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Creating teen and tween rooms that really rock

That cute duckie wallpaper or nautical furniture set were great for your child's baby years and just barely tolerable through elementary school, but a bedroom makeover is hard to get around when a child heads for the tumultuous teens.

Consider the four C's — classic, comfort, cool and color — when providing older kids with long-lasting lairs, er, lovely hangout-study spaces. And keep in mind that a transformation doesn't have to mean tossing everything and buying all new.

Spending selectively now may just carry your children through the college years and beyond, to their first apartment, said design guru Nate Berkus, host of the syndicated Nate Berkus Show.

Jennifer Adams Meyers, an interior and home products designer in Scottsdale, Ariz., said furniture in distressed, whitewashed and some darker woods are hot trends in baby furniture, boding well for use in a teen room through sanding and painting.

Making a teen a partner in the redesign can be fun and fruitful, she said. "Let them have complete leeway. It gives them the motivation to keep it clean and organized," Meyers said. "Give them a corkboard and have them cut out 10 images they like."


A completely new set of furniture is probably not necessary, but a few items might be — a bigger bed or a chest of drawers.

"Go for classic lines, not something too youthful," Berkus said. "Going with a vintage chest of drawers is a good idea, like English mahogany or Swedish painted. I'm more interested in people having something that's an investment of a lifetime. How can I not have to replace something because I've bought into a theme?"

Teens may not care much anymore about vast floor space to build Lego cities. Turn over some of that real estate to a couch and an overstuffed armchair for reading, and to creating a hangout-study nook worthy of having friends over, even if it means going for a laptop desk for homework over a freestanding one.

Bedside tables can be painted rather than tossed — and even double as desks, Meyers said. A lamp can be made new with a funky new fabric shade, and many home improvement stores carry beaded chandeliers in a variety of colors. Consider keeping a rocking chair with a new seat cushion for a reading nook.

Berkus is a big fan of vintage and suggests not investing in wallpaper — "that's exclusively for a kid room" — or a rug.

"Go with stripes, black and white, blue and white, or gray and white."


There's no better way to let tweens or teens take control of their space than putting them in charge of the palette, but be prepared to accept whatever crazy color scheme they come up with.

In addition to walls, linens can add a blast of color and texture. "It makes sense to let them pick," Berkus said.

Wall art is huge to many teens — a poster of a favorite sports star or horror movie. How about a collection of colorful album covers from the '60s, a surfer scene, or framed photos of friends and family mixed with your child's own artwork and souvenirs from vacations? How about hanging skateboards or lacrosse sticks as art?

Meyers suggested vinyl wall decals with quotes or special words ("Peace" or "Happiness") to let a teen personalize the room.

Let them dress windows in wild designs and colors. Curtains come funky and cheap these days, or buy inexpensive shades they can paint themselves.

Chances are your little kid already had some throw pillows. Those can live on with new cases that accent the scheme. Teens read and study in strange positions, so a reading wedge or a body pillow that can be scrunched for comfort while working on a laptop would be a good addition.

Closets, containers

Big kids may be more attached than you think but too embarrassed to say that they'd like to display some of their growing-up stuff. In the new room, that baby chair collecting dust in the corner might be more palatable with fresh paint covering the bears or ducks.

Reserve shelf space for a favorite doll, toy and a few old books, but not front and center. Consider spacing mementos between stacks of books, CDs or magazines.

Closets are a sticky issue. Big kids have bigger stuff, more clothes, more shoes, more sports equipment. Renovating a closet to make it deeper or wider may be unavoidable. Adding cubbies and a second hanging rod can help if expansion isn't possible.

Don't forget to mount a full-length mirror on the back of a closet door. It's a cheap, easy way to more quickly extract a teen girl from a bathroom. Extra pegs and hooks inside a closet can be added easily and used for robes, backpacks, purses and scarves.

Looking to avoid dirty clothes as your child's new decor? Let them pick out a full-size hamper with a lid to be stashed in a corner, rather than a closet, as a reminder it needs to get used.

You know all those baskets and containers that caught the toys and baby books? Replace them with vertical book storage, graduating storage boxes than can be piled into a pyramid, or collapsible crates with handles that come in fun teen patterns and colors.

Creating teen and tween rooms that really rock 05/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 4:31pm]
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