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From loud and colourful barbie prints to a subdued boho, a preteen's room makeover with 1 hack

Updated: Feb 29

Like any other girl of her age, my 9 year old niece's room was full of Barbie-themed everything -- toys, dollhouses, study table and even a 5 feet tall cupboard! They featured all sorts of children-favourites like bunnies, characters from Frozen, (Elsa?), Barbie and others that I'm too old to know.

But as my niece turned 10, and slowly fairytale books and TV gave away to Snapchat and video games, her aesthetic sensibilities seem to be growing too. From a pink-obsessed girl to a more grey and black loving teenage, she's growing into her age. A natural progression of that seems to be in her decor choices. No longer is pink or barbie the first thing she picks up off the shelves at a supermarket.

Sensing an opportunity for a makeover, but also fearing her mother (my brother's wife) I decided to do a subtle makeover involving only the 2 things I could touch -- the Barbie-themed cupboard and the cartoon-printed study table.

This "makeover" was really a hack involving just 1 object -- Peel n Stick wallpaper. Since painting the wardrobe like the one in my own house wasn't an option, I leaned on the same thing before when I transformed my kitchen's ugly shelf doors into less uglier version with the same peel and stick wallpaper sheets. So the niece and I made a girls trip out of it to "Mr DIY", an IKEA-like showroom selling fancy China-imported knick knacks and decor items in tier 2 cities in India and picked up a couple of rolls of the "removable wallpaper", one I only knew of too well.

The process of working the peel and stick wallpaper on wood was simple.

  • I gave the study table a good wipe removing any traces of residual sticker glue, grime and dust,

  • Let it dry.

  • Measured the surface of the table and cut the wallpaper in shape of the study table

  • Placed it (without sticking yet) on the surface and adjusted to make sure it fit the corners well.

  • Once that was done, with the help of the niece, stuck the sheet, beginning from top and pressing down as I went, making sure it didn't crease or bubble. (It does bubble despite your best efforts!)

And voila, within 15 minutes, the cartoon-emblazoned study table that had seen better days turned into a white exposed-brick imitation desk which suddenly made the room go from a 9-yr old's to a "I mean business" 10 year old's.

Since she liked the effect so much, we decided to replicate the same for the Barbie-themed cupboard. Another trip to Mr. DIY and purchase of another 2 rolls of wallpaper followed. This time we picked up a beige piece with purple flowers, something that'd go with the purple walls in the room.

Followed the same process, except this time the cupboard also needed removing of the locks and handles and reattaching them later. After using two whole rolls of peel and stick wallpaper, we managed to erase all traces of its barbie background. NGL, a part of me felt a little sad. It almost felt like I stripped away a part of my niece's childhood and expelled her into a forced adulthood. But hey, she seemed to like it.

To retain a bit of the touch of whimsy and a boho flavour, I dangled a tiny dreamcatcher from the cupboard handle matching the purple flowers of the wallpaper.

While this room still needs a few changes that I'd have liked, it already looks a lot different from its earlier loud and cartoon-infested self.

What do you think?

About the author: I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession.

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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

Connect with me on the following channels to get more real-time content that I'm too lazy to blog about.

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