Three Bedroom Makeovers For Three Deserving Kids


John and I had the chance to do the most fun and fulfilling project recently: designing new bedrooms for three amazing local kids who are currently going through cancer treatment. We’ve shared a few sneak peeks on Instagram and our podcast, but here’s our big photo-packed post with details on each of the rooms as promised for you guys! We couldn’t be more excited to share them with you.

First, some background on the project. A few weeks ago the team at Biringer Builders reached out to us for help. They’re the custom builder we teamed up with back in 2014 to design a charity showhouse for Richmond Homearama (below are some photos of that project). Homerama is an annual event where people can tour several show homes for design ideas and this year’s charity partner is ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. They’re an awesome organization that provides support to kids and families battling cancer, so Biringer and ASK decided that rather than just decorate the bedrooms in their showhouse for fictional placeholder children, why not design the rooms for real kids going through treatment.

Which is where we came in. They asked if we could maybe help with a room or two, and we said “WE WANT TO DO ALL THREE!” Kids rooms are our favorites and we LOVE being able to help families that are going through something like this. So we basically sprang into action Spider-man style (except wearing less skintight clothing) and began sourcing things for each room according to each child’s wish list and personal info about hobbies, favorite colors, etc. Although the timing was tight, we even got some amazing decor-related donations along with donating some money to the budget ourselves to make sure these rooms are awesome for these sweet kids and their families.

Speaking of the timeline, we received those details about each kid and their likes/requests just a few weeks ago – so we definitely hustled to pull everything together before the show opened last weekend. It was a whirlwind at times (the first time we got to see the rooms in person was just five days before our deadline), but the crew at Biringer (shout out to Justin and Taylor!) was a huge help in making sure everything came together in time. We’re going to be mindful of these families’ privacy in this post (hence just using each kid’s first initial throughout – and not including a ton of personal details) but please know that many of the choices made for each room came directly from requests, interests, or wish-lists that these kids came up with for their own spaces.

Oh and you might be wondering: why put this stuff in a showhouse first? Why not just directly makeover their rooms? Well, by sharing these rooms in the showhouse first, it shines a giant spotlight on ASK, and people walking through will hopefully be inspired to donate or volunteer. And then after the show all of the furniture and decor will be moved into their real homes (beds, curtains, lights, everything!) in a couple of weeks.

A Full Video Tour

Before we dive into a room-by-room photo breakdown (with all the sources for everyone asking!), I wanted to share this quick video walk-through that I made right after we finished. John convinced me to step out of my iPhone comfort zone and use the good camera, so here it goes. You’ll get to see all three rooms as I walk through them and chat about each one – and you’ll hopefully get a better sense of how everything flows together. Plus you get to enjoy some of my classic jabs-finger-into-frame-to-point-things-out moves.

You can watch it below or here on YouTube. Note: If you’re viewing this post in a reader, you may need to click through to see the video.

A’s Bedroom

A is the youngest of the kids (she’s actually the closest in age to our own daughter) and her #1 request was for a loft bed with a desk underneath. So we found this one for her, which became our starting point for the room. From there it was all about incorporating her favorite colors and her love of things like nature and animals (especially stuffed ones) throughout the space.


loft bed / pillows / bedding / throw / dreamcatcher / butterfly art / wicker elephant

Since A’s real room back at home isn’t as generously sized as this one in the showhouse, the desk under the loft will be a great space-saving solution for her (smart girl to request one!). That also explains why the rug above isn’t quite large enough for this big room (we erred on the side of choosing things that will fit their actual rooms perfectly, even if they’re a smidge too small for the showhouse).

We found this fun chair at HomeGoods to add to the desk area (it doesn’t appear to be sold online, but here’s a similar version). And our friends at Shades of Light donated the swirly table lamp, along with several of the other light fixtures in the spaces. Don’t mind the fake laptop. #showhousetricks

loft bed / similar chair / lamp / pillow

Speaking of the donations from Shades of Light, we were psyched to get to use this tiered capiz chandelier that we designed for them last year. It’s one of our favorite lights we’ve ever made with them (hello, capiz circles as big as my palm!) and it’s so cool that Biringer is going to send their electrician to install it in A’s room when the show is over.

