Let your home be a drama-free scene for teens by creating a special space for the young adults in your life.
Dubbed the "teen lounge," this space should be one in which young people can be comfortable and keep company with friends, says M. Elodie Froment, vice president of product development for Pottery Barn Teen (aka PBteen), based in San Francisco.
"Parents create this space so their house can become a 'destination home' for teenagers," Froment says. "This space gives parents the ability to interact with their teen children and friends."
The first step to creating an adolescent abode within the home requires communication. "Parents and children need to decide where the teen lounge will be located within a home," Froment says. "A family needs to have a dialogue about rules and expectations, as well as design tastes and preferences in this teen-specific space."
Preferably, a teen lounge is a semi-public place in the basement, a finished attic space or unused room in the house. The teen lounge should be a place to give young adults their space, but not be so private that parents can't check in on their activities.
Froment says the child's playroom can grow and evolve into a teen lounge, but not without clearing the childish chattel first. "A teen lounge should have a sophistication about it, so that means getting rid of the baby toys and child-sized furniture," she says. "This space should be one where teens can hang out and lounge around in a comfortable atmosphere."
A teen lounge can bring its A-game by having a pingpong or pool table, and/or be a blockbuster with a home theater to watch movies and listen to music. Above all, the teen lounge should be both collaborative and comfy. "Know what interests the teens will be pursuing - homework, movies, games - and design around that," Froment says. "Decide if you want the lounge to look feminine, masculine or have a unisex appeal, and that will dictate how the space comes together."
Painting the walls is the easiest way to create a mood in the space. A teen lounge can become instantly cool with a shade of blue or the space can be warm with deep, saturated color on the walls. White walls invite color through artwork or large wall decals.
A cozy teen lounge starts from the ground up, so installing new carpeting or a plush area rug can create a warm feeling underfoot. "Having comfortable flooring is essential," Froment says. "Not only do teens tend to sprawl out on the floor, a colorful rug can set the tone for the entire room."
The seating setup can be one of the largest investments in the teen lounge. Froment says a sturdy sectional in an easy-to-clean, neutral microfiber or denim is a thoroughly modern and modular choice. Teens can move pieces out of the way for an impromptu dance party or configure seating for some optimal screen time when watching a movie.
Gaming and movies
After the seating has been arranged, determining the size and placement of a television screen is the next step. Whether used for gaming or watching movies, the picture should be large enough to be easily visible from every seat in the room. A dynamic surround-sound system is also a bonus when listening to music or watching a movie.
A bright tip to set the mood in the space is to give some thought to the light fixtures. Whether you're hanging a vintage chandelier, sleek pendants or recessed can lights, have the lighting on a dimmer switch, so it can be turned down during a movie marathon. But, teens don't need to be in the dark while doing homework or reading, so invest in interesting lamps for task lighting.
While furniture can be in neutral tones, accessorize with textures and pops of color. Pillows, throws and draperies - which are easily changed out - can have atomic oranges, sea-glass blues and sherbet-lime greens that enliven a space. Have throw pillows for sectional seating and large pillows for the floor or a sleepover.
"The teen lounge should reflect a youthful personality," Froment says. "While it should look put together, teen lounge decor decisions shouldn't be made from a parent's perspective." Froment says the room should be inviting and non-fussy, and can feature a repurposed trunk that doubles as a coffee table and storage, while old record album covers can be hung on walls.
Feeding teens is also an important part of having a lounge. "Have a place where you can set up a buffet of pizza boxes and bowls of snacks," Froment says. "After all, replenishing food is a great excuse for parents to check on what's happening in the teen lounge."