When it comes to choosing art for tween spaces, parents will get much more bang for their buck by choosing something unique, rather than mass-produced posters or prints from major retail chains. Local art festivals are an excellent source for picking up original works at affordable prices. Hanging above the bed in Camille’s room is a print by Portland artist Emily Martin. "I bought it for $24 at a holiday market in Athens when Emily lived here some years ago. Now she is a well-known illustrator, and Etsy shop The Black Apple has her among their best-selling artists," says Amy. "I have continued to shop her store for postcards - they are frameable and inexpensive prints. They’re moody but sweet, which is perfect for a tween room."
Mom, Amy and dad Alan are huge supporters of the local arts community and lovers of all things vintage. To decorate the family’s 1920 Craftsman home in Athens, Ga., they’ve mostly focused on finding one-of-a-kind pieces from small, locally owned-and-operated shops. "We look to the cool vintage shops in downtown Athens for pieces with style but that aren’t so precious either, because in the end they may be covered with stickers," says Amy, who often includes Ellis and Camille when searching out pieces for their rooms. "Plus, we know most of the owners and would rather support them than go to a big-box store." As far as what draws Amy to antiques, quality and longevity are at the top of her list: "I’m a fan of buying something that was made well and has been around a while, rather than buying new and disposing of it when it falls apart. It’s a way of thinking and living that Alan and I both hope filters down to the kids. That’s another reason we buy vintage. Plus, it’s cooler."
A connectedness to family history is an important element of tween room design, especially in both Ellis’ and Camille’s rooms. Many designers suggest having at least one item in every room that has been handed down from family members throughout the years. Mixing newly purchased pieces with those that were passed down from parents and/or grandparents creates a truly personal touch. Even better, it is a tradition that can be continuously carried down through several generations. For example, the canopy bed in Camille’s room is the same bed Amy and her older sister slept in as children. "That bed has really made the rounds, first with Camille’s cousin and now with Camille," Amy recalls. "It’s still squeaky like when I was little, and even that inconvenience is part of its story. For Camille and her cousin, it was their first big-girl bed. And our house may not be its last stop because now there’s that tradition." The hand-me-down tradition can always start anew with items given to children as gifts. Ellis’ beloved black globe was a gift from his paternal grandmother. Perhaps 20 years from now, that same globe will end up in his son’s room.
Amy and Alan found another way to introduce color in Ellis’ room without overwhelming the space: underfoot. "The floors in that room were not heart pine like the rest of the house and they were dingy, so we painted them a bold blue. That was 13 years ago. We kind of like the wear and tear, and haven’t even done so much as touched them up." To paint wood floors, first sand the existing finish, then apply a coat of primer. Roll several coats of the finish color with a roller and an extender pole. The last step is to add a coat of sealer to protect the finish. Not just any paint and sealer will do; stick with paints labeled "porch and deck paint," and look for floor sealers that are labeled "clear," since many polyurethanes tend to dry with a slight yellow tone.
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