Because the tween market is now highly targeted by retailers and manufacturers, tweens of today have a lot more choices for styling their environment than the preteens of older generations. Today's tweens are starting to explore a maturing aesthetic, and they're no longer interested in the "baby" stuff that probably inhabits their current rooms.
Your tween wants something that reflects his or her individual personality, interests and style, and should have a say in the décor. But if you're not careful, you can wind up footing the bill for a trendy room that won't appeal to them in a year or two. Advertisers are all too happy to give you tween decorating tips, but here are some tween-tastic ideas that you'll want to avoid.
A tween's room should reflect his or her personality. Let your tween choose colors and help with the room's design.
Searching for Inspiration
Boys tend to think for themselves when designing their rooms and occasionally may borrow ideas from a friend. But girls tend to get their inspiration by poring over magazines or perusing stores at the mall.
Tween girls are often referred to as "too old for toys, too young for boys."
Tweens don't want a room that's too childish or too grown-up. They just want their own private getaway.
Versatility Is Key
Furniture manufacturers have recognized a need for transitional furniture for tweens. Many have designed collections that can be expanded as they mature into teens and have different needs.
Tween Role Models
Having tweens in the White House has upped the exposure of the tween demographic, and marketers love it. At 12, Malia Obama is about to be upgraded to a teenager, while Sasha is new to tweenhood at the ripe old age of 9.
10: Themes for Tweens
Most every little girl loves the princess bedspread and hot pink dressing table in her room, until one day she doesn't anymore. Dora and Barbie may be on their way out, but now there's Bella and Justin. That's Twilight and Bieber, in case you live under a rock.
They may be everything to her right now, but you know it's only a matter of time until she's on to the next thing. So avoid an entire room decorated in the spirit of hot young vampires and instead get her a few posters that can be easily replaced with the next fad.
9: Big Budget Redo
Entering adolescence is a big deal, and this milestone certainly warrants upgrading their bedrooms to reflect these changes. But remember that at this age range, tweens' tastes change as fast as their shirt sizes, so you don't want to invest a bunch of money in what will ultimately be a transition into their teenage room. It's fine to put a little money into a piece of furniture that will become a permanent fixture, but design elements are most likely temporary, so keep 'em cheap.
8: Not the Nursery
He may still be your baby, but he doesn't want to feel like one. Even if your tween son still loves rocket ships and trains, he's getting too old to have them plastered all over his walls and bedspreads. And the racecar bed is officially ready to be replaced with a twin or double.
That's not to say that you can't still have elements of his childhood as decorations. But it may be time to start collecting more sophisticated prints or replicas of antique engines to replace his Thomas the Tank collection.
7: Too Grown-up
While your tween doesn't like cutesy, childish décor, you still want your tween's room to feel like a young person lives there. Kids like color and fun patterns, even well into their teens, so choosing grown-up patterns or a color palette that's too sophisticated will make them feel like they live in their parent's living room rather than their own private getaway.
This isn't the time to give them the antique furniture they'll eventually inherit. It's important to make sure your tween's room reflects his or her individual tastes so it's a place that feels like home.
6: Kiddie Furniture
Bunk beds were the perfect choice when they were kids, but now it's time to start thinking about furniture that will accommodate tweens' growing needs as well as their growing legs. Now's the time to invest in a quality mattress that can follow your child into adulthood, and you can't go wrong with a well-made dresser, even if you need to paint it for the time being to make it a little more playful. If you stick to the classics and steer clear of the fads, you'll have furniture that transitions right along with your tween.
5: Decorated by Mommy
For your tween, a bedroom is much more than just a place to sleep or study. It's a place to dream or connect, create or relax, so it's important that it reflects the personality of its occupant. When coming up with a design concept, be sure to consult tweens to find out what they want their bedrooms to look like.
Girls, especially, want to put their stamp on their space and are likely to have some strong opinions. It's good to set boundaries, but it's important to let your tween lead the way.
4: Anything Permanent
Just as being a tween is a transitional time, so is everything a tween likes. Tweens spend a lot of time in their rooms and need to have a flexible decorating scheme. On Monday, your tween may sleep best with the bed under the window, but by Thursday, he or she may think it works better on an opposite wall.
Changing furniture around is a cheaper way to satisfy your tween's decorating whims, so make sure everything is moveable. Avoid wallpaper, murals or anything else that can't be changed. A coat of paint is a cheap and easy way to change a room's look in a snap.
3: Un-roomy Rooms
The main thing, next to privacy, that tweens need is space: a space to hang out with their friends, a dance space to work out all of that preteen anxiety and, of course, plenty of space to accommodate sleepovers. And then there are the clothes. As your tweens become teens, you'll want to make sure their ever-expanding wardrobes aren't spread all over the floor, so make sure there's plenty of space to stay organized.
Invest in space-saving organizers for closets, and check out under-bed storage to create more floor space. When it comes to seeing your teen's floor, just keep your fingers crossed.
2: Separate Sleeping Space
Now that your tween is developing a taste for privacy, he or she may be eyeing the spare room in the basement or the little apartment over the garage. Tweens are starting to crave that kind of independence, and let's face it, they'll get big props from their friends if they get it. But it's probably a bit too soon to be that far away from your watchful eyes.
1: Down with Drab
You may love white walls and matching slipcovered furniture, but your tween probably isn't as into the minimalist approach. Tweens are still developing their styles at this age, and more than likely, they still want some color in their lives. You may abhor the idea of bright pink or deep purple walls, but that's how your tween's choosing to express an individual sense of style. At least for a little while. So pick your battles -- paint is an impermanent way to let your tween take the lead.