Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dawning of a New Age- The non-themed Birthday Party

My daughter's 13th birthday is not only a milestone of change for her, it is a marked change for me too.   Since my children's first birthdays, my wife and I have always tried to make them celebrations.  We've wanted them to be more than cake and ice cream socials or cartoon character homages.  They needed to be creative, outside the box events, memorable for them and fun for us to host.  The parties are an opportunity for us to thank and treat her friends for the joy they bring her and celebrate how precious she is to us.

If my daughter were over my shoulder right now, as I type, she would be able to recite the nicknames she's given every birthday party we've every had for her.  Endearing terms like Parisian Acrobat,  Rock Star Studio and Duo Luau come to my mind.  Yes, the parties had themes, but their execution was absent the typical big box decorations and out of the catalog cake.  We either have the parties at our home, in the backyard or in my studio.  The decorations are a combination of things we have, can make or buy on a budget.

My having a studio workshop filled with unusual props, store window display items, craft supplies and a seemingly endless supply of "this and that's" plays a huge part in this annual challenge.  A challenge of how to create memorable birthday parties utilizing the past years collection of stuff.  I find myself rummaging through my beloved miscellaneous in search of decoration ideas, things to sew, items to hot glue and embellish.   I dig out some of my eclectic lighting supplies from my retail display service and imagine how to repurpose them into theme majesty stretched across the walls or dangling out from out trees.

This year was no exception,  she wanted it to be fun and memorable, although it had one exemption, and I repeat...one exemption, "no theme". Enter sound effects of cars screeching to a halt...errrrrrr. WHAT...NO THEME?  As a wiser than adult, soon to be thirteen year old  (sarcasm obvious and inferred), my daughter wanted to just dress up.  She found a pretty dress, while out shopping with her Grandma and wanted a special occasion to wear it.  She would prefer not to have aerial acrobat lessons, flaming tikis or fairy wings, no spotlights and karaoke, just a cute dress.  I was devastated!  What am I to glue, to build, to hoist into the air, this can't be right, I'm themeless, creatively naked and obsolete.

Thankfully, when asked "What are you and your friends going to do while dressed up", my daughter cracked the door open, just a bit, letting in some creative wiggle room.  She said "I don't know, how about a sit down dinner."  Yes! we proclaimed, a sit down dinner it is!

So, without loosing a year of traditional rummaging the studio for party mecca, my wife and I came up with our backyard dining room, complete with chandelier and twelve foot long table.  Our inspiration was the pretty pink and black dress she bought.  We mixed in an accent of turquoise and her favorite print Zebra.

The table linens were sewn out of some pink velveteen yardage I had left over from a girl's room project, some black sateen from a halloween party, white butcher paper, an inexpensive but designer looking quatrefoil tablecloth and we borrowed the zebra drapery sheers from my daughter's room to use as a runner.
 I strung a wire across the lawn from neighboring trees to secure the outdoor chandelier from.  To adorn the chandelier and the wire, I used some miscellaneous pom poms, ribbon and beading I've been toting around for years.  We utilized wicked oil torches instead of candles, they are just wrapped in fuchsia parchment and damask paper.
I strung two paper lanterns down the supporting wire for additional light.
The place settings were fun mix ups of paper plates from the party store and monogrammed black damask napkins from a discounter store.
To transform a $5.00 white cardboard cupcake stand, I glittered the inner support with black, wrapped the tiers in damask scrapbooking paper and added ribbon.  The "C" on top was cut out from black core foam core and hot glued to the top.  Adding in some fresh florals from our yard and a few accessories from within the house and the cake table became a beautiful setting.

The beautiful hydrangeas, sea thistle, dahlias, fuchsias, dahlias, bells of Ireland and daturas are in full bloom right now, which made for a fragrant and color themed display.

