If your teen is still sleeping on the same Scooby-Doo sheets surrounded by the same LEGO posters from a decade ago, it’s probably time to give it an upgrade! I’ve spent the last year or so changing my son’s room from a kiddie room to a teen haven. Here’s how I did it without busting my budget!
My son turned 13 this year, and as I looked around his room I realized it was still crammed full of stuff that didn’t even remotely reflect his personality, let alone leave him with space for the things that do. The things that he did use were crammed onto one shelf, and not even the whole shelf! Half of it was filled with bins full of old Happy Meal toys, broken headphones, and other stuff that he used for five minutes then shoved aside.
Since his room is the only space that is really all his, I wanted to make it a haven for him. Someplace that felt more like him and less like the child that I was desperately trying to keep from growing up. Here’s the thing: I don’t have a lot of money by a long shot, so I had to do it slowly and as budget-friendly as possible. Read on to see what I did!
From Kiddie Room to Teen Haven: 7 Budget-Friendly Tips & Switches
Heads up: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. I also received the Kuler Lamp in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
1. Involve your teen & manage expectations
Before you even so much as walk into your teen’s room, ask them what they want and envision for their haven. What do they love about their current room? What do they hate? Get their input and let it truly be their space.
At the same time, make sure you set some ground rules and manage their expectations. While my son would freaking LOVE a Razer gaming PC, an ergonomic gaming chair, and a new PS4 to go with his half dozen other gaming systems, they’re not in the budget. Also, since we rent, we can’t really paint the room or tear up the ugly brown carpet.
2. Start big and work your way down
Start with the biggest-budget item that will save the most space and really transform your room, then work your way down to the little details. For us, that meant getting the bed off the floor and up onto a loft bed.
Jake and I spent days thinking about the layout that he wanted and looking at different loft beds before settling on this one (in blue). A loft bed opens up the room to so many new possibilities, especially if it’s a small room to begin with.
3. Update existing furniture
Rather than going out and buying all new dressers, desks, etc, just give the existing furniture a makeover. Jake has an antique dresser in his room that we don’t want to ruin so I’ll end up getting him a whole new dresser at some point. If you just have basic inexpensive furniture, though, you can either paint it or stencil cool designs onto it. Instagram is a great source for inspiration, like this incredibly cool idea below.
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I need to spray paint more 🤔🌠✨ . . . #artoftheday #artstgram #artfido #artforthehome #artlife #spraypaint #spraypaintart #artcollective #galaxyart #contemporaryartist #contemporaryart #arts_gallery #arts_visualization #nycart #newyorkartist #newyorkart #artforsale #homedecor #dressermakeover #artstag
4. Playthings vs display things
First, ask your teen to separate all the toys in the room into two categories: play things and display things. Playthings go into a box to be donated (or chucked, if they’re broken). Display things go on a shelf to be enjoyed until they become play things. I love this idea from Instagram. They used garage shelving, which is both inexpensive and gives it a cool “teen boy” look.
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Garage shelving from Bunnings used in my sons bedroom to give that industrial vibe. These shelves are super strong and so cheap. Perfect for that industrial look . . . . . . #industrialdecor @bunnings #boysroom #boystuff #bedroomdecor #mcdonaldjoneshomes #vintagedecor #industrialstyle #ps4 @starwars #starwars #starwarslego #steampunk #spoiltrotten #teenboyroom
For example, in Jake’s room, a lot of his old Minecraft toys went from the toy box to the shelf and wall. While most of his Skylanders ended up in a box (where will keep them until they become collectibles, then sell those suckers to recoup some of the thousand+ bucks that we spent on them over the years) while his favorites went to the shelf. We also packed up a ton of old books for donation and just kept the ones he’ll actually read again (like Minecraft books, Big Fat Notebooks, and all his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books).
5. Give the walls more personality
Since we can’t paint the walls a less boring color or get rid of the ugly wallpaper border, we rely on budget-friendly posters to add personality to the walls. I love posters because they’re relatively cheap and easy to swap out when Jake’s interests change.
Allposters.com is one of my favorite places to find great ideas, especially since they usually have a sale going on. Jake is really into anime right now, and I’m thinking about getting him this DeathNote poster for his room.
6. Stay neutral with the big stuff
A few years ago, my friend painted her daughter’s entire room lime green and pink because those were her favorite colors. While it came out adorable, three years later they had to repaint the entire room because she outgrew those colors. At the same time, she did her son’s room in dark blue. While they haven’t gotten around to repainting it, he now hates it because it’s too gloomy.
The lesson here: stay neutral with big things like wall paint and carpeting, then bring their favorite colors into play with things like curtains, duvet covers, and artwork. If you really want to bring more color to the room through paint, just use an accent color on smaller areas, like the door or the window frame. That way, it’s not a major weekend project when your teen inevitably wants to change it.
7. Use a really cool floor lamp to add color and fun
Another great way to bring in a bit more color without commitment AND add a splash of fun to a teen room: a smart lamp. Brightech sent me the Kuler Sky Lamp for Jacob’s room, and it’s awesome. Seriously, I’ve never seen my kid get so excited about a lamp before.
The smart lamp lets you change the LED light’s colors with the flick of a thumb through the user-friendly app. Bear with me, because it’s really hard to take pictures of this lamp, so I have some of my own and some from Brightech. Here are a few examples of what it looks like in Jake’s room:
Here are a few images from Brightech to give you a better overall idea of how it looks.
When I say that the app is user-friendly, I mean it. Download it, open it, then just stand in the general vicinity of the lamp. The app finds the lamp right away on its own. No codes to scan, no hour-long setup. Since the Kuler Sky Lamp is also crazy easy to assemble, your teen will be changing lights to his or her heart’s content within about 5 minutes. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
Along with the fun colors, it also has a plain white light setting, and you can change the brightness through the same app. It’s definitely bright enough to light up his entire room without even going all the way up to the brightest setting.
Both Jake and I have the app on our phones, so it’s kind of fun to stand outside his room and change the colors on him. He finds that less amusing than I do, though! All Brightech lamps come with a money-back guarantee. The LED lighting is energy-efficient and lasts 20 years, so you never have to change the bulbs. Learn more and buy it here.Give your teen the room of their dreams without busting your budget! Check out these 7 wallet-friendly tips!
Follow these tips and you’ll have the perfect teen haven in no time without completely busting your budget!