Teenage dirt­bags

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

Give the young ones in your house room to grow (and be messy) says Emily Brooks

The teenager’s bed­room is at the heart of all the clichés about how young adults are sup­posed to be­have: dirty socks, dis­carded crisp pack­ets and of, course, the moody oc­cu­pants, un­will­ing to set foot out­side the thresh­old.

But maybe it’s the rest of the house that’s the prob­lem: ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search un­der­taken as part of Home­base’s “life im­prove­ment” cam­paign, only 69 per cent of teenagers said they felt truly re­laxed at home. That fig­ure in­cludes their own bed­rooms, mean­ing that three in 10 don’t feel they can un­wind even in their own beds.

Sound­ing a note of op­ti­mism for teenagers is the rise of the “third space” ded­i­cated to their needs – some­where that’s not a bed­room or shared liv­ing area. Whether it’s the con­ver­sion of an old play­room or the cre­ation of new space in the loft or gar­den, teenagers are learn­ing how to be adults by be­ing en­trusted with more ter­ri­tory of their own.

“A third space can of­fer a level of in­de­pen­dence and safety, lo­cated in their own home,” says Oliver Heath, de­signer and Home­base’s well­be­ing ex­pert.

Sur­rey-based in­te­rior de­signer Su­san Venn agrees. “It’s be­com­ing more com­mon to have a sep­a­rate re­cep­tion room for teenagers, es­pe­cially in larger houses.”

Hang on, though: isn’t this re­ally about par­ents want­ing their kids out of sight at what might eu­phemisti­cally be called a “chal­leng­ing” time?

Venn dis­agrees: when she re­ceived a brief for a boys-only snug for two teenagers as part of a wider project for a fam­ily home, “although there was def­i­nitely an el­e­ment of it be­ing about them not trash­ing the rest of house, it was more com­ing from a good place, al­low­ing them their own space to so­cialise and grow”.

Be­cause the snug was part of the main house, it had to chime in aes­thet­i­cally and not be too child­like, so there’s a brightly coloured rug, and cush­ions in Paul Smith’s sig­na­ture stripe – it’s smart and laid-back, rather than too slouchy and in­for­mal.

Dura­bil­ity is a must in teenagers’ spa­ces, says Venn, so she’s used wipeclean vinyl wall­pa­per in a dark colour and, on the sofa, a com­mer­cial-grade faux suede nor­mally used in ho­tels that re­sists al­most any stain you can throw at it.

At the top end of the mar­ket, Helen Green De­sign over­hauled a Chelsea town house for clients with teenage boys, where they each have a floor to them­selves.

A more achiev­able so­lu­tion for most is build­ing at the bot­tom of the gar­den: James Will­mott of Har­ri­son James, which de­signs and builds gar­den rooms, says that there is grow­ing de­mand for struc­tures to ac­com­mo­date older chil­dren.

Not every­one can give up a room to their teens, so if they’re stuck with a bed­room, how can it suit their needs? Multi-func­tional fur­ni­ture is es­sen­tial, for ex­am­ple a desk-cum-dress­ing-ta­ble, seat­ing with hid­den stor­age and a sofa bed for overnight guests.

The most im­por­tant el­e­ment of de­sign­ing rooms for teenagers, be From £650 by Made (made.com) it a bed­room or third space, is longevity. “It was part of my brief that, in four years’ time when the boys go to uni, the room would still feel rel­e­vant when they come back as young men,” says Venn of her boys-own snug.

Chil­dren’s tastes change wildly over these years, so the pink pony wall­pa­per that seemed cute at 13 could be the source of ex­cru­ci­at­ing em­bar­rass­ment by 18. Ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics, half of 21-year-olds still live with their par­ents, so your teen scheme might have to last longer still if you don’t fancy fully re­dec­o­rat­ing.

Think ahead about how rooms will be grown in to: Ver­ity Woolf, de­sign di­rec­tor of Woolf In­te­rior, re­designed a teenage girl’s bed­room but also sug­gested that the box room next door be re­pur­posed as a dress­ing room for when she got older. For the bed­room it­self, “fu­ture-proof­ing her space meant that it needed to be com­fort­able, timeless and trans­for­ma­tional”, says Woolf. ”

Rooms that suc­cess­fully bridge the teenage years are about cre­at­ing an “en­ve­lope” that is ac­tu­ally quite adult – plain walls, dou­ble bed – and then sub­tract­ing or sub­sti­tut­ing the more child­like el­e­ments over time.

Ac­ces­sories such as cush­ions shouldn’t blow the bud­get, be­cause they get ru­ined, and be­cause tastes change, says Venn. “My ad­vice is to make the back­bone a bit more neu­tral but en­cour­age them to style up their own space quite in­ex­pen­sively so it can be changed eas­ily.”

She rec­om­mends web­sites such as Rock­ett St Ge­orge for ir­rev­er­ent ac­ces­sories, like hooks in the shape of point­ing hands, and So­ci­ety6 and Print Club Lon­don for cool art­work. These are not places that you might nor­mally as­so­ciate with teenage style per se – but their wares have a sense of fun that’s uni­ver­sal rather than child­like.

Al­low­ing teenagers to personalise their rooms is clearly im­por­tant to en­gen­der a sense of own­er­ship, so in­clude plenty of shelf space for pho­to­graphs and other keep­sakes. Ac­cord­ing to Heath, Home­base’s re­search sug­gested that “when teenagers are con­sulted about the de­sign of a room, they are more likely to look af­ter and re­spect that space”.

This is en­cour­ag­ing stuff: by get­ting your chil­dren more in­volved, you might even solve the prob­lem of all those old socks on the floor.

£599, by Made (made.com) £57, by Red Candy (red­candy.co.uk)

Fleet­wood sofa bed

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