When your teen's closet is suddenly full of black concert T-shirts and you can't get in the bathroom because she (or he!) is busy dyeing her hair to match her eyeliner, it may be a sign she's adopted a Gothic style. This experimentation with identity is normal for teenagers, and a compassionate way to respond is with complete and total support. A bedroom makeover in her favorite style shows your teen you love her, no matter what she's dressing like that day.
1. Wall Coverings
When teens describe themselves as "Goth" or "Gothic," they aren't referring to the architectural movement. Gothic is a style "in relation to the macabre or other darker elements," according to the Urban Dictionary. Choose wallpaper with a dark, repeating pattern, or repaint your teen's bedroom in black or another dark color. If your rental home or apartment prohibits the use of dark paint colors, research your teen's favorite bands, movies or themes and find related posters and wall art to hang. Have posters professionally framed and matted in a dark color for a polished touch. Or add temporary vinyl wall hangings in Gothic motifs, like autumn trees or black flocks of birds.
2. Bedding and Window Dressings
Gothic style favors specific aesthetics, often borrowed from the Victorian era. Use a canopy bed with thick curtains or an antique bed frame with sturdy wooden bedposts. Dress the bed with a black, dark purple or gray dust ruffle, and choose a comforter in a similar shade. Add blankets and pillows in a sumptuous fabric like velvet, keeping the color palette rich and saturated. Curtains should be heavy, with Victorian-inspired details like lace, corset-style fastenings or unexpectedly feminine touches like a satin ribbon to draw them away from the window. Look for Goth-style blogs with search terms like "Goth Victorian" for further inspiration. If your teen doesn't seem like the Victorian type, install blackout curtains and find whimsically printed bedding in Goth motifs.
Think of the dim ambiance of your favorite horror movies for inspiration when lighting your teen's Gothic bedroom. Goth style adores the ornate, so modify the light fixtures and install candelabras or chandeliers. If you can't change the fixtures, install a dimmer to allow your teen to adjust the lighting to an appropriately gloomy level -- also a good suggestion for teens who are night owls. Wrap free-standing lampshades in dark-colored fabric or lace to tint the room, but don't let the fabric fall too close to the bulb to avoid starting a fire.
Teen goths love to feel like nonconformists, so choose a few pieces to augment the room's mood and create that slightly morbid aura. Look for "scary" motifs like tentacles, ravens, vampires, owls, spiders, skulls and bats on candleholders, photo frames, posters and purely decorative pieces. Even everyday objects in classical materials like pewter have potential; use pewter statuettes as bookends or place them at the head of a desk. Some Goths love industrial design -- like chains or "steampunk" antique clocks -- so don't rule these out as accessorizing possibilities. Post an antique clock over the doorway, or drape chains over light fixtures and around bedposts.
- Marco Prosch/Getty Images News/Getty Images