Today's post is by Cory Vasquez, Director, PR & Social Media, at RE/MAX Word Headquarters.

It could be a bad idea – surprising a loved one with a room makeover, especially when that loved one is your 12-year-old.

For parents of preteens, you know this is an age of uncertainty, which is precisely why we decided to surprise our daughter with a new bedroom. We want our new middle schooler to feel confident and we believe confidence begins at home. So we decided to upgrade her room from pretty in purple, filled to the ceiling with stuffed animals, to sophisticated and study ready with touches of the things that make her unique.

Before...and after!

But did we get it right?

Here's how we did it and how we recommend you pull off your own killer surprise room makeover:


Know Your Subject. Of course we know our own daughter, but do we know her well enough to design the room she wants without her input? We carefully studied her interests, style choices and even online searches for several weeks to pinpoint what makes her unique. We determined the following:

1) She's a pack rat and needs lots of options for storage and organization.

2) She loves to make things her own, so we gave her magnetic walls, bulletin boards and a chalkboard so she could design, stylize and pin at will!

3) She loves animals, feathers and fun art which we used as design elements throughout her room.

Timing is Everything.
As with any DIY project, we created a plan including a budget and timeline. Because the new room would be a surprise, we planned a two-day, getaway trip for both kids with grandma and grandpa to give us just enough time – including a few very late nights – to pull off the transformation.

Purchase Ahead.
With a plan and budget in hand, I spent weeks gathering items for her room. Every time I went to the hobby store, I picked up a few more things from the list – most of them red tagged, YAY! – and stashed them in a secret bin in the garage. I searched local online community sale sites for bigger ticket items like a chandelier and purchased things online that she'd already stashed in a cart.

Have your camera ready. Because if you've done it right, the reaction is priceless and something you'll want to have forever. My husband was in the room and I followed our daughter in to be sure we caught it all – shock, tears and hugs. It's a moment none of us will forget.