Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Mom can you decorate my college apartment?"

 My son is entering his junior year at University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
He told me entered into an arrangement
for living in a duplex with 9 other students,
so there are 5 young collegiates on each side of the house.
This was the picture he sent me of his room when he asked
me to please decorate his apartment bedroom
so that it would be the nicest kid's apartment out there.
I thought it was really cute that he thought that much of his
mom being able to decorate a space he would love.
As the days ticked down we got a plan together that
involved blue wall paint and a few things he could take from home,
including his bed, the big flat screen tv
and a rug I had just retired from the TV room.
 Then Joni from Cote de Texas wrote an entertaining post
on decorating her daughter's first college apartment.
Elizabeth was very pleased with how her pad came out,
and who wouldn't be!
 She had a nice set up in the dining room...
 And a gorgeous set up in the living room with new white sofas from IKEA.
I was glad Colin didn't read Joni's blog.
He was gettting really excited to think I was letting him take the old TV
 and the console unit with him.
There was no talk about going to IKEA or any
 other store for that matter, besides Lowes for paint.
Thank goodness.
I wrote Joni and said it was better to have sons at times like these than daughters...
and told her I could never post on my son's college apartment,
 but then I realized, it might be kind of fun!
So here is where my precious little darling,
 the last of my three sons, is going to be living:
 This is Colin's new address in the picturesque college town of Amherst, Mass.
Yeah, this is a house. Where my son is going to live.
We were TEAM COLIN: 
Mr. Maison Decor, Colin's dad Barry,
 and me~ready to perform a  fast makeover on his bedroom
 Mr. MD had the right stuff to move his things,
this great utility trailer attached to his truck, so that part was a breeze.
We rolled right into college town, about a 2 hour drive on a beautiful day.
 This is the front of the house.
The construction is vintage cinder block with clapboard at the top.
A few trees dot the property...maybe the landscaper had the decade off...
and some kid lives in the front porch area
 and has weatherized it with foil back insulation panels.
I was grateful my kid had a real room.
 Lets go inside~up the side stairs....
 And down the back porch  (don't step on any glass)
and into the house through the kitchen door.
TEAM COLIN was trying 
to be as excited as Colin was about him living here.
I wondered what Joni would say....
Well lets start with the bedroom.
 Colin has a roommate Mike and Mike had already dropped off his mattress.
The walls were going to be painted and I can't tell you how terrible they were.
 One million nails, breaking plaster chunks,
painted over tape and all done in a glossy peach finish. Yikes.
Well we were going to let go of our perfectionist thinking and just get to it.
 Our prep work involved pulling out the nails and stirring the paint.
Tobey had enough, and headed for the door...
but we were just about to get started.
 Barry and I were going to do the cutting in.
We like to use angled sash brushes 2" wide. 
 Mr. MD and Colin were going to do the rolling.
 I had to peel off masking tape leftover from another tenant some years ago...
 We even brought some Scotch Blue painter tape along, just in case.
We finished painting the room in 90 minutes,
set up a box fan and then started dragging in the stuff.
 A leopard carpet that left our family room
 was now the perfect spot hider for Colin and Mike's room.
This cable wire was previously taped to the floor with duct tape...
Mr. MD was going to fix that.
 Colin and his step-dad laid out the bed on the bed frame.
 Next was the tv console unit that I had painted
 with henrietta paint for a room that I thought
 was supposed to be Bohemian Morroccan style...
but Colin vetoed that saying he didn't want a CRAZY room. Duh.
So I painted over the Henrietta doors with  a coastal looking stripe
 that included a center stripe in his new wall color.
