Magnolia Market Flowers Boho Bedroom

Boho Chic Dorm Room | Joy Elben Design

If there’s anything we like around here, it’s a project. My big to-do list of 2021 included a very big project: Lissa’s Bedroom. 

Lissa was six when we moved into our home, and she brought her little girl furniture and paint colors from when we decorated her room in our previous home for her fourth birthday. In 2011, Lissa’s room looked like this.


Little Girl Bedroom 2011

We called it her sunshine room and were delighted. This worked till she was twelve. For her twelfth birthday, we redecorated. Lissa got to choose two new colors for above and below her chair rail. We rearranged the furniture, got some fun new bedding, and added a collage of family and friend pictures above her bed. At one point I do remember mentioning that we might go a little more subtle with the blue, but her response was, “Mom, I’m not subtle.” Okay, so true.


Twelve Year Old Bedroom 2016


Just before the pandemic, we discovered a refrigerator leak, and one thing led to another, and pretty soon we were painting the interior of the house. It had been four years since Lissa chose those two colors, so she got to choose again. This is where things got tricky.

Once the two new colors were on the walls and Lissa had ordered a new bedspread for her vision of a Hawaii-beach themed room, things kind of ground to a halt. We did nothing. We were uninspired by the background we had created, and we had extreme decision paralysis.

As a fitting complement to canceled drama performances (including a lead role she didn’t get to play), endless hours of online school, and a canceled mother-daughter 16th birthday trip to see Hamilton on Broadway, this was the backdrop for Lissa’s pandemic spring, summer, and fall—drabby, peach-colored everything and a general feeling of “blah.” She added some fan art to one wall (with tape) and a string of playbills above the closet, but it was clear that her little girl furniture had passed its prime, and the mostly-bare walls were in a constant state of limbo. Every time I went into her room, I complained about it, but I couldn’t get Lissa to express any interest in anything else. We knew we needed change, but we didn’t know what kind of change.

the transformation

If you’ve read my previous decorating posts, you know that interior design is not my gift. Once I determined that Lissa’s room needed work, I contacted my dear friend Joy Elben of Joy Elben Design for help! She is a design genius and always has the best ideas.

 I sent her photos of Lissa’s room, filled her in on the situation and Lissa’s likes and dislikes, and offered up what I thought were well-informed suggestions. Lissa was still undecided about her preferences, so I just took over. Joy made a beautiful Pinterest board. 

It was classy. It was age-appropriate. It catered to Lissa’s love of music and theater. It used her current favorite color. I was ready to get started!

Lissa remained unenthusiastic. 

I questioned my own parenting.

I complained about her entire generation of humans.

I whined to my friend Everin.

Everin (whose daughter is Lissa’s whole-life bestie) asked to see the Pinterest board.

“Oh,” she said. “I see the problem. That’s not Lissa. That’s YOU.”

Joy Elben Design Mock-up

changing directions

So Everin deputized Sascha (Lissa’s bestie) to figure out what Lissa loved, since Lissa couldn’t figure it out for herself, and I certainly couldn’t! The two girls Pinterest-gawked a bit, and before we knew it, we had a new direction, and JOY was off and running! “Oh, I get it!” she said. “She’s a boho girl!” 


And apparently boho girls stick pictures directly to the walls (no frames!), enjoy brown furniture (when we had just eradicated brown furniture from our home when we ditched old world for transitional decor), and string twinkle lights everywhere! I was simultaneously aghast at the atrocities and delighted at Lissa’s newfound passion for our project! And with Joy’s incredible knack for making things beautiful, it wasn’t long before I was in love with the vision

It was a cohesive blend of retro-boho fun, the bright colors Lissa loves, and the classy sparkle of gold and rose-gold (and twinkle lights). It was appropriate for a girl who has been accused of being “20% glitter.”

It has taken three solid months, and we didn’t even get it all done before Lissa’s 17th birthday ten days ago, but as of yesterday we hung the final shelf and plant, and we are officially finished! Ta-da! We’re hopeful that this iteration of Lissa’s room will see her through college (hence “dorm room”), and she’ll be able to take the quality furniture into adulthood. 

