautiful environment for them. Getting a child’s input is icing on the cake, as Emily has clearly taken great pains to do here.

Susan from FOAS
16 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

With respect, Shannon, you have posted your opinion supporting how Emily handled this situation multiple times. So there was no need to post it again in a critique of my different point of view. I am allowed to see things differently from you and to post my point of view, even when it is different from yours. We agree that children need limits. The emotionally healthy way to do that with Birdie would have been to be honest with her that she could design her own room within limits set by Emily and to define those limits. That would have been an important lesson for Birdie to learn about limits, compromises and family dynamics. Manipulating Birdie into thinking that she’s the designer of her room, when she is not really the designer is not a good life lesson for Birdie or any child, because it is not truth-based, which leaves Birdie with a false impression about herself, her relationship with Em and her role within her family. Emily and Brian appear to be great parents. I have great respect or them. But, in response to this post, I am suggesting that Em take a second look at using manipulation with… Read more »

Shannon
16 days ago

Yes, Susan, you are allowed to disagree with me and I am allowed to disagree with you. It’s called debate. I happen to feel quite strongly about this and see no reason not to express myself. As for the post, Emily stated clearly that she “pitched the idea that I would be the DESIGNER and she would be my client.” Please, show me the deception you find so offensive.

L
16 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I’m not really sure why you’re debating the term manipulation when Emily used it herself. She opened by saying she was going to give her artistic daughter creative freedom in her room design. By paragraph 2 she was backtracking, & by the end she had turned it into an “I Design, You Decide”…& we all know how those end up. In my opinion (which I feel strongly about too) it’s hard to see past the blaring contradictions in posts like this. She’s going to give her daughter creative lead…but not really. It has to be sustainably designed for longevity…but not really. Avoid the $8 plastic unicorn because it ends up in the landfill, but you’re okay with $800/roll wallpaper? Kids do need boundaries, in all things. So maybe they pick a painting or piece of artwork together (that she can keep forever), Birdie gets to pick her paint color, Emily gives some furniture options that will grow with her, etc. Why is it that in every other room in the house (including the pantry), paint is no big deal. “If I don’t love it, I’ll repaint…it’s just paint!” But the 7 year old has to pick a curated wallpaper she’ll… Read more »

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

I just read the post very differently. I see a mom bending over backward to make sure her child is thrilled with her room, while simultaneously ensuring it meets her own refined design standards. Maybe it’s just a different approach to parenting. I don’t agree with parents who allow their children to believe they are the ones in charge, that the world exists to meet their whims. This is Emily’s house, she deserves to love every inch of it. When Birdie grows up, she can be in charge of her own house.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Just want to add, the price of the wallpaper isn’t relevant to it’s longevity. Birdie wants lots of color everywhere and that’s what wallpaper can achieve, but in a sophisticated and cohesive way. It’s just not for us to judge what Emily values or how she wants to spend her money. It may seem expensive to you, but that’s a totally relative assessment.

L
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon- I didn’t say the cost was relevant to its longevity. I was speaking about the longevity & sustainability of wallpaper in general, but especially in a kid’s room. Tastes will inevitably change (a LOT between ages 8-13), not to mention kid’s rooms get way more wear & tear. My point was that the $8 unicorn & the $800 rolls of wallpaper will most likely end up in the same place…the landfill.

L
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon- You’re right, maybe we do have a different approach to parenting. I wholeheartedly don’t agree with parents who allow their children to think they are in charge either. But I do believe in follow-through. If I tell my kids I’m going to allow them to do something, I don’t go to my friends (or internet audience) & joke about manipulating the situation to do so.
No one told Emily to give Birdie free rein; she offered that all on her own. Followed by “I would NOT try to control her effervescent light.”
The rest of the post is about all the ways she tried to control (or “curate”) her choices…or in your words “meet her own refined designed standards.” That’s completely contradictory & it comes off as manipulative & disingenuous. If Emily wants to design the room to her tastes, then go for it… but let’s not pretend that this is a lesson in giving your children creative freedom.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

