Teenage Bedrooms

August 15, 2012

The walls of a teenage bedroom are usually covered with photographs, magazine tear-sheets, a tangle of twinkly lights, and the occasional inspirational quote. And we can’t forget the unmade bed! While we live at La Cressonniere, my teenagers’ bedrooms have remained charming and French, but they both talk about what they’ll put on the wall when we move back to The States.

Have you thought about your philosophy on older kids’ rooms? (Did that just make some of you with younger children panic?) Is it a space in your home where you’re willing to hand over creative control, or do you have rules and restrictions?

Lots and lots of real teenage bedrooms here.

P.S. — Do you remember your first “grown-up” bedroom? What design statement were you trying to make back then?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marcia (123 blog) August 15, 2012 at 5:10 am

Yes, I’m the mother of 3-year-old boy/ girl twins and I got a bit freaked out when I thought of them wanting to paste things on the wall :)

I like to think I’ll be all loosey-goosey but truth is, I’ll probably want to restrict the “creativity” to a big whiteboard or similar :)


2 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux August 15, 2012 at 6:07 am

When I grew up my parents wouldn’t let me tape photographs & posters on the bedroom walls. (They took great pride in painting the room themselves). They did panel one wall and give me a super large cork-board that I could decorate however I wanted and that seemed to work. I will probably go that route with my children – striking a balance between creativity and the fact that it’s still a bedroom in a nice house. Framed pictures and photographs were my choice also but it just looked nicer. I do think it created a slightly calmer atmosphere for studying…and even in college, I preferred foam boarded or framed posters in my dorm room.


3 Jodi August 15, 2012 at 6:11 am

My 8 year old son has plastered his walls with WWE wrestling posters. He has asked that I take down the charming retro framed sports posters (think Monaco in 1937), but I am not ready to cede total control.

As for my own teenage room, I bought a few gallons of paint in bright colors and with painters tape created these geometric stripes.


4 Beth August 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

When I read your post, I thought “Yeah – I think I’d probably give them free reign as long as it was cleaned once in a while and there weren’t too many dreadful ghoulish posters.” After going to the link and seeing some of the pictures and comments I’m even more sure I’d give my teenagers a lot of freedom with their rooms. The teens who posted seemed to derive so much satisfaction and sense of space from decorating their own rooms.

BTW: my kids are only 3 and 5 so we have a few years…


5 Kathleen August 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

I already allow my 5-year old to plaster his walls with his drawings so I’m guessing I’ll be fairly relaxed when he’s a teenager! Since I have basically total control over the rest of the house (my husband’s not very interested in design/decorating), I really don’t mind ceding control to my sons’ room. I think it’s good to allow them to express themselves and create a space they are comfortable in and that they feel reflects who they are. When I was growing up, that involved a lot of experimenting. I remember changing my room around often and my mom just let me close my door on a weekend afternoon and do whatever I wanted (at least in regards to what was on the walls and furniture placement).


6 Barchbo August 15, 2012 at 10:18 am

If the worst thing my teenagers want to do it paste things on the walls…lucky me! Ideally, I can head them off with pegboard or corkboard or whatever exists in 10-15 years when my kids are teenagers!

My mom let me have my “dream room” when I started high school: pink Laura Ashley EVERYTHING! She even recovered a cozy love seat for me. Of course, I had a giant pink corkboard to paste up all of my J.Crew tear sheets. :) I would feel stingy not allowing my kids the same freedom. I hope their tastes are as tame as mine.


7 Victoria Regina August 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

We didn’t have a whole lot of money to decorate when I was growing up, but my mom did let us help pick the comforters and things that went into the room my sister and I shared. As long as we used poster tape, we could put whatever pictures we wanted on the walls (hello, massive *NSYNC poster!), and when I was 16, my mom let me paint the room: apple green #4 by Laura Ashley. It didn’t go very well with the bright orange shag carpet (we lived in a rental), but I loved it so much, and felt quite sad when we moved and I had to leave it behind. I think I’ll do that when (if?) I have teenagers: that feeling of ownership is really important (and also, might inspire them to keep it a little cleaner!).


8 Kelly August 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I pretty much had free reign in my teenage bedroom, right down to letting it be a big, cluttered mess most days. There was zero budget from my parents in terms of furniture or “decorating,” but I had a good time with thrift stores and Scotch tape for my Cure posters!

Last year, we painted my 10 year old daughter’s room her chosen color of hot pink on 3 of the 4 walls. Hot pink with black furniture is NOT my idea of good design…but she loves it (and her friends are pretty impressed): http://www.thereadingnest.com/2012/02/big-pink.html

Hopefully once she’s a teenager, it’ll morph again!


