Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cadettes: Build Your Dream Room

Every group of girls is different.  As the girls age, it is hard as a leader to always maintain their interest, especially with the Girl Scout recommended curriculum.  Sometimes I really have to think outside the box to create meetings and activities that will get the girls excited.  Often times I present meeting ideas and let the girls choose what they want to do.  This was the case with the "Financing My Dreams" badge.  After reading the recommended activities for this badge, I knew this would not hold my girls interest.  While still trying to maintain the GS concept and guidelines for the badge, I proposed to the girls that rather than working to finance a trip, your dream job and home, which is a bit out-of-sight for my girls, we would finance our "Dream Room".  All the girls perked up and showed immediate interest.  By a show of hands the girls unanimously voted to make this our next meeting.

Prior to the meeting, I asked my parents to save every design, home accessory, newspaper furniture advertisement and furniture catalog that came to their doorstep and I asked the girls to roughly measure their room. On the day of our meeting each girl was given a foam board cut in half (foam boards are $1 at Dollar Tree). Thanks in part to my parents we had a nice selection of Pottery Barn Teen, Home Decorating, Restoration Hardware, Justice Catalogs, etc.  Pottery Barn Teen seemed to be a favorite, we could have used more.  FYI:  We did have some arguing over these catalogs :-)  But in the end the girls LOVED sifting through the catalogs and sharing ideas.

1.  Each girl was asked to draw their floor plan on the board using a pencil and then trace the outline with a Sharpie.  Some girls asked if they could create a dream room from scratch rather than using their true dimensions and I thought sure, why not, it is their dream room. Girls also requested to buddy up and build a room together and I allowed this as well because they would still grasp the concept and it was more fun for them.  Plus, I told them this was good preparation for creating their dorm room with their college roommate.
2.  I asked the girls to imagine how they want their room to "feel".  Cozy, Warm, Eclectic, Contemporary, Bright, Dark, Theme, Vintage, Patterned, Cottage Feel, Cabin Feel, Lodge Feel, Rock, Star Style, Bold, Chic, Whimsical, lots of Texture, Purpose-Driven - hardwood floors with ballet bar etc.  Most girls had put some thought into their room and had a definite feel in their mind.
Next I asked them:
Are you working with a large space or small space?
Do you share the room?
Do you want the room to feel full or open?

3.  Next they cut and paste their "dream" furniture and accessories onto the board.  Leaders this will not be perfect. Catalog furniture graphics are not scaled to the board size, but it gives them a good idea what their room will look like and where the items will be placed.  Accessories could be placed in the room, but if possible it was better to paste/list them on the side or back of the board.
4.  The girls were asked to record the cost or estimated cost of each and every furniture item, accessory or room improvement (this included paint, drapes, linens. light fixtures etc).  I wanted them to be very detailed so they could have a realistic idea what a room make-over costs.  This was probably the hardest task for them as it was sometimes hard to find a complete price, but my co-leader and I made ourselves accessible to help them come up with a reasonable estimate.  The girls realized quickly how fast big ticket items added up.  The girls were given virtually an endless budget at $5000, but I was surprised several girls' rooms far exceeded this budget.
5.  Once the girls had completed the above tasks they were asked to go back and re-evaluate what items they would keep if their budget was only $500.  What items would make the biggest impact to their vision of a "dream" room.  Would they keep all of their current furniture, add a new bed spread, rug and paint?  Would they prefer to have one new furniture item like a cool chair?  This was a great time to talk about vintage, thrift and garage sale finds.  How painting a room can make a big difference and how a fresh coat of paint on furniture can make old things, look new.
6.  Finally if the girls weren't willing to compromise on certain items or design ideas and were determined to re-create the exact room they had built, we talked about how they could budget the room of their dreams over several months to years.   If this is the case, what would they save monthly for the make-over?  What items would be most important to obtain?

We also discussed some interesting topics like:
How does internet shopping play a role in room design now?  Does shipping play a part in budgeting for their dream room.
I shared some Decorating Tips
Penny Pinching Decorating:
    Use and/or re-invent flea market or garage sale finds
    Sew your own drapes or curtains
    Use on piece of furniture for 2 purposes: like a desk as a side table
    Use Wallpaper on one wall for a bold impact
    Paint wall behind the bed
    Create your own artwork
    Re-invent your bedding, it can change the whole look of your room
    Don’t forget the ceiling... painting the ceiling can give a unique, new look
    Mirrors add sparkle to any room
    De-clutter can make a big impact
    Add trees or plants to give natural, earthy feel
    Reposition current furniture can give a new feel to your room
    Get a tactical feel to your room by using different textures: feathered pillow, fluffy rug, twine rope on            lamps, fur on blanket  
    Add a whimsical feel by using different colors of paint

Finally encourage the girls to 'Think Outside the Box!'  
Most importantly do not design the room for anyone, but yourself!

As a leader I always worry the girls might not enjoy independent activities like this, but my daughter quickly reassured me when she got into the car after this meeting and said, "Mom this was the best meeting.  I had so much fun!"  That was all the encouragement I needed.

I used several handouts to facilitate our discussion and spark their creativity.
CLICK HERE for Bedroom Budget Planner
Bedroom Floor Plan
Decorating Tips  for Bedroom
Maximizing Decoration Budget
Room Feel