Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to design a timeless tween’s room that both parents and kids will love.
She’s outgrown her kiddie-themed room but may not be ready for a sophisticated suite either—often the best way to approach your tween’s bedroom is with a design that she can grow into. “Kids change their style and taste so quickly at that age, so it makes sense to be more flexible with the room design,” said Christine Markatos Lowe of Christine Markatos Design in Santa Monica, California.
“Their rooms shouldn’t be too juvenile or whimsical, yet also not so polished and complete that any change will look out of place,” said Danielle Fennoy, principal of New York City-based Revamp Interior Design. “At this age, kids are in the midst of forging their identities, hence their own space ought to give them opportunities to add their own touches,” she said.
To create a room that inspires and stands the test of those teenage years, follow these tips from the pros.
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Let Their Personalities Shine
“Start with a key inspiration. This could be a color or an amazing print. Basing a room around a theme means that it could date quickly. The theme should be a simple color choice or items that are thematic but easily interchangeable.
"A lovely way to incorporate their interests is by making things versatile—having frames where you can change artwork, or display boxes where they can show off their collections. Involve them in the process and let them lead the design by choosing their favorite color or one thing that they want their room to show off.
"Paint is easily changeable, so don’t be afraid to use one of their favorite colors. A good way of using small pops of color is painting in niches, backs of open joinery or bookcases. We also love using wallpaper; it adds an instant impact and a real focal point for the space.
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"Designing for kids who are soon approaching teenage years mean they will probably want a double bed in the near future. Always allow space for a double bed and plan your sockets accordingly. When choosing a bed, think about adding storage drawers or even a trundle underneath for their friends to use when they stay. A bed is a costly item and therefore we would usually upholster this in a more neutral fabric which can be accessorized with colorful cushions and fun bedding.
"Rugs are a way of adding color and texture. There are so many amazing rugs … that can be switched out when they approach teenage years. Upholstery is really key to bringing a room together. We always choose upholstery that is practical and beautiful but will also last for years to come. Upholstery can be one of the big-ticket items so be sensible about long-term choices. A simple upholstered end of bed bench can be dressed up with ever changing throws or cushions.”
—Tabitha Pethick Money, lead senior designer of London-based Taylor Howes
Add Personalized Details
“Themed rooms tend to end up feeling more childish or nursery-like. We recommend creating a cohesive look by doing a color story instead.
"A pinboard is a fantastic way to show off a tween’s interests, like photos of their friends or magazine cuttings. It’s also the easiest way they can keep their room updated with their current ideas and passions. Easy open shelves are another great way to display their trophies or latest art projects. We love using the tween’s own artwork, which, when framed properly, still feels put together and clean. It’s also fun to make a gallery wall out of multiples and really celebrate their inner artist.
Christine Markatos Design
"Opting for wallpaper with non-traditional designs like geometrics or funky patterns immediately identifies the room as a tween zone as opposed to the more formal rooms of the house that are for adults.
"We’d suggest going for as big of a bed as the room can handle—at least a full size. The bed is a big investment piece, so try to make it work for as long as possible.
"Always opt for an indoor/outdoor rug or fabric. Dash & Albert makes great flatweaves that are soft and much easier to clean. We recommend sticking to solid or neutral-colored upholstery pieces that can easily transition into the next phase of the room, and then to go for bolder patterns and colors in the accessories, like pillows and throws, which can be easily swapped out.”
—Christine Markatos Lowe of Christine Markatos Design in Santa Monica, California
Plan for the Future
“Ideally when creating spaces for tweens, we’d design for their future selves. We recommend upgraded features, like a bigger bed with a proper nightstand and light, a good desk, adequate storage for their belongings, and a comfortable chair. And of course, we need to infuse their personality into the design.
"Themes are not a good idea for tweens’ rooms, as these kids are known for changing their mind like the wind. That being said, we aim to incorporate their interests in less permanent ways: using art, pillows, and decorative accessories that can be easily swapped in and out. Also, providing shelving to display their hobbies and collections is a great way to both store these items and show off their interests and accomplishments.
”Artwork is the perfect place to highlight tweens’ interests, while adding color and graphics to reinforce the palette. It’s easy to find inexpensive art on sites like Minted, Society6, and Art.com, or to get posters of their favorite bands or athletes and have them framed. We love applying custom removable vinyl decals onto painted walls, which is a unique, yet non-permanent, idea. Also, anything in multiples can make an interesting feature wall or vignette: hats, trophies, guitars, ballet slippers, killer sneakers, or bobbleheads to name a few. The more involved we can get kids to be in sharing this stuff, the more their rooms will match their own unique characters.
“For upholstery, fabrics that are highly durable and have some texture or pattern are best to hide the inevitable marks and stains. Synthetic materials like faux leather, Ultrasuede, or performance velvet are safe bets. In recent years we’ve seen exciting designs in both indoor/outdoor rugs and carpet tiles. One of our favorite carpet designers, Brooklyn-based Aelfie, has a collection of bright, graphic outdoor rugs that are very suitable for trendy tweens.”
— Danielle Fennoy, principal of New York City-based Revamp Interior Design