9 Traveling Mama August 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I went directly from my girly childhood bedroom to my newly wed master bedroom. It’s funny, but I never really thought about not having a teenage room, but I guess since I got married at 19 my newly wed bedroom was still kind of a teenage room! LOL! It was Ralph Lauren plaids in red, white, and blue. Very patriotic! :-)


10 KelliK August 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

When I was 15, I learned to paint walls by choosing 4 different bright colors- one for each wall! My mother was pretty encouraging, and we planned al sorts of DIY makeovers. We made a bright quilt, painted, worked on curtains, and hung beads instead of closet doors. It was pretty free reign. I could never enjoy it the same now, but I sure appreciate that I got space to flex my creative muscles!


11 Amanda August 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Ha! I definitely went through the magazine collage phase. And posters of movie stars I had crushes on. I cringe when I think back. Oh well, I suppose it’s a right of passage. And at least I made my bed!


12 the emily August 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I think I could let them do what they want unless it includes pornographic posters and messes. Heh.

My first grown-up bedroom consisted of flowers, flowers, and more flowers from Laura Ashley. Gross.


13 the emily August 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Oh, and Steve Young posters. I was convinced he was going to marry me.


14 Ann August 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm

First it was horse posters then it was culture club, magnum pi then Michael Jackson? My Dad made me put all the posters on the opposite wall so when he walked by my room he wouldn’t have to look at my shrines. So funny. Kind of a good idea though if you think about it. I’m not at that point (3 years! Yikes!) yet but would like your advice if you ever decide to write about it! I loved my teenage room! My parents really let me do anything within reason. They let me order pink mini blinds for the windows and they let me have stolen street signs in my room! My mom even painted an orange hazard tube pink for my birthday to add to my collection. My desk was an old wooden school desk with the storage on the bottom and the desk connected to the chair. I could go on and on about it. This was fun remembering it.


15 Jen Betancourt August 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

As a teenager my room was a mess, but a creative mess and it was all mine. I taped inspirational photos from National Geographic and whatnot on the walls. I hung branches above my bed (complete with thorns! how conducive is that for a good nights sleep!) and fastened old found birds nests to the branches as well. One of my friends parents actually let her paint one or two of the walls black, which always impressed me. My daughter is only 4 but I do hope that I will let her have free reign to “decorate” her room as she sees fit. I agree with Barchbo that if the worst they want to do is paste things on their bedroom walls then we are lucky indeed : )


16 Giselle August 16, 2012 at 7:20 am

When I was a kid I had posters all over my walls and even ceiling…now my 11 year old would like to put a few posters up and just the thought makes me nauseous. I’m surprised that it bothers me so much, even though I did it. Of course my siblings have informed her of my decorating choices and she always reminds me that what she has in mind is much better that what I did!


17 kristin August 16, 2012 at 7:58 am

we (my sister and i) were allowed to redecorate our rooms when we turned 13. and by redecorate, it was get new bedding since we lived in a frank lloyd wright-ish home and my parents would never let me paint or do anything permanent feeling. i really wanted to get a black and white comforter but we did our homework on our beds and my mom mentioned the fact that the white might get damaged. so for some crazy reason i got the one with the MOST color on it. i loved it mainly because it was new, but it was never the idea i wanted. i’m glad, too because it would have been boring. also! now my oldest has it on his bed (it’s definitely feminine, but i figure until he cares we’ll save a $ and then he can choose something he wants).


18 amanda jane August 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

I am grateful for the heads up and some of the suggestions from the comments. looking at the rooms on your link truly made me freak. we are just entering the teen years and I am in no rush to get there. we have an unexpected little one coming to our family this winter which means some room shifting and “redecorating” for our tween daughter.

my first hard line comes with tidiness – in her room now she needs a place for everything which is not on the floor or under the bed. our Miss is very involved in the choices for this new room, I do want her to feel all the ownership and pride about her place in our home that the teens on the website expressed, but I don’t know if I can handle all the stuff that they all seemed to hoard! not to mention I just can’t imagine the differences between the tween I know and love and the teen that will want to ply her room with stuff. scratch that, I can imagine those rock collections and stuffed animals morphing into other types of keepsakes and photos. I certainly remember my bottle collections and saving every note that was passed my way… it’s a rite of passage that I am glad to realize is coming. sounds like it’s best to think ahead about the compromises that are sure to come! and stock up on pretty boxes to put it all in.

I do draw a hard line about what goes on our walls right now and think that will continue – I am more inclined to let her paint a mural than put up posters (although except a map and a few prints she had never asked) so that seems to be where we are headed. it seems like a more creative solution than boy bands and dead idols. she is in the drivers seat but the hubs and I are doing our best to keep a hand on the wheel for as long as she will let us.


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