Decorating your teen's bedroom calls for advanced negotiating skills and a tolerance for extreme disparities in taste. Influence the process by supplying a selection of themes from which you and your adored -- but independent -- decorator can draw inspiration. Your ideas may not prevail, but peace can reign in your castle if you find areas of agreement based on the passions that drive your teen. Think "personality," "aspiration" and "achievement," and, when all else fails, be sure to admire the result before gently closing the door.
Teens who are passionate about saving the environment are inventive and often stylish recyclers. Help your eco-teen reconfigure clean construction pallets into a futon bed. Look for damage-free pallets stamped "HT" -- heat-treated -- by the IPPC, the International Plant Protection Convention. Avoid pallets with an MB stamp -- that moniker means the wood has been fumigated with methyl bromide, a carcinogen and neurotoxin used for pest control. Sand your pallets to remove splinters; brace them together; and top with a sheet of plywood. Seal or color the platform with low-VOC paint or finish, add large, locking casters and a futon or mattress. A bookcase of braced-together wine crates holds collectible treasures and a personal library. Create a "salvage" tansu chest with apple crates turned sideways, piled in stairsteps and filled with wicker baskets that hold jeans, T-shirts and socks.
Take inspiration from exotic nature to enliven your teen's decor. Start with ultra-cool charcoal-gray walls and glossy white ceiling and trim. Add fake zebra throw rugs next to the bed, and pile pillows in African textile-covered shams on a solid duvet. Stamp or stencil animal paw prints on solid-color linen or canvas Roman shades. Use shades in a color taken from framed art or room accessories. Poufs or beanbags in a mix of tiger stripes and giraffe patterns evoke the jungle and the savanna. Paint a bright macaw or rain forest butterfly on cork tile, cut it out and mount on the wall for a bulletin board.
When your fairy princess graduates from tulle and gauze to cool and modern, let her personality provide all the color in her bedroom. Paint walls, ceiling trim -- and the floor if your floors are damaged or not worth refinishing -- stark white. Turn her bed into a cloud with all-white pillows, bed linens and a fluffy feather duvet. Toss a white flokati rug next to the bed and hang a big white paper pendant from the ceiling fixture. Slather glossy white paint over a door and two sawhorses for a desk and paint a battered wood stepladder white before stacking it with books, music dock and a trailing green plant. White silk balloon shades over panels made from old lace tablecloths mix both regal and shabby chic -- add the merest hint of color with barely-there lilac or pink stripes in the silk fabric. Replace the doorknobs to her room and closet with reproduction flower-painted ceramic knobs.
By his teen years, your growing athlete has amassed an impressive collection of trophies and sports gear, so celebrate his achievement in his room. Install a high shelf around the walls below the ceiling to display trophies. Cut the logo of his favorite team from carpet remnants to use as a bedside rug. Immortalize his baby soccer cleats with a large color photo of the tiny prodigy as the background in a shadowbox. Hang sports banners and his JV and varsity letters over the bed. Turn a bike wheel into a reminder-mobile by suspending it horizontally and hanging colorful wooden pinch clothespins around the bare rim and spokes with clear fishing line. Supply him with a stack of colored note papers to keep track of practice times, meets, homework deadlines and social events.