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5 Tween Design Upgrades: Making the Switch from Kid to Tween Room

Even though your tween boy is still as cute today as when he was a child, we bet he's outgrown rainbows and trucks.
Even though your tween boy is still as cute today as when he was a child, we bet he's outgrown rainbows and trucks.
©iStockphoto.com/Galina Barskaya

Face it -- your tween has outgrown his racecar bed he picked out in kindergarten or that perfect shade of pale pink you chose before she was even born. Just as they're ready to try new things and start to assert their independence, many pre-teens are also eager for a major bedroom redesign. As kids start to depend less on Mom and Dad and more on friends, they want a space that's not only private but also expresses their individual style and interests. Give them a room they'll love well into their teen years with these tween design upgrade tips.

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No need to invest in a whole new bedroom suit if your tween still fits in the bed. A fresh coat of paint does wonders!
No need to invest in a whole new bedroom suit if your tween still fits in the bed. A fresh coat of paint does wonders!
Goodshot/Thinkstock

Furniture helps to define a room, appealing to both functional needs and aesthetics. It's also the largest component in most rooms, so it makes sense to start with new furniture when you're ready for a major redesign. For growing tweens, however, it doesn't always make sense to shell out thousands of dollars for a new bedroom set. Keep in mind that your kids are just about to sprout up and will soon have adult-sized bodies. Why buy now when that tween-sized furniture will be way too small in just a few years? Instead, focus on updating the pieces they already have to give their room a whole new look. Consider painting or refinishing bed frames and dressers to switch up colors or get rid of kiddie accents and decals. Even new hardware can freshen up dresser or desk drawers and serve as an easy way to add pops of colors that appeal to the tween sense of style.

Of course, if your child's feet are starting to hang off the foot of the bed, it's probably time to invest in some furniture that fits. If a brand new bedroom set isn't in the budget, look for used furniture that will fit within your tween's design plan. Quality used pieces cost much less than new furniture and are often made from real wood that will last long into the teen years.

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Given the level of marketing to kids and tweens, your child likely has high expectations when it comes to her new space. Start off the project on the right foot by giving her a realistic idea of your budget. Have her look up the prices of some of the furniture or accessories she's considering, and then help her come up with some creative and economical ways to outfit her new room while respecting the family finances.

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to totally transform a room is by investing in vintage or repurposed pieces. Members of the younger generation often embrace the green movement more so than many adults, and they may enjoy the challenge of finding or creating just their room design while also protecting the planet. Visit thrift shops or yard sales and look for hidden potential in furniture or accessories that can outfit your child's room. Use plywood and fabric to make your a headboard, which can serve as a unique focal point in the room. Drape fabric above the bed to create a homemade canopy, and give the walls a coat or two of fresh paint. Try a duvet cover or some vintage quilts to transform your child's bed without investing in all new bed linens.

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For the ultimate in budget-friendly accessories, showcase your tween's special talents. Frame your child's favorite artwork or poetry, or create a display of photos or awards your child has won. There's no better way to add personality to your child's room than by accessorizing with the things that show off his or her unique skills.

Consider planning your tween's room décor around his favorite hobby. If it's music, think instruments and musical notes as décor, not a particular pop star or performer.
Consider planning your tween's room décor around his favorite hobby. If it's music, think instruments and musical notes as décor, not a particular pop star or performer.
Goodshot/Thinkstock

While it can be tempting to simply outfit your tween's room with her favorite theme, this type of design could quickly fall victim to the fickle nature of the average pre-teen. Skip the trendy movie- and pop song-specific themes and design a room that your child can grow into as she enters her teen years: You can compromise with a pared-down version of their favorite theme or interest. For example, instead of investing in the complete bedroom set that's made around one specific doll or action figure, use the setting or time period of your child's favorite book or toy as inspiration. Try a Victorian or classic country look that can be modified as your child grows.

For boys, consider a more mature version of their must-have theme. If your son loves baseball for example, outfit a basic room design with posters and photographs of his favorite teams and players, but keep all the matting and frames the same for a consistent, pulled-together look.

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If you simply can't wrest that Hannah Montana bedspread or leopard print lampshade out of your tween's hands, consider a compromise. As long as your child agrees on simple furniture and flooring, let them go slightly wild with accessories (we particularly like removable wall decals, which come in just about every color and pattern imaginable), which can be switched out as your child's tastes change. They'll be happy with their new space, and they'll probably thank you in a few years for suggesting the Justin Bieber bedspread instead of the tough-to-remove fairy princess wallpaper border.

While there's no set age to help you determine the right time for a redesign, most tweens will send clear signals when they're ready to upgrade their space. Some kids will start to complain about their "babyish" decor, while others may simply express an interest in redecorating. If your child has yet to mention his room but you notice he barely fits in his kid-sized bed or desk, it may be a good idea to start planning a room that will suit his growing body.

Quite often, the room you designed with a toddler's or child's needs in mind simply doesn't fit the needs of a pre-teen, who likely has much more on his mind than his favorite toys. Tweens will also start to require appropriate space for their daily activities, including studying or grooming. As your children start to spend more time with their friends, they'll also look for a comfortable and cool hangout space with just the right amount of privacy.

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Some families choose to make updating the kid's room a rite of passage in the summer before he or she starts junior high school. This helps to remind kids who may be nervous about the start of middle school that with change comes new perks and the first taste of independence.

Better to let your tween daughter have a few wacky accessories rather than argue with her over the neon pink paint she wants on her walls.
Better to let your tween daughter have a few wacky accessories rather than argue with her over the neon pink paint she wants on her walls.
©iStockphoto.com/Izabela Habur

The tween years serve as a warm-up of sorts for the challenging teen years to come. Major projects like a room design can lead to battles between kids struggling to assert their independence and parents who are footing the bill. Make your tween room remodel as smooth as possible by sitting down and planning the project with your child in advance. Help him sketch his desired layout and make a list of what features he'd like to have. Use this time to talk about why certain ideas work and others might not. This is also the perfect opportunity to talk about things you're not willing to compromise on, such as sufficient storage space to keep their belongings neat and organized and no lock on the bedroom door.

Even the best-laid plans won't prevent some conflict between what your child wants in his room and what you think he should choose. When you butt heads, remember that the tween bedroom is the only space he can truly call his own. This type of perspective can help you pick and choose your battles and allow your kid to assert himself within reason. So if your daughter has her heart set on bright purple curtains or a sequined lampshade, let her have them. She'll grow out of them sooner or later, and these things are easy and cheap to change once her tastes mature in a few years.

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Sources

  • Better Homes and Gardens. "Teen Rooms Designed by Teens." (May 15, 2011)http://www.bhg.com/rooms/kids-rooms/teen/personally-styled-tween-rooms/
  • Bowen, Chelsey. "Stylish Tween Bedrooms." HGTV. (May 15, 2011)http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/stylish-tween-bedrooms/pictures/index.html
  • Good Housekeeping. "Teen's Bedroom." (May 15, 2011)http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/home-decor-gallery/decor-ideas-teen-bedroom
  • Rafter Tales. "Bedroom Decorating Ideas for Teen Girls." Jan. 12, 2011. (May 15, 2011)http://www.raftertales.com/decorate/teen-girls-bedroom-decorating/
  • Wilson, Kathy. "Decorating Teen Rooms On the Cheap." The Dollar Stretcher. 2011. (May 15, 2011)http://www.stretcher.com/stories/05/05sep12j.cfm

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