Simple Plan for a Tween-Teen Bedroom Makeover & Seven Inexpensive Accessories


When is the last time you let your child run with her inspiration in updating her room? With so many sources of creative ideas online, it’s easy to find inexpensive embellishments that can transform any bedroom from blah to beautiful through the eyes of your teenage beholder. Follow these steps for lasting results:

Phase One: Prepare The Canvas

Out With the Old. The first step, purging all items no longer appreciated or wanted, is the hardest. But knowing a room redo will follow makes the process merrier. Have your child select some motivating music then lead your child step-by-step through cleaning out drawers, closets, bookshelves and cubbies. You’ll be demonstrating an important life skill your child will one day appreciate.

Finders Keepers. While decluttering, you may come across nostalgic items that bring a smile to your teen’s face. Put these objects aside for possible display and finishing touches later. Your child is growing up, but a few reminders of childhood can provide a sense of history and comfort.

Clean Inside & Out. You will likely get some resistance from your teen when cleaning supplies invade his hallowed space. But a deep clean while preparing to redecorate will make future clean-ups quicker and easier. Once you explain this, your enthusiasm will likely be met with reluctant compliance. A pre-cleaning snack might be helpful at this point to keep everybody’s energy up.

Let Furniture Breathe. Reposition the primary furniture – bed, dresser, desk, vanity and bedside table – for optimal results. Avoid a cramped feeling by allowing air to flow between all the pieces. If any need a fresh coat of paint, now’s the time to tackle that task. Be sure to provide good ventilation and allow ample time for adequate drying.

Go for Effect. Consider what the tone of the room will be. Are you going for a dark man-cave with fluorescent night lighting for your skater boy? Or for more of a modern shabby chic look for your Mr. Darcy fan? Whatever style suits your tween/teen, sum it up in one sentence you come up with together – this phrase will guide the rest of the process.

Treat the Windows. A great way to create year-round versatility is to hang two layers of curtains. First use a heavy curtain with a tighter weave to block out light and keep in heat. Then add a sheer curtain on top for warm days. If you provide pull-backs on each window, your child can arrange the curtains to match the temperature and her mood.

A Range of Lighting. If you can put the overhead light on a dimmer, do it. If not, provide overhead, tabletop and wall lighting combinations that can be adjusted to suit the time of day and your child’s tastes.

Smooth Storage: Dirty clothes go in the hamper. School papers get piled in the paper sorter. The activity bag hangs on the hook in the closet. If everything has a

place to go in advance, it’s more likely that’s where things will end up. Otherwise expect to find items dumped in the foyer, kitchen or stairway. Consider your child’s items and make room for what consistently flows in and out. Cubes with sliding drawers or bins are handy for keeping things out of sight yet within reach.

Phase Two: Accessorize Away!

Now comes the fun part – decorating. However, only participate in this phase if invited. Your job is to provide the materials for your child to embellish his room to match his personal tastes, then step out of the way. You can veto anything garish or dangerous, but give your child a chance to explore his own tastes. If you are standing there wrinkling your nose each time he makes a move, that’s not helpful. Here’s what you can provide instead:

1. Dreaming of Decals. Rather than painting the entire room, which can be costly and time-consuming, why not turn to wall decals to alter the vibe instead? Search on Etsy as well as on Amazon for the most inspired and least expensive deals, whether tribal, urban or romantic. Favorite quotes or sayings may be available.

2. Wire the Room. This is not about eavesdropping, it’s about providing your teen with ample opportunities to hang images throughout the room without putting a hole in the wall each time. Purchase picture wire from your local art supply or hardware shop and loop it tightly around two screws to create a clothesline effect . You teen can use clothes-pin or other clips to hang items on the wire – anchor the screws so they don’t pull out if the wire gets heavy. You can place the wire horizontally, vertically or diagonally, or create a zig-zag pattern using more screws. Buy clothespins at your local dollar or discount store – these can be painted to match the room’s theme, or embellished to personalize them. Or find colorful binder clips or mini-clothes pins at office supply stores.

3. Your Child’s Name or Initials. There are many options for monogrammed items for your teen’s room. Look on Etsy for items that often don’t cost extra to customize. Or find letters for your child’s initials or to spell out her name at an art supply store. These can be personalized with fluorescent paint, glitter, magazine collages, fabric, or any combination that suits your child’s personality.

4. The Dangle Factor. Teens often spend time laying down and looking up at the ceiling, so your teen may enjoy making a custom mobile using cards, photo images or his own artwork. Amazon offers several styles of photo clip mobiles. A three-tier wire hanging basket from your local kitchen supply store can become a display of your teens interesting objects.

5. Don’t Spare the String Lights. Twinkle, twinkle, little lights … string lights are inexpensive way to add instant ambiance. Ask your child if she would prefer volume (a giant twinkling spiral on one bare wall); minimalist (one string where the walls meet the ceiling; utilitarian (several rows of lights with photos or sparkling objects clipped on the wire); embellished (pink lights in a mostly white shabby chic room); or a combo (white lights twisted with tulle and ribbons to grace a headboard). When it comes to string lights, there’s no limit to imagination. Be sure to keep the extra bulbs handy for when replacements are needed.

6. Charge it! Set up a simple device-charging station for your teen’s room. Start by mounting a surge protector on a baseboard near a power outlet. This will keep it from getting kicked around or yanked out of the wall. Then mount a photo ledge within a cord’s reach of the surge protector. Secure the cords of charging devises to the wall using a cord management system (check out Quirky and Bluelounge brands on Amazon). Voila! You have a perfect place for your child to park her devices when not in use.

7. Printer Power. Rather than running to the store every time your child wants to print a new photo, stock up on some 4 x 6 inch photo paper. Instagram heart collage? No problem. Just print out square photos and cut them to size. New BFF? Print out the selfie on glossy or matte. Ex-boyfriend? Keep a few sharpies around for embellishing old photos in a therapeutic manner.

Happy room redo! There is nothing that says “we love you even though you keep growing up on us” like a newly decorated bedroom.  

Christina Katz
About Christina Katz

Author Christina Katz believes in the power of the arts to improve and enrich the lives of children and families, and appreciates the moments she’s witnessed transformative results first-hand.

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