Customizing a teenager’s bedroom doesn’t have to be expensive. It does however, take a little imagination and the willingness to be creative.
Any successful redo begins with a plan. Does your teen want pop atomic or is more interested in recreating an tropical island paradise? Hollywood glitz or Feng Shui? Once the decor has been decided, you can start shopping for materials that will work. Be patient! Decorating on the cheap is only possible if you are willing to scrounge for your materials.
Jazz it up with paint
One of the easiest ways to do a quick makeover is with paint. Forget that boring beige and white, go for color! Splash some pale yellows, coral, or sage on the wall and paint the trim in a contrasting color. If the ceiling is covered with acoustic tiling, don’t be afraid to paint right over that as well.
If your walls are a mess, think about camouflaging the damage with rag rolling. Rag rolling is a type of faux painting that adds interest and texture to walls. It begins with a base coat, or background color which has been allowed to dry overnight. A glaze that has been mixed with a contrasting paint color, is then applied over the base coat using a rolled rag. The effect is mottled and has the look of old European style plaster work.
Cost of paint and glaze: $60-80
Cheaper yet, check out the mismatched paints at your local home improvement stores. These can usually be purchased between $1-5 a gallon.
Change out the window shades
I like the look of painted wood louvered blinds. They are clean and crisp looking, and can help lower summer air conditioning costs. They also seem to work with any decorating style. A set of 4 wooden louvers for my 28″ x 60″ windows ran about $100 at a local home improvement store.
If wood is out of your budget, discount department stores sell plastic mini blinds beginning at $5 a shade. Paired with cotton single panel draperies fished out of the clearance bin from World Market ($5-10 each), these can look quite stunning.
For boys, look at buying a set of slatted woven shades. These also start at about $10 a shade. One of my children paired these with batik beach sarongs ($9 each) for a tropical motif. Wooden shades usually hit the clearance bin in the fall when they go half price.
Get a new bedspread
While new bedspreads can usually be picked up at a department store on sale, the best resource for cheap bedspreads is at the thrift store. Look for the white cotton hobnobbed chenille or white linen look which can usually be found for around $5. Bleach the heck out of it first, then dye it with Rit dye ($4). Try a tie dye if you are really adventurous. Buy a second bedspread to turn into throw pillows.
Buy new furnishings
Thrift stores are great places to find funky junky furniture. Don’t be turned off if the item is dirty or needs a new paint job. A little elbow grease and $20 worth of paint and art supplies, and you’ve the making of a one-of-a-kind piece of art!
Watch for old bookcases, old desks, and interesting chairs from the 1950s. Small sofas are also great for a teen’s room and can be found for as little as $40.
End tables or side tables are a dime a dozen at most thrift stores ($5-10). Scrub the table first, then cover it with a couple of coats of paint. Let your teen decorate it in the style she or he wants with decals, sponge stamps, stenciling, or whatever. Cover the furniture with a clear seal coat to preserve the art work.
Lamps are also items that can be picked up at thrifts for practically nothing. Some are downright junky and can usually be found for less than $5, especially if they are missing the shade. You can buy inexpensive replacement shades at all discount department stores. If you buy a plain one, decorate it with scribble paint, stencils, or punch it full of holes to add some pizazz.
Funky mirrors, funky art work, and zillions of souvenirs; thrifts are full of this kind of stuff. Just remember to buy only those items that fit within your room motif, or you will soon be drowning in a sea of junk.
For our teenage son, we were able to turn his bedroom into a South Seas cottage for about $300. The cost breakdown included:
$40 paint, for wall, ceilings, trim moldings, and headboard
$35 beach sarongs
$10 bedspread and dye (thrift store)
$5 framed mirror (thrift store)
$3 lamp (thrift store)
$5 framed art work (thrift store)
$50 batik papasan (on sale World Market)
$20 tropical plants
$7 striped 4′ x 6′ cotton rug (thrift store)
$15 souvenirs from the south seas (thrift store)
$5 throw pillows made from an old bedspread (thrift store)
With a little scrounging and lots of imagination, you should be able to do the same.