3 Ways to Compromise With Your Kids about Paint Colors

donuts-690281_1280Once upon a time, probably about 6 years ago or so, my wife and I walked with our kids to the Zeeland Bakery.  Caleb (who was 5 at the time) waited outside with me while my wife and the other kids sauntered into the shop and ordered various donuts and cookies and different types of bread.  (It’s always a huge undertaking whenever we go to the bakery).

Anyway, while Caleb and I were waiting outside, a lady walked by with a 1-year-old boy in a stroller.  I smiled at the lady and Caleb smiled at the lady and he even went so far as to say “Hello.”  I was proud that the little guy was so polite.  And it was this pride which eventually led to my downfall.

See, as the lady was walking away, but while she was still within earshot, I thought I’d demonstrate how polite and kind my little guy was.  So I said, loud enough for the lady to hear, “Wasn’t that a nice little boy?”

Oh, it was a question that he should have been able to hit out of the park.  It was an easy one.  A no-brainer.  All he had to say was “Yes Dad, that boy seemed very nice, indeed.”  Had he said that, the lady would have thought I was a super parent because I’d raised such a wonderfully polite little lad.  In fact, I figured there was always the off chance that she’d turn her stroller around, shake my hand and ask my advice as to how to raise her own child.

Yes, my mind was brimming with the possibilities and the glory when Caleb spoke up.  He raised his little voice to match my raised voice and suddenly, as is always the case when this kind of thing happens, the entire world quit moving.  Suddenly, there were no cars–no road noise.  The shop doors quit opening and closing.  The clocks that had been ticking ceased their workings for a few split seconds.  Even the birds and the wind and the airplanes and the fountains went silent.  A whisper at one end of Main Street would have been audible at the other.  And it was into this utter and complete silence that Caleb bellowed his answer, informing me, the lady, her poor, poor child and everybody else within earshot that, “No,” he didn’t think that kid was all that much.  “In fact,” he went on to say, “the kid was actually kind of ugly.  His ears were big and his nose was all turned up and his eyes were squinty.  Like a rat.”  As if this wasn’t bad enough, Caleb ended by informing me (and all of Zeeland) that he had only said “hello” to the kid because “he felt sorry for him.”

Well, I just stared at him in horror and disbelief as he continued to rattle off all sorts of uncomplimentary descriptions that reverberated off the buildings and up and down the silent streets.  Silent, that is, except for the wildly squeaking wheels of the lady’s stroller as she pushed her child rapidly away from that horrible father and his nasty little son….

I mention this little episode partly as penance but also because it’s the perfect example of how kids think and act.  If you ask for a child’s opinion, you’re going to get it.  They’ll typically tell you exactly what they think.  Problem is, while they’re usually honest, they don’t always exercise the best judgment.

In an earlier article (which you can read HERE), I suggested that it’s important to involve your kids in the process of decorating their rooms.  You should let them pick the colors, ask them what they like and what they hope to see in their rooms.  However, when you do that, you’re going to have to be ready for some crazy answers from time to time.  In fact, when you ask an 8-year-old what colors he’d like on his walls, don’t plan on hearing him say “Oh, a nice medium-beige with an earthy brown would do just lovely.”  No, get ready for black and orange (halloween colors).  Or bright blue and red and yellow (Superman colors).

So, with that said, if you do decide to let them help you decorate their own rooms (which I still believe to be a great idea), you better have a method in mind as to how to incorporate their ideas without completely abandoning the overall look of the room.  You both need to be happy with the outcome.  And that means compromise.  Here are 3 tips:

1. PICK AN ACCENT WALL

When your kids choose the brightest yellows and oranges, the flashiest greens and blues, a great compromise is to paint one of the walls–an accent wall–with one of those bright, flashy colors.  Have them settle on which color they like best and see if you can’t work that into a small wall–a wall with a window or a door.

Now, in most cases, when you paint an accent wall, you’d pick the focal point of the room to do this with.  In this case, however . . . well, not so much.  If you’re trying to minimize the effect of the color, then picking the focal point of the room is the last thing you want to do.  Just pick a small wall–a wall that’s not the first thing you see when you walk into the room–and see if you can’t put their color there.  They’ll be happy, feeling proud when they see their bright wall and you’ll be happy because the room doesn’t glow like the face of the sun.

