Simple Plan for a Tween-Teen Bedroom Makeover

By Christina Katz

Photo courtesy of Sherwin Williams. Colors shown: Habanero Chile (SW 7589) and Hot (SW 6843)

When was the last time you let your child inspire you? With so many sources of 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 he will be sure to appreciate someday.

Finders Keepers. While de-cluttering, you may have come across some nostalgic items that still bring a smile to your teen'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.

Photo courtesy of Sherwin Williams. Colors shown: Hopsack (SW 6109), Chinese Red (SW 0057), Pure White (SW 7005), Needlepoint Navy (SW 0032) and Cilantro (SW 6453)

Clean Inside and Out. You will likely get some resistance from your teen when cleaning supplies invade her hallowed space. But a deep clean while you are preparing to redecorate, is sure to make future clean-ups 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 for your Mr. Darcy fan? Whatever style suits your tween-teen, 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 his 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. 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 his personal tastes and then step out of the way. You can veto anything garish or dangerous, but give your child a chance to explore his own tastes. Here are some accessory ideas:

Dreaming of Decals. Don’t have the time or money to paint the entire room? Revamp the room with wall-art decals instead. From vibrant and bold animal prints to life-size action-packed sports heroes, the options are endless. Favorite quotes or inspiring messages also make a great addition. Best part? Peel and stick wall decals are easy to apply and a breeze to remove or rearrange – perfect for those ever-changing teen tastes.

Wire the Room. This is not about eavesdropping, although maybe you should! This is about providing your teen with ample opportunities to hang images throughout the room without having to put a hole in the 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. You can go horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or create a zig-zag pattern using more screws. Hit the laundry section of the local dollar store or superstore for clothespins. Or find colorful mini-clothes pins in office supply stores.

Their Name or Initials. There are lots of options for purchasing monogrammed items for your child's room. As an inexpensive alternative, pick up your child's initials from your local art supply store or spell her name out with letters. Then embellish the letters with fluorescent paint, glitter, fabric or a combination that suits your child's personality.

Starry, Starry String Lights. String lights are inexpensive 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) or utilitarian (several rows of lights with photos clipped right on the light wire with tiny clothespins). When it comes to string lights, your imagination is the limit.

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.

Printer Power. Rather than running to the store every time your child wants to print a new photo, stock up on some 4-inch by 6-inch 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.

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

At right: 'Gray Woods' Peel & Stick Wallpaper from WallPops
Room to grow

As a parent, you know that a child’s tastes change as quickly as their shoe size, so here are some tips for creating a fun and functional bedroom that can grow with them as they get older.

At right: ORG Home Customized closet solutions from ORG, available locally through Alaska Premier Closets.

Let her pick the palette

Walls are the simplest element of a room to alter. Letting your kid select the wall colors is a great way to empower her design sense. Besides, even the nuttiest of picks can simply be painted over if you put your house on the market, or if she outgrows it.

Buy some investment pieces

For big-ticket items like the bed and dresser, look for pieces that are versatile, sturdy and long lasting. Avoid making the mistake of furnishing a child’s room too childishly. When purchasing furniture, ask yourself: “Would this also work in an adult room?” Buying something an adult might like helps eliminate the chances of buying something else later. Beds that serve more than one purpose are also a smart choice. For example, a bed with built-in drawers underneath offers great storage for tucking away toys, sports equipment or winter clothes.

Address work/play needs

While the younger set won't be carting in loads of homework just yet, it's good to provide some “work” space now, where they can comfortably draw and play with puzzles. Down the road, the desk could turn into a computer/study area or a vanity/dress area by adding a mirror.

Think grown-up storage

Kids have a lot of stuff, so to help minimize the bomb-hit-their-bedroom look and make tidying up a cinch, plan for plenty of storage. They’ll need places for books, awards and the onslaught of clothes and gear. A customized closet solution with lots of hanger and shelf space is a smart investment.

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