Teen Spirit

Men laying new hardwood flooring

The furniture in this teen room will be able to grow with her and not go out of style. Photo by Scott w. Moore, courtesy of Pineapple House Interior Design.

Designing and decorating a bedroom offers homeowners an opportunity to express their style and creativity in a tangible way. However, when the room belongs to a teenager, that opportunity can turn into quite a challenge. But the good news is with some preplanningand your teens inputyou can design and decorate a room that you both will love.

Whats their style?
When deciding how to design and decorate a room for a teenager, you first should consider the likes and dislikes of the occupant. I think a teenagers room should reflect their personality and interests, says Amy Wikman, interior designer and owner of Dantr?? Wikman Design Inc. in Suwanee. I really like to include the teenagers of my clients in the design process. We might have a consultation to discuss their ideas, go shopping together or brainstorm. In fact, you may be surprised by your teenagers creativity. I love collaborating with these kids! Wikman says. Often theyand indeed I include my 12-year-old daughter herecome up with some ideas to rival ANY of my fellow designers.

Of course, the teenager can also present the biggest challenge when designing and decorating the room. Sometimes they dont know what they want, but they certainly seem to immediately know what they DONT want, Wikman says. The challenge is to figure that part out quickly before the design process goes too far.

Next, consider what purpose the room will serve. The use for the space should also be taken into consideration, says Jennifer Cheney of Design Classique in Atlanta. Does there need to be room for guests, studying, homework, computer, TV or storage? Answers to these questions can help in furniture selection and placement.

Keeping it affordable
To give the project parameters, set a budget and stick to it. There are several ways to keep from digging into your childrens college fund to furnish and adorn their rooms. Parents can keep the cost reasonable by buying furniture that will last for many years, Cheney says. Then they can cut the cost on fabriclike comforters, drapes and accessoriesand art work.

Wikman recommends shopping for bargains at stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and IKEA. Many of the things in these stores are so well-designed these days, she says. Youre definitely not sacrificing style for price. The same goes for linens. I rarely ever do custom linens for kids or teenagers anymore, she says. There is just too much cute stuff on the market. Again, all of those retailers have great-looking linens that wont break the bank. Other favorite sources for me are Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Why would you want to spend a great deal of money on someone who might wake up next month and decide that orange and hot pink is really nerdy?

Another way to get the most for your money is to design and decorate a room that grows with your teenager. Parents can design a room that grows with their teen by buying good furniture that will last for many years, and then revamping that furniture by either painting it or getting it reupholstered, Cheney says. Bette Kahn of Crate & Barrel agrees and suggests parents purchase something very versatile that can be used as they get older.

Smart choices now can last for years. I always think investing in some quality pieces is a good investment: a solid chest of drawers, the best mattress you can afford and supplement with fun, inexpensive items, Wikman says. If you stick with classic styles and finishes, these pieces can grow with a young person. Good, solid pieces also dont have to be expensive. Companies like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel are offering good furniture for reasonable prices that should last for years and years.

Storage, storage, storage
A key factor when designing and decorating your teenagers room is providing enough storage. Storage is the biggest thing, Kahn says. There are many ways to make the most of your teens space. You can custom-build a TV unit to store computers, printers, TVs, VCR, DVD, stereo and speakers, Cheney says. Using fabric will help make the unit more creative and will also make it easier to change styles when they move on to college. Built-ins, room dividers, under-the-bed drawers and window-seat storage: These are all easy ways to help keep the room nice and clean with storage units.

This teen loved hockey so much that he designed his entire room around the sport and made that the main focus. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Florence Interiors.

Spinning the color wheel
Choosing the right color and fabric scheme for your teens room also ranks high on the priority list. The influence of the mediaMTV, Disney Channel, movies, home improvement shows, etc.is stronger than ever, and teens are wanting things as cool as they see on the screen, Wikman says. Indeed, just as kids today are into fashion, they are now into home decor.

Kahn agrees. Bright, bold colors are very hot right now. They want things, especially in fabrics, that are sophisticated but not those that look like they should be in their parents room, Kahn says. Cleaner lines also are in. The higher-end trends are minimalistic, along with contemporarythings are very simplistic, Cheney says.

The final details
Simple details will also add personality and style to a teen room. Additional items should include current popularity items like posters, cool lamps, candles and a guest area or separate seating area for reading, Cheney says. Wikman recommends including a bulletin board for photos, calendars and mementos.

As you can see, there are many aspects to designing and decorating a teenagers room. By working with your child and planning out the project, creating the perfect environment that both you and your teenager can live with will be fun and easy.

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