Home & Garden

Parents need room to keep pace with child

Dear Debbie: We are decorating our daughter's bedroom with input from her. The challenge is that Tracy changes her mind about every six months. She is 11, and we would like to come up with a look that can keep up with her imaginative spirit. Please help. Right now she is asking for girly but definitely not frilly. - Monica

Dear Monica: Children Tracy’s age are at that stage when appearing older and more grown up is hugely important. But they also don’t want to let go of some of their little-kid pleasures.

Together, you can design a room that will support her personal passions and be a fun and welcoming place to bring friends. This might be the time to splurge on good-quality furniture that will last through the teen years.

One option I like is a daybed. They are available in many styles, and some offer a pop-up trundle, which is great for sleep-overs. The character or theme of your daughter’s room can be switched easily from pretty to sophisticated to funky with the choice of comforter and pillows.

Paint the walls a girly shade of mauve, and then ask Tracy to pick a few posters. Artwork, bulletin boards and a rack to display and store her books and magazines can be constantly updated as her hobbies and preferences shift and grow. A neutral carpet design and simple curtains will balance the other features.

Dear Debbie: I am a high school librarian, and we are desperately trying to add color and interest to our library. Our goal is to create a welcoming space where teenagers want to be – a “cool” space to read, study and hang out. We have bought colorful comfy chairs, pillows and rugs. Any suggestions for painting the walls would be greatly appreciated. – Andrea

Dear Andrea: In your photo I see that you have painted a light blue on the upper walls. Most of the lower wall space is covered by bookshelves, but you could introduce a bright tangerine orange as a fresh and energetic backdrop. I like your idea of making your library an inviting place for teens to hang out.

Why not create several message centers where they can leave notes or photos and make contact with each other? On spare wall space, paint blocks of color with chalkboard paint and surround with empty frames. You can either buy inexpensive frames or make them with molding. (If you have a carpentry workshop on site, this would be a good project.) The students will enjoy the opportunity to fill the chalkboard spaces with graffiti and cartoons. Fill other frames with corkboard for pinning up messages and photos.

Dear Debbie: We live right on the Minas Basin, which is part of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, in a frame house that is seven years old. We have already had it painted twice, but still the knotholes bleed through and the paint wears away from them. Is there a solution? – Cathy

Dear Cathy: The knotholes in wood will bleed through paint and even some primers unless they are properly sealed. Shellac is the best; sand or scrape away any loose or peeling paint and then apply a coat of shellac over the knots. Let dry thoroughly, then paint with a good quality exterior paint.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.tritter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.