When asked to think of a teenager’s bedroom, the stereotypical images pop into mind, total mess, smelly socks, and trainers dangling from door frames, pants and Pringles packets on floor. However with a thoughtfully planned out space it will encourage the teen to take pride in their space, keep it tidy and a desire to show it off.
I’ve designed a number of kids rooms over the years and I’ve always had the forethought to imagine the room in 5 years’ time when the child has outgrown Frozen. Most people can’t afford to redecorate every few years so it’s important to get it right first time round. With great design, the room can evolve from a toddler to teen zone with just accessories.
My son was 6 when we moved into our current house and i had a clear idea of the design of his room. The space allowed for a ‘small double’ bunk bed to be built against the wall which would sleep 4 kids (2 up 2 down) the top doubled as a cool cubby housing all the stuffed toys.
Whilst the kids have grown, we can still sleep 2 kids and more gather on for chats around an iPad... I’m a huge fan of the bunk - if budget can allow then a bespoke piece of joinery that’s designed for the room is best.
pic of heath room
Having spent the first 6 years of his life standing on Lego I wanted a play/desk area in the centre of the room that he could move around and not have to pack up at the end of each day. That was always soul destroying asking him to collapse whatever he’d built because my living room needed to be magazine ready. White storage cubes from IKEA with adjustable shelves are perfect for this. 6 back to back create a wonderful work table that keeps it all off the floor and loads of storage within for books etc. . At 12 Lego is still relevant and these units still look good in the room.
Brick wallpaper is a firm favourite as it gives a masculine industrial vibe that can be softened or played up, whilst being fairly neutral. Is it real exposed brick is it not? Murals and decals are also a great way of adding personality to a room. We had Spider-Man on one wall for 6 years and my son was reluctant to let Spidey go but I popped my wallpaper over him recently. So now my son lives with ‘Wired for Sound’ one of my designs aimed at teens. Its headphones, cassettes and skateboards are a throwback to my childhood and yet so relevant now. The Bright Blue in it allowed me to refresh the bunk bed in the same colour and it now looks like a new room.
Metal cabinets and lockers are great alternatives to wardrobes and floating shelves/hooks allow things to be displayed and changed up easily.
Market finds can also add some individuality to a room. I love these old printers’ trays to store my sons Lego people. Cork floor tiles are also wonderful for allowing your child to display their achievements, certificates, photos of friends etc.
If your teen does homework in their room then a designated zone is helpful. A well-lit desk and storage for their books etc. with create an organized welcoming e space
For Grand Designs Live I came up with the idea of the ‘Console Cave’ for the Under the Stairs Project. The awkward triangular space under the stairs that is usually a WC or coat rack.. If you’re child likes gaming then creating a space for this will make you incredibly popular depending on which camp you’re in regarding TV’s PC’s in bedrooms. Colour changeable LED strips can be stuck around the TV or Monitor and a comfy chair... Your mini Dan TDM’S will be thrilled.
I always like to involve my little clients as it’s their room and they quite often come up with great ideas. 2 years ago i was working on a girl’s room and she wanted a dolphin themed bedroom. Now i had to tread carefully as i wanted to give her her dream bedroom but wanted to avoid it looking like a bathroom! When quizzing her about her room she also mentioned a fishing net... challenge accepted.
Again, I thought in 2 -5 years you are going to be over this so my scheme centered around a Barbados sunset wall mural in peachy lilac tones which allowed me to choose soft feminine colors. The ceiling light was a chandelier of tiny chains that looped and draped up under itself that when suspended it looked like a jellyfish. The large mirror was made of driftwood and I found a rather stylish net fabric from Sacho Hesslien that i used as a sheer. Now for the dolphins... I found some great ‘dolphin looking through porthole’ wall decals that we placed on one wall and she had a number of photos of herself swimming with dolphins that we framed and mounted. So there was definitely a theme, however the decals are removable and what’s left is a calm, pretty dare I say trendy teen bedroom waiting to happen..
Maps and Murals are a great way of adding interest and slipping some education into the scheme. Wooden furniture for boys can add a masculine grown up feel whilst adding texture. Industrial lighting is a personal favorite but find it works particularly well in boys rooms.
Lots of storage is required so make use of a bay window and build a window seat. Drawers for stuff and a cool place to sit and read Glitter magazine…
A feature wall that adds Colour, fun, interest and allows the child to grow without redecorating too often. These butterflies would look pretty in a child’s room but equally striking in this 19 year old's room
Embrace a theme. This teen was quite bohemian and this scheme showed her personality. She was keen for a red room so we compromised and painted one wall. The side walls remained white ensuring the room felt wider than it was and allowed us to use pattern on the curtains and bedspread. There was a large terrarium at the end of the bed (not seen) with her pet lizard in it.
Kids need space, want sleepovers, and lots of storage.
I interviewed two ‘tweens’ (12 year olds) before writing this and this was their checklist:
- Feel spacious
- Massive sleepovers
- Bean bags to sit on
- Lots of storage.
- Someone to put trophies and medals (not for everyone...)
- Easy to clean (from the girl :))
- Not grey!! Colour
- Good lighting - soft for down time and bright for homework
- Love a mural
- Design to allow child to grow
- Avoid twee, or childish fabrics/rugs to start with
- Kids love - bean bags,
- Removable wallpaper
- Lots of storage
- Don’t push everything around the perimeter of the room, use the centre.
- Table football
- Climbing wall if height allows.
- Hoop on one wall
- Punching bag in a corner
- Positive calming colours,
- Make it cool so they want to hang out in there.
- Involve them in the choices.
Written 26th September 2019 for @rooomy magazine