 To Colin's delight he inherited the big flat screen from our NH house~
we sold the house and it has been down in the cellar ever since.
 This is an old picture of the Boston skyline that Dave has had for over 30 years. 
Colin loved it, and I have to admit it looks great in his room. 
 Now onto the window treatments~
I found 4 tab panels in an ivory duck cotton on clearance for $7.78 each.
Yes, that makes me happy, two finished windows for less than $32.
I got the simple black iron rods for the same price too.
What a bargain, and it immediately cozied up his room.
The sword and shield is something
 I bought 20 years ago at an auction for my son Brandon
 who was into knights and dragons...
but it has been in the cellar utility room behind the oil tank for awhile now,
and Colin thought it would be a cool statement piece.
 I hung it right over his pillows~don't move kid!
 Can you see the layout of the room is
 two beds against the wall opposite the tv?
 There is a laundry station in the center of the beds~
Colin likes to sort his laundry,
so this was important to stay organized with his dirty clothes.
I taught all my boys to start doing their own laundry when they were 8 years old.
It has paid big dividends.
Never too young to learn to do that task~
and their future wives will love it.
The laundry station is hidden by these two chairs
 I bought at the Salvation Army for $5 each.
They are Eastlake style, old oak chairs and I didn't touch them. 
They are now set up for gaming across from the TV
 and they perform double duty by hiding the laundry station. 
An old aerial photograph of Fenway Park was purchased
 at Salvation Army and hung it up over the 
dirty clothes hamper on wheels, from Costco.
We have a couple of these laundry sorters..
they each come with three bags.
Colin asked if he could have an extra bag from one of the other sorters,
 so he and Mike could both keep their darks and lights separated.
SURE! I love that kid. (But we forgot to take it and left it at home).
 Colin's room all finished with the help of TEAM COLIN.
The cost: $34 for draperies, $14 for hardware, $10 pair of chairs, $35 paint= $93!
One happy and grateful kid  = Priceless!
I kind of wondered what Joni would say about that too. Hehe.
 Well we didn't bring anything much else to fix up this place,
but here is  a shot of the dining room. 
This is a room that is not used much by 5 college kids. 
Colin spotted our old family bar, vintage 1970, 
in my parents basement this summer
while living with them on Martha's Vineyard. 
If you go in my parent's cellar, it is like taking
 the time machine back to when I was in high school. 
Anyway, he asked them to donate it to his apartment and they granted his wish.
Here Colin and Mike help Mr. MD
 set up the gold "naugahyde" bar with chrome details.
Mike, Colin and TC happily posed for a pic for my blog~
I kept hearing how cool and retro this bar was!
I am retro too now I suppose.
I can only imagine how much studying will take place at this bar.
TC gave me the tour of his room~
the sideporch insulated one I showed you earlier.
 He has all kinds of things he decorated his room with ,
to include a Goonies poster, two halloween masks 
and a large Boston banner hanging in his spacious area.
TC's awesome sports banner hiding the insulation
and his totally cool room brought to mind things like this~
As a mom you just have to let them go and find their own way...
I told Dave they were like little puppies let
 out into a field for the first time and
they were all so happy to be scampering about on their own.
So I said goodbye to my little puppy~and left him smiling ear to ear, 
so happy to be in his first apartment with a room that feels like his own.
TEAM COLIN headed back home and as we drove
 through the picturesque little town I felt happy for him
 and for us and that we had done a good job together raising a fine boy.
 The next day he sent me a text.
Remember how scary and dirty this house looked?
Well it is still kind of scary,
 but Colin and Mike weeded it and cleaned up all the trash!
They swept down the upper porch and were taking pride in their new home. 
Just kinda confirmed my thoughts about him.
I am proud of you Colin! 


