Ah, the crib. The “bachelor” “pad,” if you will. Is there any sanctuary so vital to the human experience as this, a place to just be away from everybody, listen to music, and procrastinate homework by lying in bed staring at the ceiling? I say no. Amid all the woes of teenage life, the bedroom is the one place you can make your own.*
Just listening to Chloe Sevigny talk about all the stuff she had on her walls as a teenager made me want to make sure my room was a good reflection of all the things I like as soon as possible. And so, I believe in the importance of filling it with the things that make you happy.
The movies (and one book) below are movies (and one book) that are especially visual, and each one kind of their own world. So, while I can’t tell you exactly how to make your room look like Marie Antoinette’s, I can offer up cheap ways to get the same eye-candy feelings you get watching Sofia Coppola’s movie in your room—the colors, the sugariness. I am a genius, basically, is what I am trying to say.
I don’t have pictures of my room here because I want you all to BE LIKE ME, but because the ideas below are all the things that inspired me when I started redecorating my room this summer, and this was the result. I realized taking these photos how much the stuff on Rookie and the stuff in my room correlate, so now you know it’s all for real! (Until it is discovered that I actually live in Usher’s house that Justin Bieber threw a party at in his “One Time” video, in a room full of money, white space, and trophies I got for being beautiful.)
* Unless you share a room, in which case, I was there for 12 years, and I am sorry, and I hope you and your sibling like the same movies.
I know we’re always saying to go to the thrift store for everything, but if there’s one time I really mean it, it’s now. One trip there is all you will need. I have never NOT found a Virgin Mary statue, ceramic unicorn, or old perfume bottle at Goodwill. Just look!
Reader Estrid Nyman sent in this picture of her own accumulations, which are pretty perfect.
The whole thing about the Lisbon sisters, the subjects of that movie, is that they were trapped in their house by very worried and misguided parents. Their rooms were their world. So, clutter is good. Leave jewelry and makeup and stickers and other random shit you have out on your dresser. Candy wrappers are decoration. If you don’t want all that clutter, choose a color scheme that’ll add some rhyme and reason to all the random shit, and only put out stuff that fits. Especially Virgin Suicides-y ones would be pastels and warm colors, this based not just on their rooms in the movie, but all the summery vibes, the daydreams, the unicorn, etc.
If you want flower curtains like theirs, you can definitely find the fabric for it on Etsy or eBay if you search for “’60s ’70s flower fabric” or something. Or, if you have any vintage dresses, hang those up! Dresses make for pretty decoration.
On that note, the girls also have their underthings lying around everywhere. If you, like me, are not grossed out, but absolutely fascinated by a creepy, overly feminine kind of aesthetic, you can also get tons of creepy-pretty pastel bras at your thrift store. I KNOW IT SOUNDS GROSS! Just wash them and hang them around. If you aren’t into that, I guarantee you’ll also find lots of pastel and lace slips and nighties. Dresses look gorgeous hanging on walls, and they make the room feel more cluttered in a way that isn’t actually inconvenient. Plus like, pastel silk everywhere is such a delight, and kind of what I imagine heaven looks like. If you are grossed out by the thrift-store thing, Aerie has very pretty floral bras, as does The Loved One. But the thrifted bras look old, and that adds something.
The Lisbon sisters make a shrine to their sister Cecelia after she’s died. I’m not trying to be morbid or ironic when I talk about shrines and iconography—I think candles and iconographic statues look really beautiful, and the spooky side of it appeals to my sometimes creepy taste, and all that stuff reminds me of this movie, and it’s one of my favorite movies, so! Make a shrine to your favorite band or movie or whatever with candles, records, candy scattered throughout, etc., and definitely a picture of the thing you’re obsessed with decorated with bedazzles. Love Hole? Use baby barrettes! Ghost World? A Batman mask! Nicki Minaj? A Barbie! Etc.
Plan a big thrift-store day to look for all of this stuff, and maybe return periodically, since most restock every day. The things you’ll be looking for for a Virgin Suicides-esque room transcend the differences between city and small-town/suburb thrift stores, because people who have weird tacky figurines or old perfume bottles or religious iconography or bras live everywhere. So remember: thrift, or…kift. (That’s not a word.)
It might be hard to make your room transform into woods, but do you remember those walls from Eleanor’s shoot earlier this month? Those are hers! She had the paper for some reason and her parents hung it up as a surprise. (Audience: Awwww, *applause*.) I also really like the little clothing rack she has—I definitely go through phases of wearing the same stuff over and over again, so it’d be convenient to have it all set up. Also a nice way to deal with stuff that’s too nice to wear often but too nice to be hidden away.
Here is a website where you can print your own wallpaper. It’s kind of expensive, but parents are generally happy when their kids are motivated to fix up their rooms, so see if they’ll help pay for it or put it up.
For all the happy feelings of Max’s crown, get your own paper one from Burger King! Just kidding. Max’s crown reminds me of that gold-star tinsel wire-ribbon stuff usually around for Christmas and the Fourth of July. Hang that everywhere, too. The great thing about hanging things—tiny lights, flags, lanterns, paper chains, paper dolls, garlands, this gold thing—is that most room decorating is limited to placing stuff on flat surfaces like shelves and desks, and hanging flat stuff on walls. This kind of adds another dimension.