The rug is one we bought from Green Front Furniture, which is a giant furniture warehouse about an hour from us in Farmville, VA. They’re the furniture partner for Homearama, so a lot of the items throughout all of the homes are loaned out for the show and available for purchase by anyone walking through… but not this rug – it’s all A’s! (Here’s a similar one, for anyone who isn’t near enough to Greenfront to shop there)

And actually a lot of the art throughout the Biringer showhouse is a similar situation. A local artist collective called Yellow Door Art lets them use their paintings to fill the walls, and then Homearama visitors can purchase them right off the walls if they’d like (they pick them up after the show). We actually bought a piece this way last year – and they have generously offered to donate some of the paintings in each of these three rooms to these awesome kids.

We were also so happy when Jenny Komenda (of Little Green Notebook & Jenny’s Print Shop) offered to donate three awesome framed prints – one for each kid.  That’s her butterfly print all framed up below. It’s just $15 for the digital download and you can print it huge and frame it yourself – her shop is such a great art resource. Thanks Jenny!

This little play nook is one of my favorite spots in A’s room. Again, she loves animals (stuffed and real) so we collected a variety of species for her throughout the room and in many forms (they’re all inanimate in this case though – ha!). I even came across this always-sold-out elephant basket from Target’s Opalhouse line. It’s never in stock anywhere so I think it must’ve been a return or something. Or elephant destiny.

Speaking of animals baskets, under the wall of windows we added an accent table that A doesn’t have space for in her actual room, but it anchored this spot in the showhouse nicely (one of the challenges was making sure first and foremost that these kids had awesome rooms when everything went into their space, but also making sure the showhouse didn’t seem weirdly sparse for the show).

Thankfully the table is one of those loaner items from Greenfront, so it was really nice to have on hand for that spot. A’s going to get all of the accessories though, like the storage suitcases in her favorite colors and – my personal favorite – the kitty basket underneath. Plus she loves riding bikes so that little bicycle painting (from YellowDoorRVA) is one they’re giving to her. How sweet is that?!

But back to the kitty basket for a minute. Would it be wrong for a 36-year-old woman to have this basket in her room? Asking for a friend.

A will also be getting this Jenny Lind dresser (it’s even more beautiful in person, and so well made) that anchors a small nook on the other side of the room. We hung our favorite circle mirror above it since the gold complements all of the wicker in the room along with the gold chandelier. And you know that little bike screamed A’s name, so we had to stick that in the room too.

So that’s A’s fresh new bedroom. All of the little details like this yarn dreamcatcher were so much fun to pull together. She was a blast to design for and our fingers are crossed that we get to meet her face to face sometime soon to tell her how much we enjoyed making this room just for her.

J’s Bedroom

J was the only boy in the group, and he’s a young man of simple requests. He likes sports (most of all basketball), as well as videos games, and the color red. Red can be an overpowering color to decorate with, so we tried to incorporate it in ways that wouldn’t be too overwhelming (we want his bedroom to feel restful and calming for him and his family). So a tip for working those stronger tones into a room without making too crazy is to neutralize it with a fair amount of grounding tones like blue, gray, and white. They cut the intensity and balance things out. J really wanted a new twin sized bed so we found these nice gray upholstered ones. I love that we were able to give him a fully upholstered bed frame and not just an upholstered headboard.

beds / nightstand / rug / mirrors / sconces / duvet / blanket / navy pillow / patterned pillow

Since J’s room is smaller than this one, he actually only has room for (and a need for) one twin bed. But Biringer suggested that we buy a second one (well, they buy a second one – ha!) to better fill out the room for the show. The look of two matching beds like this is always so charming if you have the space – but I also love picturing J’s room with this rug and a single twin bed, with both sconces flanking it. You can tell from the photos above that it’s another case of the rug being a little too small for this big room, but it’ll be perfect in his space.

