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16 Tips for Decorating Your Tween’s or Teen’s Room

When was the last time you let your child inspire you? With so many sources of online inspiration, it’s easy to find inexpensive embellishments for transforming any bedroom from blah to beautiful through the eyes of your teenage beholder. Follow these steps for bicker-free results.

Phase one: Prepare the canvas.

Out with the old. The first job, purging all the items no longer appreciated or wanted, is the hardest. But knowing that a room redo will swiftly follow makes this chore a bit merrier. Have your child select some music and then lead them step-by-step through cleaning out drawers, closets, bookshelves, and cubbies. You’ll be demonstrating an important life skill they will be sure to appreciate someday.

Finders-keepers. While de-cluttering, you may come across some nostalgic items that still bring a smile to your t(w)een’s face. Gather these objects for possible display and put them aside for finishing touches later. Your child is growing up, sure, but a few reminders of childhood can provide comfort and a sense of history.

Clean inside and out. You will likely get some resistance from your t(w)een when cleaning supplies invade their hallowed space. But a deep clean while you are preparing to redecorate is sure to make future cleanups quicker and easier. Once you explain this, your enthusiasm will likely be met with reluctant compliance. A snack might be helpful at this point to keep everybody’s energy up.

Let furniture breathe. Reposition the primary furniture - bed, dresser, desk, vanity, and bedside table - for optimal results. Avoid a cramped feeling, allowing air to flow between all the pieces of primary furniture. If any pieces need a fresh coat of paint, now is the time to tackle the task. Be sure to provide plenty of good ventilation if painting and allow ample time for adequate drying.

Go for effect. Now is the time to consider what the tone of the room will be. Are you going for more of a dark man cave with fluorescent night lighting for your skater boy? Or are you going for more of a modern shabby chic look for your Mr. Darcy fan? Whatever style suits your t(w)een, sum it up in one sentence that you both come up with together. This phrase will guide the rest of the process.

Treat the windows. A great way to create year-round versatility is to hang two layers of curtains. First, use a heavy curtain with a tighter weave to block out light and keep in heat. Then add a sheer style curtain on top for warm days. If you provide pull-backs on either side of each window, your child can arrange the curtains to match the temperature and their mood.

A range of lighting. If you can put the overhead light on a dimmer, do it. If not, provide an array of overhead, tabletop, and wall lighting combinations that can be adjusted to suit the time of day and your child’s tastes.

Smooth storage. Dirty clothes go in the hamper. School papers get piled in the paper sorter. The activity bag hangs on the hook in the closet. If everything has a place to go in advance, that’s where things will end up. Otherwise, expect to find them dumped on the floor in the foyer, kitchen, or on the stairway. Consider the flow of your child’s stuff and make way for what is sure to go in and out. Cubes with sliding drawers or bins come in handy for keeping collections out of sight yet within reach.

Phase Two: Accessorize away!

Now comes the fun part! However, only participate in the decorating phase if you are invited. Your job as the parent is to provide the materials for your child to embellish the room to match their personal tastes and then step out of the way. You can veto anything garish or dangerous, but give your child a chance to explore their own tastes. If you are standing there wrinkling your nose each time they make a move, that’s not helpful.

Here’s what you can provide instead:

Dreaming of decals. Rather than painting the entire room, which can be costly and time-consuming, why not turn to wall decals to alter the vibe instead? Search on Etsy as well as on Amazon for the most inspired, least expensive deals whether tribal, urban, or romantic. Favorite quotes or sayings may also be available.

Wire the room. This is not about eavesdropping (although maybe you should!). This is about providing your t(w)een with ample opportunities to hang images throughout the room without having to put a hole in a wall each time. Purchase picture wire from your local art supply or hardware shop and loop it tightly around two screws to create a clothesline effect. Anchor the screws, if necessary, so the wire will not become heavy with clothes-pinned items and pull the screws out. You can go horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or create a zigzag pattern using more screws. Hit the laundry section of your local Dollar Store or Superstore for clothespins. Or find colorful mini-clothespins at office supply stores or purchase online.

Their name or initials. There are lots of options for purchasing monogrammed items for your child’s room. Look on Etsy for items that often don’t cost extra to customize. Or as an inexpensive alternative, pick up your child’s initials from your local art supply store or spell their name out with letters. Then embellish the letters with fluorescent paint, glitter, magazine collages, fabric, or a combination that suits your child’s personality.

The dangle factor. Don’t forget to look up! T(w)eens often spend a lot of time lying down and looking up at the ceiling in their bedroom. Your t(w)een can make a custom mobile out of images using two styles of photo clip copper mobiles found on Amazon. You can also purchase a three-tier wire-hanging basket at your local kitchen supply store or on Amazon and use it to display interesting objects.

Dont spare the string lights. Twinkle, twinkle, little lights - string lights are cheap and add instant ambiance. Ask yourself if your child would prefer volume (perhaps a giant twinkling spiral on one bare wall), minimalist (one string where the walls meet the ceiling, utilitarian (several rows of lights with photos clipped right on the light wire), embellished (pink rose lights in a mostly white shabby chic room), or a combo (white lights twisted with tulle and ribbons to grace a headboard). When it comes to string lights, your imagination is the limit. Just be sure to keep those extra bulbs handy so you will be able to find them when you need replacements.

Charge it! No, not the credit card. Set up a simple device-charging station for your little battery-burner. Start by mounting a surge protector against the molding near a power outlet. This will keep it from getting kicked around and yanked out of the wall. Then mount a photo ledge within cord’s reach of the surge protector. Secure the cords to the wall using a cord management system (check out Quirky and Bluelounge brands on Amazon). And voila! You have a perfect place for your child to park their devices when not in use.

Printer power. Rather than running to the store every time your child wants to print a new photo, stock up on some 4 x 6” photo paper. Instagram heart collage? No problem. Just print out square photos and cut them to size. New BFF? Print out the selfie on glossy or matte paper.

Happy room redo! There is nothing that says we love you, even though you keep growing up on us, like a newly decorated bedroom.

Christina is a journalist, author, and coach who enjoys creating seasonal vignettes throughout her home. She is always curious to see what her teenage daughter will dream up each time she decides to re-decorate her room. They both find plenty of decorating inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest.



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