Teen Bedroom Decorating Ideas

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.


Color Me Confident Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Dramatic fuchsia, magenta, and shocking pink fill this room with color.
Retailer: Bombay Kids

Fearless, passionate color is a decorating idea that electrifies these teen rooms with individuality and youthful flair. The eye appeal of this space illustrates an established decorating rule: You can use a variety of strong colors in one room if they're of a similar intensity that creates balance.

Color is the most compelling, emotionally charged element in any decorating scheme, and, for many youngsters, identifying a favorite color is important to developing a sense of self. This cheerful room shows how far you can go to indulge a favorite­ hue or two -- and still have a room you won't need to close the door on.


So go ahead and indulge your child in his or her best-loved shades. Simple treatments and a few well-placed neutrals can tame the mix in style.

On the next page, you'll learn how you and your teen can play around with the colors you've chosen.


Playful Color Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

A deeper shade of turquoise adds depth to this room, while contrasting orange and lime green inject excitement.
Manufacturer: Stanley Furniture Co.

Color scheme is an important decorating idea for your teen's bedroom. The right colors can do a lot for your outlook, and your teen is at least as sensitive to emotional currents as you are. You can't protect her from every bump, but, when she gets home, you can wrap her in a comforting, uplifting environment that starts with colors she loves.

Once you've nailed the color scheme, furniture and accessories can be much easier to pull together. If you're shopping, a new bedroom group in warm woo­d looks great against cool-colored walls, while warm-tinted walls take the chill out of cool laminates.


Choose a contrasting color or two for accents; when the mood strikes, she can change them and get a whole new look with the basic background hue. That's a guaranteed mood-lifter.

Get more mood-lifters on the next page, where you'll learn how to decorate a chic room with inexpensive ideas.


Easy Chic Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

A black garden bench has an airy look that keeps it in sync with the light look of this room. Find reasonably priced furniture at resale shops, and save on accessories by learning how to make a ribbon bulletin board.
© Michael Dunne. Designer: Laura Bohn Design Associates. Architect: Shope Reno Wharton

Decorating ideas for your teen's bedroom don't have to be expensive. If you think you have to invest in a wealth of brand-new matching furniture to set up a cool teen's room, take a second look. Pink and white never looked so hip!

A collection of unmatched pieces with graceful lines finds a home in this rather spacious room, but, even without the square footage, a space like this is anything but square. Are these pieces French antiques or just inspired finds? Who needs to know? The classic girl's room recipe of powder pink and white is enlivened by touches of dramatic black plus a rainbow of interesting jewel tones.


Look for furniture like this everywhere from casual outdoor furniture stores to resale shops, and keep function in mind. Without trying too hard, the result is an enviable offhand charm that can go the distance.

You'll find more smart ways to decorate your teen's bedroom on the next page.


Naturally Smart Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

This room combines function with modern style; the bunk bed not only works as a sleeping area but also as a storage space and a sturdy desk.
Retailer: Gautier USA, Inc.

If you and your child appreciate modern style, you may be open to today's inventive combination units that put sleep, storage, study, and play areas all together. Cleverly designed and w­onderfully functional, these spacesaving systems have warm appeal when they're made of naturally finished wood.

When it comes to decorating a room around a unit like this, soft contemporary style is a natural. Bright colors and stylized motifs lend a cheerful note that appeals to any age, from tot to teen.


To complete the room, desks, bookcases, and other furniture pieces are widely available in naturally finished wood. Look for those with polyurethane-lacquered worktops that extend the life of the wood without obscuring its attractive grain. Can you have a casual room and substantial furniture? Naturally!

If you and your teen are butting heads when it comes to modern versus traditional, find solutions on the next page.


Soft Impressions Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Contemporary floral and plaid prints in soft lime, lilac, and white create a romantic scheme your teenage daughter won't outgrow.
© Stacey Brandford Designer: Susan Comfort, INTERIORS by Decorating Den

If you prefer to invest in traditionally styled furniture but your teen longs for a more modern look, one easy way to compromise is with fabrics and colors.

This room's scheme of pale lime and lilac creates an airy, youthful feeling that's enhanced by the contemporary floral patterns. Adding to the lighthearted ambience, trompe l'oeil lattice and vines are hand-painted on the wall.


You could create a similar effect with just about any other fresh, light color scheme, such as aqua and peach. To create a modern feeling with traditional furniture, keep the­ backgrounds simple -- no busy wallpapers or elaborate draperies. Contemporary prints, such as these abstract watercolor florals (large scale for the bed, smaller scale for the window valance), enhance the fun-loving look.

On the next page, you'll get more fun decorating ideas that bring favorite hobbies into your teen's space.


Sport Authorities Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

This bedroom sports a scaled-down basketball court done up in favorite team colors. The shelving echoes the Cubist-inspired bed ensemble. Learn how to build checkmark shelves.
© Laurence Taylor Designer: Montanna & Associates. Architect: Tom Price

Successful, active teens have more complicated studies and more elaborate hobbies than their younger siblings, but they're still kids who need room to move. Great decorating ideas incorporate these hobbies into your teen's room.

Sleek, well-designed storage furniture can house a multitude of things in an orderly way. Even if orderliness is too much to hope for, furnishings like these at least keep the clutter out of sight and off the floor.


If your teen appreciates the natural warmth of wood furniture and built-ins, follow through with fabrics that echo these tawny tones. If he prefers an industrial look, you can furnish his space with laminates in cool neutral shades and inject a bit of warmth with red or another hot accent color. Either way, strive for simplicity, minimal hardware, and maximum freedom of movement.

Give your teen freedom of expression with hot decorating ideas, found on the next page.


