kevin the teenager, a character played by harry enfield

“WHAAAT?! OH THAT’S SO UNFAIR!!!!” 5 tips for decorating your teenager’s bedroom

We were all young once, even if the old grey matter can’t recall that far back, rest assured YOU were a teenager once!

What was YOUR bedroom like?

Can you recall ever being ASKED what you wanted your bedroom, (your sanctuary as a teenager), to be like?

We recently decorated our teen daughters bedroom after moving to a new house and it got me thinking about my own room when I was a kid.

Casting my mind back to the 1970’s, It was a large and airy room at the top of a huge rambling Victorian house in Devon, with woodchip wallpaper, (painted magnolia of course), cheap cord carpet and awful polystyrene ceiling tiles (which were later found out to be lethal from a fire safety point of view). Thanks Dad!

As it was a large room, I had plenty of space to set up my Scalextric track, or when i got bored of firing the cars off the banked curves at high speed in the direction of my younger sister, I had ample room to set up my Hornby train set!

Aaah, happy times!

However as I started to grow into a teen, strange things happened (!), as they do to all teens, and I started to want more privacy, lots of posters up in my room, a stereo, my own TV, you can imagine, we all did it.

So with that borne in mind, here are MY 5 top tips to decorate the bedroom of your teenage son or daughter, all done on a tight budget.

How to decorate your teenagers bedroom on a budget.

One of the great things about teenagers is that, on the whole, they have vivid imaginations and can come up with some zany ideas, so work with that, and work with your teen, to find a common ground, something they will love, but something also practical too.

Without getting all “American” and “over the top” about it, it can be a good bonding experience for the family, when the average teen is fraught with insecurities and worries about things that you and I would view as trivial, so this can bring a sense of importance and belonging to your teenager if done right.

Kevin the teenager played by harry enfield

1. The tricky “consultation” period.

You want the end result of a bedroom decorating project to be like “Wow, thanks Dad!“…. and not “……..Oh god I hate it, you’re not my REAL parents blah blah etc.!”..

…. then you are going to have to forget they are still a kid, and remember they are growing and developing views of their own, so the first top tip is to ASK your teen what they want their new room to look like, but of course take some of it with a pinch of salt too

When talking to your offspring about what THEME they would like, if your teen son says he wants a full size boxing ring and a well stocked bar in his room, politely explain WHY this can’t be done, but come to a compromise and suggest maybe something THEMED like a bar, to make him feel grown up? (minus the alcohol obviously)

a nice cool pint in a pub


Teens aren’t known for their debating skills and if you can see past the mood swings and sulks, and get into your son or daughters head, metaphorically speaking of course, you can get a real good idea of what way you want to take the project, with the end result meaning your kid will be HAPPY; no mean feat if you are a parent of a teen!

For teen girls, this can equally apply so remember a 13 year old may not actually be interested in pink, fluffy “Disney Princess” style rooms any more, nor will they want “My little pony” curtains or drapes, so again, ASK your daughter what she wants.

When we did our teen daughters room, she is into Japanese manga, anime and “cosplay”, (whatever that is), so we went with a simple and uncluttered Japanese theme, ideas and examples are available online, with Pinterest being a good place to start, and of course leaving some room for the obligatory band posters!

posters in teens room
So no “My Little Pony” posters any more eh?


Once you have agreed how the room is going to look, it is often best to write it down on a bit of A4 paper and stick it on the fridge.

This also gives the teen an opportunity to add any other ideas they have to the list, in their own time.

2. Set a decorating budget and stick to it.

It is important not to get carried away, even if you are used to lavishing your child with gifts, I assure you that you DON’T have to do this and your teen will be just as happy if they have an active role in saying what goes in the room.

Write down a few prices before you start, such as brushes, paint, etc and you would be surprised how cheap you can do this, although avoid being a skinflint or a miser because if you buy something like paint brushes, 3 for 99p from your local pound shop, they will be a load of rubbish, so at least buy QUALITY whenever you can.

We even changed the furniture in the room with 2nd hand items from a charity shop, which actually not only saved us money, it surprisingly looked pretty good too, AND from a “karma” viewpoint, we gave a few hundred quid to a charity that desperately needed the money.

Money saving ideas for the home
A room makeover need not cost a fortune


3. Be aware that being a teen is a transitory period in their life.

Teens change like the wind.

