Ask any teenage girl to describe her perfect bedroom and you'll get answers like "a room with a private phone line, a place to hang out with friends and for it to be way-cool and funky." Ask parents the same question and "a locked door that opens on their 21st birthday" might top the list! I know this first hand since it's been more than 20 years since I was a teenager and my poor Mother is just now emerging from therapy!
Although my client's daughter did not possess the same horns and long tail that I did at 16 she did exhibit all the other characteristics typical of her species particularly when it came to her own room. The floor was covered with clothes -- or as they're referred to in the Teenager's Guide to Decorating, "wearable area carpets"! Disorganization ruled the roost -- books, CDs, make-up everywhere.
Homework was (hmmmm) ever so conveniently impossible to do since the desk -- (I think that's what it was) was hidden under a mound of teenage girl paraphernalia. Mom and daughter were at their wit's end so I was called in to do an emergency room rescue.
I know it can be difficult for parents but I really do believe that kids need to play the predominant role in the choices that go into their own space. The daughter was allowed to choose her linens and suitably picked out very groovy ones in tones of teal blue and lime green -- their boldness matching her own outgoing personality. This started the whole design-ball rolling.
The walls were painted a brilliant, and I do mean brilliant, tropical blue! Note: if you're painting your walls a bright intense colour, you have to have extreme patience! Clients often walk into a freshly painted room and need resuscitating! It's not that the colour is wrong it's just that they're seeing wall colour on it's own, out of context with furniture, fabrics and accessories. So with this in mind, I put on my sunglasses and it was full steam ahead.
Grandpa's refurbished antique iron bed was a sentimental keeper and was positioned as a feature on the longest wall, right across from the door. Now it was time for a bit of teenage fun and campiness. I designed a simple canopy that attached to the wall to form a backdrop for the bed. Layers of teal and lime-colored fabric, trimmed with white feather boas now framed the bed and window. The whole effect was kind of Liberace meets Pee Wee's Playhouse -- very theatrical and fun!
Now for the challenge of organizing all that teen stuff! The solution came by way of large storage units placed on the wall opposite the bed. The blonde wood of the cabinetry combined with the existing crisp white dresser looked gorgeous against the vibrant blue walls -- off came the sunglasses!
Instead of simple shelves that tend to become untidy and disheveled rather quickly, these units had mobile storage components that were custom designed to the size of CDs, magazines, books and stereo components. The theory is that it forces you to be organized by limiting where items can go -- everything has its own specific place.
Some of the other elements I dealt with included the all important homework area -- this is where I lost Teen Popularity points! I chose a sleek glass desk with pullout work surfaces and paired it with a modern side chair. The desk was subtle enough that it didn't overpower the bed as a focal point and when lit from below the glass seemed to float off the blue walls.
A large storage bench nestled in between the blonde cabinets is a perfect spot for seating friends and to hide junk in for fast emergency clean-ups -- Warning! Lift top slowly -- contents under extreme pressure! To help prevent the nightly migration of clothes to the floor I sourced a wire Judy (those armless and legless forms used by seamstresses) to drape clothes on since hangars seem to be far too technical for most teenagers!
The final touch was the lighting; a bedside and desk lamp provided necessary task lighting. The old incandescent ceiling fixture cast a yellow light that turned the blue walls a sickly green -- it had to go. It was replaced with a long halogen track light that focused pure white light on the walls, highlighted art and mementos, and designated the bed canopy as center stage.
Things have changed a lot since the earth was cooling and I was a teenage girl but the basics of teenage bedrooms have remained the same. Every girl wants a place that they are proud to call their own and where they can express their own individuality. They want a private space where they can hang out with friends and start exercising their independence without, of course, being too far from dear old Mom's cooking, laundry and financial services! Add in a private phone line and you've got Teen Girl Heaven!
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