Also, make paper crafts that are happy and childhood-like and can be hung up: paper dolls, paper chains. They conjure up nostalgic feelings for birthday parties and preschool crafts.
If you want it to look more special than your usual construction paper situation, use stationery paper like from the Paper Source. I chose a bunch here that remind me of the colors from the book and movie, which are super cozy and the thing I always remembered most about the book when I was little.
You can also look in thrift stores for blankets, sweaters, and flannels in brownish, green, and blue musty cabin colors, like the fur of the Wild Things. Just have them everywhere, like your room is one big bed. You might get sick of this come summer, though.
Also, obviously, all the plush guys from Wild Things are super adorable.
This one’s super easy. Just live in the palace of Versailles and have Manolo Blahnik give you a million pairs of customized shoes, duh!
OK, so I don’t really have any ideas on how to make your room look like Marie Antoinette’s. I’ve thought about it a long time and now I totally know how hard things were at this part:
I feel you, girl.
So we’re not gonna focus on the ROYAL FRANCE and GIANT POWDERED WIGS aspect, and instead zone in on the little details that make this movie so visually delightful: all the color-coordinated pastries, fans, shoes, and macaroons, specifically in this montage. (If you do insist on all that fancy Victorian stuff, however, you can use wall stencils to paint on those kinds of designs.0
If you have lots of shoes, organize them. You probably do already. I just wanted to get in this photo that a girl named Pavanne sent us, it’s like the goth version of the one above:
Japanese (that’s right, we’re gettin’ MULTICULTURAL) eraser companies make incredibly elaborate pastry duplications. If you Google “Japanese erasers” you will find tons of websites that sell them for like a dollar each. Nothing beats actually having a million cute cupcakes everywhere, but think of this as an homage to the sickeningly sweet colors and details of the film. (I would one day like to be someone who just has plates of sweets everywhere, though.)
Another homage: get those tri-level pastry tower things. I have no clue what they’re actually called so I couldn’t find a picture, but do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like a stand with three trays around it. Cover in the eraser scones, obviously, but it’s a great organizer too—everything is in its own compartment, but easy to access, unlike a jewelry box. Good if you have makeup, jewelry, etc., that you use every day and need to grab in the morning, but it takes too much space for it all to be sprawled out across your dresser.
Buy costume jewelry at thrift stores and scatter it onto every surface. Buy a bag of bows in pastel shades from a craft store and do the same.
For the feel of the imagery of the paintings and fans in the movie, cover surfaces of your shelves with antique-looking wrapping or stationery paper. I’m not gonna compile them because if you Google “antique wrapping paper” or “antique stationery paper” you will get LITERALLY A MILLION options and you know what you want better than I do. Also, satin ribbon from a stationery store—just buy like, a whole roll, and cut it up a lot, and tie it all into a million little droopy bows, and hang them everywhere. Gold and pastels will be your key colors.
This movie is kind of Virgin Suicides 1.0: girls disappear and no one knows why, and we get only small glimpses at the world they’ve created for themselves as they’re stuck in their homes or school dorms.
Because the movie takes place in 1900, you’re more likely to find little details of the girls’ rooms in nature than in thrift stores. Pick (or buy) flowers to tuck into surprise places—between books on a shelf, sticking out of the top of a dresser or desk drawer. It’s probably stupid on some level to tell people how to pick flowers, but I only say this because for a long time I thought my only option was to steal from the caringly kept yards of little old ladies. There’s that fenced-in area along highways, right? Full of flowers! Not gorgeous ones, just daisies and white gangly ones, but they actually look really nice placed randomly throughout a room, and the boring ones will act as some kind of middle ground between your more exotic colored flowers and the rest of your stuff. Usually they grow and curl up around the fence too, so you don’t have to risk your life or anything. Also, strip malls always seem to have flowers in weird islands throughout the parking lot. You will look odd picking them, but soon you’ll have a pretty room, and anyone who’s skeptical is either spending too much time near the highway or at Super Cuts, and that is both shady and sad.
Once they wilt you can scatter the petals on like every surface. It’s nice for the same color to pop up throughout a room. Bird feathers are pretty too if it’s true that they don’t give you a disease or whatever.
Fake flowers are fine—if you get one of those plastic rose vines from Michaels you can line your ceiling or headboard with it. It would look super pretty intertwined with Christmas lights, though Anaheed has pointed out to me that might melt the plastic flower stems. When we get our own Science TV Network Channel Station, we will put this experiment to the test.
You know all those old perfume bottles you bought at the thrift store for your Virgin Suicides shelf? Clean them out real good and use them as vases, lining your window sill. Smuckers peanut butter and jelly jars are also super cute, the small ones, as vases.
Keep the stuff hanging on your wall in vintage photo frames from a thrift store. They are dirt cheap.