2. PICK MUTED VERSIONS OF THEIR COLOR

Another great compromise that sometimes works in the paint store is to steer kids toward more muted versions of their colors.  If they love bright reds and yellows, maybe throw out some options like a rusty red or terracotta and a more muted yellow.  Sometimes they’ll see these new colors and be completely willing to compromise.  Again, with this type of scenario, both of you can potentially reach a mutually happy outcome.

3. ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE

Perhaps the best way of working wild, crazy colors into a decorating scheme is to bring those colors in with accessories.  If your kids want to see black and orange or some other funky combination of colors on their walls, but you can’t bring yourself to do it, then offer this:  coat the walls with a nice neutral color and then bring in accessories that fit your child’s desired color scheme.  Bring in lampshades with bright colors, find art prints with the colors, switchplates and any number of other accessories that will serve to fill the room with the chosen colors without overloading the walls and driving you crazy.

The bottom line is this:  when you bring your kids into the decorating picture, you’ve got to be ready to compromise.  Don’t let them decide everything when you hate what they’re coming up with.  Likewise, don’t decide everything yourself when they hate what you’re coming up with.  You both have to be happy with the outcome for this little project to work.  If you hate the room, you’re always going to feel irritated when you walk past it.  If they hate the room, don’t worry, they’ll find a way to let you know about it.

So work together, have fun, and compromise!

Let Them Help: Decorating With Your Kids’ Input!

paint_handsEvery now and then I hit upon something that I know is a good idea. And, though this doesn’t happen very often, this is one of those times. There’s no way around it: decorating your kids’ rooms with their help is a great opportunity for you and for them. Oh, I know there are lots of little bugs in the idea and potential complications–but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a good thing to do.

Taking a room that was decorated with younger kids in mind and turning it into “hip, way cool pad” is a great way to let your kids know that YOU know that they’re growing up. Taking down the wallpaper borders of stuffed bears and turtles and replacing it with something more age-appropriate will make your kids feel important. And involving them in that process, seeking their input and listening to their suggestions will make them feel that they are on the path to growing up–they’re actually an active force in the creation of their new room.

Surprise Makeovers are Cool on TV, But Not So Much In Real Life

If you still need convincing that it’s a good idea to involve your kids in the process, then think about it this way: on TV, surprise makeovers are cool. They really are. But that’s because we don’t normally watch the recipient of the new room beyond their initial reaction. We see them when they first whip off a blindfold and stand blinking and squinting in the bright lights as they try to take in their new surroundings. Everybody’s happy and giggly and the show ends. We don’t see the couple standing there 12 hours later, now that the cameras and energetic TV personalities are gone, staring at the new walls and wondering what happened and how anybody ever thought that bright orange was a good look.

Your kids feel the same way about their room as you would about your home. Their room is their space–their world away from the world, especially as they get older. Just as you wouldn’t likely appreciate it if your husband or your neighbor just dropped by one afternoon and repainted your living room in colors of their choosing, neither will your kids necessarily be receptive to the changes you bring about one day while they’re off at school. Your vision for their room isn’t necessarily their vision for the room. You’ve got to make it your goal to discover a mutually acceptable vision.

Involve Them, But Remember Their Limitations

To that end, involve them in every aspect of the process. Take them to the store and let them look at colors. Let them flip through wallpaper books and mural books. Let them explore the world of Faux Painting. However, make sure that you keep the outings short and sweet–no marathon shopping trips that will frustrate and wear your kids out. Remember that their attention spans are not like yours–keeping the trips to a limited amount of time will make sure both of you enjoy the outings. And don’t forget to think bigger than just a trip to the paint store or the furniture store: try to tie your decorating trips in with a nice dinner out or something like that.

Taking the kids to the paint store and listening to their suggestions and then taking them out to dinner will be one of those special moments kids remember. If you treat their opinions as valid options and listen to their thoughts and take the time to discuss things with them over dinner, they will start to feel like an intricate part in the decision process. And trust me, I may have young kids and I may not have had much experience in the world of psychology, but I know this is a good thing. You don’t have to be a genius to see that by involving your kids in something so small as decorating their rooms, you’re basically telling them that their opinions matter and that you value their thoughts.

What If . . ?

Alright, now you’re probably thinking that I’m living in a world where everything is puppy dogs and lollipops. Sure it sounds good to involve the kids in the decorating process, but what’s going to happen when they pick out Sponge-Bob Yellow and Bright Red for their walls?  We’ll cover that in the next post.

