Michael Brown got a lesson in budgeting as well as a room makeover when his parents allowed him to convert his childhood playroom into a teen's "cave."
Given a budget of "a few thousand dollars," the 13-year-old student changed the room in his home on Chickamauga Lake from a circus theme to one that speaks of his love of McCallie School and his passion for baseball.
Before the makeover, when friends came over, he would close the door to the brightly striped red, blue, yellow and green room "and pretend it's a closest," Michael said.
Now, his mother, Debbie, said, he has friends over almost every weekend.
The room makeover was a 2010 birthday present, his mother said. The seventh-grader was told he would need to get estimates for paint, art, furniture and the television he wanted.
Michael knew fairly quickly he wanted McCallie blue walls and a white ceiling. Once he gathered paint chips, he made his blue hue decision, even soliciting teachers at his school for their opinion.
Lydia Reynolds, who painted designs for his nursery and later painted the airplanes on his bedroom wall, was asked to do some original art for his teen cave. He chose a McCallie "M," a jet and a tornado like the one on a favorite McCallie tennis camp T-shirt.
Michael said he originally wanted an L-shaped couch that wrapped around the room but opted instead for a La-Z-Boy couch that features a reclining chaise on one end and a recliner on the other. He chose a fabric that had a soft feel similar to another couch in the house and a tan shade he said "looked warm in the winter and cool in the summer."
Two comfy blue throws were a steal at Bed Bath & Beyond, Mrs. Brown said.
Keeping an eye on his budget, Michael even requested and got a discount on the couch since the La-Z-Boy store had had a bit of smoke damage from a fire.
While he shopped locally for a television, he wound up buying his 46-inch Samsung flat-screen online - thanks to a tip from one of his parents' friends - from Abt Electronics in Chicago.
The television allows Michael to watch movies and sports events, his viewing favorites, but also permits wide-screen fun with his Xbox 360 and PS3. Where he formerly played video games in his dad's basement "man cave," dad Mike now sneaks up occasionally to watch his television, which is the biggest in the house, he said. The flat-screen sits on a handsome cabinet with pullout drawers for games from Target.
Michael said he got a 20 percent discount on the item when he pointed out a scratch on its surface.
Accessories in the room include a $19.99 red chair and ottoman set from Target and a $9.99 standing lamp from Walmart with shades that nearly match his McCallie blue walls.
To finish out the room, Michael used his own money to buy Major League Baseball pennants and a few other items. Those joined his sports trophies, plaques of baseball greats Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Chipper Jones, souvenir caps of all the MLB parks he's been to, mementos of spring-training games he attended, a Peyton Manning-autographed football and a lighted collectible of the new Yankee Stadium.
Mrs. Brown said her son did his homework on the room, both in budgetary matters and on the design. She said he even checked out other sports-themed man caves online.
"He decorated it himself," she said. "He said he thought, 'How hard could it be.' "