Washington Post - Decorating a teenager's bedroom is an exercise in negotiation. Gone are the days when you could choose animal art or ballerina bedding without a blink from your little ones. Now those little ones are big, and they want teal walls and expensive, over-the-top furniture.

When redecorating, Mike Johnson, a designer at Lori Graham Design + Home in Washington first recommends trying to hear what your kids are really looking for. Then, strike a balance. Choose a neutral for the walls, for example, and incorporate that teal with accents that are easy to change, such as pillows, rugs and frames.

“Kids get the process,” Johnson says. “They understand that it's their room, but that they have to compromise a little bit, that they're getting what they want, just in a different way.”

And though it's tempting to pick cheap furniture, knowing your kids leave the nest in a few years, Johnson recommends quality. Those same pieces can go with them to their first apartment or be the building blocks for a future guest room.

Instead of a battle of wills, the redesigning process can be a joy for all, says Nancy Guettier of PBteen. Because when done right, you get parents who know more about their teens' developing personalities and teens who want to be at home.

“A teen room is one of the most exciting rooms in the house,” she says. “They want to be creative and whimsical. They get out of their kid's room and get a place that lets them explore who they are.”

 

Expert picks for teen bedroom decor:

* “If you don't need a ceiling fan, try to do some fun decorative light in the space,” says Johnson. “Don't be afraid to get something that hangs down a bit, especially if it's over a bed.”

* “An absolute must for kids' rooms are carpet tiles,” Johnson says. “They come in a huge variety of patterns and sizes, and the best thing about them is when you get a stain, you can just peel up the tile and replace.”

* Bedding is one of the easiest ways to let teens express their style - and the easiest thing to change when their style inevitably evolves. Better yet, find a reversible comforter.

 

* “Every kid that I have done a room for has wanted a beanbag chair,” Johnson says.

* Cecilia Dupire, principal of New York design firm Cezign, suggests making the walls a blank canvas for creativity, by adhering corkboard wallpaper, painting a chalkboard, or giving kids rolls of Japanese washi tape - a removable, coloured masking tape.

 

* When their teenagers go off to college or their first apartment, parents might want to keep the furniture for a guest room. “The rooms need to have something that the parent likes and something that the child likes, and if you can allow freedom for both, that's design at its very best,” Dupire says.

* “I have done quite a few kids' rooms using swing-arm lighting by the bed instead of bedside lamps,” Johnson says. “It frees up the nightstands, and it also allows for more lighting options in the room.”

 

* Johnson recommends not “finishing” the room's design, so that the teen can put his or her stamp on it. Leave plenty of wall space to decorate, bedding to choose, accessories to find. Pillows with removable covers can be changed out to match the mood or season.

Washington Post

* Roberts is a freelance writer. She can be found at www.lindseymroberts.com.