In my last column, I shared with you strategies on using pattern to decorate a teenage girl’s bedroom. Today it’s her younger brother’s turn and this time, I’m sharing tips on color and theme.

This was a typical bedroom with four white walls and no personality. But Luke is an 11 year old with tons of personality, and we wanted his room to reflect that.

Like many boys his age, Luke’s favorite color is blue and one of his passions is surfing. You can see that we incorporated the color and theme into the space. Here are the why and how so you can easily do this, too.



First, we wanted to deliver a “wow” factor with color, but since ocean blue can make a room feel too dark, we painted it on only two walls. We left a third wall white but added bold stripes.

Why did we choose stripes, and how did we come up with the colors?

The answer is simple and practical: Adding stripes to a large wall creates colorful interest and allows the strategic addition of colored floating shelves.

Staying with shades of blue in a monochromatic palette would have had too soothing an effect. For Luke we needed a lively punch. The fresh green stripe delivers that energy, especially against the deeper nautical blue of the main stripe.

But we didn’t choose just any green. We matched the shade to the green in the bedding, and then used this color in the locker side tables, floating shelves and desk chair. This unifies the room and sets off the blues.


As for the theme? Surf and ocean images are used sparingly on the walls, bedding and in some accents. And that’s another tip: Bringing in accessories to create your theme is important, but especially in a boy’s room, you don’t want to take it too far.

Instead, hold back and try mixing things up a bit. We easily could have included beachy themes in the lighting, headboard and desk chair, but went with more spare, linear shapes.

The showpiece of the room is a custom surfboard wave desk. It’s totally cowabunga, dude, so I’ll save that for next time!

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit