It seems as though from the moment they’re born until they become teens, the years zoom by. So it is easy to forget how fast they outgrow things, including their rooms. Teenagers mature quickly and those dreams of rocket ships and cowboys may turn to football and pro wrestling before you know it, making it time for a new look in their cave of choice. It may surprise you to learn that redecorating is not as expensive as it first appears and can even be fun. Just four easy guidelines will see you to a happy teenager with a new room that he can take to boarding school, university, and beyond.
1. The Base Coat
Color is the easiest method for creating a new look, and the least expensive, especially if you can wrangle the teen into helping repaint. At about $20 a gallon, you can even customize a color just for him or her. This is a fun and simple aspect, and getting your child’s input on what they would like is a great way to open the flows of communication and coax his creativity to express itself. There are a lot of great ideas with paint these days, and flipping through magazines or browsing online sites, like oldhouseweb.com, will help get an idea for what can be done, but do not discount fun decorative painting, murals or faux wall textures (see artisticbrushworks.com). Try some decorative techniques like sponging, ragging, spattering, stenciling, or color washing.
Paint is the most effective and efficient way to change the feel of a room, and the right color can make a space larger or smaller, cooler or warmer. The best part is, if he gets tired of it, or you want a change when he moves out, it is the easiest thing to redo!
2. Filling with Furniture
Furniture is another wonderful way to express a personality, without necessarily going to too much expense. Of course the big shift from pre-teen to teen is in the homework department, there is inevitably much more of it, and this needs to be taken into account when you do your bedroom redecoration. There is no point in kitting out your teen with a nice snazzy bedroom if you have not factored into the equation adequate desk space. Contemporary office desks come in all shapes and sizes, go down your local furniture store to get some ideas, but the best deals will usually be found on the internet. Lofts are perfect for creating more space, too, especially when under the bed becomes the homework or computer station, or even the video game area. Furniture choices will be vastly influenced by how much space is available in the room and seating might be perfectly served with an oversized beanbag, or a crate may be perfect for a nightstand. Repainting existing furniture might work, too, but for small spaces and something new and fun, try small space sectionals. With built-in storage and changeable fabric colors, they are extremely friendly on the pocket book. Or, if he likes the simpler look, look at metal-frame furniture for a clean, no-frills approach.
3. The Wonderful World of Storage
A growing teen collects things as part of setting an identity and remembering good times. There may also be trophies, awards, yearbooks, magazines, and what have you that he wants to keep. The small space sectionals are excellent for this because they come with storage compartments under the cushions of every piece, but you will need wall space, too, or closet space. There are some absolutely amazing closet organizers out to optimize storage if you want it out of sight, or some good wall shelving will accomplish the same thing. This can also be done creatively, with crates screwed to the wall for some added color and flair. Storage can be obtained almost anywhere, including Wal-Mart or IKEA.
4. Accessories and Details
The icing on the cake! Accessories are plain fun, or should be, and this is where your teem can get really expressive without eating up the college fund. Accessories include clocks, lamps (there are some amazingly funky ones out there), posters, picture frames, wall art, throw rugs, light fixtures and flip switch plates are all areas he or she can go wild with and stay within budget. These are the little things that can really set the personality of a room or tie a theme together. Try some creative throw pillows or a new bed set to really set things off.
Planning now to allow him to take the majority of his furniture with him when he is off to college is a great way to help your teenager immediately along with your bank account later. Give him freedom of choice and expression as you guide his decisions, and you can find the entire experience enjoyable, a well as good bonding time. It may even inspire you to rework your own room; just make sure you do it with the teen home, so you can get him to help you paint.
[Lloyd Burrell is father of two children, one pre-teen and one completely teen and has just decorated his daughter’s bedroom, hence the idea for this piece. He also writes reviews on modern office desks when not indulging his other passions French cuisine and cycling.]