Convert a little kid’s room into a teen space with these simple tips



That cute duckie wallpaper or nautical furniture set were great for your child’s baby years and tolerable through elementary school, but a bedroom makeover is hard to get around when children head for their teens.

Consider the four C’s — classic, comfort, cool and color — for older kids. And keep in mind a transformation doesn’t have to mean tossing everything and buying all new. Spending selectively now may just carry your child through the college and beyond, said design guru Nate Berkus, host of “The Nate Berkus Show.”

Jennifer Adams Meyers, an interior and home products designer in Scottsdale, Ariz., said furniture in distressed, whitewashed and some darker woods are hot trends in baby furniture, boding well for use in a teen room through sanding and painting. Making a teen a partner in the redesign can be fruitful: “Let them have complete leeway. It gives them the motivation to keep it clean and organized,” Meyers said.


Big kids may be more attached than you think but too embarrassed to say that they’d like to display some of their growing-up stuff.

That baby chair collecting dust in the corner might be more palatable with fresh paint covering the bears or ducks.

Reserve shelf space for a favorite doll, toy and a few old books. Consider spacing mementoes between stacks of books, CDs or magazines. Offer storage in another room for anything else they might want to keep but not display.

Closets are a sticky issue. Big kids have bigger stuff, more clothes, more shoes, more sports equipment. Renovating a closet to make it deeper or wider may be unavoidable. Adding cubbies and a second hanging rod can help if expansion isn’t possible.

Don’t forget to mount a full-length mirror on the back of a closet door. It’s a cheap, easy way to more quickly extract a teen girl from a bathroom. Extra pegs and hooks inside a closet can be added easily and used for robes, backpacks, handbags and scarves.

Looking to avoid dirty clothes as your child’s new decor? Let them pick out a full-size hamper with a lid to be stashed in a corner, rather than a closet, as a reminder it needs to get used.


There’s no better way to let a tween or teen take control of their space than putting them in charge of palette, but be prepared to accept whatever crazy color scheme they come up with.

In addition to walls, linens can add a blast of color and texture. “It makes sense to let them pick,” Berkus said. “They have a shelf life. They can only handle so many washes. Thematic is fine.”

Wall art is huge to many teens — a poster of a favorite sports star or horror movie. How about a collection of colorful album covers from the ’60s, a surfer scene, or framed memorabilia such as photos of friends and family mixed with your child’s own artwork and souvenirs from vacations? How about hanging skateboards as art?

Meyers suggested vinyl wall decals with quotes or special words (“Peace” or “Happiness”) as a way for a teen to personalize the room.

Let them dress windows in wild designs and colors. Curtains come funky and cheap these days, or buy inexpensive shades they can paint themselves.

Teens read and study in strange positions, so a reading wedge or a body pillow that can be scrunched for comfort while working on a laptop would be a good addition.


A completely new set of furniture is probably not necessary, but a few items might be — a bigger bed, for instance. Another piece to consider investing in is a chest of drawers.

“Go for classic lines, not something too youthful,” Berkus said. “Going with a vintage chest of drawers is a good idea, like English mahogany or Swedish Painted. I’m more interested in people having something that’s an investment of a lifetime. How can I not have to replace something because I’ve bought into a theme?”

Teens have different priorities than little kids. They may not care much anymore about vast floor space to build Lego cities, for instance. Turn over some of that real estate to a couch and an overstuffed armchair for reading, and to creating a hangout-study nook worthy of having friends over, even if it means going for a laptop desk for homework over a freestanding one.

Bedside tables can be painted rather than tossed — and even double as desks, Meyers said. A lamp can be made new with a funky new fabric shade, and many home improvement stores carry beaded chandeliers in a variety of colors. Consider keeping a rocking chair with a new seat cushion for a reading nook.

Berkus is a big fan of vintage.