Curtains set the style for more than windows in a teen bedroom.

How to Personalize the Decor in a Teenager's Bedroom

by Benna Crawford

Update your teenager's bedroom from the windows to the walls with curtain and shade fabric choices and styles that range from elegant to exuberant. You'll get better buy-in if you consult your teenager before redoing the windows, but come armed with good ideas to choose from to save on costly, not-quite-what-you-hoped-for mistakes. Sewing your own curtains is one way to get better value -- a custom job with quality materials that will survive until the room's occupant heads off to college.

1. A Little Luxe

Your tutu-clad or tomboy teen will appreciate the romance of an unexpected billow of silk taffeta framing her windows. An all-white bedroom with sanded and waxed plank floors and touches of off-white linen on dresser paint and headboard upholstery achieves an understated elegance when you whip up a froth of vanilla or linen-hued taffeta to sweep from curtain rods to floor. Treat your teen to the luxury of three fabric widths per curtain panel -- it makes the drape full enough for a palace -- and line the curtains to prevent color-fading from sunlight and transparency at night. Keep all the attention on the fabulous fabric by sewing a sleeve into the top of each curtain and threading it directly over the rods without rings or hardware. (see reference 1)

2. Sky's the Limit

Your astrophysicist can't live in the clouds all the time. When he's studying astronomy in his bedroom, help him out with dynamic decor that merges his windows to the outside world with the night sky above. Color-wash the walls and ceiling medium or deep blue and scatter a constellation of stars across the upper walls and ceiling. Add a galactic swirl or a golden sun around the central pendant lamp and a few painted planets to fill in the sky. Continue the stellar treatment on the curtains. Window-length curtains in lined blue velvet, patterned with astrological signs or sprinkles of stars, suspend your future astronaut or Nobelist in his own private pocket of space. Paint, stamp or applique stars to plain velvet to customize the look. Add a telescope on a tripod in front of the twinkling curtains for after-dark stargazing.

3. Upcycled Sackcloth

The utilitarian vinyl shades that control light are set into the window frame but your teen's room needs something softer to embellish the view. A saggy linen grain sack adds just the right touch of handmade sophistication without hijacking the room's decor. The finest sack cloth is linen -- adapt real grain sacks by cutting them open and ironing them flat or buy the material by the yard to get the width you need for your windows. Line up the decorative stripe woven into the fabric carefully when you are piecing sack remnants together and cut your curtains to showcase any stenciled purveyor or product names stamped into the linen or burlap. Disguise the vertical stitching that attaches the strip of pull-cord rings to the back of each side of the shade by sewing contrasting or matching grosgrain ribbon over the line on the front of the fabric.

4. Peace Out Piecemeal

A retro-hippie teen is right at home in a patchwork of iconic designs that are all about peace and love. Mix fabric patterns for the bedcovers and pillow shams, and use pieced-together panels of the same materials for the windows. Wide vertical strips of multicolored peace signs on light canvas or synthetic silk, XOXO hugs' and kisses' characters, psychedelic daisies, suns and moons, or rainbow Buddhas and lotus flowers draw open and closed over windows hung with translucent beaded curtains. The message is youthful and unmistakable and the curtain colors and symbols can dictate decor for the rest of the room. Use fabrics of approximately the same weight and weave so the curtains hang evenly and hold their shape.

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