Decorating Teen Bedrooms are some of my absolute favorite projects. I adore teens. I like finding out their interests and creating a space that represents them in a world where they all tend to dress alike, wear their hair the same ways, and in mainstream high school try to blend with the crowd. Their bedroom is the one place in the world where teens will truly express their own uniqueness, and this sacred part of the world should be all about them.
Back off, Momma!
Sometimes teens and parents butt heads about the design (and cleanliness) of their room. I’m going to play “child advocate” here and tell you to let it be. Let them keep it messy if they need to. Let them choose their color scheme, their furniture, and their art. Yes, you pay the mortgage and pay the bills, but unless the smell starts wafting down the hall, or you find you have to call an exterminator due to the bug/rodent problem they’re causing, I encourage you to just shut the door and let them live in it. There are life lessons at work here. Your child needs to make decisions (and mistakes), and this is a good place for that to happen.
The better the design and pre-thought, the easier it will be for them to keep it clean and organized
There are lots of ways to help your teenager stay clean and organized. By planning for them early in the design process, you make it easier. Everything they own must fit into this (often) small space. Let’s look at some of the functions of the room that should be addressed:
Does your teen want a desk to work at? A space for a laptop? Do they need a printer, or are they networked on the household printer? Or do they prefer to spread out on their bed to study and just need storage for school supplies and books? Having a designated space for them to work, whether in their own room or at the kitchen table, will help ease the homework process each night.
Vanity / Makeup Area
Will your daughter apply her makeup and do her hair in a separate bathroom? Or does she need a space with good lighting and a mirror to do those things in her bedroom and allow others access to the bath? Can her vanity area double as a homework station, as shown here? Don’t forget to plan for a full-length mirror somewhere in the room as well. Teens want to check their outfit before they walk out the door. This is important to them, so go with it. The alternative is that they don’t look at that outfit and change, and you’re stuck going in public with them when they should have checked a mirror before they left.
TV or No?
This is a parental call, but also a teen preference. My younger daughter did not want a TV in her bedroom. My son lives for his X-Box, but didn’t care about cable because he had access to Netflix and Amazon. If you choose to allow a TV in the bedroom, plan for the best place for it based on the room layout and where the cable wall connection may be.
Like I mentioned earlier, every single thing your teen has ever owned or collected is in their bedroom. As they’ve grown older, they may want to store some of those Second Grade photos out of sight. They may not care about displaying their T-ball trophies anymore. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to keep them for the future, either. I designed the system shown above for a teen boy. He keeps socks, undergarments, pajamas, etc. in some of the bins. Others hold Star Wars toys from when he was little. He’s able to keep his cologne and deodorant handy, as well as books and games, and display some of his favorite collectibles. This system gave him a nice balance for what was “hidden” vs. what was on display. Everything had an assigned place and made it easier for him when (if) he decided it was time to clean up after himself.
I also like to include a bulletin board, chalk board, white board, etc. in a teen room. It gives them a place to make notes, hang up a photo with friends, attach a calendar to keep track of their schedule, or just draw a funny face of you when they think you aren’t aware.
Hanging Out With Friends
If your teen is inviting friends over, consider it a BLESSING. They’re showing you they trust you. I love when my teens have friends over, the number one reason being that I know where they are and that they’re safe. So if one of them says, “Can Sally come over later?” my answer, barring a real conflict, is an absolute YES. But they want to go in their room and have some privacy with their buds, so I encourage you to plan a space for friends to hang out. If there is space for a futon or extra chair, it’s a good idea to include that in your design plan. But don’t stress if there isn’t – kids are happy to flop across the bed or sit on the floor. They have no trouble getting back up, like you or I may have.
What size bed is going in the room? Where will friends sleep?
How big is your teen? When my son started approaching 6 feet tall and over 200 lbs. at only 15 years old, he had outgrown his twin bed. Getting him a full or queen bed became a priority. His feet were hanging off the end. Plus it would now give somewhere for his friends to sleep over with him, besides his floor (yes, some of them CHOOSE to sleep on the floor!) or the guest bedroom. And it’s a great investment to get the bigger bed, because one day in the distant future he’ll be coming home to visit with his bride and possibly a family in tow, and his current bedroom can accommodate that.
Some bedrooms just aren’t big enough for anything but a twin bed. If you want to look at trundle or bunk bed options in that case, it might be a good idea. If all else fails, air mattresses are an easy option for teens. Sometimes they may want to use the sleeper sofa in the family room.
Choosing a Color Palette
This is hard sometimes. EXTREMELY. HARD. When my girls were in middle school, they decided they wanted the limest-lime-green imaginable painted in their shared bedroom, with black furniture. It was so ugly. It definitely kept me out of there. I added in pops of other colors and various black & white prints to bring it together, but it was still ugly. I was so happy when they outgrew it and wanted something different. But it’s what they both actually agreed on – a first in the history of the world.
My advice – let them choose it. But I would recommend a more sophisticated style and color palette than what their current age (if older than 14) may dictate. A 16-year-old girl may absolutely LOVE something designed more for a 20-something. A 17-year-old boy may be looking for something a bit more masculine, think “bachelor pad” style. DO NOT buy anything that follows a “theme” at this age – jungle prints, racecars, etc.
Giving teens their own space can help them decompress from the world. I love working with teens (maybe because I’ve raised three) and would be more than happy to help your teen design the bedroom of his/her dreams. A Consultation may be the perfect birthday gift this year! Call me and let’s schedule a surprise makeover while they’re at camp this summer.