The other big thing about the Picnic girls’ rooms is stationery. First of all, I believe flower and leaf presses are just great things to have. Find them here. Second of all, leave notes and cards and stamps and letter-writing material everywhere. You have to be a big letter writer first, though, I guess. If you want pretty vintage stationery, look on Etsy.
Lastly, LACE. The girls in this movie all have lace dresses, lace stationery, tablecloth, everything. You can find tons of lace slips (and maybe even a wedding dress, if you’d like to be extreme) at a thrift store. Hang them everywhere!
Lace fabric is expensive, so if you want to make curtains, again, find it at a thrift store. It’s OK if it looks shoddy and old—that’s kind of the point, and it’s stressful having to keep things in your room nice, anyway.
This is my own lace contraption, though I didn’t realize till writing this how Hanging Rock-y it is. My great-grandma’s lace tablecloth, a rose wreath I got at the Salvation Army, and letters from friends that look especially nice or mean especially a lot. If you wanna nail up a thing of fabric to cover it with letters (or other paper things), stick wire through the top and shape the wire into hooks like you would with an ornament. You’ll probably need to poke the hole with a needle or thumbtack first, since wire isn’t quite stiff enough to do the job.
I started to do this one, but then I realized that Andie’s room is basically a combination of every idea listed here!
Other Random Ideas
Wanna hang something up on your wall but don’t wanna ruin it or your wall with sticky tack or tape? If your parents are OK with it (or if they aren’t! C’MON, BE A REBEL, PEER PRESSURE) you can hammer small, pretty tacks from stationery stores like Paper Source [http://www.paper-source.com/] to your walls to hang stuff up. It’s time consuming, and my family members have complained about the hammering sound a few times, but it’s such a shame when sticky-tack grease stains and ruins a special poster.
Again, you might need your parents’ permission, but painting things everywhere (use acrylic paints—it’s what you’re supposed to use on walls) can look nice. Just don’t do anything you’ll get sick of or become embarrassed about, like, erm, Bob Dylan lyrics. Flowers are a good neutral motif—and add a Virgin Suicides kinda vibe—but maybe in a year you’ll be like, “MAN, I HATE FLOWERS, UNLESS THEY’RE MADE OF NAILS AND LEATHER!” You never know! Look how cute Mia Farrow is, though.
Use the notes from a CD you love and hang it on the wall. I like having Joni Mitchell’s lyrics and drawings on mine.
Cool places that make 3D things you can hang up: Confetti System and Nice on Etsy. There’s stuff you can add to your wall other than posters, too—jewelry and crowns hang on thumbtacks like it’s no problem. If your school makes you wear your ID around your neck every day (grumble grumble) you can’t forget it if it’s hanging by the door. Look in a thrift shop for records that have interesting-looking centers, and nail them to the wall through the hole in the middle.
Toys from when I was little have felt like a burden lately because keeping them tucked away feels cruel and sad, but having them everywhere takes up space. I have found a happy medium. You should totally look through your old toy box and see if anything fits the kind of taste you’re into now. I’ve started tacking up my Barbie’s clothes on the walls, and it looks both paperdoll kind of cute, and creepy.
T-shirts from childhood are similarly problematic, from camp and school and such. Cut out the front and make a quilt of all of them. Sorry if that sounded shocking since everything else here is like “I DON’T KNOW, LEAVE YOUR CRAP EVERYWHERE.” You can also just tack up the front part that you cut out on the wall.
Don’t limit yourself to Ikea storage. Lunchboxes and doll boxes are cute and convenient. Easy to find at thrift stores, joke shops like Pumpkin Moon and Uncle Fun (Chicago bias), or you might have some from when you were little. You can also collage a shoebox with stuff from magazines and stickers.
Buy a bag of confetti from Party City (or any party store) and just scatter it everywhere. Makes everything shiny and, like the flower petals, adds cohesion somehow. Candy hearts are good for this too, if you don’t have any pets.
Old science books are really pretty. Those about space and the desert are especially appealing to me—retro futurism, like The Jetsons, and a California vibe. Paperbacks about things like psychology have usually got kind of trippy designs with cool colors and weird drawings of people and sunbeams. Sci-fi books, too. Since you’re not looking for super-rare and special first-edition books, searching for “vintage science books” on Etsy or eBay will get you cheap ones. The folks on Etsy seem to know what they’re doing more, cuteness-wise, but this also means they can be more expensive. Obviously books are good to read too and not just decorate with, but I think this is the one instance where having books you haven’t actually read out for decoration isn’t a dick move. The information is super outdated! Think of them as artifacts. I like thinking about how people like the Lisbon sisters tried to learn about the world way back when.
Also super funny, weird, visually pleasing, and cheap: old pulp fiction, romance novels, and Sweet Valley High-type books. It is amazing how many people found a career writing about prom drama, and the covers are hilarious.
OK THE END. In summary: HAVE SHIT EVERYWHERE. Any other cheap ideas you’ve used? Send us pictures if you end up trying any of this stuff! Have fun in your bedroom. That sounded sexual in a way I didn’t mean it to. OK bye. ♦