In some ways, decorating a baby’s room couldn’t be easier. The room’s primary occupant really doesn’t have much to say about the décor. Enter the teen years. Now, she hates the pink carpet and floral curtains you thought were precious beyond words. He’s into Japanese anime, and your clever pirate theme makes him want to walk the plank.
If your teen’s room is overdue for a makeover, there is some good news: Your child is probably old enough now to do a lot of the work him or herself.
“Teenagers are all about independence, control and being cool,” says Lisa Jerlstrom, parent of a teenager, and a trend-watcher and art buyer for Environmental Graphics Inc. “Allowing your child to redesign his or her room not only lets them express their independence and look cool in their own space, it can be a great way to teach important budgeting and home improvement skills.”
Here are five simple steps to help your teen tackle his, or her, own room makeover project:
Step 1. Set a budget. You can be generous, and give your teen some money to spend in the room. Or you can really drive home the financial lesson by making her create a budget based on her own sources of income – from allowances and part-time jobs to gifts from grandparents. Either way, make sure she understands she must accomplish her redesign with the money she has, just like in the adult world where going over budget would have serious consequences.
Step 2. Help them choose a theme for the room. Most teens have definite opinions about what they like – and dislike. So chances are your teen will have an idea of a theme he would like to pursue. Encourage him to choose a theme that will grow with him, or that he will enjoy at least until he’s a college freshman.
Step 3. Enhance the theme with color and artwork. Painting the walls and hanging artwork are two of the easiest ways to underscore a design theme. Most teens are capable of painting. They can also enhance the theme with a wall mural.
“Today’s wallpaper murals make it easy to customize your room theme and accomplish the job on your own,” says Jerlstrom. Numerous teen-friendly wall murals can be found at www.urbanoutfitters.com. Living with a surfer dude? Try a beach scene. Have a budding Broadway-bound star on your hands? Why not set the stage with a cityscape mural of Manhattan?
Step 4. Don’t forget the floors. There are several quick (and relatively low-cost) fixes for flooring. A large area rug that fits the new theme can hide the objectionable flooring. Give existing carpeting a good scrub with a rented carpet cleaning machine. Or, use fabric paint to create a pattern, design or scene on the old carpet – but only if you would have been throwing the carpet away otherwise.
Step 5. Finish with furniture. Early in the redesign process, your teen should decide if his existing furniture needs to be replaced, updated or is fine as it is. Maybe he can live with painting or refinishing his old dresser if it means he will have the cash for a new bed. Perhaps her old bed will work with her new theme if she removes the canopy and posters. Explore discount stores, consignment shops or charity-sponsored stores that resell reconditioned donated furniture.