ominique Cadet can't believe her good fortune. After
her parents' recent home renovation, the
sixth-grader inherited a gold nugget: the former
But the 12-year-old isn't satisfied with more
space. She's itching to rip down the tan floral
wallpaper, replace the hollow brown closet doors and
cover the plain white shades.
"I want to get new white doors, and I'm thinking
purple curtains," she said. "My friend Bailey has a
pretty blue sparkly paint in her room. I want that
in lavender, with vertical blue stripes."
Who needs Martha Stewart? In an era bursting with
home-design magazines, catalogs, websites and
television shows, Americans have gotten quite cozy
with their inner designer. But while adults may
focus on the kitchen or bathroom, a growing number
of teens and tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) are pushing
to have their space - the bedroom - made over, as
Rachel, Dominique Cadet's 8-year-old sister, also
has big plans for her room: a wood platform shaped
like a runway so she can model her fashions, a bunk
bed with a slide attached to the top, pink walls
that coordinate with the Pottery Barn Kids comforter
she's chosen, a hot pink lounge chair, and - the
final touch - a "Go Rachel" sign painted on the
"I really want to funk my room up," Rachel said.
"My 'Dora the Explorer' alarm clock is pretty
WSL Strategic Retail, the New York retail
consulting firm that has published "How America
Shops" studies since 1989, found in 2005 that 75
percent of the 1,011 parents surveyed nationwide
purchased home decor products for their kids' rooms
based on what their tweens preferred.
And what a choice. Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Delia's,
Ethan Allen and Bombay Co. are just some of the
retailers that now have bedding lines, curtains,
furniture, lighting, or wall decor aimed at the
tween and teen demographic.
Pottery Barn's "PBteen" brand, which is available
only via the Internet or catalog, has $129 glass
beaded mini-chandeliers for the bedroom and $129
"smart" pillows with built-in speakers and a control
panel to broadcast iPod music.
Sears' "Room for Kids" line has $139
upholstery-covered headboards, $49 leopard-print
rugs and $19 sheer canopy nets for beds. Bombay Kids
has $69 putting greens and $137 zebra-print
For tweens not ready to make a decision, there's
a virtual community (Habbo.com) where users can
decorate a room, using virtual money.
"Things have really exploded in the last five
years," said Paula Marshall, editor of "Kids' Rooms:
Designs for Living" a how-to design book recently
published by Home Depot. "Before, you were lucky to
replace the bedspread every five years. Now that
kids have been exposed to all of these design TV
shows, they realize they can buy a secondhand
dresser and paint it. They can go to Wal-Mart or
Target or Kmart. They all have something, and
everything is affordable."
The trend has caught some parents by surprise.
"I'm blown away," said Rachel and Dominique's mom,
Tammy Cadet. "We have been through magazine after
magazine, store after store. ... I never did this.
Decorate? My room was white. I had no say."
Vickie Muse, whose 11-year-old daughter, Sarah,
redecorated her bedroom last winter, refused to get
too ambitious. She painted the top half of her
daughter's walls pink and the bottom half white with
a green stripe across the middle. The bedspread is a
floral print with pompoms on the edges. The
minimalist furniture is white and the lamps pink and
green with tassels. The windows are decorated with
multicolored beaded strings that hang down, '60s
"I'm not going to pay $200 for a 'PBteen'
comforter," Vickie said. "I ordered the comforter
online from Sears or JC Penney. I got her furniture
Sarah didn't mind. "When my friends come over,
they usually say I have a cool bedroom ... Now I'm
bugging my parents for a computer."
Experts say the desire for a customized room
experience has been driven by technology. "From
iPods to MySpace pages, everything today is very
much designed for individual personalities," said
Samantha Skey, executive vice president of marketing
at Alloy Media + Marketing, an advertising and
marketing firm with a focus on youth markets.
Others argue that children today have more power
and authority than previous generations, and
overworked parents are happy to hand over some