How to Tackle Decorating a Teenage Room

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You just don’t get what’s cool. Remember thinking or daring to say that to your parents when you were a teenager?

Be prepared to visit that place again if you’re a parent facing the challenge of decorating with a teen.

Not sharing the same interests, tastes or styles as your kids is a healthy sign. However it doesn’t mean that decorating has to involve conflict. With a little compromise and a willingness to keep an open mind both parties can come out on top with a result that everyone is happy to live with.

Here are a few tips on ways of approaching the project with a great end in mind.

Involve your teen. Sure it’s your house and you pay the bills, but reminding your teen of this in a power broking deal isn’t the way to lead by example, collaborate or get them on side. Try to understand that your teens bedroom may feel like their only place of refuge; it could be the only space that provides a sense of self and autonomy for them.

Start by co-creating a budget with your teen. Take the lead by researching the likely cost of the project. Allow for professionals to carry out any work like painting, fitting new power points or lights plus new furnishings. Take this information to your teen and let them see what you have used to set the budget and state exactly what that budget is.

Be firm but open about the figure by giving your teen the chance to price up what they really want. Let them get their own reality check on what cool stuff really costs, while being upfront that no amount of wheedling, whinging, sulking or promises will change the budget amount.

If their decorating desires go over the budget, it’s up to them to work how to deal with that. Suggest that they may have to give up, save up or swap things, or negotiate loan terms with you.

Now you’ve engaged them in the budget, help support the process by doing pick-ups if they source second hand items being sold on line; let them visit thrift shops and flea markets as well as garage sales. If it’s keeping them in budget that’s a win-win. Teenagers can find ingenious ways to convert, restore or repaint worn things into something cool and personal for their rooms.

You’ll be spending a great deal of time together on this project so be patient and remain open to their ideas. This way they are much more likely to seek your opinion, guidance or approval. Remember this is parenting in action; you’re setting them up to better handle this process again as adults, so feel good and have some fun with it.

Alex Honey, Interior Designer

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