Blogger Maxine Frendel is a self-described "decorating aficionada." She likes the flexibility of stick-on wall art and this season raves about the new decor line inspired by the Twilight series. She also ... wait. Twilight? Yes, bedding and accessories inspired by the ultra popular vampire chronicles, including jewellery boxes and the flocked comforter that Bella mopes under in the movies, have become a big hit with the tweenaged set. Frendel herself is 15 years old.
"What can I say, I love changing and re-doing my room," she says. "I'm always scouring magazines for decorating trends."
As your tweens and teens head back to school this month, don't be surprised if they ask for a new bedding set, funky shelving unit or customized laptop cover as well as a new pair of jeans. More than ever, retailers and manufacturers are zeroing in on ever younger target groups as the next big consumers of home decor, providing home style products that enable them to assert a degree of independence and creating budding aesthetes in the process.
"Teen-inspired decor is definitely on the rise," says New York decorator Ada Gonzalez. "There is an overall shift in decorating toward reflecting people's genuine style and stores that cater to teens are selling decorating items with fun colours and whimsical designs [that] enable them to declare for themselves what makes them happy."
The Globe's Back to School Guide
Among such kid-oriented products available to consumers this season are Zellers' On Your Own tween bedding collection and the boldly hued My Stuff line of sheets, comforters and pillows at Sears Canada, which is offering back-to-school discounts on selected items this month.
In the U.S., JCPenney has gone as far as hiring two teenaged girls to create videos for its back-to-school campaign, says Tony Wang, who writes for postfashionism.com, a popular design blog. "In most of their videos," he adds in an e-mail message, "the content is actually geared far more toward the decoration in the room [than] to clothing."
There is, of course, a practical reason why kids may be more interested in design and decor these days – they simply have more stuff than other generations did. "Kids today need desks and accessories for their computers and TVs," says Cecilia Staniec, an interior design expert with mykirklands.com, a U.S. website for decorating buffs. "They have a lot more electronics."
And increasingly, those electronics are getting more individual. "It's not 'cool' [among teens] any more to have black or grey accessories," says Katie Eisenhart of Dell, a company that offers myriad customizable design options, from graffiti-style patterns to sports-inspired looks, with its laptops. "Teenagers are able to choose from a wide array of designs to perfectly match their rooms," she adds.
DeAnna Radaj of Wisconsin's Bante Design specializes in designing bedrooms for teens: Her second interior design book is called Feng shui for Teens and her firm offers how-to workshops designed for kids.
She says that the key to successfully designing a room for a teen is involving him or her directly.
"Whenever I'm hired to design or re-design a teen space, one of my requirements is that the teen is included in the process," Radaj says. "Designing these spaces can be tricky as they are multi-functional and not just for sleep, so doing a pre-design interview with the teen to determine how they envision utilizing their space is key. Everything from colour preferences to favourite things, including sports, music and friends, needs to be incorporated into the space."
Michele Beatty also knows this from experience. "I did a teen boy's room earlier this year and it was all about video games and hanging out," says the California designer.
The lesson? Even though the wallpaper or bedding may change, teenaged boys will always be the same.