The Vile Showerhead (or, Finding the Dread-Free Life)

shower-1027904_640(1)I’m a “dreader”.  That’s not a word–I know that.  But that doesn’t change the truth:  I dread things.  On a regular basis.

For example, I re-decorated my bathroom about a year ago.  I put wood planking on the walls, hung some wallpaper, stained and varnished new trim, installed a new (bowed) shower rod and new curtain and finally, to finish the whole thing off, I installed a new shower head.

Which was the biggest mistake I made.

See, right after installing it, my wife marched right in, closed the door and proceeded to take a 45-minute shower.  When she was done, the kids all marched through, one after the other.

When the shower marathon ended that day, I opened the bathroom door and it was as if a cloud had localized in that tiny room.  I literally couldn’t see the other side through the steam.  The little ceiling fan was working overtime, but there was no way it could keep up.

“Fortunately,” I thought, trying to wave away the steam, “this is something that won’t happen everyday.  Once the ‘newness’ of the shower head wears off, we’ll go back to having to fight the kids to take baths.”

Nope.  Not a chance.  Every single day since the installation of that vile shower head, our bathroom is engulfed in steam.  Shower after shower, hour after hour:  steam, steam, steam.

Well, that went on for a long time and then the inevitable happened:  the mold started growing around the edges of the ceiling.  The wallpaper started peeling and curling up on all the seams.  My beautiful bathroom had gone from a place of despair to a place of beauty and then back again to a place of despair all in about 6 months time. It was depressing to say the least.

And that’s where the “dreading” comes in.  Everyday, I’d look at the ceiling and see the mold or the wallpaper and see the peeling and I’d dread the “fix-up” job that was to come.

I dreaded it because it seemed like such a big job:  fixing the mold, fixing the paper, repainting the ceiling.  I’d just gone through some of this work and now, thanks to that dumb shower head, I had an even bigger mess to fix.

And so I stared at it for a long time.  I thought about it.  I tried to ignore it.  But most of all I dreaded it.

Until finally I got so sick of being depressed and frustrated about it that I actually fixed it.

I took a week and on a Monday night, I sprayed the mold with a bleach solution and scrubbed the ceiling.  That took me exactly 17 minutes.

Two nights later I came back with more bleach–no scrubbing this time, just the bleach on the mold.  That took about 7 minutes.

On Friday night I went around the room and primed all the previously moldy spots with ProFlo Alkyd primer and then I re-pasted all the peeling paper.  That night’s work took about 15 minutes.

Finally on Saturday, I got ready to paint the ceiling and finish the job.  I was ready for a big, painstaking job (I hate painting ceilings) but I was surprised to find that the whole thing took about an hour from the time I opened the can of paint to the time I put the paint back on the shelf in the workroom.

In the end, I realized that the job I’d dreaded for the last 6 months or more had taken me less than two total hours to fix.  In my mind, I’d exaggerated and inflated and imagined the work to be 10x worse than it was.  I imagined the mess, the problems to be 10x less fixable than they were.  I imagined the pain to be 10x greater than it was.

I’d spent 6 months feeling bad and frustrated and almost (in a sad and pathetic way) depressed about a room that took me less than 2 hours to fix.

So how does this apply to you?  Well, I can’t speak for you, but I’ve talked to many folks in the paint store at RepcoLite who feel the same way I was feeling.  They’re frustrated about the seemingly endless amounts of work needed in their homes.  They look at the jobs and the work to be done and assume that they’re worse than they really are.  And so they do what I did:  they put them off and they stew on them, thinking about them and mulling them over in their minds for months until the jobs seem even bigger and more horrible.  In short, we dread them and waste our time worrying about them and frowning over them.

But what we really should be doing is “doing” them.  The jobs aren’t as bad as we think.  They’ll go smoother.  They’ll go more quickly.  They won’t be as painful.  And best of all, once we’re done, you’ll notice what I noticed:  a real sense of relief and freedom from the work that had been hanging over my head.

So, bottom line:  If you’ve got a project that’s creating that feeling of dread, jump into it.  Get it accomplished.  And then kick back and enjoy the dread-free life…

Easy DIY Stenciled Headboards

headboard5Here’s a great idea from a blog we follow called Simply Sjostedt.  It’s a simple way to create an entirely unique, interesting, headboard using only some planks, a stencil and some paint.