Sorry but I really just don’t get where you are coming from. Emily sought out wallpapers that fit her daughter’s very specific tastes, then allowed her to choose her favorite. All she did was narrow the universe of options, which is necessary in ANY such situation with a child. So of course Emily would make it a universe of options she likes. It’s her house. And she’s a professional designer. She said previously she will help Birdie paint furniture in rainbow bright colors. She is doing EXACTLY what she said she would, going outside her Scandy comfort zone to help encourage her daughter’s self-expression.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

Also L, I believe you are missing the nuance in Emily’s writing. When she said she “would NOT try to control her effervescent light,” she was clearly-to me anyway-explaining that that was her goal at the outset, and setting up the inevitable reality that followed. One where a parent helps her child make choices that will last and work for the whole family. Emily is owning up to the fact that even though she had the best intentions, in reality we can’t (and shouldn’t) always let our kids have total freedom. She’s being real, and self-deprecating. And she’s getting blasted for it.

L
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Respectfully, you don’t have to see where I’m coming from…it’s my opinion. You clearly have your own. I may be elaborating on my thoughts, but I’m not asking for you to agree with them.
I’m not blasting anyone. I have been a loyal follower of Emily as long as you have. After all this time, I am fully aware of her writing nuances & I’m also aware that I won’t agree or connect with everything she writes, or designs.
Of course this is her house & she is the designer… but after two posts highlighting Birdie’s creativity & artistic ambitions (as well as Emily’s joy & desire to watch her take the lead) I was hoping to see Emily actually relinquish a little bit of control (& perfection) & let the kid’s rooms honor their vision, not a curated version of her own.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

Can I ask what that would look like from a practical standpoint!? How would you have handled this differently? I’m struggling to imagine a scenario where a young child fully takes the lead.

L
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

What does it look like to let Birdie lead? Maybe put the wallpaper “budget” towards a piece of art that they pick out together. That way if there is a room swap down the road, it can easily be moved & it’s an actual investment piece that she can keep forever. Let Birdie pick her wall paint color (on her own) from the tones in the artwork. Let Emily curate a few selections for furniture, rugs, & bedding (the big stuff) that will grow with her, but let Birdie decide on the winner. Let her choose her own throw pillows. Give her $100 & head to an antique mall to let her pick out a vintage lamp or cool accessories of her choice. Letting her lead does NOT mean giving her a free-for-all, it means setting certain limits/perimeters & letting her make a few supported decisions on her own. It means honoring the 7-year old she is now without feeling the need to refine every inch of her space. It means giving her flexibility to tweak things in a year or two if she wants. Mostly it means giving her a bit of freedom (& confidence) to exercise some of… Read more »

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

Got it. So your only real objection is to the “expensive” wallpaper. Because it’s only ONE piece of the room and Emily has given every indication that Birdie is-and will be-involved in all aspects of it, just like you’re suggesting. And honestly, part of the reason Emily said the wallpaper needs to last ten years was probably a way to head off all the negative comments about the price. If Birdie hates it in five or six years, they will probably replace it without issue because again, her livelihood is creating new and beautiful spaces. And more importantly, because they can afford to do so and Good For Them! Emily never claimed to be making ONLY eco-friendly decisions. If she wants to indulge in wallpaper that will eventually be a very flat part of the landfill, she should be able to, without catching flak. What makes a piece of art chosen by a seven year old inherently better than wallpaper chosen by her??

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

AND, if you recall, Birdie’s very first request was to google unicorn WALLPAPER. So if Emily were to say, “I know you want colorful wallpaper all over your room honey, but we are going to buy a piece of art instead,”that’s letting Birdie take the lead???

