Tween bedrooms are perhaps the final, uncharted territory of interior design. The stakes are high: This is a stage in life where individuality and coolness seem like everything, and a sense of personal place can help tweens as they transition into full-fledged teenagers. Parents know it’s not as simple as choosing a paint color and a gender-appropriate theme - baby-blue baseball motifs and bubble-gum-pink walls won’t do. One option is to take a middle road, sticking with ageless, gender-neutral shades of blue, green and orange. This middle-road option doesn’t have to feel middle-aged. The key to a successful tween room is an anything-goes approach balanced with classic items certain to grow along with its no-longer-a-kid-but-not-yet-a-teenager occupant. Two excellent examples of tween spaces done right are the charming bedrooms of 9-year-old Camille Flurry and her 13-year-old brother, Ellis.
The bulk of daughter Camille’s record collection is a stack of 45s from her dad’s collection from his youth. Among them: "YMCA" by Village People, "Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown and, of course, "Le Freak" by Chic. From handed-down furniture to music appreciated as much by tweens as their parents, one thing is certain in the Flurry household: Vintage never goes out of style. - Antique stores and flea markets are great sources for finding one-of-a-kind items for decorating tween rooms. - To keep tween spaces from feeling too juvenile, stay away from using themes or color combinations that are often associated with nurseries or children’s rooms. - Gender-neutral colors such as robin’s-egg blue and blue-green are excellent choices for tween rooms. A few other less-expected tones that also work well are coral, blue-gray and violet, as well as muted greens such as celery and sage. - To make a tween’s space truly unlike any other, incorporate handed-down pieces from family members into the design. - For rooms with active teens who are prone to bumping into furniture and scratching surfaces, search flea markets and thrift stores for pieces with worn-in, comfortably aged looks. - Painting wood floors with high-energy porch and floor paint can give a tween space a brand-new, super-cool look without major costs. The everyday wear and tear of the floor will add to the patina, giving it more character over time.
Mom, Amy and dad Alan are huge supporters of the local arts community and lovers of all things vintage. To decorate the family’s 1920 Craftsman home in Athens, Ga., they’ve mostly focused on finding one-of-a-kind pieces from small, locally owned-and-operated shops. "We look to the cool vintage shops in downtown Athens for pieces with style but that aren’t so precious either, because in the end they may be covered with stickers," says Amy, who often includes Ellis and Camille when searching out pieces for their rooms. "Plus, we know most of the owners and would rather support them than go to a big-box store." As far as what draws Amy to antiques, quality and longevity are at the top of her list: "I’m a fan of buying something that was made well and has been around a while, rather than buying new and disposing of it when it falls apart. It’s a way of thinking and living that Alan and I both hope filters down to the kids. That’s another reason we buy vintage. Plus, it’s cooler."
Amy and Alan found another way to introduce color in Ellis’ room without overwhelming the space: underfoot. "The floors in that room were not heart pine like the rest of the house and they were dingy, so we painted them a bold blue. That was 13 years ago. We kind of like the wear and tear, and haven’t even done so much as touched them up." To paint wood floors, first sand the existing finish, then apply a coat of primer. Roll several coats of the finish color with a roller and an extender pole. The last step is to add a coat of sealer to protect the finish. Not just any paint and sealer will do; stick with paints labeled "porch and deck paint," and look for floor sealers that are labeled "clear," since many polyurethanes tend to dry with a slight yellow tone.
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