Here you can read about how it was done and see pictures that chronicle every step.  But before you click the link, remember the Cardinal Rule of any project:  don’t be afraid to tinker with the idea.

What I mean is this:  the plank background here is a great “blank canvas”.  Sure, you could stencil it–as we see in the picture at the left–but don’t be afraid to make this project your own.

For example, you could paint the boards a solid color and distress them.  Or, you could go a different route and stain and varnish the planks.  The stain job could be done with an eye toward a rustic finish or, if you prefer, a fine wood finish.  Both results would be easily achievable–you just need to figure out which would work better for you.  Really, the possibilities are endless.  Use your imagination and your creativity and see what you can come up with!  (And, if you come up with something really cool, let us know in the comments!)

Dental Neglect and Home Improvements

toothbrush-571741_640The other night, we–my family and I–were sitting in the living room, watching the Tigers.  The kids were running around, driving us a little nuts and eventually there came a point when I stood up and put my hands on my hips.  (Which really, is something I wish I didn’t do because my wife and kids always mock me and laugh and say that I think I’m a Super Hero.  Which I don’t, the picture below notwithstanding.  I just happen to stand like one.)

At any rate, I stood up, put my hands on my hips and said, “Alright!  It’s time to brush your teeth!”

Caleb, my 10-year-old son, just snickered, nudged Andrew, his younger brother, and whispered in a too-loud whisper:  “Look, Dad acting like he’s Superman again.”

I looked down and realized my hands were on my hips and my chest (or stomach) was all puffed out.  All I really

Proof that I have a tendency to stand like a superhero.

Proof that I have a tendency to stand like a superhero.

lacked was a cape and tights.  And muscles.  And height.

I thought for a second about how sad a Super Hero I would actually make before returning to the issue at hand:  “Go!  Go brush your teeth.  It’s time for bed.”

Well, they scampered off–all 5 of them–like a small heard of domesticated beasts.  But amidst the thundering of their stampede, I heard something I couldn’t believe:  I heard Andrew–in confidential and extremely boastful tones–say the following:

“I haven’t brushed my teeth in four days!”

To which Caleb responded with:  “Wow.  How do you get away with it?”

To which Andrew replied, “I fake it.”

Well, at that point, I’d heard enough.  The last thing I need with 5 kids is for Andrew to start promulgating a gospel of dental neglect.  I stomped into the room, stood with my feet shoulder-length apart, straightened my back, puffed out my chest (or stomach), put my hands on my hips and said:

“Andrew Peter!  You will brush your teeth at least twice a day or…or…” I searched and searched for the right threat, the right punishment, the right ultimatum to level at this hygiene-negligent son of mine.  Ah, yes, that will do.  “Or, you will pay your own dental bills!”

Andrew’s face clouded over and he looked down in defeat.  Then, he looked back up.  “Where am I going to get money for all of that?  I’m just a kid.”

What?  Money for…?  He was trying to get me off-topic.  “It doesn’t matter where the money comes from,” I said.  “I’m saying you’ll have to find it and pay the dentist for all the bills that you rack up because you don’t brush your teeth.”

There.  A definitive closing argument.  Now, we should be able to move on.

“You mean ‘pay him’ like when I pay at the restaurant?  When you give me money and I pay?  Like that?”

His eyes were big and innocent and I couldn’t tell if he was really curious or if he was messing with me.

“No.  Not like that.  You’ll have to earn the money yourself.”

He paused.  Looked down, thinking.  Then his face brightened:  “Dad, the only money I get comes when I get Tooth Fairy money.  So if I’d lose all my teeth, I’d have enough money to pay the dentist, right?”  I started to respond that that didn’t make any sense, but he kept rolling.  “But then, I wouldn’t have any teeth to brush or any teeth to have to pay the dentist to drill, right?”  He was picking up steam now, the clear end of his logical masterpiece in sight.  “So then, I’d have all the money and I wouldn’t have anything to pay the dentist for and, I wouldn’t have teeth to brush.  I’d be rich.”  He finished with a flourish and I half-expected the other kids to rise to their feet, clapping.

I needed to end this and I needed to end it now.  I puffed out my chest one more time, struck my pose and said, “Brush your teeth” in a very no-nonsense kind of way.

Caleb, who’d watched the whole exchange, snickered and said, “Superman has spoken–we must obey.”