Considering we had a small wind storm come through during set up, I had to double stick tape all the paper plates down to the table, so the party guests were treated to table-side service with sparking cider and hors devours.   The dinner went off without a hitch, candles were blown out and songs were sang.  What a wonderful evening we shared with her and her guests.  We got to be creative, craft our way into celebration and she got to dress up.   What her 14th birthday will behold, I'm not sure, but I hope it's as fun and memorable as the 13 years past.

Now, I have 12 months to accumulate some new goodies for a surprising themeless party next year. Thankfully,  I'll have an excuse to pick up and save every crazy bit of this and that for who knows what.

This and that for who knows what....I like it!

Pre-festivity hugs for Daddy, who's working up a sweat.  Payment in Full!  Love ya baby girl!

While Birthday parties are a fun addition to my life, I invite all of you over to my Facebook page where we share the fun we get to have designing kid's rooms, products and more.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Teen Room Makeover in Process

A continuation of our kids room makeover series of posts.....

We are in the midst of turning Nick's teenage room from it's blue and green disorganized state into a stylish, storage filled hangout. Gone are the chunky furniture pieces, replaced with a sleek headboard and space divider that melds into a floor to ceiling desk and storage area. The multi colored scheme of blue, aqua and white has been buried for good under a contemporary gray and red palette. The 9 x 10 room has grown in scale, visually, due to the reduction of those colors and the unifying of walls and ceiling by using a single color. At our studio, his new art monogram wall art is underway. It will mount relief style in front of the red wall, reducing the red to a graphic border. With the help of Nick's Dad, we are returning his open closet to a closet with a rolling door, with one alteration. We are shrinking the closet to half it's original width. The unused half will be home to open shelving to be used as his media center.

Next up...
1) Transforming his existing 2x6 wooden bed frame into a floating faux metal masterpiece utilizing paint techniques and Hollywood movie prop style embellishments.
2) Creating a one of a kind work of art by making tangible Nick's goals and dreams to become a Broadway Singer and Actor!
3) Bedding - a touch of plaid honoring his Scottish heritage, but with a rock and roll edge.

And more.....stay tuned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Before to After - A teen's bedroom makeover in process.

Today, I met with Nick and his family to review my ideas for his teen bedroom makeover. He's the all american 15 year old. He loves music, plays the guitar and the violin. Hanging with his friends, computers and science fiction are a big part of his life. His room is his hangout, it's filled with glimpses of his younger years and aspirations for the future. Wanting to be an actor / musician he's got his eyes set on performing in the theater, hopefully on Broadway. During his remaining years at home and through high school, I look forward to him enjoying his soon to be made-over room. The before pictures can be viewed on my previous post.
Nick's room is only 10 x 9, so utilizing every inch is the easiest way to improve his conditions. We will replace his oversized writing desk and hutch with something more efficient. I've proposed building a custom headboard and desk storage area to accommodate the book collections and memorabilia he has. We will be altering his wooden bed to make it look made from metal. A unique backlit, relief mounted piece of focal art will enhance the red background behind his bed. It will feature five custom 3 dimensional "N"'s of various typestyles and colors to express his interests in Rock, Classical, Modern Technology and Sci fi in an abstract way.
His window wall will be dressed up with a cornice board to hide his louvered blind mechanism and hold his new custom roller shade. It will be painted with a NY skyline. Small holes, resembling stars and little windows will be cut out of it to allow light to shine through. Giving the illusion it's a night sky. Art and a mount for his guitar will round out this view.
His closet wall will be altered from an open closet niche to an enclosed closet with adjacent storage shelves for his media components. A reclaimed, reupholstered chair and a wall shelve will flank a unique piece of art that I will be helping Nick create. It will be a realized projection of himself in the future, using photographs, magazine clippings and some of my painterly touches. It will serve to remind him of his amazing personal goals.

The color scheme for the room will be warm tone grays with antique reds and hints of denim/chambray blues.

Nick has been packing up his things, getting ready for the process to begin. He's very excited as am I. It's a pleasure meeting and working with such a fine young man.