TIPS + ADVICE FOR DECORATING A TEEN/TWEEN BEDROOM

As I mentioned a little while ago, I am giving my tween daughter’s bedroom a makeover. My apologies for how slow this project is coming! The delay has been a result of a combination of many TOTALLY unexpected things, including dealing with a fire in our home (yes, we had a fire in our garage and thank the Lord no one was hurt but it’s taking forever to get cleaned up!), our hot water heater bursting in the attic and damaging our ceiling, prepping for my son to go on a mission trip to Haiti this summer, me getting distracted by other design projects, my son accidentally destroying a DIY project I was about to photograph and post about last month, and last but not least, not being able to find the right used furniture piece to start my first project for her bedroom (all the equipment I needed to make this project was in the garage and it’s ruined now so I wouldn’t be able to do this project for awhile anyway so I guess it’s kind of a moot point). Throw in my kids’ activity schedules and the regular responsibilities of life, and it’s been an exciting past couple months! Okay, it’s been a FRUSTRATING past couple months, but c’est la vie! As soon as I can get the items in my garage replaced, I’ll be back in business and hope to share some progress on her room with you!

In the meantime, I’m going to share some tips for redecorating your teen/tween’s bedroom.

Maybe you’ve been considering giving your teen/tween age child a bedroom makeover for a while, or maybe your child has been nagging you for a cooler room for over a year now and you can no longer come up with an excuse to put it off (I’m slowly raising my hand for the latter option here). Either way, you’re not super excited about the prospect. After all, it’ll take lots of time, some money, and even worse you and your teen will have to make lots of decisions together and you’re not sure it’s even possible that you can actually agree on something… anything! I am the mom of a 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter so I get it! Parenting teens and tweens is a challenging task in general, and the idea of decorating your teen/tween’s bedroom successfully can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to! Here’s some advice to help you navigate this process with ease…

come up with a plan

Your current plan for your teen’s new bedroom may simply be to spend a day shopping together and let them pick out whatever they want. But this is not the best way to end up with a room that you and your child both like. Instead, I recommend coming up with a plan before you hit the mall. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or involve learning how to draw a floor plan in AutoCAD, just a little brainstorming and a few thoughtful ideas is enough to help you create a room that works for your child.

I suggest starting by sitting with your teen in his/her bedroom. Have a quick conversation about what’s working and what’s not working for them in the room. What’s important to them? What items do they feel they’ve outgrown? What items do they never use? What areas of the room feel overcrowded? Is there too much furniture and storage or not enough? I suggest having a pad of paper handy and jotting down your child’s answers so you can remember them.

Discuss how your child will be using the room. Will they do their homework in there? Practice music or sports in there? Do their hair or makeup in there? Regularly host friends in there?

It’s important to design a room around its functional needs. If they’re doing homework, they’ll need a desk and chair. Hosting lots of friends? They’ll need lots of seating options. Practicing an instrument every day? They’ll need a designated space for a chair and music stand. You get the idea. Write down things they’ll need in order to accomplish their desired tasks in the room.

Now that you’ve finished brainstorming what’s needed, you can focus on coming up with a room theme and/or color scheme. Browse Pinterest or online stores like Pottery Barn Teen for some great ideas and color options.

If you have the time and want to take it a step further, go visit places of inspiration for your teen’s room. For instance, years ago when I redid my son’s bedroom, we visited a sports museum. Since he loved sports and wanted that to be a part of his room, I took notice of the displays, colors, and decor in order to help bring that same vibe back to his bedroom. Does your daughter love horses? Go visit a local horse farm then take note of the colors, textures, and items around the farm. Try to incorporate those types of things in her room.

Once you know what you need and have a general idea of what styles and colors your teen/tween likes, it’s time to let the shopping begin!

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This teen girl’s room covers lots of current design trends including pastel colors, lots of texture, and hanging furniture.

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This teen boy’s bedroom includes storage space for all of his hobbies and interests.

let them express themselves

Remember this is your teen/tween’s room, not your room. Since you are in charge and are likely paying for this makeover then you get a final say in what goes in the room, but it’s important to give your child as much freedom as possible to express themselves in the one place that’s really all theirs: their bedroom. In case you haven’t noticed, teens love to express themselves any way they can and here is a safe environment for them to do it. So if your son wants the theme of his room to be some trendy rock band you find weird then let him do it, just keep it in moderation (see tip “don’t overdo a theme” below). If your daughter wants a hot pink zebra stripe theme that you find annoying, let her do it… again, just have her keep it in moderation. Your teen likely needs to feel some ownership to what happens in the room, so let them make as many decisions as they can while you give them some general guidance and boundaries.

It’s also important to personalize the space to your child. You’ll want to include things that are important to them like a place to display photos of their friends or room to store all their art supplies. Create an area to display their collections, hobbies, or trophies. My daughter was big on having her initial somewhere in her bedroom. All of these things put your teen’s personal stamp on the room and define it as theirs.

