How to create a cool tween boy’s bedroom

When my older son was five and I was pregnant with his brother, we moved him out of the nursery and into his first big boy room. He requested an “outer space” room, and I loved making his ideas a reality.

Owen thought we should paint the room black — including the ceiling, of course. We compromised on navy blue, and only on the side of his room where his bed and dresser was. It looked cool, and the glow-in-the dark stars and planets certainly popped, but it was very, very dark. Here’s how it looked (mostly):

before collageSeven years later, he has turned 12 and was still sleeping under the solar system — one old enough to include Pluto. So when he went away to camp last week I decided to seize the moment and surprise him with a newly decorated room, one fit for a soon-to-be-teenaged boy.

Painting over navy blue is not easy, I had lots of DIY plans, and all the furniture we bought was the kind that comes with allen wrenches. Owen’s little brother helped with it all and I remembered when Owen was his age and we were painting this room for the first time. We worked quickly and late into the night every day.

noah helps collageI wasn’t at all sad, though Scott had a moment with the solar system grow chart, marked every year from 1 to 11. I was genuinely happy to make a really big boy’s room. It’s like we were telling him that we are excited for his next adventures, that we want him to grow and change. His room was a way of communicating our acceptance of his new maturity and independence.

All that, and it looks really cool too.

boys room collageGoodbye, navy blue. Hello golden tan. Add masculine new bedding, a desk, cool t-shirt art, and lots of places for our collector to display his treasures. A place to read, a place for music, a place for homework, and of course, a place for Legos. Because no one actually grows out of Legos.

Here are the details and a lot more photos:

We painted the alcove where the bed was and turned the bed perpendicular to the wall. The bedding is PB Teen, the hexagon shelves from Land of Nod (thanks to Breanne for that tip), side tables from Target, lamp from IKEA, and the collector’s shelf from my basement.

bedThis typesetters tray was in my basement for years, the result of an impulse buy at an antique store. It is perfect for his collections of rocks, shells, fossils, arrowheads, Lego guys, and assorted other treasures. I just spray painted it gray and added some eye hooks.

printers trayEven more treasures found a home on these cool hexagon shelves from Land of Nod, like a Harry Potter matryoshka doll set his grandparents brought him from Russia and a little ducky he’s actually attached to — along with even more fossils and shells. I wanted to add some color to this wall, so I taped scrapbook paper to the back of the shelves.

hex shelvesThe view from the bed: the t-shirt gallery wall (more photos and a how-to here) and a Hogwarts banner, of course. His keyboard went on a Target sofa table, with two IKEA stools underneath.

perspectiveThis attic bedroom has four dormers and a half wall around the stairs, creating lots of corners and cozy spaces. This view shows the Lego storage (IKEA), painted white. It’s not completely done yet. I want to have a counter top made for it that holds the three units together and prevents Legos from falling down behind it. More details on this IKEA hack to come.

lego storageIt is hard to choose a favorite part, but I think the desk area might be mine. Owen really needed a full-size desk of his own. This desk is from and the chair, lamp, and magnetic board is from IKEA. I made the pinboard by cutting a piece of dropped ceiling tile (a couple bucks from Menards) to the same size as the magnetic board and covering it with jersey knit fabric. The cute magnet tins are from the Michaels dollar bin.

deskAnother view of the pinboard. We hung this by putting long screws with washers right through the board. You get one shot with this — the ceiling tile material will just fall apart when we take the screws out. I like the look of the washers and screws, though. They look like rivets.

magnet and pin boardSince the desk had no storage, we added this Expedit cube from IKEA to keep his ever-expanding collection of stuff in. (What would we do without Expedit?) The lamp is from Target; back-to-college is a good time to buy stuff for a kid’s room! That awesome clock is also from IKEA. Owen can design or redesign it at will.

credenzaThe last little alcove. My vision here is this is a reading nook, but we’ll see how it is actually used. The cool round chair is from Target’s back-to-school section.

reading cornerA few more little details, clockwise from left: race and activity medals, a mask he made in art last year, mounted to a $2 plaque from Michaels, the hexagon clock, and his name letters, spray painted and put back on the exact same super-hard-to-hang nails we didn’t want to try to move.

owens room detailsOwen was absolutely stunned when he came home from camp and saw his room. He had no idea this was coming at all and he loved everything we did.

boys in the chair

Owen with clock

boys at the deskHappy boys in the awesome room. (And Noah was not even jealous, just super excited for his brother to see what we did for him. Sweet.)

boys at the keyboardAnd here’s the real truth: what it looks like now. Perfect.

real truth

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  1. Looks amazing! I also loved how excited Noah was to help and the cuddles he got from Owen. So cute.