For this weeks’ post, I decided to take requests. I asked some of my Design clients for blog post questions and ideas. What I got surprised me & inspired me. In fact, if you’re reading this and would like a trendslation of a certain topic, please, visit our Facebook Page and let me know.
Most of my clients hire me to do one room at a time. The cool thing about this is, I get to come back over the course of many years and see their families, their lives, and their homes evolve. I truly believe that Design is a process — it’s not meant to be “done”, it’s meant to change and grow as your needs and desires do. That’s why this particular question made me laugh, because no generation of Design Junkies has been as young or has had their interests fed by Corporations as Tweenagers. To wit:
“When I was a kid my Mom decorated my bedroom and that was it, the most I ever got to do was pick out new sheets when my brother left for college and I got his room. Now my girls want to re-do their rooms every year, and seasonally. It’s too much, any suggestions?”
You see, I have worked in this womans home over the course of 13 years, right around the time her first daughter was born. We turned a Sunroom into a Playroom (toy depository), we updated her Living Room, we made a nursery when baby #2 was on the way, remodeled a bathroom to accommodate the growing family, moved the toy depository to a semi-finished basement/teencave, and even renovated her kitchen. Along the way, her girls asked for updated rooms once they outgrew their nursery digs. This made sense to both of us (I happen to have two kids about the same ages), but 6-year-olds turn into 13- year-olds, who read the PB Teen Catalog like it’s the Chipotle menu and have Pinterest and houzz accounts.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a clients home when Jr. walks in during our consultation and hands me a paint chip with a, “See what you can do about this, wouldja?” nod. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a kid with a design sensibility. They grow up to be fabulous Designers and Architects and the like. But the plethora of catalogs and furniture stores that have created entire lines of furniture and accessories aimed at tweens and teens may have filled a void in the marketplace, but it has also set the expectations of these kids very high. There is an entire section in the PB Teen catalog for specifically themed LOUNGES. no longer can you drag your pillow down to the basement and watch a movie on the sofa your parents put down there when they replaced the Living Room sofa, you now need to have your OWN Lounge, complete with new furniture, a seasonal nod, and lots and lots of USB ports.
Even the proliferation of seasonal decor that is shown in catalogs is enough to break the bank, and our storage closets. Does anyone remember ever having anything other than a carved pumpkin and MAYBE a cardboard skeleton with hinged arms and legs for Halloween? Pottery Barn alone has offered 8-10 PAGES of Halloween dishes, adornments and tchotchkes. What kid wouldn’t want to transform their rooms and their homes into a seasonal wonderland? But unless you’ve got every penny you will need in the bank saved up for Junior’s College, I say nay on the skull candleholders. Really.
The other issue with design aimed at teens is that it tends to be highly THEME based. The theme is typically based on whatever sport or activity they are most into, but I worry when we create an entire room of Horsey Mc Horseness for an 11-year-old, who say, isn’t quite ready to fully identify their entire existence with one semester of Equestrian classes. A room should reflect who you are, I see that, but perhaps we can mix it up a little.
Well, my client asked for suggestions on how to create this magical room that will please both parent and child, and my suggestion is two-fold.
1. Create a flexible “shell”. Things like bulletin boards, magnetic chalkboard paint, hooks, and even shelves create a canvas for your child to express themselves. Choose wall and flooring colors that are neutral, saving the whim of colors for less permanent, less expensive items like bedding.
2. Let them do the work! Once you provide them with room for their ideas, hand them that PB Teen catalog, direct them to the unused Arts & Crafts Supply area you undoubtedly created for them when they were three, and tell them to have at it. Instead of pinning Sarah Jessica Parker’s NY apartment as their design inspiration, tell them to use Pinterest for the many DIY projects that are available and challenge them to re-create what they see in these catalogs on their own.
With all this decorating and re-decorating, I fear this generation will never know the awkward thrill of coming home for the holidays after college and sharing their childhood bedroom with their significant other. It’s no fun if the room looks like last years’ Restoration Hardware Catalog! And remember, this too shall pass. Before you know it you’ll be knee-deep in the craziness that is now Dorm Decor (Really, it’s a thing.) . Perhaps you incent your budding teenager. Every dollar they don’t spend on their tween room could be invested in their 529 account.