Anything. But. Pink.

My 12-year-old daughter recently announced to me that she wanted to redecorate her room. 

She wanted it more grown up with a new color palette that involved: Anything. But. Pink.

I saw this coming. 

She’s been looking, starry-eyed, at the new Pottery Barn Teen catalog for the past year, earmarking the pages along the way. 

Seeing this change in the works, I told her that — if she were ready to get rid of, maybe, half of the 100 stuffed animals in her closet, or some of the buckets of Barbies — there might be some opportunities for new things. The resulting open space might give her room to tuck a desk inside the closet — or it might create space for the clothes currently stuffed into dresser, which could then be removed to make room for one of those lush corner couches.

Change in play

I’ve been through this already with my son, her older brother by three years. 

We’ve made a few big moves as a family. Incidentally, they’ve coincided with changes in his development and interests. 

When he was 7, we were on the brink of a move out of California. 

He was growing up, and I was no longer finding “guys” in his pockets — whether it was a superhero
or a Star Wars character — when I was doing
his laundry. 

His toddler-friendly Thomas the Tank Engine sets lost their appeal and just took up space in his closet. His interests had turned to LEGOs and outdoor play. 

Then, when he was 12, he couldn’t talk enough about making his room into a teenager room. 

And another move gave us reason to change it
up: In our new Minnesota home, we upgraded his twin bed to full size. He asked me to leave his childhood trophies in a box. He wasn’t going to display them anymore. 

The moves made it easy for me to downsize his stuff, particularly his toys, without getting too sentimental. We broke in the newness with his choice of paint colors and bedding.

Closet evolution 

I told my daughter — just like her brother — that we would change her room to be more of a teenage room when she was ready.

Then one day, all on her own, it started. She slowly started taking down her American Girl doll furniture and began putting it into the crawl space. Her Barbies found a new home nearby. 

Last month, she made a large bag of stuffed animals she thought would be fun for a young neighbor.

We went to work on her anything-but-pink room with navy and purple bedding. We hung a new fabric-covered corkboard chosen by her, covered by Dad. We even let her spray paint her giant hot pink Eiffel tower a glorious shade of deep purple. 

Bedrooms are their safe places

Before the kids were born, I remember choosing the bedding and carefully tucking the extra baby blankets into their drawers — all folded, clean and ready for their arrivals. 

As the years have gone by, however, I’ve realized the colors and decorations aren’t just expressions of how I see them, they’re also demonstrations of how they see themselves. 

Our kids’ bedrooms are safe places where they’ve played, imagined and dreamed. And their closets are full of their childhood memories.

I know that by letting them change their rooms as they grow, we’re letting them express the physical and emotional changes they can feel themselves going through, too. 

To treasure

I noticed recently in my son’s closet an intentionally covered stash of five of his special stuffed animals he slept with as a baby. And her American Girl dolls, despite all of their moved accessories, are still displayed in her closet.

What they don’t know is I still have his baby blue twin sheets tucked in the back of the linen closet, and her pale pink ones with fairies on them, too.

Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and daughter and son. Send comments, questions and story ideas to