Paint is the cheapest way to dramatically change a room. Tell your child to choose a color a few shades lighter than the color on the paint sample.

Retailer: Bombay Kids

Just as adult decorating decisions are often triggered by a life change, such as a new baby or a major social event like an at-home wedding, your child may want to celebrate a personal milestone with a new bedroom. Right before starting middle school is a popular time to give the bedroom a new personality, but the desire may hit any time between about age nine to sometime in high school. Do your homework and you'll be ready for this adventure whenever it arrives. The pages in this article provide a number of different decorating ideas for your teen's bedroom.

With all of today's product choices available in a variety of price ranges, redecorating a room can be a fun project you and your teen or preteen can share. Let your child know you support (within reason) his or her wish for self-expression through room decor and even an independent-minded child will turn to you for help and advice as well as funds.

­On the ticklish subject of funds, you may already know that, while kids this age are painfully brand conscious, most have no desire for the high-end looks adults crave. Fun, funky, and free-spirited designs hold more appeal, and even kids who appreciate the finer things are likely to want a more unrestrained version of a traditional look.

If you and your child can come to some agreement about such major items as a desk, a bed, and window treatments, buy the best "real" furnishings your budget allows. Then, fill in with fun, low-cost novelties like beanbag chairs in jellybean colors, funky lamps, and dramatically colored bedding you won't mind replacing when a new look comes along in a few years.

Painted walls are a practical choice at this stage of the game. Paint has a fresh contemporary feeling, and, better yet, it's the least expensive, fastest way to make a big change in a room. You'll want to tell your child that paint looks a lot darker and more vivid on four walls than in a tiny paint chip and that professional designers usually advocate choosing a color two or three steps lighter than the color you like best on the paint chip. That said, buy the smallest container you can of several colors in the running, and have your child paint an area about three feet square on one wall with each of the colors. Let your child choose the hue that looks best. (One big exception to starting with the paint color is if your child has already picked out a fabric. Then, you'll probably want to suggest paint to coordinate with the lightest color in the fabric.)

Fill the space with low-cost items, like funky lamps and colorful bedding, that you can replace with each new trend.

Youngsters are trying on nothing less than their own self definitions when they embark on a room redecoration, so be patient. You can be a big help in minimizing impulsive decisions your child may regret without making your intervention into a power struggle. Try playing interior decorator with your child as the client: When a few choices have been identified, tape fabric and paint swatches and photos of selected window treatments, accessories, etc., on a large piece of white poster board. Your child will be able to see at a glance what works and what doesn't. If you find it too confusing to pull all their likes together in a visually coherent way, keep in mind that, in general, preteens and teens want either a very dramatic room or one that looks as much like a studio apartment as possible.

If you have any extra money or ingenuity to spend on this project, use it to create as much storage as possible. Include both open/display and hidden, and, above all, make storage easily accessible if you want them to use it. This is one area in which little kids and big ones are pretty similar!

If your teen is older, you ma­y want to consider how you'll use the room once he or she is independent. If the room will become a home office, a daybed may be the best choice. If it will become a full-time guest room, you can go with a full- or queen-size bed with all the trimmings. Either way, each page in this article offers unique decorating ideas for a teen bedroom that will always say "welcome home." You can find these pages here:

The next page will show you how color can make your teen's bedroom brim with confidence.