Pinterest Board

I mentioned to Lissa that I started a blog about her room.
"Without me?!"
So I let her write the rest.

lissa on lissa's room:

I honestly never thought that I could have such a Pinterest-worthy room! I’m so glad my mom pressed me to change it, and Joy’s ideas were incredible! I had no clue what I wanted, yet she gave me exactly what I needed.

Along with providing a comfortable and beautiful space, this room was also a huge project that got me to spend quality time with my family! Building a bed, hanging up those aforementioned frameless pictures, putting together a vanity . . . twice—

Not only does the final reveal look stunning, but I also got some wonderful experience in decorating and learned a lot!

This was such a thoughtful gift, and I love having a bright and beautiful room again!

Thank you so much, Mom!

Lissa Gray
Boho Chic Bedroom
Collage Wall
Boho Bedroom

So. Many. Pillows.

But they all look spectacular and really sell the “dorm room” feel!

Pillows World Market
Pottery Barn Boho Bedroom

I’ve never had a full-length mirror in my room before, and this one has Hollywood-style lights around it and opens up to provide jewelry storage!

Magnolia Market Flowers Boho Bedroom
Tangled the Series Bedroom
Vanity with Flip Up Mirror

We built this same vanity TWICE. Yep, you read that right. 
The first one had some issues, so they sent us another one completely free! It’s a really awesome concept to have a flip-up mirror, and it’s a great space-saver for my makeup! 

Vanity Table with Flip Top
Makeup Brushes Teen Bedroom
Boho Bedroom Decor

We’ll see how long that calendar stays at April 25th. Hopefully it won’t be longer than a week! 😂

The hat wasn’t originally decor, but it works well with the color scheme, and it just so happens to be my favorite hat!

Playbill Display Ideas

I’m a theatre kid, can you tell?

The playbills were quite a process to put up, but my mom was persistent, and they look great! I’m so happy with how it turned out!

The light-up cinema box was a gift from my brother (an amazing one!). The sign is referring to my school production of Godspell! We open in 4 days!!

Cinema Box Godspell
Boho Bedroom Details
Keeper of the Lost Cities

I insisted on having some of my favorite books on display, and you can probably tell they’ve been very well-read! Keeper of the Lost Cities is a great book series if you’re into fantasy!

Classic Book Display

And we can’t forget about the classics, of course! Anne of Green Gables is especially one of my favorites!

Verse Art Everin Pezdek

The signs above the dresser were made by Miss Everin, my best friend’s mom.

It was so sweet of her to make these, and I even got to choose my favorite Bible verses! The colors and fonts all look fantastic!

Having my guitar on my wall makes it so much easier to play. I’m looking forward to taking guitar at school next year. 🎶

Guitar Displayed on Wall
Boho Bedroom Dorm Room for Teen
Record Play for Boho Teen

My record player sits record-less for the time being, but it connects to Bluetooth, and the speakers work great! 

If there are any Broadway or Disney records out there—I’d snatch them up in an instant!

Collage Aesthetic Wall

THE WALL! This was my favorite part of the whole thing!

It’s got some aesthetics along with pretty much all of my favorite fandoms! My mom color-balanced everything to make it work with the colors of the room. Putting over one hundred 5×7 prints up took a while, but it was an enjoyable time to spend together, listening to show tunes while we worked, and we were both really happy with how it turned out!

Fan Art Tangled the Series
Pom Pom Curtain Fringe
Platform Bed with Storage

“Act natural,” she said. I tried…

But the bed I’m sitting on is the real model, here.

It took practically all day for Papa and me to build, and for once I was actually part of the process! It turned out better than I ever thought, and the storage underneath is such an awesome feature!

The big round rug is another favorite thing. It uses all the colors and ties everything together. 

Giant Collage of Fan Art
Under Bed Storage Platform Bed
Full Length Mirror with Jewelry Storage
Newsies Flash Tangled the Series
Everin Pezdek Art
Boho Chic Bedroom

To see more of Joy’s magic, check out last year’s decorating blogs (baby steps!):

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