Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teen Bedroom Makeover- Goodbye Kid, hello Young Adult!

Back in July, I opened up a contest on our facebook page asking for submissions of kid's rooms for a makeover. Having a hard time deciding on just one, I chose three winners. The first of our three winner's, Nick has been anxiously awaiting the reveal of his new room. As a Birthday gift to him, yesterday we completed the room while he was at school. Now, I'm happy to share with you the finished project. We've taken Nick's room from a messy, eclectic one he's outgrown and turned it into a more modern, sleek, storage filled one with plenty of room for friends to hang out.

If you want to follow the progress of the makeover from the beginning, I've posted links to the project beginnings at the end of this post.

First, and most obvious from the original pictures of Nick's room, he needed storage. One of the leading causes of a messy room, other than age appropriate procrastination, is inadequate storage. To remedy the issue, I designed a wall storage niche, desk and headboard configuration which we built on site with the table saw artistry support of Nick's Dad. We then removed the legs from his 2 x 6 constructed bed and mounted it "floating" between the headboard and the walls. To dress it up we created a "weathered steel" facade which mounted over the face. The accent wall of red was highlighted with a custom 3D, backlit piece of art comprised of 5 dimensional letter "N's" of various typestyles. This was an abstract way to express Nick's various interests in science fiction, music, theater and acting.

room makeover, teen room, teen, teen bedroom, makeover by Aaron Christensen

Our secondary storage goal was to get his closet back into working order. The bypass doors had been removed by this parents to create an area for his TV, and AV equipment. In doing so it left his hang bar and other shelving open and exposed.

To return order to his chaos, we installed and finished out a new wall in the middle of the closet niche. This would serve as a divider between the two revamped areas. To the left, shelves were installed to hold his electronics. To the right a hang bar and shelving was reinstalled, restoring his closet into working order. We reinstalled one of the bypass doors with a facelift of blackboard paint and new trim.

To free up floor space and create seating opportunities we removed the roll top desk and replaced it with a revamped and restyled chair. The newly found space also gave room to display his guitar and a personalized piece of art we had Nick create. The art is a collage presentation of his goals, dreams and images to motivate and inspire him (see detailed photos at the end of this post).

Pictured below are details about the room including the custom roller shade and cornice.

This 10 x 9 foot room went from very crowded and underutilized to seemingly spacious and clutter free. It's personality reflects that of Nick, a young man with aspirations and confidence in who he is. It was a terrific project and I'm glad to have been of service. I'd like to thank Nick's parents for their faith in my ideas and their hands-on assistance during the project. The following images offer some details about the individual features of the room.

If you would like to see more of our custom bedrooms be sure to visit our website Aaron Christensen's Embellishments is based in Portland, Oregon and is available for consultation/hire throughout the west coast. We also offer design packages created remotely with correspondence via internet and phone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teen Choice Awards - My Girl's Rock Art in a clip.

The ABC show Modern Family was nominated for the category of Choice TV Comedy on the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. The clip they used features my Girl's Rock Art in the background @ 1:35. Fun Stuff.

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 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.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kids Bedroom Makeover with Ryan Seacrest? What?

Last week, I wrote on our Facebook page asking for submissions of kid's rooms in need of a makeover. I have some new products and new techniques I was hoping to experiment with and photograph in the made-over room. There was an overwhelming response. Now came the hard part.

I'm more of a Paula Abdul judge than a Simon Cowell. I'd much rather tilt my head side to side, smile and see the opportunities within, rather than be critical. But, unless I wanted to do twelve makeovers, I had to start narrowing things down. Immediately, there were obvious rooms that could be cut from the contenders and I don't think they were surprised by my actions. They really didn't need a makeover, just some editing and creative storage. They were the Chris Daultrey's and Adam Lamberts of room makeovers, just a little grooming and styling and they're done. I'm on the hunt for the William Hung or tone deaf, two left feet kinda spaces.

Down to six candidates, I posted them to our Facebook page looking for opinions. The comments and observations were fantastic. But, even with the great feedback, I was presented with a dilemma. A makeover theoretically means there's a before and after. It's the contrast between the two that shows the depth of change. Undoing what's been done and creating new would be the intriguing part of this. Much like this room. The room with no closet, technology spiderwebbed all over, nursery colors and the teenage need for storage. Undoing this "kid's" room and making a "teen" space would be great fun and a challenge.

The dilemma is this room presented as a blank slate, and I mean blank. Does that qualify? The accompanying story is sweet of two girls, sharing space who love fairies and princesses. Surely, two little fairy girls are deserving of a makeover...right? To create more challenges, I find out the room has 3 mysteriously placed attic access doors. Sweet and challenging....hmmm. The owners hit more of a road block which means the room will never progress past this point. There are a lot of parents that hit that same obstacle. They've purchase furniture, placed it in the room and have no idea what to do, especially when presented with two girls of varying ages, likes and 3 weird doors. So, Yes it is a makeover, officially candidate #2.

A third option consists of a room that started off okay, but lost it's direction. It lacked personality so it's a great makeover story in the making. Two boys, rough and tumble, love building things, how things work and are fast becoming the best of friends. Their room could be a place of imagination, fun times and brotherly bonding but it's missing the fun factor and bonus...there's a weird air duct "growth" just hanging on the wall and a out of scale door that leads into their attic play space, under the eaves. What to do...what to do??