The sconces are the same ones we have in our beach house’s back bedroom, just in the brass/black finish this time. They’re the ones we designed for Shades of Light a few years back, and they generously donated these too. We find ourselves working them into rooms a lot because they’re plug-in (so you don’t need an electrician to hang them – you just screw them into the wall anywhere you want them , and plug them in. That’s it!). Plus you can easily move them if needed – like when it’s time for them to be rehung in J’s real bedroom.

A lot of the bedding is from Target (like the white duvets and the blue blankets at the foot of the bed), since it was a convenient place to grab stuff as the clock ticked towards our deadline (some things we ordered online had us sweating until the very last minute – like A’s white dresser that showed up mere hours before we had to be completely finished).

Those special handmade and oh-so-beautiful blue shibori pillows are from Danielle Oakey, who very generously donated (and rush delivered!) them after seeing an Instagram sneak peek about this project. We bought some of her pillows for our own living room a while back and really love her stuff, so they were a great addition to make J’s bed feel layered and a little more special. Even if they end up in a pile on the floor most of the time like kids pillows tend to do.

Also I’m starting a new trend called “Real Basketball As Pillow.” This bright red and blue one just looked so cute up there on the bed – and we actually later got it signed by members of his favorite team (all the heart eyes). I’m sure it’ll end up in one of the baskets that we filled with toys and games for him in real life, but I just loved leaving it up there for the show.

I wanted to call out this bay window too. The curtains are just nice white ones that we rush ordered for all three rooms (we’ve never met a crisp white curtain we didn’t like) but originally the installer had hung the rods on top of the two side windows. Pardon this quick phone picture I took, but I wanted to show you how much of a difference just one single tweak can make when it comes to windows. This is the before:

And this is the after:

All we did was hang another rod to span that middle section, removed the finials, and inched the curtains over into that angled area so it gave the appearance of a continuous rod across all three windows. The entire side of the room felt a lot more seamless and cozy as soon as we connected the “curtain rod eyebrows” that were going on before (hooray for curtain rod unibrows!). You’d need to add a third set of curtains to make them able to fully close – but thanks to the white wood blinds that do the light blocking, they’re purely decorative in this case. So for anyone who has ever asked me how to add curtains to an angled window like this, there ya go.

On the opposite side of the room is this dresser that, along with the rug, adds some nice warmth to balance the cool colors in the space (gray beds, lots of blue accents, etc). Again, the rug would ideally be larger for this space, but this 5 x 7′ size is perfect for J’s actual room back at home. And you can’t beat the price!

dresser / art / lamp / rug / cornhole game

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes shot for ya. In taking the photo above, John was complaining that the glare was making the art print hard to see (it was another one that Jenny so generously framed and donated from her print shop). So I took one for the team and blocked the glare with whatever large object I could find (which ended up being a painting from another room, ha!). John photoshopped a few pictures together to get what you see above, minus me standing creepily in the middle of the shot like a toddler playing hide-n-seek. You can’t see me!

We had a ton of fun gathering toys, games, and other gifts for the kids too (since children’s joy for new furniture only goes so far). J also got some new sporting stuff, including balls and a basket full of Nerf stuff. We were particularly charmed by this tabletop version of cornhole that John may have spent more than few minutes playing in a surprisingly competitive manner. Against himself. Father’s Day gift….?

I mean, he even took a special photo of it.

So there’s J’s room. It doesn’t scream “sporty” in every last nook and cranny, but we’ve learned that kids rooms are often best when they’re just a simple backdrop so new items & interests can be layered into them as they grow and change. So if tomorrow he decides he likes baseball more than basketball, we didn’t go all in on a rug covered with basketball hoops or a dresser that’s painted like a scoreboard.

But it would be pretty simple to switch the framed print next to his bed from red basketball art to whatever else he’s into.

