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Are your kids in need of an upgraded decor?

As a teenager, I remember having pink elephant wallpaper in my closet.

As a teenager, I remember having pink elephant wallpaper in my closet.


My parents finally took pity on me and outfitted me with groovy orange wallpaper throughout when I was 12. Was I relieved or what? My girlfriends could no longer hoot with derision at what was left of my childhood wallpaper.


These memories drift through my head as I contemplate the increasingly loud jockeying from both of my children, who are fast outgrowing any hint of sweet childhood in their choice of bedroom decor.


It’s inevitable, and a rite of passage for all offspring who can no longer be happily lumped into the “child” category.


At this time of transition, the teen bedroom becomes increasingly important, and as more than a place to sleep and do homework. It becomes a place of refuge, and a place where they can chill with friends, away from the constant gaze of adult supervision (but not too far from it).


From the point of view of decor, it should give them a chance to develop a sense of who they are, all the same, parental limits are sometimes necessary, especially when it comes to budget. But negotiations with teenagers must be handled delicately. Here are some guidelines to make the process as smooth as possible:

The Exploration
• Encourage teenagers to explore websites and check magazines and books for pictures of what they like.
• Tell them not to worry much about budgetary or other limitations at this point; that will come later.

Back to reality
• You, as the payer of bills, must decide on a budget ahead of time. After your teenager has explored ideas, let them know what the family can afford.
• If the wish list includes new furniture but the budget does not make provisions for this, consider repainting, or reupholstering, for example.
• If the list is too long for the budget, set priorities.
• Try to remain as open as possible. A black accent wall is not the end of the world.
• If your teen has expansive plans for a small space, it may help to zero in on the actual physical dimensions of the bedroom and together, explore and identify necessary and desired activity or functional “zones.” Consider different configurations before you decide there is not enough room for any particular zone, such as a socializing corner with throw pillows, for example.
• Stay away from themes in large pieces of interior decor, such as rugs or bedding or wall treatments. Teenagers change quickly and a much-desired theme (say, DJ graphics) may prove an embarrassment to them next year when they decide they’re into other things. Use inexpensive themed accessories that may be changed without too much financial pain.



– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.