The remaining candidates were all very similar, they are great spaces needing something to make them function better or come alive. They were good candidates, but in my American Idol analogy, they could sing, but couldn't find their voice. They're Top 10 material, but couldn't make the cut.

So, as of this post my top three are evident. The "I'm a teen, not a toddler", "Blank - a design roadblock" and "What's that weird duct thing doing in my boring room" rooms.


So, in classic Paula Abdul fashion, I nod and clap, hymn and haw, talk nice and vote all three through. What does that mean? Well, instead of just selecting one room, I select all three, THREE WINNERS!

In depth, this will mean three separate makeovers, with three separate goals and looks. All of which, I'll document and share with you here on the blog. Now, the intention is for these to be made-over, which doesn't mean a full revamp with all new this and all new that, like some game show prize. I'm going to rework the rooms, add some Embellishments tricks and techniques, build things from scratch, shop for a few new things, alter the existing and put the parents to work. We will be teaming up for some sewing, painting, crafty stuff and handyman hardwork. If we can work out our schedules to accommodate this, I'll be working on one room each month for the next three months and sharing the progress with you, here.

Thanks to all the loving parents whom submitted their child's room. I appreciate your faith in my abilities and willingness to allow me to take on this task. This will be fun. Be sure to bookmark or follow the blog for updates.

Coming soon....
Visiting the rooms onsite and discussing ideas for the makeovers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pulling Teeth- Re-imagining the Pediatric Dentist Office

Setting one's self apart from the competition, in my mind, is the new age mother of invention. With technologies ability to crawl, index and categorize everything from A to Z, it seems to me that the only way to be noticed is to be extraordinary at what you do. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with a new Pediatric Dentist on the scene whose ideals and vision is more akin to the extraordinary Walt Disney than a dentist.

As a child, I did not have the greatest of experiences with the dentist. Mine was a seemingly nice guy in his later 50's, white coat and pressed slacks. He spoke softly filling the air with a medicinal blend of mouthwash and cologne. His office was very clinical with textured wallpaper, old magazines, vinyl covered chairs and a walled off reception desk that seemed more like a security check point for what goes on beyond the walnut door marked "Please check in with the receptionist." The office was the product of the clinical mindset, function over form and was designed to get straight to business and get it done effectively and efficiently. There wasn't a surface material in the office that couldn't be pressure washed, scrubbed with bleach or hauled off in a hazmat suit. Counting the precisely place holes in the acoustical tiles, while he rummaged through my mouth was the only escape from the reality of the situation....cavities!

I open the door, expecting to see the recycled vision of my childhood dentist standing before me. This was my first meeting with Dr. Dustin James and I was manifesting the pains of dentistry through the sweat on my brow and the quiver in my hands. Although this was a meeting over design, I somehow felt I was going to end up driving home with gauze in mouth and drooling. To my surprise, standing before me is a thirty-something, bright smiled engaging man with an honest whit, personable way and thankfully no medicinal smell.

Usually when I'm hired to consult or design for uber professionals like dentists, lawyers or doctors, there's a huge communication gap to overcome. I speak in the abstract of the imaginary, waiving my hands as if to carve space into realized objects. They on the other hand are products of their disciplined education hoping for well defined ideas, pragmatic principles and designs that fit into blueprints not storyboards or renderings.

With Dr. James, the initial awkwardness was a product of my experiences now a preconceived notion. Straightline linear this....color theory that, speaking with my hands restrained were all futile exercises designed not to frighten this Doctor of Science with my left brain visions. In a moment he shattered those notions by starting to waive his arms around, motioning objects in the air and talking about movie sets, old restaurants and Walt Disney World. I had entered the twilight zone. Feeling more like I was being punked than interviewed for the work to be done.

Dr. James and I have been friends and collaborators for three years now. We communicate with our hands flying, chicken scratches on the back of napkins and pages of renderings depicting the imaginary realized. Between us we have a museum's worth of story boards, design sketches and mockups of our ideas. Our inaugural project Dentistry for Kids was a success and it's neighboring DFT- Dentistry for Teens recently debuted as the first dentistry office geared especially for teens.

If you haven't experienced the extraordinary in pediatric or teen dental care than I invite you to Wilsonville, Oregon, to visit his offices.

Designed from the ground up for teens, DFT features a technology counter for MAC browsing, smoothies and online music and game play. Props from my studio line the movie theater like cloud above the counter.

There's a bank of Video Game screens for XBox and Playstation play amongst the comic book wall. A vintage Ms. Pacman table console and a DVD jukebox offer entertainment.

After the visit his patients drop by the prize cabinet for a fun take home gift.

The rock n' roll operatory features a 9 ft guitar, video gaming and movie playing on the patient's video screen.

If you'd like to see more pictures be sure to check out and like my Facebook page.
Also, you can see some of our themed operatories here.

For those of you not familiar with the birth of Disneyland, I recommend the book IMAGINEERING-A behind the dreams look at making the magic real from Hyperion press.