S’s Bedroom

S is the oldest of the kids (a young lady, really) and she described herself as laid back and chill, so we went for a casual California vibe in her room. And these rattan headboards that I found on eBay (yes, eBay!) were the perfect way to kick things off (they’re also on Wayfair but appear to cost more at the moment). These arrived with just a day or two to spare, so I had some backup headboards on hand, but I’m SO GLAD they came! They make the whole room!

headboards / nightstand / lamp / bedding / navy pillow / pink pillows / art

Like J’s room, S requested a single twin bed for her actual room, but the builder bought an extra one so the house felt more filled out for the show. I love the fact that all the stuff we got for these rooms is flexible enough to work in a giant space with the addition of a few extra pieces, but will also work in a cozier room like their actual homes. It makes them feel nice and flexible, which is a good thing when it comes to rooms for kids.

The headboards pair so nicely with the boho jute light fixture we picked out for the room, which again was donated by Shades of Light (they even expedited it so it would make it here in time – whew!). It gives off the prettiest light pattern when it’s on too!

Our original plan for over the beds was to hang round mirrors over each headboard, but we realized as soon as the headboards finally arrived that large round items over a rounded headboard essentially create an accidental snowman. Whoops! So it was on to Plan B, which ended up being so pretty. It’s this large painting from Yellow Door Art artist Stacey Reece – and it was the perfect way to pull in some of the colors we already had going on in the room. Those navy pillows are actually two more of the same ones we bought for J’s room. They’re just such a nice scale, plus the pink pillows donated by Danielle Oakey pair so nicely with them.

The little blue nightstand was a last minute find after desperately trying about 10 local places in search for the right side table (the one we ordered was later cancelled and never shipped! AHH!). Can you believe we struck out at two HomeGoods but ended up stumbling upon this perfect find with less than 24 hours before our deadline? We have never been more grateful to see a night stand in our lives!

The other side of her room features a nice big dresser, anchored by a casual spot to chill (courtesy of this cozy beanbag – another feature that John “tested out” before we left). I wish, wish, WISH I had a link to the amazing dresser for you guys, but it was a one-of-a-kind sample found at Greenfront Furniture (this one is somewhat similar in tone & dimension along the front panels). But how cool is it that S gets this one-of-a-kind furniture piece in her bedroom?!

bean bag / rug / lamp / small art / large art

This rug is also a great one – the price is awesome, it’s super durable, the pattern hides stains, and it ties in so well with the navy pillows and the art on the other side of the room. S loves navy (and blue in general) so it was another lucky find for her space.

S told us that she’s really into words of encouragement and empowerment – she wanted her space to feel confident (how awesome is she?). So I found this “Who Run The World” printable on Etsy that paired really nicely with the colors in this large heart print, which was another framed donation from Jenny’s Print Shop. And I couldn’t resist grabbing that little desktop “Like A Boss” sign for her too (found it at Target but can’t find it online).

The gradient lamp adds more of her favorite color while providing some nice light for beanbag reading/lounging. As a general kids room note, it’s nice to have a ceiling fixture and at least one table lamp or floor lamp (just for functional things like reading or even just that added glow beyond the overhead variety).

And now that I think about it, maybe every room could stand to have a little bit of Beyoncé in it too…

I think that just about wraps it up. Don’t forget to scroll back up and watch the video if you skipped over that to read the post (it gives you a much better idea of how everything flows). And if a video walk-through isn’t enough, you can come see the rooms in person along with all seven designer show homes by attending The Richmond Homearama. It runs Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am – 6pm (this week and next – ending May 20th). You can check out the link above for more info & tickets.

Thanks again to Homearama, Biringer Builders, and ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation for inviting us to help with this very special project. If you’d like to find out more, give a donation, or get involved with ASK, please check out their website for more info. Every single person we worked with on this project was amazing and we heard from so many other parents who have personally been helped by ASK when their family was going through a very rough time. They’re wonderful people doing wonderful things.

***P.S. If you’d like bonus photos, tips, project ideas, and behind-the-scenes info delivered straight to your inbox, click here to subscribe to our free newsletter. Last week we talked about making large cheap framed art for the beach house & this week we’re sharing what design idea we saw at the showhouse that we’re totally stealing for the beach house.***

*This post contains affiliate links – and the proceeds from these links will be donated to ASK*

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