Definitely Hot Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Large areas of brilliant sunset orange are balanced by lots of cooling white and naturally finished wood floors.
Manufacturer: Stanley Furniture Co.

Once upon a time, you weren't supposed to use hot pink and orange together, but the 1960s changed all that. Today's teens love the intensity of these saturated tropical color combinations. Adding vibrant colors to your teen's space has become a timeless decorating idea.

As exciting as they are, hot colors can be wonderfully livable. Just balance areas of dazzling color with areas of white, another neutral, or a pale tint of one of your hot colors.


Funky flowers are a great motif for this color scheme, but just about any motif your teen enjoys can be worked into a one-of-a-kind design. Florals are just the start of what you can find in today's contemporary fabrics, wallcoverings, and accessories, so let your girl shop for her current favorites. Balance busy prints with areas of solid color to create visual breathing room.

For more visually pleasing decorating ideas that keep your teen's bedroom sleek and modern, turn the page.


Space-Age Sleek Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Go beyond bedroom basics and add pieces that befit a chic studio apartment, such as a scaled wall unit or a dining/work table perfect for studying.
Retailer: Gautier USA, Inc.

Just how modern can contemporary style be? Very! Teens are essentially forward-looking beings, so it's no surprise they're often attracted to decorating ideas with a slee­k modern style.

There's a practical aspect, too: If your teen's room is small, simply styled light-color modern furniture can help it look more spacious, and laminate surfaces make cleaning a breeze. What's more, even lightly scaled modern pieces may be big on savvy storage.


Decorating's a snap as well. You can emphasize the cool spacious factor with blue and green backgrounds and add warmth with yellow and orange. Furniture like this would be as much at home in a first studio apartment as in a teen's bedroom, so, if you shop carefully for quality, you might be able to send him or her off with the basics.

On the next page, learn how you can make basic blue go a long way.


Blue Reigns Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Creamy yellow glazes simple furniture for a luscious look that's rich against French blue walls.
© Alain Giguere Manufacturer: EG Furniture

Not every girl goes fo­r pink in a big way, and some lose interest in it when they reach their teens. No problem! Versatile and popular, blue is a decorating idea just as likely to win her favor.

Blue is widely used in the bedroom because it's inherently soothing. In a south- or west-facing bedroom, the color is a practical choice because it's psychologically cooling. What's more, if your teen's room is on the small side, pale tints of blue work like white to visually expand the space.


Virtually any color looks fine with some tone of blue, but you may want to create contrast with darks and lights. Royal or navy blue comes alive with yellow; pale blue looks sophisticated next to deep magenta or fuchsia. Either way, blue is clearly cool.

On the next page, you'll learn how to "stay cool" with your teen by transforming the bedroom into a private getaway.


Rustic Retreats Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

A big room can still be cozy with a warm color scheme of forest green and taupe, which also brings the calm tones of nature indoors.
Manufacturer: Stanley Furniture Co.

Teens crave a space of their own to get away from it all, and this handsome room fulfills that need without any fuss. Whether the room is as small as a bunkhouse or as big as all outdoors, the decorating style known as "lodge" can make it a getaway any boy would enjoy.

Start with simple squared-off furniture in strongly grained oak or pine, or go for even more rustic pieces made of coarse-hewn or peeled logs. Add homespun fabrics in ticking stripes, lumberjack plaid, or other timeless country patterns.

A color scheme of red and hunter green or red and denim blue will give a rich, lively contrast to neutral wood tones. Let your boy's interests dictate the accessories, whether he's into cowboys or camping.

The next page of­fers more decorating ideas with a different kind of outdoor style.

Fresh and Frolicsome Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

A bed ensemle of frisky butterflies matches well with garden-fresh colors.
Retailer: Bombay Kids

Yellow-green, the color of young lettuce, is one of the most versatile hues around. Virtually every color pairs nicely with it, from sedate navy to cheery orange. But, when you pair yellow-green with red-violet, its color wheel complement, you get a scheme that's truly delightful.

This room shows how foolproof it can be. Against a chartreuse ground, bright white and magenta stand out as freshly as tulips in a spring field.

Even if your furniture is a darker wood you don't want to paint, this green keeps the whole scheme light and bright. It's a look that's fun and feminine and not at all babyish. If your gi­rl is looking for a more sophisticated take on pastel pink and green, this may be it!

On the next page, you'll find a design utilizing a color pairing that never goes out of style.

Cool and Clear Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

Pale blue and white look great with modern furniture, especially when you use accents in vibrant red.
Retailer: Gautier USA, Inc.

Blue and white is a timeless decorating scheme that appeals equally to boys and girls, big kids and small. In a stressful world, blue can bring home a serene feeling -- ­something a teen may especially appreciate.

If your youngster's room is on the small side, a blue-and-white scheme creates a more spacious feeling. To start the decorating process, let your child choose a shade of blue he or she likes best. Sky blue and baby blue are lighthearted favorites that work well in a contemporary setting. For a traditional scheme, rich cobalt is the classic most associated with blue-and-white porcelain.

Don't stop there, however. There are many other blues from which to choose, from teal and turquoise to periwinkle and indigo. Whatever shade appeals to your teen, blue really goes the distance.

Making the transition from a juvenile room to a more adult look, while still retaining a sense of individuality, can seem like a daunting task. However, with the help of these decorating ideas, you and your teen should have no problem creating a room that is tasteful but unique.

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Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style, and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine.

Heidi Tyline King is an accomplished writer and editor. She has written extensively about America's arts, culture, history, nature-based attractions, and decorating projects, including All About Paint and Wallpaper, Beautiful Wedding Crafts, Pelican Guide to the Florida Panhandle, The Unofficial Guide to the Southeast with Kids, and others.