Smart Solutions: Updating rooms as children grow into teens

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Colorful but sophisticated décor like this Maldive bedding set can be the perfect fit for a teen’s room that becomes a guest room down the road

As most adults know, kids grow up way too fast. Given that fact, their rooms evolve rather quickly alongside them, from the initial nursery phase to toddler and teen décor. After that, many go off to college and may no longer need a space to stay or hold their belongings on a regular basis. 

At first the adjustments might be as simple as furniture swaps, from a crib to a bed or a changing table to a dresser. Other updates that are made along the way might include accents such as bedding and practical aspects like storage that have to adapt over time.

For instance, kids’ closets have to accommodate bigger clothes as they grow. Through the years, even their bathrooms evolve as stepstools are no longer needed for the sink and tub time turns to music-infused showers for teens.

As soon as they’re able to have a say in their personal space, children are bound to have opinions. I can still remember coveting the spacious dormer in my childhood home that would become my private hideaway when my older siblings went away to college. Looking back, it was truly an amazing space despite my insistence on the ‘80s decor that was overly bold even for that decade.

Now my daughter dreams of having my husband’s home office as her bedroom. Though he isn’t willing to make the trade, her imagination reminds me of the way I often picture a space as my own in my head. I can see why she would want to do the switch that would give her two closets and an attached bathroom that is bigger than the one she has now.

Perhaps the best part from her point of view would be that the room she wants for herself is on the lower level, which would give her the privacy teens crave.

Whether you’re about to become an empty nester or your kids have outgrown their rooms because of location, size or decor, it might be time to rework their personal spaces. Maybe you can add a desk for a quiet place to do homework or a seating area for friends or make some other adjustments to the current configuration.

Those children who are ready to claim an older sibling’s room might leave an empty space behind that can become a library or a storage area for seasonal items or be outfitted with any other features your home may be lacking.

For anyone who left their kids’ rooms intact long after they left for college, it might make sense to at least claim a portion of them for yoga or crafts or any other favorite pastime if space is at a premium.

Even clearing out a bookcase or a closet can make a difference in a room that is no longer needed by your child. Better yet, when you plan ahead as they grow, more sophisticated décor like colorful bedding can suit the needs of a teen and become the perfect setup for a guest room down the road.  

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at