L
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon- This is reminding me of the time Emily posted about letting her kids stay home “alone”, while secretly sneaking back into the house & pretending to be gone. There was a pretty sharp divide in the comments…some readers applauded it as great, creative parenting, while others saw it as manipulative with the possibility of negative repercussions. Each of those opinions was as much a reflection of the individual’s approach to parenting as it was a critique of Emily’s. Personally, I agreed with the latter… I don’t believe in feigning independence or responsibility in my kids. If I am not ready to give up control or supervision (or they are not ready to take on something themselves) I don’t pretend I am. Especially on a worldwide platform. My issue, as I’ve stated from my very first comment, is the increasing contradictions on this blog. Either give your child some creative freedom or don’t, but don’t pretend that your own curated choices are the same thing as letting her take the lead. Just call it what it is. Sustainability? That’s not my word choice, it’s Emily’s. Problem is, if she’s going to use it (especially as the “focus” of her designs)… Read more »

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  L

I never twisted your words. And thank goodness there are people like you in the world, to point out others’ inconsistencies and critique their well-intentioned efforts. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Oops, I meant to say point out what YOU readily perceive as others inconsistencies. Bravo to you and your high standards of honesty. Did you warn your kids you were going to let go of the back of their bikes when they were learning to ride, because it was more honest than just letting go? Do you tell them about all the worlds’ ills because hiding them would be dishonest? Agree to disagree 💯

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

But more importantly, did Emily ask for anyone’s opinion about her parenting techniques? Who are you to judge her? It’s a design blog, not a parental support group. There’s a name for people who offer up unsolicited negative feedback online: trolls. Maybe you are the one who needs to take a step back, before you decide to guilt/shame someone else who shares their life for your amusement.

Susan from FOAS
14 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Oh, the irony of you calling anyone else a troll.

Shannon
14 days ago

Whatevs. Keep looking for things to criticize, you certainly seem to enjoy it.

Susan from FOAS
15 days ago
Reply to  L

Well said.

Susan from FOAS
14 days ago

This comment was directed at L for her first comment.

Susan from FOAS
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Let’s be clear: I did not disagree with you. My initial comment was not directed at you or at any of your many comments. It was simply a comment that offered my take on Em’s post, which is different from your take on it. You are the one who disagreed with my comment and who now is seeking to “debate” me. I don’t want to “debate” you or anyone else here; that is not why I come here.

Shannon
15 days ago

Comment, debate, whatever you call it we are all sharing our opinions. I guess you just want to have your point he the last word? With respect, who are you to tell me there is “no need” for me to reply to you? Not that I need to justify myself, but as it happens I’ve followed Emily since she was a contestant on Design Star. I have so much respect for what a thoughtful and positive person she is and I honestly feel that many of these negative comments are borderline ridiculous. Sorry if you don’t like when people don’t just shut up and agree with you but that is not my problem.

Stacy
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, you’re missing the point (on purpose?) of my original comment. Which is that this post, more than any post I’ve read on this site, which I’ve also been reading for over a decade, is one that has the capacity to cause some trauma when Birdie is older. I have a sensitive, artistic daughter, and the preteen/teen years don’t mess around – whether we as adults can see what Emily “really” means is irrelevant, because Birdie won’t be reading this from that perspective. I don’t think Emily is evil or a bad mom, and of course she can set boundaries, make choices, guide her daughter in this fun journey, hell design the whole room herself and call it Birdies idea. That said, I do think she needs to consider what her kids will read in the future and how it might effect them. Inside voice v outside voice.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

Stacy, I absolutely get your point but I thoroughly disagree. Not only do I not think there’s anything that could even approach causing trauma here, I actually believe it’s an insult to actual trauma survivors to even use the word. Not to mention laughable. But my main point is that to me it feels very mean-spirited to try to shame Emily over what the VAST majority of her readers found to be a sweet and loving effort.

Stacy
15 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I’ll give you that I made a poor choice of words, drama and hurt feelings is more appropriate. But to say the vast majority of her readers agree with you is a reach. That said, all that ultimately matters is a child that Emily says she wants to protect from her publicly facing job and what she thinks in the future. Hopefully she agrees with you. I wouldn’t bet my relationship with my kid on it.

Shannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

What’s really a reach is the notion that anything in this post could derail a healthy mother-daughter relationship.

Susan from FOAS
14 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Sigh…. You chose the word “debate” and used it twice in your response to me. A “debate” is not the same as a “comment.” By definition, a “debate” is designed to have a winner and a loser. I do not want to do that here with you, Shannon, or anyone else. As I said, it is not why I come here. Apparently it is why you come here, so please find others here who want to “debate” with you and let the rest of us post without arguments from you. Please.

Shannon
14 days ago

Actions speak louder than words and you have replied over and over so…

18 days ago

Check out @addicted2decorating on IG. She put up a wall mural in her bathroom that you and Birdie would love. I don’t remember it being crazy expensive either.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd6WWC0J8QK/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

🥰 Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  Cindy

Cindy, that’s sooo gorgeous!

Reusing rather than thrifting?
18 days ago

I feel bad being negative here, but for all of this rhetoric, what about their furniture from the LA house? I loved that wooden dresser from Rejuvenation. And the bookcase from the reading nook? Isn’t reusing furniture from previous homes a good lesson too? We also switch furniture between our kids rooms as we move, but they generally end up figuring out how to use existing things in new houses and not start from scratch. Exceptions for new beds or when it really makes sense of course. There’s a pink sofa that is now about to be in its fifth home. (older daughter’s room, daughter and son’s shared room, older daughter and younger daughter’s room, now youngest daughter’s room – and they love that it’s traveled between them!)
I do love the butterflies! I think it will turn out great.

Jill
18 days ago

So sweet. My mom and I had a wonderful relationship and I see that you and Birdie are well on your way to cultivating both of your hobbies and shared loves.

Caitlin
18 days ago

I don’t think I could love reading about this process more. It’s heartwarming, hilarious and very helpful (I have a five year old daughter). Congrats to you both and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out! Also PS – THANK YOU for my new favorite wallpaper hookup – Scandinavian Wallpaper (!!!!)

18 days ago

Am I the only one who wants a home tour of Birdie’s doll house?? It seems to be teeming with colorful creativity. I love her determination to be an artist– tell her she already is one!

Julie Boyer
17 days ago

Not sure if you saw this post in Domino: but check out The Gym Turned Girls Bedroom. Maybe for inspiration. I believe it has the vibes you are looking for: https://www.domino.com/renovation/this-celeb-fashion-stylists-circa-2004-montana-home-got-the-glow-up-of-the-decade/
But I think you are on the right track with Birdie, I am sure her imagination and yours will find the perfect balance.

Paula
17 days ago

I must admit I’m on Birdie’s side re: the Scandi pink images. So dull, so adult, and so boring. It was like Birdie’s World with all the life sucked out. Love the butterfly wallpaper, but almost anything Schumacher is good.

Addie
17 days ago

I’m so glad you’re inviting us into what this process is like and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops. I love the turquoise color way in this wallpaper and I think I would have loved it at Birdie’s age too. I designed my first bedroom (under my parents guidance) when I was nine. It had lavender walls and a wallpaper border with white, grey and lavender flowers. I helped my Mom paint a second hand wooden desk in white and lavender and my bedding matched the wallpaper border. I was really happy with how it came out although I’m sure I originally wanted to paint the room purple and the lavender was a compromise.

Kat Randall
17 days ago

This post brought a smile to my face! so so fun and makes me want to do the dollhouse thing too

Kay
15 days ago

At some point in the late seventies when I was around five, my mom let me pick my own wallpaper. I chose a hollyhobbie pattern in a brown/rust colorway. Large pattern that must have been a nightmare to hang. My mom was reluctant and was sure I would regret it. I kept that wallpaper til I left home. I was sad when she took it down actually ( and love that she left some up in the closet for me). A happy memory for me.

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