One day something is the absolute “must have” and they will bug you for ages about it, and then all of a sudden this “must have” is forgotten about as a new distraction has come along.

“With this in mind, don’t do things when decorating in your teens bedroom that have a degree of permanence about them such as major alterations to the room.”

These could include sectioning off a large room, changing the carpet to a wholly different kind of flooring, using semi permanent fixtures and fittings etc.

Be wary of short lived fads. What your teen likes NOW (and says he will for ever and ever) becomes “last year” in …er… the space of a few months.

tony and his star trek flat
This amazing Star Trek apartment has to be dismantled piece by piece when this fellas wife left him. I can’t imagine why……

This could also mean that if your teenage son is into Star Trek, for example, and you go waaaaay over the top, and over budget turning his bedroom into the bridge of the starship enterprise, what happens when in 6 months time, the novelty has worn off and now he is into “Dr Who” instead?

Try and remember that you are seeing your teen at a certain “snapshot” in their life.

Unfortunately what you do now, maybe so “so last year” in the space of only a few months.

Yeah that's like soo last year an stuff. Like. Whateva
“Yeah that’s like soo last year an stuff. Like”. …… Picture (C) Sydney morning herald

Whatever décor you add to your child’s bedroom, bear in mind next year they will want it changed again!

4. Careful use of colour can make a huge difference

We spoke earlier in this article about the time recently when we decorated my Daughters room?

Well the walls were flat and smooth and we didn’t want to stick any wallpaper up, so we decided to paint a bright colour, on 2 walls only, and as the room has lots of light, we wanted something that would reflect a onto the two walls we were leaving painted white.

We went to our local B and Q and got a bundle of colour swatches to take back home for her to look at.

She chose a VERY bright blue, with the wonderful name “A dip in the Pool”, and was made by a colour mixing machine in store.

The paint used was Valspar, which gave a nice finish with no opactity and dried really well.


Valspar blue paint
The bright blue reflected the light onto the White walls, giving a pleasing effect.

The amazing thing about using a bold colour like this is is how the light in the room reflected off the blue onto the white, giving the blank walls a strange hue, which looks great on a sunny day!

You can try this out with different colour paints, just pay attention to how much light the room gets and from what direction.

If the thought of painting a wall fills you with dread and you wouldn’t know where to begin, we wrote a handy article all about decorating some time ago and it opens in a new window so you won’t lose your place..

5. Use every inch of space AND make being organised a bit more fun

Chances are that your teen will have enjoyed and appreciated being ASKED what they wanted their room to be like

Here we were faced with a built in cupboard, with a huge amount of wasted space inside, so we took one of the 2nd hand bits of furniture that we had bought from a charity and put it INSIDE the wardrobe, meaning that all of a sudden, loads more storage space was created.

And unlike drilling shelves into the wall, this is something that can be changed very easily.

fill empty spaces in cupboards with drawers to save space
fill empty spaces in cupboards with drawers to save space

We also stuck hooks in the ceiling and attached a sort of mini-hammock, ideal for soft toys and teddies which despite the heavy metal posters and your daughters “I’m grown up now” attitude, they still probably sneak their favourite teddy bear into bed at night! Aaah bless! LOL!

We then gloss painted the door and skirting in white and found curtains and a bed throw that more or less matched the bedroom walls, giving a very blue-themed look, whilst the room remains tidy and un-cluttered.

So the next step?

Involving your son or daughter in this process can be fun and rewarding and you never know, they may actually do a bit of painting themselves, although don’t hold your breath, not since her favourite band comes on MTV and she rushes downstairs to turn the TV volume up, whilst forgetting her hands are covered in paint. (*sigh.)

Remember to clean up thoroughly after painting, clean all brushes etc and make sure the lids are firmly back on the paint cans.

You need the window open when decorating, because of the paint smell obviously and try and start painting in the morning too, so the room has the maximum amount of ventilation throughout the day.

You have created a blank canvas, in theory, for your teen to express themselves, so the next stage will be to buy them some drawing pins or blue tack and let them get on with it in peace, which normally means your newly painted walls will now become covered with posters.

Oh well, we can but try eh?

PS: A big thank you to Comedy Central, who featured part of our article a while ago.

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