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Arizona Daily Star
Rethinking Kids' Rooms

Think of a kid's room with a sea motif and you imagine the obvious: cute fish and billowing seaweed painted on the walls, a poster print or two of sailboats, a "Finding Nemo" bedspread.

But when it came to his own bedroom, 4-year-old Caden Ridenour got something out of the ordinary.

Because he's the fourth and youngest child in his family, his mom, Christa Ridenour, felt he deserved something special. "He always got lots of leftovers and hand-me-downs," Ridenour reasoned.

She and her husband, Cary, decided to convert the office of their four-bedroom Foothills home into a fifth bedroom for Caden. Then, in search of some ideas, Christa paid a visit to one of her favorite Tucson stores.

Susan Luedtke, owner of The Stork's Nest of the Old Pueblo, a children's boutique, showed Ridenour some fish-themed bedding that seemed to capture Caden's personality.

"They're not your typical fish," Ridenour says of the design, which can best be described as a cross between a doodle and an adult cartoon. "It's just Caden. He's very social and outgoing."

Plus, she says, having three older siblings has made him both a prankster and someone who has grown up pretty fast.

The fact that the bedding was made of organic cotton was also a plus for Ridenour. "I'm just learning about organic, from materials to food," she says.

In designing and outfitting Caden's room, she used the turquoise and brown bedding to inspire both the color scheme -- pale-blue walls and dark-brown furniture -- and the room's overall philosophy. "I worked with the whole idea that we're saving the planet for the children," Luedtke says.

Luedtke reused existing pieces of family furniture and stained them dark; the only new pieces, a dresser and set of stacking bins, both from Bratt Decor.

And she found a quote from the Cousteau Society that appears across the top of two of the walls. The "bill of rights for future generations" reads: "Every person has the right to inherit an uncontaminated planet on which all forms of life may flourish." The lettering was supplied by Luedtke with the help of a local sign company.

The room's design became a family affair for Luedtke. She drafted her nurse husband, Kurt, to help. And their 16-year-old daughter, Hallie, came up with the idea of creating a wooden "dock" to hold Caden's toys.

A local carpenter, David Rowland-Zaher, made the corner unit. Rope handles were installed on two doors along the bottom of the unit; they open to reveal a space for toys.

Through eBay, Luedtke bought a rope net that drapes across Caden's four-poster bed to resemble a fishing net. Decorative glass balls are held in the rope, along with a ship's bell, which Caden is fond of ringing after breakfast to rally his family into action.

Ridenour picked up a bargain rug with colors that repeated those in the bedding. And finally, Luedtke located a painting of underwater fish that gives an extra punch of color to the room.

Ridenour estimates the total cost for the room was $2,700.

Written by: Gillian Drummond

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