There comes a time in every growing family when a sibling utters the request: “I want a room of my own”, their shorthand for: “I want to create a space that reflects my own personality and values, unrestrained by those of my parents”. When this happens the daunting question is do you give them free rein to do as they wish or negotiate a reasonable compromise that retains some degree of decorum?
Remember your own adolescence. It’s likely your parents consented to certain freedoms where they no longer governed your decisions. Allowing teenagers the freedom to create their own space can encourage them to develop independent thought, express their emerging attitudes, interests, hobbies and habits to express their individuality and accept responsibility for taking care of themselves.
My advice is to encourage their involvement in the designing of the room, ask them to create their own mood board of what they would like, a visual statement of their individuality and values – To help them suggest they use these basic elements to structure their thoughts – Clutter / Colour / Texture / Lighting / Sound / Personal Items / Plants and Scents.
Remember the room is likely to serve a multitude of functions and purposes, apart from a place to sleep. It should be somewhere to study, a place to chill out away from the family, an entertainment area, a private space to socialize with friends. Start by listing the functional requirements of the space; the basic essentials – the bed and bedding, storage for clothes and shoes, a space for work or play, and somewhere to display collections, posters and paraphernalia. Ensure there are enough power points for their entertainment and tech gear to avoid overloading the ring main circuit with numerous extension leads.
Redecorating a teenager’s bedroom also provides a great opportunity to clear some of the years of accumulated clutter hoarded from their childhood. Sorting out such junk can help clarify teenager’s thoughts on the persona they wish to project and focus on their current interests.
Encourage their views on colour schemes, styling and décor ideas. Try avoiding stereotypical pinks and blues; monochrome colour palettes can work well, allowing for them to add feature points of their own choice. Helping young adults to gain the basic knowledge of decorating and how to create a personal space or sanctuary can be an important lesson in later life.
The difficulty in designing any room for an adolescent is that their interests, ideas and values can change so quickly. Ask them to think about their future interest and how they could adapt the design features they choose to reflect their changes in attitudes. An easy way to accommodate such changes is to create a chalk or scribble wall, or pin board wall, where they can express themselves with writing, drawing, pictures or pinning-up bits or photos that interest them.
Now the negotiation can begin; what existing furniture items have to be retained, can they be painted? What new items can they purchase? Set them a budget for what they can buy and stick to it, this will help them prioritize what items are most important for them.
Ems Penniston is Creative Director of Impressions London, a local business transforming residential properties in our area.
This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.