Well, that kind of broke the ice and we all laughed a little bit.  But I couldn’t shake Andrew’s desire to not brush his teeth.  I mean really, who intentionally tries to avoid brushing their teeth?  Who else but a kid would ignore such a simple project–especially when ignoring that project is only going to lead to expensive and painful work down the road?

I was just thinking those thoughts when the home improvement point hit me (yes, I’ve written enough blogs and radio segments about paint to see paint-related points in everything):  I’m doing the same thing he is–with the exact same consequences.

See, there are all sorts of little projects around my home.  A hallway ceiling that should be painted.  Kitchen cupboards that need to be touched-up.  Some peeling edges on my wallpaper that should be stuck back down.

I’ve got all kinds of little projects.  Some are bigger than others, but most are really, just 10 and 15 minute jobs.  In the grand scheme of things, they take no time at all.  They cost almost nothing and they don’t require loads of expertise or special tools.

And yet I routinely ignore them.  I do.  I don’t know why.  I guess I’m like Andrew–I don’t want to take the time to do these little fixes.  I just keep telling myself that it’s not a big deal, that I’ll get to it later.

But the problem with that line of thought is that failure to act now only causes bigger problems later.  Just like Andrew and his teeth, I’m saving time now, but I’m going to have to pay the piper, later.  And I’ll have to use my own money to do it.

For example, the peeling wallpaper is a perfect case in point.  The spot I needed to fix was about 3 inches long all along a seam.  Nothing.  It wouldn’t have taken any time or money or effort at all.  (Notice I’ve shifted to past-tense to talk about this).  A little dab of paste, some safe-release tape to hold it down for a few hours and it would have looked like new.  But I left it and didn’t do it.  I ignored it.

But Tessa didn’t.  She found it and, of course, figured it should be picked at, peeled, pulled at.  Well, one thing led to another and before long, she’d created a much bigger problem that took much longer to fix.  On top of it all, the fix I managed to come up with wasn’t nearly as effective as the easier, cheaper one would have been.

So now, that’s me and my family–what’s your’s like?  Are your kids brushing their teeth?  If not, do they brag about it, too?  Is that just a kid-thing?  Or do I have bad-hygiene kids?  And how about you?  Not so much your teeth, but do you have projects at home like I do?  Easy, quick projects you keep ignoring?

Well, maybe it’s time to tackle them.  Maybe it’s time to cross them off your list and deal with them on a more regular basis–before they become bigger, more expensive problems down the road.

Give it some thought!

Get Creative! Projected Images, Stencils, and Silhouettes

jenisonBy Guest Writer, Shannon VandenBosch

When it comes to creativity, I need some inspiration.  So I go to a few decorating magazines and/or peruse my “Favorites” list of websites for design ideas.  When I feel I have found a few pictures representing the style, image, or technique I would like to achieve, it becomes my muse.  This is when I breathe a sigh of relief because the mental work is done and I can begin the process of tweaking the look I have found in order to make it my own style statement.

Recently, I was challenged to take a blank wall in our recently remodeled RepcoLite store in Jenison, Michigan, and create interest, and hopefully, inspiration.  This empty wall space was located directly above the counter area where customers would sit and contemplate their own design decisions by beginning to choose a color or palette of coordinating colors.

Immediately, I liked the concept of stenciling or projecting an image on the wall to create a mural.  I recalled seeing a large, abstract, flower in a Benjamin Moore color brochure.  Aha!!  The inspiration, my muse!

I began by taking measurements of the wall space and calculated the size of a single petal needed to make the flower, the length the stem needed to be, and the size of a single circle.  Color choices were made to compliment the store’s interior decor.  The single petal and circle were cut out of cardboard and then stenciled or traced onto the wall.  The stem was drawn free-hand in proportion to the flower. Then the image was painted with interior wall paint. The whole process took about 6 hours. (See picture above–or, better yet, stop at our Jenison store and see it in person!)

As alluded to earlier, other ways to create murals is to use a projector to cast an image on a wall and either trace it and then paint or begin painting the image . Click here and here for more info.  You can also check out this site for some more examples of graphic murals. Silhouettes are created by drawing and then painting a picture of something, say a headboard, on the wall instead of actually using a real headboard. This technique is not only creative, but inexpensive! Take a look at current decorating magazines for more information on this technique. Stencils not only can be made but bought at local stores that sell wallcoverings, crafts, or interior decorating items.

I hope you have been inspired to get creative and make the next space you choose to decorate even more uniquely yours.