  1. You did a great job on Colin's room! And it sounds like you did a great job in raising a wonderful son. He sorts his own laundry and picks up the trash! His future wife is going to love you.

  2. How sweet and you did a fine job on that room. I know he is so proud. I saw Joni's post too the other day and thought whattttt? My daughter's room was kind of like your son's with hand me downs from here.

  3. well, the first time i laughed out loud was when you invited us up the side stairs... funny
    what a great story, and a great team you guys were. even the sweet little doggie came along to help. i love that your son didn't want any of the furniture to be too crazy. and oh my god that bar - and they loved how retro it was... that was awesome... i'll tell you what, you sure gave COTE DE TEXAS a run for her money!


  4. Now THERE is a kid you can be proud of...WOW...What a great job they did cleaning up the outside.

    You did a marvelous job redoing his room. I can remember my kids moving into a place or two like that too.

    Gotta love that side porch...reminds me of the 1960's~ xo Diana

  5. Brings back memories. You all are a great mom and dad, your kiddo will remember this! Hope his space will continue the domino effect with the rest of the house!!

  6. Oh such a precious post. Brought back such memories as I let each one of mine go and helped them with a pretty bad room that was their first. You guys did a fabulous job raising him and he is definitely a keeper. He did a fantastic job cleaning the house up. You should be so proud. Hugs, Marty

  7. Awesome post!! You did a good job with your boy! He is taking pride in his home, even if it is just a rental.

  8. He didn't want the furniture to be "too crazy" but he likes that bar! LOL. His room is great and I love the Eastlake chairs! Love, Linda

  9. Omg I just got back from doing the same thing. Don't boys collage homes just make you fill dirty as soon as you enter the door. I moved my youngest in his house with five other roomates. I had to get really creative because his room is a little bigger than a walk in closet plus it has valted ceilings and he's six foot two. Ugh it reminds me of a hobbits home. Oh well he's happy so that's all that matters. You did a great job on your son's room I love the color.

  10. Amy, this was a very moving post. It's so hard to have them grow up so fast, but to see them turn out so well must be the best reward. My favorite part was reading the pride your son is taking in his new place. You've obviously taught him well. What a wonderful time it is in his life and I wish him all the best for a great year!

  11. this is such a sweet post... it says so much about Team Colin.... and Colin himself. Job well done Amy. The bar is priceless!

  12. Dear Amy,

    This post brought back so many memories...scary...frightening memories!

    Years back when my oldest attended the University of Virginia, he announced that for his junior year, he would be renting a room in a house with 5 other guys.

    The description and price given over the phone sounded great.

    After a few months, we popped in for a quick visit (Charlottesville is only 75 min from us) and got the shock of our lives!

    Ok...I want you to picture the 'Animal House' structure and take it down a few notches.

    OMGosh...the most run down and gross place I had ever seen. He and his roommates had the same campus reputation as the guys in the movie. They were known for the best parties and fun times.

    The UVA Lacrosse team lived next door and their mascot always went missing on a weekly basis. They should have looked in the creepy house next door

    For extra money, my son drove the UVA campus busses. One time , while driving, he overheard two female riders (while passing by his frat house) point and say.."That's it, the condemned house. I heard the city posted a sign on their door!"

    My son couldn't help but smile at that comment.

    You did a wonderful job on you son's room and I am sure he adores you for it.

    Janet xox

    PS....that UVA educated son went on to become a stand-up comedian...surprise..surprise!

  13. What a fun post, I love what you did and the mediterranean sword decor above the bed is awesome, you managed a way to put your very designer touch in a boys colledge room and make it look cool!
    I bet he loves it and you spent good bonding time with the family!

  14. I absolutely, positively enjoyed reading every word and looking at every image. Thanks for sharing this REAL experience. Even got a little teary at the end.;)

  15. Ok, I could live in Colin's room but TC's... oh no! The clutter would just be too much! Loving that naugahyde bar, it would be such an adventure to prowl through your Mom and Dad's basement! When our daughter's went off to school it was the same thing, I helped them get their spaces spruced up. Lots of times the apartments were just like the conditions of this house, but you know... it's a learning experience for them. Not all bad, we grow from those experiences! Great post(and great Mom and Dad too), loved tagging along.

  16. The way that post ended brought a tear to this momma's eye. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter if they live in a humble abode or the taj mahal as a parent to see them respect and work to make it a home is confirmation that we've done something right. You should be proud of him and of yourself. lhwheeler

  17. I so enjoyed reading every bit of this Amy. The room looks so nice. Don't you just love being able to help your kids in that way, and know that they want and appreciate the help you give them? My two oldest are moving out of their first apartment and into a house and I just love it when they ask my advice or if I'd go shop for accessories with them.
    You're obviously a wonderful Mom!



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