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I love the way the teen’s trophies are neatly and prominently displayed in this bedroom.

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This teen girl’s bedroom has lots of seating options which is great for hosting friends,
and the gallery wall puts a personal stamp on the room.

storage is important

Teens/tweens tend to have a lot of stuff, from schoolwork to beauty products to sports equipment, they will likely need to store a lot of items in their bedroom. In order to help them maintain a tidy room, it’s best to give them storage solutions that meet their specific needs. Consider adding bulletin boards, memo boards, bookshelves, buckets, bins, rolling storage, built-ins, and wall shelves. Think about how much you’ll need and where it’ll fit best in the room before you go shopping.

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The built-ins in this teen’s bedroom offer lots of storage options while also framing the bed.

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I love the variety of easily accessible storage in this room.

don’t overdo a theme

For some reason when it comes to kid’s and teen’s bedrooms, manufactures can end up going overboard on a theme. If your child loves monkeys, then great include them in his/her room. But too much of a good thing doesn’t make it better… it’ll just end up looking like a jungle in there! And people can overdo rooms with all kinds of themes not just jungle animals. I’ve seen so many brightly colored stripes in a room that I felt dizzy, and so many record album covers plastered to every surface of a room that it gave me a headache! Instead, mix in some neutral themed items that coordinate. This will add interest while also balancing the room so the theme doesn’t take over.

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You don’t need to plaster a bedroom with surfboards to create a surfing theme.
This room uses patterns, colors, and textures to subtly enhance the theme.

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This room reflects the girl’s love of horses without going overboard…
I love the way her award ribbons were used to decorate the room.

there’s no need to break the bank

It is possible to create a bedroom your teen/tween loves on a budget. Here are a couple ways to keep the costs down…

  • Avoid the most expensive stores that are specially geared towards teens. These are great places to browse for inspiration, but if your budget is tight then there are more affordable options when it’s time to purchase something. Instead, check out stores like HomeGoods, Ikea and Target, and don’t forget to look online at places like Wayfair, Overstock and Amazon. I purchased a lot of the items for my daughter’s bedroom from HomeGoods and Target.
  • Reuse items that you already have in your child’s current room or somewhere else in your home. You can give the items a makeover so they coordinate with your teen’s new room theme. I’ve found a couple accessories from other rooms in our home that I’ll be repainting to match my daughter’s new room.
  • Make some items yourself… there are lots of DIY projects for teens on Pinterest. This not only saves you some money, but also allows your child to contribute to their own room in this special way! My daughter wants to make some small art pieces that we’ll use to decorate her room.
  • Shop for used items (see tips for buying used home furnishings here). This will especially help save you money when shopping for large items like furniture. Remember you can paint, stain, add overlays, or attach mirrored glass to a piece to give it a whole new look. I have two major projects planned for my daughter’s room that include altering used pieces… I’ll share these soon!
  • Use coupons and shop sales. This is a no-brainer but it helps! I found an awesome area rug for my daughter’s room from Urban Outfitters at 45% off due to multiple discounts!
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Pretty DIY storage is always a good idea (instructions here).

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This DIY pouf would provide extra seating in a teen girl’s room… and it was made from a sweater (instructions here)!

enjoy the time together

Giving your teen’s bedroom a makeover is a great opportunity to bond with them. You can include your child in as much of the process as they want, from the planning to the shopping to the painting of the walls. You can pack up the old items your child doesn’t want any more and drop them at a donation center together, or create a DIY project together. It’s really a great excuse to spend more time with your child, and you just might learn something new about them!

As a mother of both a son and a daughter, I would say that girls tend to want to be more involved in the process than boys do, but of course it all depends on the specific person. My son asked for a new more mature room when he turned eleven, but he wasn’t so excited about planning every little detail and shopping with me. So my solution was to ask him some questions about what he liked in general and if there was anything specific he did or did not want in his room. Then I took over the planning and shopping process and decided to make the final result a surprise. I asked him some questions along the way if I wasn’t sure what he liked, and as I purchased items I hid them in my closet. Once I had everything together, it was time for the install. I moved him to the guest room for about a week while I repainted, rearranged, and redecorated everything in his room. He loved the surprise of it all and the final result! Whether you decide to make it a surprise or not, you may end up taking on more of the work for a boy’s room than you would a girl’s room.

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Even if your teenage son doesn’t want to be a part of the process, it doesn’t mean he won’t appreciate his new room.

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This cute DIY pillow would be a great mother-daughter project to work on together (instructions here).

Hopefully these tips have made you at least a little more excited to start a makeover for your teen/tween’s bedroom. It really is an opportunity to spend some quality time with your child while giving them a chance to express themselves and explore their own creativity. You might even get a ‘thank you’ out of them!

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