THE CHALLENGE: Transform a boy's bedroom from plain vanilla to fun and fresh.

The designer: Lisa Ball, Design by Lisa, Minneapolis, 952-261-2027, www.designby

Time for a change: Amy Kelly's son, Ryan, was just about to enter his teens when he asked for a room makeover last year. "I wanted to do something kind of special, but I wasn't sure what," she said. Ryan likes airplanes, but his mother worried an aviation motif might look too juvenile as he got older. "I wanted something a little a little more sophisticated, to carry him through high school and even college when he comes home," she said. Inspired by a photo in a magazine, she and designer Lisa Ball decided to use horizontal stripes.

Refining the palette: Kelly had recently bought new window treatments for the room, Roman shades in deep blue, to complement the plaid bedding. "I wanted blue to dominate, because of the window treatments, but in a lighter shade," she said. Instead of using a primary-color palette, which Ball considered "little-boy colors that he would outgrow," they opted for a more "traditional" palette of red, gray and steel blue, with some apple green -- "to keep it a little more current."

Editing the design: Ball made "little scale mockups" of the design for the stripes, which evolved over time. "I had way more stripes at first, and it was just too much," she said. "So I made bigger, bolder stripes." Initially, "there was a lot of red, but we toned that down," she said, using red for smaller stripes and the backs of the bookcases that flank the window seat. And instead of using the stripes on all four walls, they decided to use them more sparingly, on an accent wall only, with understated gray on the other three. "I like to do things a little differently, a little on the edge, but not way out," Kelly said. The far wall (not visible) is decorated with memorabilia from trips Ryan and his mother have taken, along with a map of Europe.

Maximizing the space: Ryan's room is not large, about 10 by 12 feet, so keeping stuff to a minimum was an important design consideration. His platform bed has a built-in cabinet with drawers, eliminating the need for a dresser, Kelly said. Ryan wanted a desk, so Ball found a small study desk, which was stained dark to match the bed, and a red gooseneck table lamp. Emptying the room for painting also prompted some editing of Ryan's possessions. "We took out the little-boy stuff, like the stuffed animals," Ball said.

The result: The bold stripes and red-backed bookshelves gave the room punch. "You can't beat paint for an inexpensive way to do a room," Ball said. They used professional painters, "but it could be a do-it-yourself project," but not an easy one. "It took two days," she said. "There's a lot of taping, letting it dry and coming back." The verdict from Ryan: an enthusiastic thumbs up, according to his mom. Ryan, a history and geography buff, stocks his bookshelves with atlases and World War II titles, Kelly said. "He loves to be in here, doing his reading."

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